Haeden Plybon continued his strong season in the Northwest Super Late Model Series presented by RaceCals, grabbing 2023 win number three in the “Desert Star 80” at the reborn Tri-City Raceway at RMEC (TCR) (WA). A near-capacity crowd watched Plybon increase his championship lead in the series standings and grab his sixth win over the last three seasons, bringing home a $5,000 paycheck for his efforts. The win made amends for his “Apple Cup 125” loss in April, when he could not avoid a spinning lapped car while leading.
“It feels good to finally get one at TCR, after having a good car so many times there”, Plybon stated about finally closing the deal at the tricky ½-mile. “I hope this momentum continues and we can do the same in the “Fall Classic”.
The “Desert Star 80” was a rebirth of the event held at TCR from 1999 to 2003. It was the first time the facility hosted a night-time event in 20 years, and the 19 drivers who showed up for Round #5 of the season series were eager to add their names to the history books, which included Scott Walker, Jason Jefferson, Rick Allison, and Jeff Bailey.
Plybon showed his dominance early on by earning the AFCO Racing / Longacre Racing Products Fast Time Award with a lap of 17.901 seconds on the tricky ½-mile triangle. Kasey Kleyn, Tyler Brown, BJ Tidrick, and Glenn Knutson rounded out the top-five. The redraw saw Max Schroeder draw the number one card with Glenn Knutson to his outside. B.J. Tidrick lined up third followed by Wyatt King, Tyler Brown, Haeden Plybon, Kasey Klein, and Jonathan Gomez.
Knutsen got a good start from the preferred outer groove and battled to the lead at the end of lap one. The first of 10 slowdowns came out early and, on the restart, Knutsen and Schroeder battled side-by-side for the lead, with Schroeder gaining the advantage one lap later on the outside. But Knutsen grabbed the top spot back a lap later as the two continued to race side-by-side. Two laps later, Plybon took advantage of the battle and grabbed the lead with a daring three-wide pass into Turn 1.
The Turn 1 pass was all that Plybon needed to gain the victory, but the action behind him was furious with the second position swapping hands nearly every restart. Kasey Kleyn took his turn in the runner-up position for a good portion of the first half of the race, before losing it to Tyler Brown on a lap 38 restart. Brown showed his strength though the middle stages before Schroeder grabbed second on lap 64, with an inside power move. Zach Riehl followed a lap later, before a lap 66 caution for the spinning B.J. Tidrick slowed the action. He was battling with Knutsen for the final top-five position.
The final restart found Plybon out to the lead, with Schroeder in close pursuit. Riehl was able to fight off Brown for third in the lower groove, as Brown began to fade. Knutson grabbed fourth from Brown on lap 69 and Jefferson put himself into the top-five a lap later. As the laps wound down Schroeder began to close on Plybon, with the lead less than a half-second with six laps to go. But as had been the case all night, Plybon was just too strong, pulling away for a 1.1 second victory.
Schroeder crossed the line a strong second, matching his best finish since his 2021 victory, and his best of 2023. Zach Riehl earned a career-high third, while taking the Rookie-of-the-Year point lead. Glenn Knutson matched his fourth place run from the 2022 “Fall Classic 125” at TCR, and former “Desert Star” winner Jason Jefferson rounded out the top-five.
The next event on the schedule for the NWSLMS is the $10,000-to-win “Idaho 208” from Meridian Speedway (ID) on August 19th. It will be the series second visit to the ¼-mile facility and the first for the prestigious “Idaho 208”. Brooke Schimmel was the winner of the 2017 “NAPA Treasure Valley 125”. Multiple drivers who attended that event are expected to be on the entry list for the “208”.
Results: 1. Haeden Plybon, 2. Max Schroeder, 3. Zach Riehl, 4. Glenn Knutson, 5. Jason Jefferson, 6. Garrett Huffines, 7. Travis McKinney, 8. Mike Zamora, 9. Tyler Brown, 10. Christopher Kalsch, 11. Kasey Kleyn. 12. B.J. Tidrick, 13. Matt Chappell, 14. Jonathan Gomez, 15. Ken Bonney, 16. Andy Beaman, 17. Wyatt King, 18. Tim Babcock, DNS. Jim Franklin
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
Photo credit: Shari Garber/Northwest Super Late Model Series