ELMA, Washington — Corey Esteban showed everyone why he’s one of the very best on Saturday night, surviving an early race accident and charging from his 14th starting position to take the lead, and then winning a crowd-pleasing duel with Rick Adams in heavy traffic in the closing laps to secure the PHRA dwarf car victory at Grays Harbor Raceway.
For Gaston, Ore.’s Esteban, the two-time and defending PHRA champion, it’s the eighth time in ten points races for the PHRA this season he has ended the evening as the A-Main event winner. Of the other two races, Esteban finished second in one and wasn’t even at the other, making him technically 8-for-9 this year. Saturday’s win made it a season sweep of the PHRA events at Grays Harbor Raceway for Esteban, who also won at the Elma, Wash. facility on June 20th.
Esteban first won his heat race and also won the A-Dash en route to a sweep of the evening. As the last PHRA main event winner from the July 25th race at River City Speedway, by rule Esteban had to start the main event behind the rest of the heat race transfers. Starting 14th after a scratch from the field, Esteban was already up to eighth place in just two laps, but tangled with Josh Kribs in Turn 2 on Lap 3, sending him back to the rear of the field. Esteban wasted no time getting back to the front after that, taking the lead from initial leader Henry Corbin III on Lap 17.
Meanwhile, Rick Adams of Hillsboro, Ore. changed rides before the feature event and climbed back into his own car to tag the back of the 21-car field. Adams also made his way to the front of the field and actually passed Esteban for the lead on Lap 20, only to give it back on the next lap. Adams kept pace with Esteban over the last ten laps, getting several looks and even hitting Esteban’s back bumper once along the way.
As the laps winded down, Adams put the pressure on as he and Esteban traded passes in one particular lap. Then at the finish, heavy traffic came into play for the two. Right after taking the white flag, Esteban got hung up as he tried to pass a slower car on the outside in Turn 1, allowing Adams to pass him on the low side to take the lead. With several slower cars ahead of him, Adams could not get far ahead of Esteban as they were only about a car length apart going down the back stretch of the big 3/8-mile.
With a sizeable group of cars immediately in front of Adams, Esteban dove down low from the middle part of the track in between Turns 3 and 4 and his momentum carried him past Adams on the low side exiting Turn 4 to take the checkered flag, much to the delight of a crowd that appreciated the racing they had just seen.
Corbin III, who started outside his father Henry Corbin II on the front row, took the lead on the start and for several laps the Molalla, Ore. driver fought to hold off Forest Grove, Ore.’s Mitch Meeuwsen, at one point using a slower car as a pick. As Corbin used the top side of the track, Meeuwsen hugged the bottom of the track and got side-by-side with Corbin a number of time exiting the turns, but couldn’t make a pass stick. Esteban and Adams both rolled past Meeuwsen and at one point Esteban passed Corbin to take the lead, only to have his move negated by a yellow flag. On the following restart, both Esteban and Adams would get by Corbin.
On the final lap as they were in slower traffic, Meeuwsen would finally get Corbin to finish third. Dave Cantu, who started third and ran as high as second early on, would finish fifth. Mike Chadwick ran in the Top 10 throughout the race and finished sixth after starting fourth, and Kyle Thompson did the same to finish seventh. Corbin II would finish eighth and Charles Millar was ninth. In just his third night racing a dwarf car, Andy LaPlante drove to an impressive tenth place finish after starting near the back of the field.
Grays Harbor Raceway fans also got a look at an uncommon sight, a dwarf car sitting on it’s top. Kevin Dykstra walked away unharmed after his car spun around exiting Turn 4 and flipped upside down into the infield.
Before yielding the No. 97 car back to Adams, Mike Shane ran away with the B-Main event, finishing ahead of Clay Goben, Shane Youngren and LaPlante. Goben won the B-Dash race over LaPlante, Dave Lewis and Dykstra and Esteban easily won the A-Dash over Meeuwsen, Cantu and Thompson. Heat race victories went to Meeuwsen, Cantu and Esteban.
The next event for the Pacific Hardtop Racing Association is this Saturday, August 8th at Sunset Speedway Park in Banks, Ore. After it’s rainout in May, the PHRA hopes to get in its first race at Madras Speedway this season on August 15th.
|PHRA Dwarf Cars|
Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. 28 Mitch Meeuwsen, 2. 89 Henry Corbin III, 3. 78 Kevin Hicks, 4. 00 Jim Pavel, 5. 37 Troy Kunas, 6. 25 Andy LaPlante, 7. 4 Brian Taylor, 8. 97 Mike Shane, DNS - 76 Brian Hicks. First five finishers transfer to A-Main.
Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. 63 Dave Cantu, 2. 90 Henry Corbin II, 3. 81 Charles Millar, 4. 63x Rick Adams, 5. 24 Mike Chadwick, 6. 18 Shane Youngren, 7. 75 Clay Goben, 8. 19 Ryan Bothwell, DNS - 51 Bill Van Housen. First five finishers transfer to A-Main.
Heat 3 (8 laps): 1. 36 Corey Esteban, 2. 40 Kyle Thompson, 3. 77 Brad Hicks, 4. 45 Josh Kribs, 5. 3 Jim Fischer, 6. 73 Dave Lewis, 7. 17 Kevin Dykstra, 8. 72 Todd Peterson. First five finishes transfer to A-Main.
B-Dash (4 laps): 1. 75 Clay Goben, 2. 25 Andy LaPlante, 3. 73 Dave Lewis, 4. 17 Kevin Dykstra.
A-Dash (4 laps): 1. 36 Corey Esteban, 2. 28 Mitch Meeuwsen, 3. 63 Dave Cantu, 4. 40 Kyle Thompson.
B-Main (20 laps): 1. 97 Mike Shane, 2. 75 Clay Goben, 3. 18 Shane Youngren, 4. 25 Andy LaPlante, 5. 73 Dave Lewis, 6. 17 Kevin Dykstra, 7. 76 Brian Hicks, 8. 4 Brian Taylor, 9. 72 Todd Peterson, 10. 51 Bill Van Housen, DNS - 19 Ryan Bothwell. First nine finishers officially transferred to A-Main.
Note: 63x of Rick Adams would not fire before A-Main. Adams substituted for Mike Shane in the 97 and tagged the back of the A-Main field.
A-Main (30 laps): 1. 36 Corey Esteban, 2. 97 Mike Shane, 3. 28 Mitch Meeuwsen, 4. 89 Henry Corbin III, 5. 63 Dave Cantu, 6. 24 Mike Chadwick, 7. 40 Kyle Thompson, 8. 90 Henry Corbin II, 9. 81 Charles Millar, 10. 25 Andy LaPlante, 11. 78 Kevin Hicks, 12. 3 Jim Fischer, 13. 00 Jim Pavel, 14. 75 Clay Goben, 15. 37 Troy Kunas, 16. 76 Brian Hicks, 17. 73 Dave Lewis, 18. 18 Shane Youngren, 19. 77 Brad Hicks, 20. 17 Kevin Dykstra, 21. 45 Josh Kribs, DNS - 4 Brian Taylor, 72 Todd Peterson, 63x/97 Mike Shane.
Lap leaders: Henry Corbin III 1-16, Corey Esteban 17-19, Rick Adams 20, Corey Esteban 21-30