Event: The “IBEW 112 Labor Day Spectacular 125” will take place on Sunday September 3rd. It is part of a two-day event for the Northwest Super Late Model Series presented by RaceCals (NWSLMS), with the Pro Late Models head lining on Saturday. It will pay $3,000-to-win on Hermiston Raceway’s (OR) 3/8-mile asphalt oval. Hermiston will host the series for the 11th time. It will be Round #7 of nine for the series, in its 10th season of operation.
Championship Standings: Haeden Plybon leads the NWSLMS championship standings heading into Round #7 of the season. Plybon has accumulated 307 points and leads both Max Schroeder and Zach Riehl by a comfortable 58 points. Wyatt King and Kasey Kleyn are another 17 points back, sitting in a tie for fourth. The second five consist of Ken Bonney (210 points), Christopher Kalsch (206), Dave Garber (187), Andy Beaman (180) and Jonathon Gomez (124).
Rookie-of-the-Year: Zach Riehl leads the rookie standings by 17 points over both Wyatt King and Kasey Kleyn. Kleyn has been moving up the standings, after missing a start in the second event of the season. He has moved into a tie for second with three events to go.
Numbers: The NWSLMS is averaging 20.7 Super Late Models per event in 2023, with 57 different drivers scoring championship points. 19 Super Late Models are entered for this weekend’s event, representing four states. There have been three different winners in 2023 including Plybon, Kleyn, and Kyle Tellstrom. Seven drivers have attended all six events, while two others have missed only one race.
Previous Winners: Currently there are four previous NWSLMS winners entered for this weekend’s event. They include Kasey Kleyn, Max Schroeder, Haeden Plybon, and Shelby Thompson. Only Plybon has won at Hermiston.
Hermiston History: The NWSLMS has visited Hermiston Raceway 10 times in its history. The track was one of the founding facilities on the “Tour” and hosted four events in its’ inaugural 2014 season. Mike Longton was a two-time winner that season, while the late J.C. Wofford and Tayler Riddle scored single victories. The 2019 event was won by 2019 NWSLMS Champion Trevor Cristiani. With Covid-19, there was no event in 2020. In 2021, Hermiston hosted two events with Haeden Plybon leading every lap of the June event. Jason Jefferson charged from the rear of the field after an early race incident to win the Labor Day weekend event. The 2022 season also brought two events. Kaiden Anderson grabbed the only win of his championship season, taking advantage of a late race incident to lead only two laps. Haeden Plybon again dominated the Labor Day event, leading 101 of 125 laps. Plybon once again found Victory Lane in June of 2023, beating Nick Gibson to the finish.
Debut: Five drivers will make their NWSLMS season debut’s this weekend. Shelby Thompson, Steve Thompson, and Rick Gerard will make their 2023 debuts, while Trace Thompson and Eric Rhead will make their first series appearances.
KDDP Domination: Two-time Kulwicki Driver Development Program finalist Haeden Plybon is having a season to remember. He has racked up four victories in six events in 2023, including four of the last five. He has been especially good at Hermiston Raceway earning three wins in his last five NWSLMS starts, while placing second at one event. He has yet to finish outside the top-10 and will be a favorite this weekend.
“I’m not exactly sure why we've had such success there”, Plybon began about his strong efforts at Hermiston. “But it's always been a challenging and different track that you really have to take your time with and have patience. I personally think that I've been better at saving tires this last year, and it's going to help us even more going into this weekend’s race.”
SLM Champion Debut: Eric Rhead is a former champion of the Rocky Mountain Challenge Series as well as a champion in the Speed Tour Modifieds. This weekend he will bring his Modified, as well as his Super Late Model, seeking to do a little trophy hunting, while evaluating the NWSLMS for the future.
“We have been focusing on Modified racing for the past several years (NASCAR Division I points), but the car counts in that style of car has diminished, unfortunately”, Rhead explained. “We have been looking to run in a series with top-notch talent with a large car count, and the NWSLMS is starting to look like it fits that bill. We thought we would give it a trail run this weekend and see if the NWSLMS is a place we may want to call our home next year.”
Rhead continued, “On top of that, Hermiston is one of my favorite tracks. It is old, wore out, irregular rolling banking, and has a unique character that makes it a really hard track to drive. It is known as a drivers track, and I love it! The Walden are awesome promoters and treat us like gold. It is going to be a pretty awesome weekend.”
Schedule: Sunday will see the NWSLMS begin practice at 1:00 PM. The WMRA, Bombers, Hobby Stocks, and Legends will follow. Each division will have two sessions except for the NWSLMS, which will have three. Group Qualifying for the WMRA, Bombers, Hobby Stocks, and Legends will commence at 3:50 PM. Single car Qualifying for the NWSLMS will follow. Admission Gates open at 4:00 PM with Fan Fest scheduled from 5:15 PM to 5:45 PM. Opening Ceremonies are at 5:55 PM. Racing commences at 6:00 PM beginning with features for the WMRA, Bombers, Hobby Stocks, Legends, and the Northwest Super Late Model Series.
Broadcast: For those unable to attend Sunday’s event, the Labor Day Spectacular 125” will be shown LIVE on RacingAmerica.TV
1 Kasey Kleyn Quincy, WA
3 Andy Beaman Selah, WA
3K Ken Bonney Hermiston, OR
7 Zach Riehl Racing Corbett, OR
12 Rick Gerard, Hermiston, OR
17s Max Schroeder Tacoma, WA
17 Steve Thompson Kennewick, WA
021 Todd Connell Yakima, WA
33 Christopher Kalsch Hillsboro, OR
36 Jeff Hillock Cedar Hills, UT
42 Garrett Huffines Selah, WA
54 Trace Thompson Kennewick, WA
54 Shelby Thompson Spokane, WA
55 Haeden Plybon Spokane, WA
57 Mike Zamora Kennewick, WA
66 Eric Rhead W Bountiful, UT
80 Wyatt King Boise, ID
93 Dave Garber Spokane, WA
94 Ashton Cristiani Boise, ID
Story: K. Peters
ABOUT THE NORTHWEST SUPER LATE MODEL SERIES
The Northwest Super Late Model Series is the premier regional touring Super Late Model series in the Northwest. The series has many valued partners including RaceCals, Hoosier Racing Tire, McGunegill Engine Performance, Gibson Diesel Performance, AR Bodies, Joes Racing Products, Penske Racing Shocks, Five Star Bodies, AFCO/Longacre Racing Products, Atomic Screen Printing and Embroidery, Franks Racing Radio, BLP, Jefferson Racing, Impel Motorsports, and The Ti Company. For more information on the series visit www.nwslms.com or on Facebook and Twitter.
-Story by: Kevin Peters/Northwest Super Late Model Series