John Dillon, the 2009 CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series champion, made his first start of the 2010 season Saturday night at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho and what a start it was. Dillon bested the entire field earning his sixth career Sharp Powder Coating Fast Time Award and scorched the field to claim his sixth career series win.
Dillon toured the one-third mile paved oval in 14.393 seconds/83.290 mph to lead all qualifiers. Dillon would start the 100-lap main event from the 14th starting position. 2007 series champion John Newhouse qualified second fast with two-time champion Dave Minegar, Thane Alderman, and Lynn Hardy rounding out the top five qualifiers.
The 12-lap heat races were won by Bruce Quale and Brett Thompson. The RMCS awards points for qualifying (12,10, 8, 6, 4, 2) and heat races (20, 18, 16, etc) plus passing points (3 points per position) for positions earned in the main event based on original starting positions. While Dillon is not running for the title this season, the rest of the field is focused on every point. Thompson and point leader Steve Jones lost points in qualifying but Thompson made up points with a heat race win. Quale won the second heat race.
Leading A-1 Heating and Air Conditioning Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Eric Rhead lead the first three circuits before Brett Thompson took over the point on lap 4. Thompson would set a blistering pace extending his lead to more than four seconds at one point. Thompson led the pack through lap 44 when a tight condition slowed his march and allowed the rest of the field to erase his margin.
Meanwhile, eventual race winner Dillon had to negotiate slower cars with the customary series invert. While patience is a virture, it is difficult to put into practice in 100-laps races. On this night it would prove even more difficult as the entire 100-laps were run caution free and only took 26 minutes and 8 seconds to complete.
The running order at lap 25 had Thompson out front followed by John Dillon, Dave Minegar, TJ Woodhall, and Thane Alderman. By the halfway point of the race Dillon had taken the lead with Thompson holding onto second. Minegar maintained third with Woodhall and John Newhouse rounding out the top five.
With Dillon setting a torrid pace out front, there was passing and action all through the field over the second half of the event. In the end, no one had anything for Dillon as he crossed the finish line a half a second ahead of Thompson. Minegar finished third followed by Newhouse and Lynn Hardy rounding out the top five finishers in round four.
The second five were led by Bruce Quale, Steven Jones, Thane Alderman, Travis Monett, and Rick Fowble rounding out the top ten.
"We had a great car and it feels really good to come out for the first time and run so well," Dillon said. "What a great race. This series is a lot of fun and to run caution free says something about the series. I felt we would be good and I have so much confidence is the shock and chassis set up that Mike Leary has helped us with. I can't wait for the next event at Meridian."
Finishing second is not what Brett Thompson wanted but the finish helped close the gap in the point standings. "My car got really tight and I could not turn it in the center of the corner," Thompson said. "Dillon was obviously better then the rest of us tonight but we made up some ground in the points. Qualifying really hurt but if we continue to finish in the top three we will be OK."
With his second consecutive top five finish this season, Dave Minegar is battling his way back into the championship hunt. "I am thrilled with the finish," Minegar said. "We continue to get better each week and this race was really good for us. I am so proud of the team and how hard they have been working. We keep improving each week and we can get ourselves right back into the points battle."
Steve Jones continues to lead the point standings but lost a little ground after his seventh place finish. "The car just was not the same tonight," Jones said. "You can never take anything for granted and just because you were fast at the last race does not mean much. We will go back and work on our stuff and prepare for the race at Meridian."
John Newhouse occupies the second place in the standings but it is unlikely that he will be at Meridian for the next race. "I made the commitment to support my kids racing this year," Newhouse said. "Because there are a few conflicts on the schedule I may only make two more starts. Everyone is trying to talk me into racing the whole season and since we are in the points it is a tough decision. Time will tell but as it stands right now I will miss Meridian."
Lynn Hardy and Brett Thomspon are tied for third in the standings with 653 points apiece and sit 54-points out of second place. Dave Minegar moved up to fifth place in the standings and is 69-points behind third. Thane Alderman, Bruce Quale, Russell Butler, Eric Rhead, and Joe Miller round out the top ten in the standings after four races.
Century Boatland located in Twin Falls is a new sponsor this season to the RMCS providing a significant contribution to this season ending point's fund. Longacre Racing Products, Joes Racing Products, and Circle Wheels all have product deals in place awarded to random finishers in each event this season. ESI Construction Inc. awards a $5 bonus for each lap led in each race. Sharp Powder Coating awards $100 to each fast qualifier and $100 at random at each event.
The next event for the CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series is Saturday, June 26 at Meridian (ID) Speedway where Jeff Jefferson won the event last season. Driver's and teams will greeted by several changes at the historic track. The track has been reconfigured to include progressive banking and new pavement which will make for an exciting racing event.
The RMCS utilizes a racing format not found in ANY other regional touring series around the country. The top 20 qualifiers are inverted for every race putting fast time in the 20th starting position. This format ensures race fans see what they paid for and that is passing. Each driver is awarded three points per position gained in the event. Points are also awarded for qualifying and heat race finishes. Through the history of the series, the winning driver has averaged a 15th place starting position. To ensure competition, the RMCS pays it purse based on total point accumulation for the event and provides several special performance awards for each event.
The CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series is a regional touring series that allows all competitors to race and gain experience on different types of racetracks. It is a high-quality professional racing series that offers maximum opportunity at an affordable price serving the intermountain West. The motto of the series is to “Race Hard and Have Fun!” For all the latest news and information regarding the CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series log on to our website at www.rmcsracing.com or follow all the racing action from around the west at www.racingwest.com.