Parker Stephens drove to a repeat victory in the 2015 edition of the Miller at Southsound Speedway in Tenino, Washington, showing that the first time around was no fluke.
With a great field of cars on hand for the annual 200 lap Super Late Model show at the “Fastest 3/8ths On The West Coast”, the stage was set for a great night of racing. With an early rain shower moving through right in the middle of qualifying, things would get interesting for those who had not laid down a qualifying lap yet. After an hour plus delay, the field would be set and the invert drawn by fast qualifier Parker Stephens. Stephens would draw an 11, placing former Sprint Cup driver Brandon Ash on the pole.
The action would settle in early in the race as the field sorted things out and began logging laps. Ash would maintain the lead, followed early by Alan Cress in second. The first caution would come around lap 15 for a blown right front tire on the 14 car of BC native Brandon Carlson. With the field restarting double file, Ash brought them to green once again, with Cress to his outside. Tommy Elstoen held the 3rd spot with Chad Hinkle on the outside of row 2 and Parker Stephens up to 5th pace.
On the restart, Hinkle would mount a charge on the outside of this one groove track and take the lead away from Ash. As the 23 of Ash continued to fall back, both Hinkle and Stephens followed the opening on the outside to move to 2nd and 3rd respectively. The caution would fly once again on lap 20 for the spinning 7 car of Kurt Myer, who found himself in the infield off turn 4.
This time Cress would lead the field to green with Hinkle on his outside and Stephens on his bumper in the 3rd spot. Ash still held the 4th position and Bob Pressley made his debut inside the top 5. Cress would easily jump to the lead as Stephens wasted no time following him under Hinkle, then flexing massive muscle diving into turn 3 to move under and around Cress taking over the lead. But the spinning 95 car of Carolyn Thomas would bring out caution #3 on lap 25. As is the rule at Southsound Speedway, the field reverts back to the last completed lap, placing Cress back in front and Stephens back to 3rd.
This time Hinkle’s charge would last a couple of laps before Cress could clear him for the lead. Stephens made the same move under Hinkle as before once the 91 of Cress had cleared, moving Stephens to 2nd. It would take Stephens a few extra laps this time before he could run Cress down, find the opening and move under him to take the lead. The field would settle in at this point as things began to calm down. Caution #4 would come out for the spinning 20 car of Evergreen Speedway regular Andy Sole who went around in turn 1 on lap 42.
The coming restart would see the 4 car of Stephens lead the 91 of Cress to the line. The 33 of Hinkle would restart in the 3rd position with the 2 of Elstoen on his outside as the 23 of Ash held the 5th spot. Stephens would easily clear Cress as Hinkle followed him through to take over the 2nd position. Cress was able to hold off the charging 2 car and maintain the 3rd spot as Elstoen would slot into 4th. Caution #5 flew for the spinning 11 car of JJ Hamilton who found himself parked in the infield off turn 4 on lap 49.
The lap 54 restart would see Hinkle in 2nd, restarting on the outside of leader Stephens. Cress and Elstoen would make up row 2 as Pressley had edged Ash for the 5th spot once again. The field would once again settle into Stephens, Hinkle, Cress as Pressley snagged the 4th spot from Elstoen who settled into 5th behind the 17 car. Yellow flag #6 reared its head for the spinning 81 car of Darrell Midgley who found himself facing the wrong way near the turn 1 outer wall on lap 55. Hamilton would visit pit row under this caution for an adjustment.
With the field returning to green flag action once more, Stephens would lead Hinkle and Cress once more as Pressley came to the line 4th ahead of Elstoen in 5th. The top 5 would settle into that running order once again as the action began to heat up farther back in the field. Hamilton, who had rejoined at the tail end of the line from the previous caution flag, was storming through the field. Up front thinks were still status quo as Stephens began to distance himself from the competition. The race would go green to the scheduled competition caution at lap 99 for a half way break. Teams were allowed 2 tires and fuel along with whatever adjustments they could complete during the 10 minute session.
The second half restart sawParker Stephens lead Chad Hinkle to the green once again, this time with the lapped car of Molly Helmuth on the inside of row 2 as Cress would grid up to her outside. Elstoen and Pressley would make up row 3 and round out the top 5. This time Hinkle would have more to say as he mounted a run on the outside of Stephens for several laps, bringing the crowd to their feet lap after lap as the two battled door to door. Behind the leaders the action was ratcheting up as lead lap cars tried to clear the lapped car of Helmuth, creating a whirlwind of action as guys scattered to both sides of her at times. Eventually Hinkle would claim the top spot from his drive on the high side, moving Stephens back to 2nd for the first time since he took over the lead. At the same time, the 17 of Pressley was battling underneath the 91 of Cress in his bid for the #3 position. The 5th spot was being held by the 20 of Andy Sole, hung up behind his Evergreen Speedway companion, the lapped 90 car of Helmuth. The 2 car of Elstoen would pressure Sole hard at this time with the 11 of Hamilton running the pair down. Stephens would retake the lead and begin to distance himself once again. The spinning 23 car of Ash would bring out caution #8 on lap 133 as he found himself looking at oncoming traffic in turn 4.
The lap 138 restart would see Stephens on the inside of row 1 with the 17 of Pressley on the outside this time. The 33 of Hinkle would finds himself gridded in row 2 with the lapped 95 car of Thomas on his outside. The 91 of Cress and the 20 of Sole would make up row 3 and round out the top 5. With Stephens getting a massive jump on the restart Hinkle was easily able to follow him through to the 2nd position, Pressley would find himself lucky to settle into 3rd. The 11 of Hamilton would move Sole out of his way in turn 1, shuffling the 20 car way back in the running order. The 11 car of Hamilton continued his hard charging, barnstorming driving style, laying the fender to those in front of him as he continued his run to the front. Caution #9 flew on lap 155 for the spinning lapped car of Helmuth who found herself the victim of the front bumper of Christopher Kalsh in the 33 car.
With the field set to go back to green, the running order would now be Stephens inside with Hinkle on his outside for row 1. Pressley and Hamilton would now make up row 2. Cress and Elstoen would round out row 3. Again Hinkle put on a show for several laps, challenging Stephens on the high side of this one groove track simply refusing to be denied as the crowd roared their approval. Hamilton, who had once pitted under yellow and rejoined the field at the back of the pack slotted into 3rd, looking for a hole he could exploit. With this action going on up front it was easy to overlook the raging battle between Presley and Elstoen as the 2 car refused to abandon his drive on the high side of the 17. As before, Hinkle would eventually take over the top spot, driving around Stephens on the outside. At the same time Elstoen showed that he could play that game too, moving his car in front of Pressley from the high side as well. Caution #10 flew for the 90 car of Helmuth who saw her run end with a blown engine on lap 170.
The lap 177 restart would find Hinkle in the top spot and inside of row 1 with Stephens to his outside this time. Hamilton would see his 11 car in row 2 with Elstoen’s 2 car to his outside. Pressley’s 17 car would round out the top 5. Back under green the action quickly heated to a boiling point as the 33 of Hinkle and the 4 of Stephens banged doors, each one trying to move the other out of his groove in typical short track style. But Hamilton wanted in on the action too, poking his 11 car three wide at times as he searched for his opening. But Stephens would not be denied, jumping to the lead from the outside, leaving Hinkle and Hamilton to sort it out behind him. Stephens would begin to drive away while Hamilton went to work on the 33 of Hinkle.
After a war that raged for a dozen laps or more, Hamilton would claim the 2nd spot by moving Hinkle up the track ending with no paint remaining on either the right front corner of the 11 car or the left rear corner of the 33 car and several tire marks up the sides of both cars. Stephens would easily drive away from the field and lead the remaining laps in route to his back-to-back victory in the Miller 200. Hamilton would drive to a 2nd place finish while Hinnkle held on to the 3rd spot. Alan Cress and Bob Pressley would round out the top 5.
Photos (via Photos by Stormy):
- 4- Parker Stephens
- 11- JJ Hamilton
- 33x- Chad Hinkle
- 2 – Tommy Elstoen
- 91- Alan Cress
- 17- Bob Presley
- 14 – Brandon Carlson
- 3 – Wayne Dillon
- 95- Carolyn Thomas
- 81 – Darrell Midgley
- 33- Christopher Kalsch
- 90- Molly Helmuth
- 20- Andy Sole
- 23 – Brandon Ash
- 7- Kurt Meyer
- 28- Paul Hanson
- 92- Tommy Rasmussen
- 25- Dave Cline
“Terrible” Tim McDougald is the driver of the #68 HayWire Racing / Mo-Dane Trucking / Clevenger Associates / Rev-Equip / Ringers Gloves Toyota Camry in the Whelen All-American Late Model series at Evergreen Speedway. When Tim is not driving the car, he helps the 3-car family owned team on the pit crew. Tim also handles the spotter duties for his brother, Tommy Rasmussen’s, #92 Mo-Dane Trucking / RPM Sales & Service / Vital Signs / Mauritsen Enterprises Chevy Impala racing in the Pacific Northwest. Tim is the HayWire Racing team’s web site editor and Media Relations Director handling all team pr, media obligations and sponsor relations. Tim is an avid blogger, active Twitter (@TerribleTim68) and Facebook user and a published author. For more information about the team, visit http://www.haywire-racing.com. For inquiries regarding marketing coaching and sponsor package help, contact Tim through the HayWire Racing website.