Stock car racing fans will gather at the River City Speedway in St. Helens for the Labor Day Weekend Pape Machinery/Knife River sponsored races Aug. 31-Sept. 1.
The event includes the Ray Potter Memorial late model race both days. Potter is a former driver who competed all over the West Coast and who enjoyed a successful motorsports career. Potter passed away in January at age 76. Potter’s son Jim and grandson’s Brandon and Ryan compete at the speedway,
Columbia County Racing Association (CCRA) championship contenders Joel Beehler and Joel Davis, both enjoyed remarkable success on Saturday, Aug. 17, at River City Speedway, keeping their hopes alive to possibly win a division title.
Beehler of St. Helens, captured his fourth victory as he took the checkered flag in the Street Stock main event. Davis of Kelso, recorded three Tuner Division top-four finishes, including a season best second place main event finish. Both drivers are ranked second in their respective CCRA point standings and certainly have a good shot at winning a championship with four events remaining on the schedule.
Beehler, 26, started on the front row of the seven-car Street Stock main and he led the 25-lap race from start-to-finish in the CLT Trucking/Hoyt Construction sponsored 1985 Chevrolet Malibu owned by car-owner and team co-driver Greg Brumbaugh of St. Helens. Warren’s Terry King, who leads the division standings, was runner-up in his Ross Diesel & Auto sponsored 1987 Buick Regal. Mark Wakefield took third, followed by Red Smith and Mandie Tardio. Columbia City’s brother/sister duo of Chelsea McKinney (sixth) and Devin McKinney (seventh) also competed. It marked the first ever race for Devin McKinney, 17.
“I had a front row starting position and the track was in good condition as well, which really made it a fun race,” said Beehler, who, along with teammate Brumbaugh, is seeking to win a third straight Street Stock title.
“I was hoping that it was going to be a caution free race, but then somebody bumped into me and caused me to spin out. That’s the way it goes in racing sometimes but I got my first place starting position back on the restart. We’re creeping up on Terry in the standings and it’s going to be a real fight for first place during the last four races. I’m pretty happy that Greg lets me drive his car. I also need to say thanks to Lenny Templin for doing all the maintenance work on the car to keep it running so well.”
Beehler won heat 2 and King was a two-time winner as he notched victories in heat 1 and the Trophy Dash.
Davis, a former CCRA Champion (2017 Four Cylinder Division), is seeking to win the second title of his four-year stock car racing career and he’s in a good position to possibly accomplish his goal. Davis, 58, trails first place driver TJ Landis of West Linn by less than 20 points.
Davis started on the pole position of the 16-car Tuner Division main and he was the frontrunner through the early portion of the 40-lap race in his Economy Auto Wrecking/Ram Light Truck Salvage sponsored 1996 Nissan Altima. Davis was in first place the first six laps and then the race was delayed by a yellow caution period.
On the lap seven restart, Portland’s Jeremy Hughes moved alongside Davis and the two drivers battled side-by-side around the quarter-mile clay oval for the next six circuits. Hughes then moved into the lead on lap 13, passing Davis on the outside of the front straightaway. Hughes then built a sizeable straightaway advantage by lap 30 and appeared to be in control for a relatively easy win.
“I’ve had several second place finishes this year, but I think it was probably my best day because my car is working better now, it’s pretty well dialed in and things went my way for the most part,” said Davis, who took second place in Heat 1 and was fourth in the trophy dash. “The car was damaged a little from a collision I had in the heat race, but it’s something that I can easily repair. All in all I think it was a pretty good night. The track was in good condition, it was tacky and it was a lot of fun to drive on.”
However, a red flag caution period stalled the race on lap 38 as several cars collided on the front straightaway. When the action resumed, Davis was now bumper-to-bumper with Hughes on the lap 38 restart and he had a chance to overtake him with just three laps left.
“He (Hughes) got by me and he was running the high line and I was in the low line,” Davis said. “I was also trying to hold onto my spot because any of the guys behind me were capable of passing if they had a chance. I felt good when I got close behind him on the
restart near the end. The caution flag sometimes can help you or hurt you. It definitely helped me out and it hurt him (Hughes) because he lost his big lead. I knew Landis was right behind me because I know what his car sounds like. I absolutely have a chance to win the championship and that’s my goal. I’ve come out here to try and win it. It’s going to come down to the last race of the season (Sept. 21). It’s going to be a real dogfight until the end.”
The exciting race concluded with flagman Mike Watson waving consecutive green, white and checkered flags on the final three laps. Hughes held on to win by just two car lengths, followed by Davis, Landis, Cody Scouller and Bob Berg to round out the top-five. Landis, 54, won Heat 2, Vancouver’s Travis Koch won Heat 1 and the Trophy Dash and Longview’s Dan McDonald won Heat 3. Ken LeGault won the B Main.
The track had a numerous drivers who traveled to St. Helens from all over the Pacific Northwest to compete in the Great American Hornet Challenge and also the first ever appearance at the track of the Northwest Mini Stock Tour.
Scott Murphy of Spokane, Wash., led from start-to-finish to capture the Northwest Mini Stock Tour in his Hannef Financial sponsored Ford Mustang. Murphy collected a $500 first place prize and a brand new guitar as well. It marked the second win in the six-race series for Murphy, who was a two-time winner as he also won the trophy dash. Devin Matthews and Bryce Rupert won the heat races. The Mini Stock Tour series finale is Sept. 14 at Yakima Speedway.
Cody Jones won the 40-lap Hornet Challenge race, followed by Josh Linville, Matt Diller and Zach Dalrymple. McDonald was a double duty driver who competed in two CCRA motorsport classifications and he drove the Carquest/Alliance Automotive sponsored 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt for owner Darrin Rye of Warren. McDonald, who won the B Main 2, took fifth place in the main event to round out the top-five. Tyler Owen won the B Main 1.
Linville won the scramble and heat 2. Dell Tucker, Don Briggs Jr., Kelsey Drager, Matt Diller and Jesse Yanke won heat races.
Cody Crawford, 14, of Menlo, Wash (near Chehalis) won the Micro Sprint Car main followed by Jo Jo Batalgia, Chico Brinster and Davis Jacobson.