Sixteen of the Northwest’s best 360 sprint car drivers took to the clay oval at Grays Harbor Raceway to debut the Summer Thunder Sprint Series on Saturday.
Driving in front of a large graduation weekend crowd, Enumclaw’s Henry VanDam made it two big feature wins in a row by going wire-to-wire to win the 25-lap A-main series event.
Hoquiam’s Jason Tole got his first win of the 2014 season by surviving seven yellow-flag restarts to win the 25-lap street stock A-main event.
Ocean Shores’ Jeff Daniel went wire-to-wire in the hornets/tuners class A-main event for his second straight win of the season.
“It is always great to win here at Grays Harbor; it is one of my favorite tracks,” VanDam said. “It feels good to be back. It seems like it has been a long time, so to be racing again, it is awesome.”
After two rainouts on the schedule, this series race represented the first 360 sprint car program of the season at Grays Harbor Raceway. The program also represented the largest 360 sprint car count — 16 cars — for a non-ASCS/Outlaw event at the track since 2011.
The 19-car street stock field was a Twin Harbors stacked affair on Saturday, starting with Tole, the reigning street stock track champion, on the outside front position for the A-main.
Tole took off for the lead, with Aberdeen’s Shane Kerrigan, Olympia’s Eddie Blood and Hoquiam’s Jack Parshall right behind.
Unfortunately, the race never had a sustained flow of action — seven yellow flag cautions made life tough for the drivers up front. But, Tole made the most of it.
On each of the restarts, Tole took the outside position, went higher than the rest of the field and found enough traction to keep Kerrigan at bay. Also, Tole took advantage of lapped cars to gain distance away from Kerrigan.
Tole picked up his first win of the season.
“The high side was really working well for me and I kept seeing (the Kerrigans’) Mustangs rolling up on me from behind,” said Tole, who won nine races in claim the track championship last season. “They were pinned down at the bottom. We were only running on seven cylinders — I could imagine everyone heard the eighth one pop. In fact, it ran really well with just seven.”