In first ever appearance to Nationals Team BHG impresses on and off the track
Last weekend numerous local teams participated in the largest sprint car race since 1979. At a 119 the car count was the largest since the Knoxville nationals that year.
Erin Statler, Zach Newlin, Drew Ritchey, Dave Brown Jr., Mark Watkins, Jeff Taylor, Randy Sterling, Samantha Lieberman and Jaremi Hanson made the 20+ hour journey to compete against a tough field of locals and the top talent across the nation.
Mark Watkins and Dave Brown Jr. Both advanced to the Big Dance on Sunday with Watkins ending up 12th and Brown 24th. The weekend progressed as follows.
20 cars made the A-Main Friday and Saturday nights with the top 9 each night advancing to the "Big Dance" on Sunday. Jaremi Hanson was the first of the locals to make the A-main on Friday in his first appearance in a borrowed ride. Hanson failed to make the cut for Sunday finishing 17th that night but a good finish and a strong performance Saturday put Hanson 10th in the B-main for Sundays race. Hanson was running 8th much of the race Sunday but a restart with 2 laps to go left him 2 spots out of qualifying for the Big Dance
On Saturday Mark Watkins won his heat race and Zach Newlin earned a starting spot in the A-main advancing through the B. Watkins held on Saturday for an 8th place spot making him the first local team to advance to the Big Dance on Sunday. Newlin finished 15th and combined with his Friday finish put him in the C-main Sunday where he finished 9th.
Saturday night also featured the Race of Champions which showcased drivers with championships throughout the history of RaceSaver and was set by qualifying on Friday night. Zach Newlin topped the locals with a 10th place finish with Watkins 12th and Drew Ritchey 14th.
Dave Brown Jr. was the car to watch on Sunday as his Friday and Saturday finishes put him in the C-main for Sundays race. Brown was able to move to 4th position in the C-main advancing to the B-main where brown continued his strong run moving from last starting spot to 9th for the final qualifying spot. Browns impressive run ended in the main even when he got upside down in turn 1.
Altogether Team BHG had a great weekend with strong runs by several teams which had only seen this facility for the first time, everyone had a great time and it was quite a celebration after a tough summer for PASS participants.
More importantly the growth of the event further legitimizes the growth of RaceSaver as a National brand in sprint car racing and while PASS didn't get any teams in the top 10 this is a tall task against such tough competition on a tricky racetrack for the first time. Most teams are already planning a return in 2017.
Team BHG definitely turned a lot of heads over the weekend on the track but the clear difference was in the pits where participants marveled at this tight knit group that celebrated together and worked across the pits to help each other out. Local teams representing PASS, TSRS, LHSS and VSS proved that recreational racing is still strong in the regions where it was born and has a promising future.