Newcomer Steward wins amid controversy

WHITE CITY — A shortened race and a controversial ending left race car drivers and fans a little bewildered at the Southern Oregon Speedway on Monday night.

Shane Steward of Indianapolis, Ind., passed pole-sitter Roger Crockett on the first lap and kept it to the checkered flag to win the Northwest Sprint Challenge event. But Steward had to pull a Houdini-like maneuver on the final lap after he and Crockett collided. Both cars spun out, but Steward spun 360 degrees and was able to keep going.

The feature event was cut from 30 laps to 20.

"I knew on that last lap that everyone was going to have their elbows out, but I don't know what he (Crockett) was thinking," said Steward, who was competing at the White City track for the first time.

Crockett thought he had inside position and that Steward drove into him as the pair drove hard into the first turn seconds after a restart following a yellow caution flag.

"He was doing it all night," Crockett said. "I'd try to get by him and he'd turn into me. He was lagging on every restart, and I thought I was going to shoot past him on that last one."

Crockett was initially handed second place but the results were later revised and he officially wound up 17th. At first, officials went back to the previous lap to record the results but later determined that the final lap would be included.

Crockett never made it to the checkered flag.

Crockett was unhappy with the revision but said he was most irked at Steward's behavior right after the race.

"He dumped rocks on me as I was stalled on the track and he flipped me off as he went by on his way to the pits," Crockett said. "There's no excuse for that. This is a family race track."

Brent Kaeding of Campbell, Calif., was granted second place. Brock Lemley of Bellingham, Wash., nabbed third, Johnathon Allard of Chico, Calif., claimed fourth and Mitch Olson of Tacoma, Wash., was fifth.

Local favorites Bill Nutter of Central Point and Dan Menne of Fort Jones, Calif., fared well in qualifying races but Nutter had to leave the main event with mechanical problems and Menne, who had worked his way up to ninth place after starting 19th, wound up 13th.

Kaeding made it known that he wasn't happy with the shortened race, which was stopped at 10 p.m. sharp due to a weekday curfew rule.

Kaeding said speedway officials should have run the super-4 class, which was also on Monday's racing card, after the sprint cars instead of before them.

"We had a lot of drivers come a lot of miles for this race, and they deserve better," he said.

Steward, who started next to Crockett in the first row, said it was crucial to get ahead early.

"The start was everything," he said. "I got him (Crockett) on the first lap."

Crockett, the NSCS points leader, had won four of the series' first seven races heading into Monday night, which is part of what the NSCS calls "Speedweek." The series, which was rained out on back-to-back nights last weekend in Elma, Wash., moves to Cottage Grove today and to Lebanon on Wednesday.

Crockett has also won a Golden State Challenge race in Hanford, Calif., and a feature race in Cottage Grove this summer.

Nicknamed "The Rocket," the 26-year-old Crockett has claimed more than 90 main events during a brilliant 13-year career that began as a 13-year-old in Arkansas.

"I've been fortunate to drive good equipment and I had a great teacher coming up," said Crockett, alluding to his father, Brian.


­FAST TIME (top 10) — 1, Johnathon Allard, 12.193; 2, Travis Rutz, 12.200; 3, Shane Steward, 12.351; 4, Dan Menne, 12.352; 5, Seth Bergman,12.366; 6, Brent Kaeding, 12.366; 7, Dean Freitas, 12.381; 8, Randy Pierce, 12.388; 9, Roger Crockett, 12.403; 10, Jayme Barnes, 12.418.

FIRST HEAT — 1, Billy Nutter; 2, Mitch Olson; 3, Seth Bergman; 4, Roger Crockett.

SECOND HEAT — 1, Brent Kaeding; 2, Evan Funk; 3, Randy Rodgers; 4, Steve Nague.

THIRD HEAT — 1, Todd Zeitler; 2, Garen Linder; 3, Shane Steward; 4, Tyler Spath.

FOURTH HEAT — 1, Jeff Delte; 2, J.J. Hickle; 3, Brock Lemley; 4, Robby Vaughn.

TROPHY DASH — 1, Roger Crockett; 2, Shane Steward; 3, Mitch Olson; 4, Brent Kaeding; 5, Brock Lemley; 6, Seth Bergman.

C MAIN — 1, Shane Forte; 2, Josh Dewitt; 3, Jay Cole; 4, Kyler Baraza; 5, Todd Sparks; 6, Kevin Sharra; 7, J.J. Dishneau; 8, Dan Dunlap; 9, Mart McKay. 10, Ron Smith; 11, Michelle Dodge; 12, Vern Wheeler; 13, Dave Hubbard; 14, Randy Dubois; 15, Steve Martin; 16, Tyler Pinceman; 17, Charlie Cash.

B MAIN — 1, Travis Rutz; 2, Johnathon Allard; 3, Dan Menne; 4, Jayme Barnes; 5, Derek Ingalis; 6, Danielle Huson; 7, Randy Pierce; 8, Jimmy Trulli; 9, Dean Freitas; 10, Rob Held; 11, Travis Jacobson; 12, Shane Forte; 13, Brendan Boyce; 14, Jon Farrell; 15, Jeremy McCune; 16, Josh Dewitt; 17, Geoff Beck; 18, Chris Schmelzle.

A MAIN — 1, Shane Steward; 2, Brent Kaeding; 3, Brock Lemley; 4, Johnathon Allard; 5, Mitch Olson; 6, Robby Vaughn; 7, Jeff Delte; 8, Evan Funk; 9, Seth Bergman; 10, Garen Linder; 11, Derek Ingalls; 12, Jayme Barns; 13, Dan Menne; 14, Travis Rutz; 15, J.J. Hickle; 16, Todd Zeitler; 17, Roger Crockett; 18, Randy Rodgers; 19, Billy Nutter; 20, Tyler Spath.


FAST TIME (top 5) — 1, John Barner, 17.046; 2, Terry Hadley, 17.486; 3, Brian Johnson, 17.608; 4, Steve Pierce, 17.791; 5, Preston Jones, 17.948.

FIRST HEAT — 1, Jamie Guider; 2, Dave Kyker; 3, Dan King; 4, Krista Hadley.

SECOND HEAT — 1, Joe Guider; 2, Brian Johnson; 3, Preston Jones; 4, Dan Estremado.

TROPHY DASH — 1, Steve Pierce; 2, Brian Johnson; 3, Dan Estremado; 4, Terry Hadley.

A MAIN — 1, Dan Estremado; 2, Steve Pierce; 3, Terry Hadley; 4, Joe Guider; 5, Preston Jones; 6, Jake Cole; 7, Krista Hadley; 8, Dan King; 9, Tony Christopher; 10, Jamie Guider; 11, Dave Kyker; 12, Tyler Jensen; 13, Steve Thompson.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail

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