Northwest Super Late Model Series
Evan Goetz Completes Wenatchee Valley Sweep With Neal Newberry 125 Win
Sep 17, 2023
The 36th Annual “Fall Classic 125” will be the 2023 season finale for the Northwest Super Late Model Series (NWSLMS) presented by RaceCals. It boasts a 40-car pre-entry. It will take place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday September 29th, through October 1st. at Tri-City Raceway at RMEC (WA) for the third consecutive year, after the first 33 events took place at the recently closed Yakima Speedway (WA). $10,000 will go to the winner after 125 laps. There will be a break on lap 75, where teams can change two tires and make adjustments.
An optional practice day on Thursday will kick off the weekend, with official practice on Friday for all six divisions. Saturday, Day #2, will feature the Northwest Vintage Modifieds (30 lap feature), Tri-State Challenge Series Mini Stocks (50 lap feature), and the Tri-State Challenge Series Pro Late Models (80 lap feature). Day #3 will find the Tri-State Hobby Stocks (60 lap feature), Elite 5 Modified Challenge Series (50 lap feature), and Northwest Super Late Model Series Super Late Models (125 lap feature) in action.
40 Super Late Models are currently entered for this weekend’s “Fall Classic 125” representing five states: Washington, Idaho, Utah, Montana, and Oregon. The current record car count for the NWSLMS is 36 Super Late Models at the 2014 “Fall Classic”. 34 cars appeared for the 2015 edition, with 33 entries in 2022. The series is averaging 20.4 Super Late Models per event in 2023, with a high of 31 at the “Idaho 208” at Meridian Speedway (ID) and a low of 15 at Hermiston Raceway (OR) in the “Oregon 125”. There are ten former NWSLMS winners entered in this weekend’s field. Those include Tayler Riddle, Haeden Plybon, Doni Wanat, Trevor Cristiani, Max Schroeder, Kasey Kleyn, Mike Longton, Evan Goetz, Jason Jefferson, and Blake Williams.
There are five entries who are former “Fall Classic” winners representing seven victories. Those winners include Naima Lang (3 wins), Tayler Riddle (1 win), Jason Jefferson (1 win), Doni Wanat (1), and Mike Longton (1 win). The all-time winningest driver of the “Fall Classic” is Pete Harding with four wins. Ron Eaton and Garrett Evans have three victories, as does Lang. The first 33 “Fall Classic” events were held at Yakima Speedway, with the last two editions at Tri-City Raceway (TCR), with the reopening of the facility in October of 2021.
The 2021 “Fall Classic” saw Jason Frasier the winner over a 25-car Super Late Model field. Scott Walker was the runner-up with Randy Marshall Jr., Jason Jefferson, Andy Beaman, and Glenn Knutson the top half-dozen. The race was not sanctioned by the NWSLMS. The seventh-place finisher in that event produced the 2022 winner in Doni Wanat. Wanat bided his time and took the lead with 13 laps remaining, from two-time Kulwicki Driver Development finalist Haeden Plybon. Jason Fraser also got by Plybon with two laps remaining to grab the second position with Plybon, Glenn Knutson, and B.J. Tidrick the top-five. Kaiden Anderson finished sixth to win the series championship by two points over Plybon.
19 drivers are scheduled to perform double duty this weekend in both the Tri-State Pro Late Models on Saturday and the “Fall Classic 125” on Sunday. Those drivers include Kasey Kleyn, Agni Howell, Ken Bonney, Wyatt Gardner, Blake Williams, Nick Gibson, Jason Jefferson, Colton Price, Jim Franklin, Naima Lang, Todd Connell, Thomas Stanford, Jason O’Neil, Trace Thompson, Haeden Plybon, Mike Zamora, Ray Clever, Doni Wanat, and Dave Garber.
With Haeden Plybon clinching the NWSLMS championship at the Wenatchee Valley Super-Oval (WA), the battle for second and the Rookie-of-the-Year title takes center stage. With 55 possible championship points available this weekend, Plybon’s 410 points assure him of the 2023 title. Max Schroeder sits second in the standings with 333 markers. Rookie-of-the-Year leader Zach Riehl is 10 points back with 323. Fellow rookie Wyatt King has 311 points with another rookie, Kasey Kleyn, tied for fifth with Ken Bonney at 282 points. The remainder of the top-10 consist of Christopher Kalsch (276), Dave Garber (260), Andy Beaman (254), and John Newhouse (153). The rookie battle will come down to Riehl or King, with Kleyn a long shot.
Doni Wanat is the defending winner of the “Fall Classic 125” and will return this year, once again, pulling double duty. Wanat believes both his win last year and getting double the track time will help him in his search for his second “Fall Classic 125” victory.
“I think winning last year gives me a little more confidence, although, both definitely help”, Wanat began comparing his victory with running the “Pro” race on Saturday. “I just feel that winning last year proved to us what we had thought since our first trip to Tri-City. We were really good the first year we went in the Super and the Pro. We just had some bad luck with getting caught up in random stuff. We had led both of the races and just didn't get the job done the first year the Fall Classic was back in Tri-City.”
Jason Jefferson was the 2018 victor of the “Fall Classic” at Yakima Speedway. Jefferson will pull double duty this weekend in the #97 Jefferson Racing Super Late Model and the #14 Dave Reed Racing Pro Late Model. Jefferson finished fourth in his last “Fall Classic” effort in 2021, missing 2022 due to medical issues. The two-time TCR Super Late Model track champion will be seeking a stronger finish, as he takes on the challenge of competing on both Saturday and Sunday.
“The biggest challenge is getting the people and the schedule to line up” Jefferson explained about the most difficult part of his weekend. “I'm trying to get people for each car. I also have Matt Doyle racing, which is a car I take care of out of the shop.”
Another driver looking to add to his Fall Classic win total is Mike Longton. Longton was the winner in 2008 at Yakima Speedway but has had limited starts over the last half-dozen seasons. His last start at TCR was in the “Apple Cup 125” in 2022 where he finished third. He hopes the unique configuration of TCR will mitigate his lack of recent action, after a second place run at South Sound Speedway (WA) in August.
“Well, five years ago my pride would have said it doesn't matter, but now that I'm a little older and hopefully wiser, I would say it does make a difference usually, but TCR is a bit different”, Longton reasoned. “Even though some of these kids are racing every weekend, and this will be my second race in a year, TCR is a bit tricky and unique. I have quite a few laps there, and last time I was there we did pretty well. So, I think we will be just fine.”
Trevor Cristiani may not have a win at TCR as of yet, but he has come as close as one can get. In four starts, Cristiani has three second-place finishes, one each in the Modified, Pro Late Model and Super Late Model. His one poor finish found the 2019 NWSLMS champion leading 46 laps in last year’s “Fall Classic” before falling out with motor issues. Cristiani enjoys the challenge of the tricky triangle from both a driver and setup perspective.
“I love Tri Cities”, Cristiani began. “I love the speed and the challenge it offers. Everything really has to be dialed in to have a chance to win, and it is difficult to get the car to adapt to three different types of turns. I have been fortunate enough to have some pretty good success at Tri City, but I hope to finally close the deal, as every race I have ran there I have been runner up, other than when we had an engine issue last year at the Fall Classic.”
Cristiani continued, “This track, I feel, fits my driving style do to being cautiously aggressive. You have to know when it’s time to make a move, or when it’s time to save. There is a lot of great racers and equipment that will be at this event, and I am just very excited to get the opportunity to race it. Of course, I have to thank my wife for letting me drive her car, as well as my sponsors for all the support.”
The schedule will find Admission Gates opening at 9:00 AM both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday will see practice begin for the Pro Late Models, Mini Stocks, and Vintage Modifieds at 9:15 AM. Qualifying will roll off at 11:00 AM. Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for 12:30 PM with racing at 1:00 PM. The Last Chance Race for the Pro Late Models will lead off the schedule (30 laps). The Northwest Vintage Modifieds will run a 35-lap Feature event. A 50-lap Feature for the Northwest Mini Stocks follows. The day will round out with an 80-lap affair for the Tri-State Pro Late Models.
Sunday’s activities begin with practice at 9:15 AM for the NWSLMS, Hobby Stocks and Modifieds. Qualifying will commence at 11:00 AM. Happy Minutes for the Super Late Models are scheduled for 12:25 PM. Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for 12:50 PM with the Last Chance Qualifying race for the Super Late Models at 1:00 PM. The Tri-State Challenge Series for the Hobby Stocks will run their Main Event first (60 Laps) followed by the Elite 5 Modified Challenge Series (50 laps). The NWSLMS will round out the day with the “Fall Classic 125”.
Pre-Entry List; Super Late Models (9/26/2023)
1. 1 Kasey Kleyn | Quincy, WA
2.. 1x Agni Howell | Kalispell, MT
3. 3 Andy Beaman | Selah, WA
4. 3B Ken Bonney | Hermiston, OR
5. 3G Wyatt Gardner | Lake Stevens, WA
6. 5 Jess Havens | Airway Heights, WA
7. 7 Dawson Cox | Arlington, WA
8. 7 Zach Riehl | Troutdale, OR
9. 8 Tyler Brown | Boise, ID
10. 8w Blake Williams | Spokane, WA
11. 11 John Dillon | Boise, ID
12. 11G Nick Gibson | Nampa, ID
13. 13 Matt Doyle | Orting, WA
14. 15F Jim Franklin | Kennewick, WA
15. 15R Tayler Riddle | Naches, WA
16. 17 Max Schroeder | Tacoma, WA
17. 17T Steve Thompson | West Richland, WA
18. 18 Naima Lang | Snohomish, WA
19. 19 Thomas Stanford | East Wenatchee, WA
20. 021 Todd Connell | Yakima, WA
21. 21 Dana Glenn | Ellensburg, WA
22. 24 Tim Babcock | Kennewick, WA
23. 29 Jason O’Neil | Mead, WA
24. 33 Christopher Kalsch | Hillsboro, OR
25. 34 Scott Walker | Prosser, WA
26. 36 Jeff Hillock | Cedar Hills, UT
27. 37 Mike Longton | Moxee, WA
28. 42 Evan Goetz | Okanogan, WA
29. 51 Michael Knutson | Quincy, WA
30. 54 Trace Thompson | West Richland, WA
31. 55 Haeden Plybon | Spokane, WA
32. 57 Mike Zamora | Pasco, WA
33. 80 Wyatt King | Boise, ID
34. 81 Ray Clever | Boise, ID
35. 83 Killer B Driver: TBA | Spokane, WA
36. 89 Doni Wanat | Woodinville, WA
37. 90 Trevor Cristiani | Boise, ID
38. 93 Dave Garber | Spokane, WA
39. 94 Ashton Cristiani | Nampa, ID
40. 97 Jason Jefferson | Naches, WA
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: Kevin Peters/Northwest Super Late Model Series