Stewart wins the Dirt Cup

Andrew Kunas


Shane Stewart is going home to Oklahoma with a big trophy and a $20,000 paycheck.


The young driver out of Bixby was out front all 40 laps to win the 33rd Annual Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup Saturday night at Washington's Skagit Speedway. Even when he got into very heavy traffic there was little doubt about Stewart being able to hold on to the lead with two former Dirt Cup champions behind him.


Sixth in the Dirt Cup point standings, Stewart was involved in the pill draw for starting positions in the first three rows. Stewart was last to go, and all that was left was the second starting position. Being last to get a starting spot earlier in the evening was the biggest break of his career. Stewart was slow during the practice session for A-Main starters, but the Rudeen Racing team worked on the car the whole evening before starting the race.


On the initial start, Stewart blew by pole-sitter Tommy Tarlton of California and proceeded to open up a very large lead. Only one lap had gone by before the red flag was displayed for a three-car crash, which saw Mount Vernon's Jason Solwold and Acme's Brandon Harkness both flip their cars.


Only five laps had gone by before Stewart was in heavy traffic, allowing two-time Dirt Cup champion Steve Kent of Fresno, Calif. to close in. On lap 15, three-time Dirt Cup champion Brent Kaeding of Campbell, Calif. passed Kent in traffic. The next lap saw the yellow flag displayed for Canadian driver Aaron Fell, who slowed and came to a stop in turn two.


Stewart nearly had a costly mishap on lap 20 when he got loose in turn two and nearly hit the wall. Stewart made the save, however, and kept rim-riding on the high side of the track. On lap 22, Tarlton got out of shape and then cut a tire, bringing out another caution. By that time, Tim Kaeding, who had earned the most points during the preliminaries but drew the four-pill, had moved back up to fourth after falling back on lap three when he hit the turn two wall.


On lap 36, the final caution came out for Sedro-Woolley's Chad Hillier, who brought Huson Bros. Racing machine to a stop in turn four. During that caution, Travis Jacobson of Lake Stevens was eighth when he brought his car to a stop in turn one when things got too hot and a fire may have started. Jacobson quickly escaped from his car unharmed.


On the final restart, Stewart rocketed away again as Kaeding gave chase. On lap 38, Kaeding started to struggle significantly as he was running out of fuel. Both Kent and Brent's son Tim passed him on the same lap in a wild scramble coming out of turn four. Lap 39 saw Tim Kaeding pass Kent briefly, but the former Dirt Cup champion quickly took it back as Stewart ran away.


Stewart picked the checkered flag for the biggest win of his career, with Kent and Tim Kaeding in tow. Brent Kaeding held on to fourth with Blake Robertson taking fifth place.


Alberta's Jeff Hodgson finished sixth with Wooster, Ohio's Jac Haudenschild taking seventh. Everett's Rick Fauver was the top Washington driver, finishing in eighth place. Tarlton and former champion Kevin Pylant rounded out the top ten. Adelaide, Australia's Trevor Green, who won Friday's preliminary feature, finished 11th.


Six cars transferred out of the 25-lap B-Main. Robertson won it, with Pylant, Toni Lutar, Stephan Allard, Australian Peter Murphy, and Harkness going to the big dance with him.


Winning a 20-lap C-Main race was Mike Dunham. Gary Vaughn, Brian Ash, and Brock Lemley were the other drivers who transferred to the B-Main.


Kirk Fellers easily won the 15-lap D-Main by a sizeable margin. Roy Blumenhagen finished second with Kyle Johnson and Henry VanDam following him.


Stewart became the 16th driver to win Skagit Speedway's crown jewel event, and if he returns next year could become the 10th driver to win multiple Dirt Cups. Four other Dirt Cup champions were in the field, including Brent Kaeding, Kent, and Pylant. Jimmy Sills, winner of the event an unprecedented six times, also raced but fell out of the B-Main when he was running seventh, one spot out of a transfer. Between those four and Stewart are 13 Dirt Cup titles.


67 different cars competed on the 3/10-mile, high-banked, clay oval during three days of racing.


Weekly racing resumes next week, with 410, 360, and sportsman sprint cars taking to the clay.


Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup - Final Night

Skagit Speedway - Alger, WA

June 19, 2004




D-Main (15 laps) - Top four transfer to C-Main: 1. 77f Kirk Fellers, 2. 75 Roy Blumenhagen, 3. 27 Kyle Johnson, 4. 33v Henry VanDam, 5. 17 Jay Barnes, 6. 3s Jay Smith, 7. 44h Michael Harris, 8. 44p Steve Parker, 9. 21d Dan Dunlap, 10. 99e Alex Hantel, 11. 5x Bud Ashe, 12. 1a Tim Gibbons, 13. 0K Steve Kilcup, 14. 79k Kelsey Carpenter, SCRATCHES from D & E-Mains combined - 11 Roger Crockett, 13b Mark Baddock, 19s Greg Sandquist, 42 Alan Munn, 44s Shane Smith, 73d Brady Dart, 75s Kevin Smith, 92 Andy Forsberg, 98 Bob Stevens.


C-Main (20 laps) - Top four transfer to B-Main: 1. 11d Mike Dunham, 2. 17v Gary Vaughn, 3. 8a Brian Ash, 4. 10L Brock Lemley, 5. 59 Andy Jacobson, 6. 75 Roy Blumenhagen, 7. 17 Jay Barnes, 8. 33v Henry VanDam, 9. 17h John Huggins, 10. 76e Josh Edson, 11. 27 Kyle Johnson, 12. 69p Rod Perkins, 13. 66c Drew Church, 14. 36 Travis Hawthorne, 15. 3p Dan Pierson, 16. 69e Nick Engberg, 17. 66 Barry Martinez, 18. 77f Kirk Fellers, SCRATCH - 5d Josh Dewitt, allowing 17 Jay Barnes to transfer to the C-Main.


B-Main (25 laps) - Top six transfer to A-Main: 1. 10r Blake Robertson, 2. 14p Kevin Pylant, 3. 4x Toni Lutar, 4. 0 Stephan Allard, 5. 18 Peter Murphy, 6. 6 Brandon Harkness, 7. 69t John Tharp, 8. 68 Wayne Williams, 9. 8r Travis Rutz, 10. 73s Jim Skinner, 11. B41 Brad Pritchard, 12. 56 John Youngquist, 13. 17v Gary Vaughn, 14. 8a Brian Ash, 15. 7s Jimmy Sills, 16. 11d Mike Dunham, 17. 10L Brock Lemley, 18. 77b Jayme Barnes.


A-Main (40 laps): 1. 26 Shane Stewart, 2. 7n Steve Kent, 3. 83jr Tim Kaeding, 4. 69 Brent Kaeding, 5. 10r Blake Robertson, 6. V8 Jeff Hodgson, 7. 7t Jac Haudenschild, 8. 5sp Rick Fauver, 9. 21 Tommy Tarlton, 10. 14p Kevin Pylant, 11. 0x Trevor Green, 12. 88 Jesse Whitney, 13. 5spx Brian Brown, 14. 15 Aaron Fell, 15. 0 Stephan Allard, 16. 22 Travis Jacobson, 17. 3h Chad Hillier, 18. 00 Jason Statler, 19. 6 Brandon Harkness, 20. 18 Peter Murphy, 21. 5 Jason Solwold, 22. 4x Toni Lutar.


Skagit Speedway - Alger, WA