The war of attrition took hold Saturday night at the Twin Cities Raceway dirt track, as driver after driver found themselves in some sort of trouble on track.
It was only fitting that the final race of the evening, the feature event for the Late Models, ended with Shawn Hutchings winning by default after the other four competitors dropped out due to crashes or mechanical failures.
Nevertheless, the stands were nearly full of fans excited for some racing under bluebird sunny skies.
In the A-Stock division, the 28 car driven by Keith Jones took the checkered flag in two of the three events, barely holding off Darren DeVaney of Homer by a scant 0.15 seconds to claim the second heat, then continuing on to win the 20-lap feature race over a charging Jimmie Hale, the winner of the first heat.
Jake Savely spun right in front of Brooke DeVaney at the start of the first heat, causing her car to handle poorly, which was evident in the second and third races. DeVaney had trouble keeping her car pointed in the right direction and eventually slid up into the outside retaining fence in turn three, ending her race with three laps to go.
She wasn’t the only driver to test out the fencing. On lap five of the second heat race for the Late Models, Kendall Soares had a big wreck in turns one and two, sliding up into the barrier and making contact with his right rear quarter-panel, causing the car to snap back and spin to a stop with the front-end sheet metal dangling off the nose of the car.
Soares, driving the 29 machine his father, Frank, usually pilots, was OK, but the car had to be towed back to the pits with a bent front and rear frame.
In the feature race, the 43 Late Model racer of Roy Morris slid up into the fencing in turns one and two, leaving only Shawn Hutchings and Jason Majors out on the track, and under that same caution period, Majors was forced to pull off the track with engine issues. Hutchings swept all three races.
Mike Thomas, driving the 5 car in the Legends division, originally qualified third, but managed to finish second in the first heat race behind Bryan Barber’s 88 car, before staking claim to the second heat and feature races.
“(Barber) has really been putting the pressure on me this year,” Thomas said. “I kind of dominated last year, but just really, I haven’t had the confidence this year. We’re not racing enough, I just haven’t gotten into the groove enough.”
In the feature race, Thomas pulled a “spin and win,” as he spun around early in the race, but recovered to score the win, although he had some help.
Barber was leading the feature with three laps to go when he had a spinout of his own on the backstretch, allowing Thomas to overtake him.
“I said you’re supposed to copy the good things that I do, not everything,” Thomas said. “Without him spinning I wasn’t going to get around him. Gotta get lucky once in a while.”
The B-Stock events featured a new winner for the first time in what seems like ages.
Bill Williams, driver of the 38 car, took the wins in the first two heats, but in the feature race, it was Eagle River driver Jared Nissen taking the win.
Nissen and Williams share a history, as Williams has driven for Nissen when the latter was working on the North Slope in 2011.
“I wanted it a lot, and I had a lucky combination,” Nissen said about beating Williams. “It’s 90 percent luck. I had three flat tires after the first heat, and was able to get it back together.”
Nissen said the track was tough to drive throughout the evening as conditions were changing.
On more than one occasion, the water truck had to be called upon to water the track surface and keep things from getting too dusty. But that also caused cars to slide too much and lose grip before the track could sufficiently dry out.
“It was pretty marginal,” Nissen said. “It was slick, and they watered the heck out of the track. We needed more cars to get it good.”
Twin Cities Raceway will be putting on more racing action next Saturday for the Progress Days parade and races, starting at 6 p.m.