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Western Speedweek opens Friday in Chico

Western Speedweek opens Friday in Chico

Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Car Series Western Speedweek kicks off Friday night at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico with 27th annual Tribute to Gary Patterson

By Gary Thomas

Chico, CA – June 9, 2010…The busiest stretch of the season for the Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Car Series will kick into gear this week with the inaugural running of “Western Speedweek- The Road to Dirt Cup” which opens up this Friday night at Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway with the 27th annual Tribute to Gary Patterson.

Friday’s event marks the third time that the Tribute to Gary Patterson will be held at Silver Dollar Speedway and will also be the 14th round of action in the 2010 season for the Golden State Challenge Series. Known as the "Dancing Phantom," the "Preacher," the "Hostile Hippie" or just simply "GP," Patterson was one of the most colorful characters of his time and was a winner of multiple races including the Gold Cup Race of Champions, the Super Dirt Cup in Washington and the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ascot Park among others.

Patterson unfortunately lost life his life in a sprint car crash at the Calistoga Speedway on Memorial Day Weekend in 1983 and an event in his memory had been held at the half-mile track ever since, up until 2007 when the Tribute to GP was moved to the Silver Dollar Speedway the following year.

After Chico on Friday the Golden State Challenge Series will then be in action the following night on Saturday at the Southern Oregon Speedway in Medford, Oregon. It will be the fifth appearance for the series at the 1/3 mile clay oval after last year’s event rained out during hot laps. Former winners of GSC events at the track include Brent Kaeding during the two most recent visits, as well as Tim Kaeding & Tim Shaffer who have captured one win apiece.

Following a day off on Sunday the Golden State Challenge Series will head for its second ever visit to the Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Oregon on Monday June 14. The quarter-mile bullring has long been one of the top dirt tracks on the west coast and is also one of the most picturesque, with it being surrounded by a number of trees and beautiful terrain. Last season’s inaugural event in Cottage Grove featured a great finish with Brent Kaeding passing Sammy Swindell for the win on the final lap.

The final Oregon stop for the Golden State Challenge portion of the Western Speedweek then occurs on Tuesday night June 15 with the inaugural series appearance at the Willamette Speedway in Lebanon, Oregon. Of all the tracks that make up Speedweek, Willamette features the biggest configuration, with the speedway being a rather long 1/3 mile in length.

The Western Speedweek is all a lead-up to the non-point-paying $25,000-to-win, 39th annual Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup at the Skagit Speedway in Alger, Washington on June 17, 18 and 19. When it comes to non-World of Outlaw sanctioned winged sprint car racing, the Dirt Cup is arguably the "Knoxville Nationals of the west” as it packs one of the biggest purses around and routinely attracts the best teams and drivers from up and down the left coast.

Although the actual racing at the Dirt Cup doesn't kick off until Thursday night June 17, the event will get a jump start with the annual Haggen Dirt Cup Party held on Wednesday June 16 at the Haggen Food and Pharmacy in Burlington, Wash. The party is held from 4pm to 7pm and features a live band, as well as sprint cars on display, vendor booths, driver interviews, autographs, local radio stations broadcasting live and more. The Haggen Dirt Cup Party has become an annual treat to get the competitive juices flowing for the next three night's of intense competition on the Skagit Speedway 3/10 mile clay oval.

Going into Western Speedweek with momentum following his third victory of the Golden State Challenge season will be San Jose’s Tim Kaeding, who will be looking to end the week with his first ever win at the Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup aboard the Roth Motorsports, DTR Transport No. 83. Despite finishing runner up in 2006 and again last season the Dirt Cup is still one of the lone remaining winged sprint car races in the west that “TK” has yet to get on his resume, but he will certainly have a strong shot as always this year. The 31-year-old driver also goes into Friday searching for his second ever win at the Tribute to GP, after scoring a clean sweep of the event in 2008.

Current Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Car point leader and two-time Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup champion Jonathan Allard of Chico will be searching to add to his series win total on the year, which stands at five going into Friday at the helm of his Williams Motorsports, Platinum Powder Coating No. 0 machine. Last Saturday night the two-time King of California battled wheel-to-wheel with T. Kaeding over the closing laps in Placerville, before coming home second, in what was a thrilling late race duel. Like “TK” Allard will also be gunning for his second career Tribute to GP win on Friday, as he claimed victory in the event the final time it was held at Calistoga Speedway in 2007.

Three-time Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup winner Brent Kaeding of Campbell goes into Western Speedweek still in search of his first victory of the season behind the wheel of his Al’s Roofing Supply, High Five Pizza No. 69. “BK” goes into the week sitting second in the Golden State Challenge Series standings on the strength of top-ten finishes in all 13-races held thus far in 2010, but Kaeding would like nothing more than to get into victory lane prior to the Dirt Cup to try and help build some momentum heading into the $25,000-to-win event. The 13-time King of California is also tied with Steve Kent as the winningest driver in the history of the Tribute to Gary Patterson, with each of them having four victories to their credit respectively.

Halfway through his second campaign with the Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Car Series Elk Grove’s Kyle Larson will be shooting to continue his strong year during the upcoming Western Speedweek aboard his Stadelhofer Construction, Peppermill Casino-Reno No. 99 sprinter. The 17-year-old goes into Friday ranking third in the GSC standings, 32-points behind leader Allard and just 10-markers back of Kaeding for second place. Larson so far this year has one victory with the series and will be looking to make up ground on the leaders during the GSC portion of Speedweek, as well as improve upon a 21st place finish in his Dirt Cup debut last season.

Scotts Valley’s Evan Suggs will be gunning to rebound from a tough ending last Saturday night in Placerville, where a malfunctioning oil gauge ended his hopes at a first ever Golden State Challenge Series win, while at the time sitting in front of the field early in the race. The driver of the Suggs Racing, HoservilleCA No. 33e has been very quick the last couple weekends as he continues to learn from veteran crew chief Richard Brown and has been on the cusp of getting that elusive first 410 victory the last two weeks. Suggs currently sits fourth in the GSC points going into Friday’s Tribute to Gary Patterson at the Silver Dollar Speedway.

Rounding out the top-five in the Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Car Series standings going into Western Speedweek is 16-year-old Zach Zimmerly, who has scored top-five finishes the past two weekends. The Vancouver, Washington driver will head to his home territory for the first time this year and like Suggs will also be in search of his first career GSC victory behind the wheel of the McMillen Motorsports, Christian Stover Foundation No. 94 machine. Racing in front of a number of friends and family at the Dirt Cup Zimmerly will look to put his name into the A-main on Saturday night after missing out on it during his event debut last year.

Other drivers expected to take part in at least some of Western Speedweek will include Campbell’s Bud Kaeding, Grass Valley’s Jason Statler; Medford, Oregon’s Roger Crockett, Easton’s Tommy Tarlton, Penngrove’s Alissa Geving, Clovis’ Peter Murphy, Sacramento’s Willie Croft, Pleasanton’s Brad Furr, Rio Vista’s Dan & Danielle Simpson, Grass Valley’s Pat Harvey; Orting, Washington’s Logan Forler and more.

The front gate of the Silver Dollar Speedway will open at 6pm on Friday night for the Tribute to Gary Patterson with adult tickets being $17, juniors $12 and children $5. The Silver Dollar Speedway is a quarter-mile clay oval and is located on the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico, California. More info on the track can be found at http://www.silverdollarspeedway.com

A full program of qualifying time-trials, heat races, a dash and the 30-lap $3,000-to-win/ $400-to-start main event will be on tap at the four Golden State Challenge Series events during Speedweek. For the complete point standings, results and more information on the Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Car Series please visit http://www.goldenstatechallengeseries.com

“Western Speedweek- The Road to Dirt Cup” Schedule

Friday June 11 GSC Round 14: 27th annual Tribute to Gary Patterson at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California- Information on the track can be found at http://www.silverdollarspeedway.com

Saturday June 12 GSC Round 15: Southern Oregon Speedway in Medford, Oregon. Information on the track can be found http://www.sospeedway.com/

Monday June 14 GSC Round 16: Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Information on the track can be found at http://www.cottagegrovespeedway.com/

Tuesday June 15 GSC Round 17: Willamette Speedway in Lebanon, Oregon. Information on the track can be found at http://www.trophymotorsports.com/willamettespeedway.htm

Thursday June 17, Friday June 18 and Saturday June 19: 39th annual Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup at Skagit Speedway in Alger, Washington. $25,000-to-win Saturday night. Information on the track can be found at http://www.skagitspeedway.com

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