MONROE, Washington — There are abundant story lines for the 2012 season opener of the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Speedway Chevrolet Super Late Models at Evergreen Speedway this Saturday April 28. From the youngest driver to ever start a Super Late Model race at the fabled facility, to the youngest female to ever start, to the only driver to win NASCAR, ARCA and ASA regional touring championships, to a driver in only his second year of racing a super late model who won the INSSA championship and is fresh off a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West eighth place finish, to a South Sound Speedway multiple time Late Model champion, to two father & son racing teams, to the pastor of a mega church and to the return of a three time and defending division champion. The season opening race is titled The Can-Am Invitational in honor of the feature story line with the return of Canadian driver Chris Preston who was severely burned in an explosion two years ago and will be making his return to racing. The Twin 50-lap mains will be a part of the new I-5 Challenge Series for Late Model drivers. The first ever series will join drivers from Evergreen Speedway and South Sound Speedway in a special championship. In addition the night will also have the NASCAR Super Figure Eight division, Les Schwab Tires NASCAR Street Stock division, Foster Press NASCAR Mini-Stock division and the debut of the Northwest Legends Series in action. The full night of racing starts at 6pm with spectator gates opening at 4:30. The pit gates will open at 12pm to accommodate all the cars expected.
Canadian, Chris Preston was caught in an explosion at his restaurant two years ago and was badly burned. Survival was questionable no less getting back in a race car. Fighting through many months of rehabilitation Chris’s goal was to get back to his passion of stock car racing. Saturday night that goal becomes a reality with the start of the 2012 season at his home track Evergreen Speedway. Many of his supporters from Canada and the US will be there to cheer for his survival and obtaining his goal.
The youngest driver to ever start a Super Late Model race at Evergreen Speedway, Garrett Archer returns for a full season of championship racing. At only 14 years old Archer started a SLM race last season. Now at 15, Archer will vie to become the youngest to ever win a SLM race and potential NASCAR championship at the Northwest’s only NASCAR sanctioned track.
Staying with the youth movement is the youngest female racer to don a Super Late Model helmet is 16 year old Molly Helmuth. Making her debut in the big car at the 2011 season ending race, Helmuth is also in line to be the first ever woman to win a race and potential championship. Helmuth is also running a Ford Focus Midget in the Ron Sutton Series in California during the 2012 season. Plus she will be running her Foster Press Mini-Stock and her Northwest pro-4 truck when time allows.
Another young driver making his first attempt at a Super Late Model start at Evergreen is 18 year old Spokane, WA native Braeden Havens. In only his second year as a Super Late Model racer Havens went on to win the INSSA (Inland Northwest Super Stock Association) championship the youngest in their history. Havens ran a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event last season. This season Havens finished eighth in his first NASCAR top regional touring division race the K&N Pro Series West at Havasu 95 Speedway in California. Braeden will be joined by his father Todd in his first trip to Evergreen. Todd has been a long time competitor in the Inland Northwest in both the ICAR and INSSA series.
Gary Lewis who started his career at Evergreen Speedway went on to win a NASCAR Northwest Tour Championship, an ASA Northwest Late Model Tour Championship and an ARCA West Late Model Challenge Series Championship. Lewis is the only driver to do this. During his illustrious career Lewis has won four Montana 200’s and three Idaho 200’s along with many other events. Lewis returns to the 3/8-mile oval for the first time in many years. Lewis will be the most celebrated driver in the star studded twin 50’s.
This being the inaugural I-5 Challenge Series race, South Sound Speedway champion, JJ Hamilton will be wanting to add to his challenge series point lead after a challenge series opening race win at South Sound last weekend. Hamilton a perennial winner at SSS will be making his first start on the 3/8-mile paved oval at Evergreen.
The other father & son duo will be Rod Schultz Sr. and Jr. Both started their careers at the defunct Portland Speedway. Racing on the old Northwest Tour for few years they have been challenging for championships at South Sound Speedway for the last few years.
In his fourth full season Pastor Jeff Knight will return to challenge for the season title. Pastor of the fast growing Rock Church in Monroe, WA Pastor Knight does a great job of juggling his time between his two passions. Whether it’s on the pulpit or in the race car Knight is a winner.
Naima Lang a three time Evergreen Speedway NASCAR Super Late Model Champion and the defending division champion will be back to try for a fourth. Lang won 11 races in 2011 on his way to the third title of being NASCAR’s State of Washington Champion.
Other drivers expected to join the star studded season opener are: two time winner last season Tom Hughs, three time winner last season Daniel Moore, former Super Figure Eight racer and former South Sound late Model Champion Shane Sawin, former South Sound Speedway and Yakima Speedway Champion Kelly Mann, former winners in the Evergreen Speedway Street Stock Division Andy sole and Doug Davidson, winner on the defunct Late Model Challenge Series Tommy Rasmussen and former moto-cross motorcycle star in his 2nd full season Doni Wanat.
All the action for the NASCAR Super Late Model Twin 50’s, NASCAR Street Stock, NASCAR Mini-Stock, NASACAR Super Figure Eight divisions and the Northwest Legend Series on the 3/8-mile paved oval and the super-fast figure track gets going at 6pm. For more information go to www.evergreenspeedway.com or call 360-805-6100