Spokane, WA – Trevor Cristiani scored his second career Northwest Super Late Model Series victory Saturday night, winning the “Liberty Launch Academy 125” at Findlay Stadium Stateline Speedway (ID). The 2019 series champion drove from eighth starting to the lead by lap 44 and never looked back, holding off a late race charge from Jason O’Neil to score the $3,000 victory. The win was a long-time coming for the Boise Idaho driver, as he explained in Victory Lane.
“I’ve been working really, really hard in the shop with some credit to some people for some help and guidance”, Cristiani exclaimed. “It feels really good when you work hard, and it starts paying off and you start seeing results. We have been consistently faster, but we couldn’t seem to put the whole thing together. Tonight, we were still off just a little bit on the long run, but there have definitely been big gains and I think we have a lot more positive things coming in our future here.”
Cristiani started the evening by earning the AFCO Racing / Longacre Racing Products Fast Time Award, with a blistering lap of 13.200 seconds on the ¼-mile oval. Jason O’Neil was second-quick with Kaiden Anderson, Nick Gibson, Haeden Plybon, Evan Goetz, Corey Allard, and Dave Garber the top-eight redraw recipients. Cristiani drew the unlucky number eight, as Plybon grabbed the pole with Evan Goetz alongside. Nick Gibson lined up third with Corey Allard completing the second row.
Plybon got a good initial start, moving to the lead, with Gibson advancing to second by the lap four caution for Chris Kellogg in the Turn 4 wall. The ensuing restart found Plybon and Gibson battling side-by-side, as Gibson edged ahead in the upper groove, to lead lap-seven, clearing Plybon on lap-eight. Meanwhile, Cristiani was making his way to the front, moving by O’Neil for fourth by lap 14, and supplanting Goetz six laps later, as O’Neil followed the former champion a lap later. By lap 25 Cristiani moved by Plybon and took up the chase of Gibson, who had separated himself from the field, on the long green flag run.
By lap 42, Cristiani had chased his teammate down and pressured the Nampa, ID driver for the lead. It took only two laps for Cristiani grab the top spot and lead the field to a yellow at the halfway mark. The restart saw Cristiani to the lead, with O’Neil pressuring Gibson for the runner-up position. On lap 70, O’Neil was finally able to get under Gibson for second place with Goetz and championship leader Kaiden Anderson also pressuring Gibson for third. As Goetz hounded Gibson, Anderson was able to trap the youngest series winner under Gibson and make the move to fourth.
After a caution on Lap 88, Cristiani was able to reestablish the lead with Anderson moving Gibson back to fourth, as the caution flew once again on lap 92. The restart was short-lived as the red flew for Andy Beaman, who ended up in the Turn 1 wall. The final restart found Cristiani out to the lead, but O’Neil stayed within striking distance. As the laps wound down, O’Neil began to close on the bumper of the leader. With four to go, Gibson was within a half car length of Cristiani, but a slight bobble in Turn 4 gave the leader a two-car advantage. On the final lap, O’Neil drove it deep into Turn 3, but spun in an attempt to get inside Cristiani. As the field crossed the finish line, Cristiani led Anderson, Gibson, a charging Mike Doss, and Evan Goetz, with O’Neil falling to 11th at the conclusion.
After the event, Cristiani recalled his rapid ascension to the front, after drawing the number eight pill.
“This track, fortunately, seems to have two and maybe three grooves, so I wasn’t worried at all about going to the outside and trying to make some headway, while the tires were fresh, and the track was a little bit cooler. Fortunately, things just worked out. I think people were trying to conserve a lot. I was trying to conserve but get up there without overdoing it. We found ourselves up there in the top-five pretty quick and then we were trying to be patient. It just worked out really well, and we got to the lead and didn’t look back.”
Kaiden Anderson had another solid effort and added to his championship lead with a second-place finish. The Rookie-of-the-Year candidate was disappointed not to win, but happy with the team’s advancement towards the championship.
“Obviously, we want to win, so we are a little disappointed with that, but second-place never hurts, and it was a great point night for us. I think we extended our lead, so I’m happy about that, and I hope we can continue.”
Anderson was surprised at how the track raced and felt that he may have had something for the win if they had anticipated the strength of the outer groove.
“The track was really weird tonight, with the outside the most dominant. So, I feel like we didn’t adjust for an outside lane night and unfortunately, we just got a little tight there at the end.”
For the second race in-a-row, Nick Gibson scored his best career finish, this time finishing third. He led 37 laps and was able to duke it out with his teammate, and eventual winner for the lead. It was the highlight of the evening for the veteran racer, but series rookie.
“That was probably the highlight of the whole night, I like racing with Trevor”, Gibson explained. “Those guys up front, you can run them hard, and you can touch together, and you can be smooth about it and race hard. That’s what is awesome about this series. It was pretty bad a**!”
Gibson felt that he had a good car, but also felt a few adjustments from the driver may have given him a shot at the win.
“I think a lot of it is that I need to back my entry up”, Gibson admitted. “I overdrive it and it especially makes it worse when it is tight in the center. I was having a hard time doing that, I get excited, and I pound it in there and it just shoves the nose, and it takes forever to get back to the throttle. I just really got to work on training myself to back the entry up sometimes. You feel like you are going slower, but you are going faster.”
The next event for the Northwest Super Late Model Series will be at Hermiston Raceway for the Labor Day Spectacular, “Atomic 125” on September 4th. $4,500 will go to the winner of Round #5 of the 2022 season.
Results: 1. Trevor Cristiani, 2. Kaiden Anderson, 3. Nick Gibson, 4. Mike Doss, 5. Evan Goetz, 6. Corey Allard, 7. Haeden Plybon, 8. Dave Garber, 9. Ken Bonney, 10. Kasey Kleyn, 11. Jason O’Neil, 12. Chris Kalsch, 13. Andy Beaman, 14. Jess Havens, 15. Braeden Havens, 16. Mitch Kleyn, 17. Max Schroeder, 18. Chris Kellogg, DNS. T.J. Monroe
-Story by: Kevin Peters/Northwest Super Late Model Series