Community Sports

Locals set to defend Skagit Speedway against Outlaws

Donny Schatz races down a straightaway on the opening night of World of Outlaws on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014 at Skagit Speedway in Alger. Schatz is the favorite to win again at Skagit Speedway, as the locals will try to upset the top Outlaws driver.
Donny Schatz races down a straightaway on the opening night of World of Outlaws on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014 at Skagit Speedway in Alger. Schatz is the favorite to win again at Skagit Speedway, as the locals will try to upset the top Outlaws driver. The Bellingham Herald

For the past nine years, Skagit Speedway has been a fixture on the World of Outlaws West Coast swing. In that time, only two local drivers have been able to hold off the top 410 sprint car drivers in the world.

After showing well against the 360 American Sprint Car Series drivers at the Dirt Cup in June, the locals are surely hoping to show up the top dogs at Monster Meltdown on Friday, Sept. 4, and Saturday, Sept. 5, at Skagit Speedway in Alger.

Leading the way is Jason Solwold, who is one of the two local drivers to win a World of Outlaws event at Skagit Speedway in the past decade and was victorious at Dirt Cup. He also sits in third place in the 410 standings at Skagit.

“The locals have the advantage here. The surface is probably the only surface like this in the country,” Solwold said before the final night of Dirt Cup in June. “Most places are clay; this is dirt basically. It just takes a lot to get your car to work right. ... You’re going to either really like it or really hate it.”

Tayler Malsam, who is second in the 410 standings, chimed in on Skagit’s surface as well.

“It’s just a momentum track. The dirt is different than a lot of places in the country,” Malsam said in June. “It just makes it hard.”

But that advantage has been removed for local drivers.

Since Dirt Cup, track owner Steve Beitler has replaced the surface at the 3/10-mile oval with clay from Elma, and the same clay as Grays Harbor Raceway, which is the next stop for the Outlaws.

“This has allowed us to reconfigure the track shape in both corners of the racetrack which will help create multiple grooves of racing throughout the night,” Beitler said in a news release. “We always want to put on a great show for the fans and maintain a surface that competitors can race their hardest on.”

The Outlaws have had even more success on their stops at Grays Harbor over the past 20 years, making it potentially even more difficult for the locals to defend their track.

Top Outlaws driver Donny Schatz is the favorite to win this season, as he handily won both nights of racing, extending his streak at Skagit to three consecutive. He’ll be looking for his 200th career victory — he’s at 199 currently. He’s also on pace to pick up 30 wins in a single season — he has 26 — and become only the second driver to accomplish the feat. The other was legend Steve Kinser, who is also the only driver to have more Outlaws series wins than Schatz.

Kerry Madsen (third in Outlaws standings) and Joey Saldana (fifth) also have picked up wins at Skagit in the past and are drivers to watch as well.

Tickets are $35 a night for adults, but juniors, seniors, active military and children get discounted prices. Racing starts at 7 p.m. each night.

Reach Joshua Hart at 360-715-2238 or joshua.hart@bellinghamherald.com.

Monster Meltdown: World of Outlaws

Friday, Sept. 4 and Saturday, Sept. 5

Time: 7 p.m.

Where: Skagit Speedway

Cost: $35/night; Military, juniors, seniors and children have discounted rates

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