Wapato wonder

Wofford holds off field to win Idaho 200; valiant rally by Spokane’s Bird falls one car short

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Car number 20, driven by Shelby Thompson of Spokane, WA, turns the corner near the end of the first 100 laps of the Idaho 200 at Stateliness Speedway. Thompson finished the first half of the race in second place, behind car number 100, driven by JC Wofford of Wapato, WA.

POST FALLS — With a potent lineup of the best super late model talent in the Northwest, Saturday night’s 16th running of the Idaho 200 appeared on paper to be a no-holds-barred fight to the finish.

Turns out, the paper was right.

JC Wofford, the Yakima Speedway regular and Wapato, Wash., resident, made a successful debut at Stateline Speedway by biding his time early, then pouncing to take the lead, maintaining a comfortable cushion and taking home the tallest trophy and $8,000 in the 200-lap race that ended just before midnight.

Joey Bird of Spokane, one of two fast qualifiers who had the option of starting from the back and doubling their payout winnings, took the offer and drove through the field but couldn’t get by Wofford, who pulled out to multiple-car-length leads after every caution flag.

Gary Lewis, the three-time Idaho 200 champion and polesitter, chose to take the $1,500 cash payout rather than start from the back. The Snohomish, Wash., driver rallied to finish third, after losing the lead early to Braeden Havens and then battled Havens’ teammate Shelby Thompson for a majority of the first half (100 laps).

Wofford did a few celebratory donuts before climbing out of his car to accept the accolades. He normally runs the 1/2 –mile oval at Yakima Speedway, but obviously found the ¼ Stateline track to his liking.

“I’m not very good at quarter miles, but I had a good car,” Wofford said. “BJ Tidrick and the crew gave me an awesome hot rod, and I was able to put it up front.

“Honestly the car was good from the drop of the green — I just kind of paced myself those first 40 laps, saved my brakes. They kind of backed up to me and once I took the lead, I was able to maintain it.”

Wofford said he had the team tighten his machine up for corner entries at the break, but since he knew they had a great car, they didn’t want to do anything drastic, and sure enough, they were able to stay out front and out of trouble the rest of the way.

Wofford took the top spot on lap 64, motoring past Havens. Thompson soon passed Havens and worked on Wofford, trying him high and low in some of the night’s best racing.

Bird leaped out of his car after the race, with a mix of frustration and satisfaction about his night.

“We had a really good car, I knew we could get it done from the back, we were up there in the top 5, but that wreck before the 100 laps kind of got me,” he said. “We had to battle our way back up. My uncle Jeff put a good setup on the car and we got it done.”

Bird got to the leader’s (Wofford’s) bumper and after a restart on lap 168, tried to give chase. But Wofford poured it on when it counted and had a nice lead of a few car lengths the remaining laps.

The ever-calm Lewis arose from his familiar orange-and-black No. 73, and was pragmatic about his evening of racing.

“It was a battle — the track was hot and greasy and slimy, and if your car is off just a bit, it really shows,” he said. “We were pretty loose in first half, we tightened it up, but we went it a hair too far.”

Lewis, whose team used to dominate at Stateline only a few years ago, said that was the team’s best finish of the year so far. “It was a good run for us, so we’ll take it one step at a time and work our way back up,” he said.

Blake Williams, the Spokane driver and 2013 Idaho 200 winner, had a right front go down on lap 42 under green. The crew swapped the tire and Williams returned, making up only one lap of the four he had lost and coming home in 12th position after starting on the outside of the front row.

On lap 88, a few cars bunched up going into turn 2, and Bird, charging through the field in 8th, drove into Dave Garber of Spokane and spun Garber to the infield. Garber got back going, but both cars had to start from the back due to the contact.

Garber’s eventful night didn’t end there. Right after the break, trouble again found him on lap 102, and this time he ended up with a torn-up right side. After a trip to the pits, he returned, minus all the sheet metal and fiberglass from the front doors forward. He soldiered on and finished 19th.

On the restart, Havens moved past Wofford, and Thompson followed him by. Wofford regrouped and ran them both down, regaining the lead a few laps later.

Thompson, another Spokane driver, lost a rear end on lap 124 and had to give up the chase after contending for the lead up to that point.

Havens, of Airway Heights, never gave up and took the checkered flag in fourth.

Garrett Evans, the 2012 Idaho 200 winner from Wenatchee, blew a motor on lap 164, and retired after running in the top five most of the night.

Corey Allard of Sagle qualified in 8th, ran well inside the top 10 until a mechanical issue put him behind the wall on lap 48.

Eric Chaney, the Post Falls driver making his super late model debut at the track where he has most recently run in the four-cylinder late model category, came home in 23rd spot.

2015 Idaho 200

Finish Car No. driver Laps complete

1. 100 JC Wofford 200

2. 24 Joey Bird 200

3. 73 Gary Lewis 200

4. 83 Braeden Havens 200

5. 9 Josh Roberts 200

6. 5 Ryan Wells 200

7. 05 Zach Moran 200

8. 96 Jake Bisset 200

9. 51 Glenn Knutson 200

10. 1 Mitch Kleyn 199

11. 11 Ed Thomsen 198

12. 16 Blake Williams 197

13. 64x Brock Denney 195

14. 88 Dirk Bennett 181

15. 15 Tom Plybon 180

16. 22 Garret Sawyer 178

17. 64 Garrett Evans 168

18. 3 Barry Shingar 132

19. 93 Dave Garber 125

20. 20t Shelby Thompson 124

21. 29 Jason O’Neil 101

22. 23 Corey Allard 48

23. 76 Eric Chaney 22

24. 72 Kameron McKeehan 1

Tamara Bird, right, points as the super late model race cars pass at Stateline Speedway on Saturday during the Idaho 200.

 

A man watches along the fence at Stateline Speedway as the super late models race the Idaho 200 on Saturday night.

 

Two race officials watch as the cars turn the corner at Stateline Speedway early into the Idaho 200 on Saturday night.

 

JC Wofford poses with trophy queen Amber DeMain in the winner’s circle after Wofford won Saturday night’s Idaho 200 at Stateline Speedway.

 

JC Wofford, winner of the 2015 Idaho 200 at Stateline Speedway, races around the track late in the first 100 laps on Saturday night.

 

Bill McConnell, left, points to a fellow crew member of car number 16, driven by Blake Williams of Spokane, WA. Williams was one of 24 drivers at the Idaho 200 on Saturday evening at Stateline Speedway.

 

The Idaho 200 featured 24 different racers from the area. JC Wofford of Wapato, WA won the event on Saturday night.

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