YAKIMA, Washington — The asphalt late model season in the Northwest begins this weekend at Yakima Speedway with the 46th Annual Apple Cup sponsored by Columbia Asphalt. Featuring some of .the top teams from the Western United States and Canada, drivers will be out to stop perennial favorite and defending race winner Pete Harding from adding to his Apple Cup trophy case.
Yakima Speedway champion, Owen Riddle, is considered by many to be the top challenger to Harding's run of success in the event. Riddle was runner-up in the 2011 Montana 200 to another Apple Cup entry, Shane Mitchell. Both drivers were posting strong finishes late in 2011 until the Fall Classic season-finale at Yakima stymied their success. Riddle broke a motor early while Mitchell also struggled to a finish outside the top-25 finishers
Qualifying will be a premium as late model teams will be out to set themselves up for a strong starting position in one of two heat races to determine the final starting line-up for the 125-lap Apple Cup main event. For the first time in the history of the race all final starting positions will be determined by the finishing position of a driver in his or her respective qualifying heat race.
Also racing this weekend will be INEX Legends, the West Coast Promoters Street Stocks Series, Sportsman and Pure Stocks.
In the WCPSSS division past Fall Classic winner, Chris Hart, returns to the No. 69 Ford sponsored by Tidrick's Quality Transmissions. Defending WCPSSS champion Mel Patnode has entered his No. 04 VanAmburg Enterprises Chevrolet with fellow WCPSSS veteran Gary Flammang also expected to contend.
Sportsman champion Buck Noel Jr. will have his hands full as young guns Lucas Valdez and Kyler Conduff look to challenge for Apple Cup glory.
In the Pure Stock division Chris Marang, Rob Allen and Greg Gargett will be out to net Apple Cup glory but expect Tim Breshears and Cody Denton to be in the mix as well. All five drivers finished the 2011 season as the top-5 points drivers with Gargett claiming the championship.
Past Yakima Speedway late model champion, Scott Walker, will be one to watch in the INEX Legends division along with local stars Garrett Sisk and Chance Overholt.
Apple Cup weekend gets underway Friday with an open practice session from 11 to 5 p.m. Followed by a full morning practice schedule on Saturday. Opening ceremonies for Saturday's event at slated for 1 p.m. with racing to follow. The 46th Annual Apple Cup presented by Columbia Asphalt is set for Sunday with opening ceremonies again scheduled for 1 p.m with over 275 main event laps scheduled in five divisions highlighted by the 125-lap late model shootout.
For ticket and other information call Yakima Speedway's fan hotline at (509) 248-0647, log onto yakimaspeedway.us or find Yakima Speedway on Facebook.