DEMING - Australian national champion Brock Halliett and defending 1,200 Open Class Clay Cup champion Liam Ryan were left battling for the 600 Open Class A-Main feature win on a final restart on opening night of Clay Cup 2014 Thursday, July 17, at Deming Speedway.
The two racing heavyweights didn't disappoint.
Halliett was forced to hold off Ryan for the final eight laps of the race following a restart, and Halliett got the job done.
But he wouldn't have been in the position to win if it wasn't for a brilliant move to pass leader Kyle Mitchell on lap 12. Mitchell went high on Turn 2, and Halliett swung underneath to grab the lead on Turn 3.
Ryan made up for his second-place finish in the 1,200 feature.
Ryan may not have led the 1,200 Open Class A-Main for more than two laps, but the two he did were the ones that mattered, as he and his 72 car won the feature by taking advantage of a late wreck by Dick Williams, who led 17 of the 25 laps, in the featured race.
Following Ryan was Jared Gunderson in second, Steven Hendrickson in third, Jared Peterson in fourth and Nate Vaughn rounded out the top five.
Riley Watkins took advantage of the inverted-start format in the 600 Restricted Class A-Main after finishing 18th in time trials and sixth in his individual heat.
Carson Trigueiro started on the pole for the A-Main, but after wrecking on lap two he was sent to the back of the group. Watkins took over first position and never relinquished his lead, whipping around the track in his 55 car.
Several times Watkins was forced to stave off competition on restarts prompted by yellow flags, but each time the driver held his position. He successfully overcame one final restart on lap 17, and cruised to his first career Deming Speedway feature win on the 19-lap race.
"I thought it would happen eventually, but I didn't think it would happen tonight," Watkins said of his first win at Deming Speedway.
In the only B-Main of the evening, Robbie Price took the checkered flag in his 21 car, racing in the 600 Open Class. While Price captured the win, Kyle Kennedy arguably was the story of the race, as he narrowly ousted Rachel Westmoreland for the coveted sixth and final transfer spot of the 600 Open A-Main.
Joe Constance also battled his way into the A-Main after holding on to the final transfer spot for much of the race before charging into the fifth position.
Time-trial winners were Kaitlyn Hammer in the 600 Restricted (11.395 seconds), Jared Peterson in the 1,200 Open (10.664) and Shaun Holtorf in the 600 Open (10.897).
All three classes will have one more night to compile preliminary points on Friday, July 18, as they try to earn the best starting spots they can for championship night on Saturday, July 19.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
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