Cool customers

Williams holds off Garber for first Idaho 200 title

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Trophy Queen Courtney Gates joins Dave Garber, Blake Williams and Andy Brown in victory circle following the 14th annual Idaho 200, which finished early Sunday morning at Stateline Speedway.

POST FALLS — It was a cool night at Stateline Speedway, in more ways than one.

First off, jackets seemed the order of the evening to fend off the cool air as the race started with temperatures in the 60s.

Secondly, cool heads prevailed, as the 14th running of the Idaho 200 enjoyed long, green flag sessions, permeated by just enough caution flags to reset the field.

Lastly, the local fans thought it was cool, when local racers swept the podium, led by Spokane’s Blake Williams, who held off Dave Garber to capture his first title at North Idaho’s premier Super Late Model race early Sunday morning.

Garber and fellow Spokane resident Andy Brown came home in second and third respectively.

Williams celebrated with some thick, smoky burnouts before gliding his midnight black No. 16 machine into victory circle, just after midnight.

“We were struggling in the first half with carburetor issues,” Williams said. “But when we got a chance, we changed carbs and from then on the car was very dominant on the outside, after it took a couple laps to get it working.

“I raced Dave as hard and clean as I could.”

Garber put pressure on Williams for the better part of the last segment, catching him going into the turns, but Williams had the horsepower to pull away on the straightaways.

“We just used up a little bit too much tire (trying to catch Blake), Garber said. “We changed our setup a little bit at the half. Maybe we should have left it, but it worked out all right — It was a long weekend.”POST FALLS — It was a cool night at Stateline Speedway, in more ways than one.

First off, jackets seemed the order of the evening to fend off the cool air as the race started with temperatures in the 60s.

Secondly, cool heads prevailed, as the 14th running of the Idaho 200 enjoyed long, green flag sessions, permeated by just enough caution flags to reset the field.

Lastly, the local fans thought it was cool, when local racers swept the podium, led by Spokane’s Blake Williams, who held off Dave Garber to capture his first title at North Idaho’s premier Super Late Model race early Sunday morning.

Garber and fellow Spokane resident Andy Brown came home in second and third respectively.

Williams celebrated with some thick, smoky burnouts before gliding his midnight black No. 16 machine into victory circle, just after midnight.

“We were struggling in the first half with carburetor issues,” Williams said. “But when we got a chance, we changed carbs and from then on the car was very dominant on the outside, after it took a couple laps to get it working.

“I raced Dave as hard and clean as I could.”

Garber put pressure on Williams for the better part of the last segment, catching him going into the turns, but Williams had the horsepower to pull away on the straightaways.

“We just used up a little bit too much tire (trying to catch Blake), Garber said. “We changed our setup a little bit at the half. Maybe we should have left it, but it worked out all right — It was a long weekend.”

Brown was plenty pleased with his third-place finish.

“For the first time out that was a good race for us,” Brown said. “We have been working on it for a couple of weeks. This race is so big and we get some much help to get here it is hard for us not to run on our home track.

“I wish we were better the second hundred laps — it always disappoints me when the chassis goes away a little bit. We just have to take it back and look at it. I don’t think anything is broke, but we just might have missed the setup that second hundred, but with third place, I’m way happy.”

The race started with Williams on the pole and Nicole Behar, the 15-year-old phenom from Otis Orchards, on the outside of the front row. Dave Garber and Gary Lewis, the three-time Idaho 200 champ, lined up in the second row, with Braeden Havens of Airway Heights and Brown in row 3.

Spokane’ Joey Bird secured the last (12th) spot on qualifying time.

Racing their way into the field through the last-chance qualifier were defending champ Garrett Evans, Erick Hargraves, Brandon Sickler, Clint Habart, Zach Moran, Agni Howell, Mitch Kleyn and Todd Havens. Justin Lofton and Larry Todd were promoter’s choices and started at the back of the field for the 200.

Lofton, of Huntersville, N.C., was on hiatus from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where he has finished in the top 10 in both his starts this season.

Behar got around Williams on lap 3, and the field strung out single file by lap 12. By then, Behar had checked out to a 5-car-length lead over Williams. Behar started lapping cars by the 22nd lap, and Garber and Lewis commenced a door-to-door battle that would ensue for a good part of the evening.

Bird spun on lap 40, bringing out the caution. On the restart, Williams and Behar tangled in turn 1, with Behar trying to gather it up heading into turn 2. She collided with Gary Lewis, who was trying to get around on the outside. Behar suffered some damage to the right side of her car, but Lewis had to pit.

On the restart, Williams took command and Garber began the chase. Garber took the lead on lap 75, and pulled away until a caution came out when Habart hit the wall coming off turn 4. Hargraves, Lewis, Behar, Bird and Moran all got caught up in the mess. Lewis headed to the pits under caution with a flat right front.

By lap 78, Behar moved back into the top 10, and 10 laps later Larry Todd spun into the grass in turn 2. From there, Garber held off Williams on the restart and led the cars off the track for a break before the last 100-lap segment.

Back on the track, Williams got past Garber on lap 106, with Lewis and Evans battling for sixth place.

Williams stretched his lead out to six cars by lap 126, with Bird and Behar, two Stateline Hydrive Late Model rivals, going at it for the eighth spot.

Williams took a straightaway lead over Garber by lap 156, and eight laps later, Clint Habart spun, bunching the field up again after caution.

Williams selected the outside position on the restart at the commitment cone, allowing Garber to take the inside. Garber jumped the restart and Lofton plowed into a couple of cars heading into turn 1, his No. 88 machine scattering parts all over the track.

Garber and Williams came to the line dead even on the next restart, and Williams proved to be too strong on the high side, getting around Garber in the high side on lap 175.

By now, Williams was getting a great bite off the corners, and Garber gave it his all trying to outbrake him going into every corner to close the gap.

Alex Lessor of Kalispell took the checkered flag in fourth place, followed by Lewis. Ryan Wells of Hingham, Mont., was sixth, and Wenatchee’s Evans motored home seventh.

Behar persevered, securing eighth in her first Idaho 200, and Braeden Havens and Bird wound up ninth and 10th.

“It’s a long very challenging race — patience is key in this race and you’ve got to stay out of trouble,” Bird said. “Unfortunately we didn’t but the car was super fast all night and we came up from the back twice and still got a solid top-10 finish in our first 200.

“I’m very proud of my team and their effort and am looking forward to our next race. We definitely have the car and team to be a front runner, just need some luck and more experience.”

“We had the best talent in the Northwest at the race,” Stateline promoter Larry Bertrand said. “And our local drivers did good job defending the track.”

2013 Idaho 200

At Stateline Speedway

200 laps

Place Name Laps

1. Blake Williams 200

2. Dave Garber 200

3. Andy Brown 200

4. Alex Lessor 200

5. Gary Lewis 200

6. Ryan Wells 200

7. Garrett Evans 200

8. Nicole Behar 200

9. Braeden Havens 200

10. Joey Bird 200

11. Corey Wolfe 200

12. Trevor Emond 200

13. Josh Roberts 200

14. Erick Hargraves 199

15. Clint Habart 199

16. Todd Havens 198

17. Mitch Kleyn 197

18. Justin Lofton 166

19. Brandon Sickler 88

20. Larry Todd 72

21. Zach Moran 59

22. Agni Howell 41

LAST CHANCE QUALIFIER

1, Garrett Evans. 2, Erick Hargraves. 3, Agni Howell. 4, Zach Moran. 5, Todd Havens. 6, Clint Habart. 7, Mitch Klein. 8, Brandon Sickler. 9, Larry Todd. 10, Justin Lofton. 11, Jake Bisset. 12, Tim Babcock. 13, Chris Kellogg.

EARLY STOCKS

Fast time — Gil Rapp Jr., 15.496 seconds. A dash — Shawn Priest. A heat — Ken Iverson. Main — 1, Gil Rapp Jr. 2, Shawn Priest. 3, Ken Iverson. 4, TJ Burke. 5, Justin Robideaux. 6, Clayton Wood. 7, Mike Robideaux. 8, Jerry Myers. 9, Rick Rapp. 10, Larry Miller.

Nicole Behar takes her 33 car around the track during Saturday's Idaho 200 at the Stateline Speedway in Post Falls.

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