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Raz Continues Winning Streak at WVSO

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Gracin Raz

By Seth Blanton


On Saturday, September 26th, the Northwest Super Late Model Series (NWSLMS) invaded the Wenatchee Valley Super Oval (WVSO) for the seventh running of the “Neal Newberry 125.” Thirty of the fastest Super late models in the Northwest made the trip for the second and final points race of the 2020 season.

The #27 of Gracin Raz started out by setting the fastest time of the day. The #52 of Brittney Zamora, #7 of Bryce Bezanson, #24 of Tristan Haider and #97 of Kole Raz rounded out the top five. With a full field of cars, only the top 20 locked in to the 125-feature event on qualifying time. The remaining 10 cars had to race for the remaining four spots in a 25-lap B-Main event.

Dave Garber in the #93 and Trever Flora in the #45 led the field to the green flag in the B-Main event. Flora became sideways shortly after the start-finish line, colliding with a few cars and made a hard, head-on impact with the turn one wall. The track quickly went red, while the safety crew tended to Flora. Flora was transported to a nearby hospital with a back injury. His condition is stable, as he was released to his home on Tuesday with a
brace to aid in healing over the next several weeks.

After a lengthy red flag, Garber was challenged for the lead by the #9 of Mitch Kleyn once the green finally flew. Kleyn took over the lead and set his sights on winning the event. For Kleyn, it did not come without challenge as a caution flew with just three laps left. Kleyn and Garber battled hard for the lead once again. The two drivers made contact coming to the checkered flag. Kleyn hung onto his car to win the feature, while Garber,
in heartbreaking fashion, spun and missed out on a transfer spot.

Before the “Neal Newberry 125,” the top eight cars drew for starting position. The #55 driven by Haeden Plybon drew the pole position, with the #89 of Doni Wanat to his outside. The elder Raz, the #83 of Braeden Havens, and #24 of Tristan Haider rounded out the top five starting order.

At the drop of the green flag, Wanat wasted no time in making a move to the outside of Plybon to take the early lead. His lead was to be short lived, as Plybon stormed back to challenge and take over a few laps later.

Plybon held on to the lead in the early going with Wanat and Gracin Raz hot in pursuit. The #33 of Christopher Kalsch spun bringing out the first caution of the night and stacking the field back together.

On the restart, Plybon held off Wanat and retained the point. Gracin Raz drove his car to the inside of Wanat to take over second. Wanat was pushed back, with Havens and the 52 of Brittney Zamora also sneaking by for position.

Caution flew again a handful of laps later as the #13 of Matt Doyle spun on the front stretch. On this restart, Plybon had Gracin Raz, the 2019 “Leonard Evans 150” champion to his outside. Plybon and Raz battled door to door for three impressive laps before Raz gained control of the race.

On the first long green flag run of the race, Zamora maneuvered herself past Havens and to the rear bumper of Plybon. Zamora moved under Plybon in the middle of turns three and four and set her sights on Gracin Raz.

The race was slowed again when the #5 of Larry Lasmanis backed hard into the turn one wall after contact with another car. This set up the restart with Gracin Raz and Zamora leading the field. Coming into turn three, as the drivers were preparing to take the green flag, the field bottlenecked, causing the #7 of Bryce Bezanson to spin in front of Doyle,
leading to a hard impact between the two cars.

After the safety crew cleared turn three, Gracin Raz and Zamora lined up for another showdown. At the drop of the green flag, Raz quickly defended his lead and Zamora fell in line in front of Wanat. Another long green flag run and Gracin Raz lead a three-car breakaway with Zamora and Wanat hot in his tire tracks.

The next caution flew as the #40 of Brent Harris spun on the back stretch. Once back to racing, the three-car tandem quickly broke away again. The green flag was not out long as the #17 of Max Schroeder and the #64 of Jan Evans tangled in turn one.

Gracin Raz and Zamora lined up for a third showdown. This restart was different in that Raz retained the lead, but Wanat grabbed the second position from Zamora. Zamora was hung to dry on the outside as she was shuffled behind Kole Raz and the #25 of Randy Marshall Jr.

On the final long green flag run of the night, Gracin Raz reaffirmed his dominance and set sail on a cold Saturday night ride. Zamora used that run to pilot her car back past Kole Raz and Marshall Jr.

With just seven laps remaining, the 2019 Northwest Super Late Model Champion #90 of Trevor Cristiani spun on the back stretch. This led to a fantastic restart between the top four cars. Gracin Raz and Wanat took the field to the final green flag. Gracin Raz retained the lead, while Wanat trying to ruffle his feathers. Kole Raz had an impressive restart, rolling past Zamora and giving Wanat all he had to the end.

When the checkered flag flew, it was Gracin Raz scoring the victory in the “Neal Newberry 125,” followed by Doni Wanat, the younger brother Kole Raz, Brittney Zamora and the rookie driver 22w of Jake Woods rounding out the top five.

In his post-race interview with announcer Greg Rentz, Gracin Raz said, “This place treats me so good; we lead laps every time we are here. Continuing that streak means a lot, especially with my brother finishing third.”

When asked if he gave his younger brother any pointers on the Wenatchee Valley Super Oval on his first time competing at the 1/4-mile oval, Raz noted, “He spotted for me here for my win [2019 “Leonard Evans 150”]. He’s been around it. He knows what the car does and what we need to do to be successful here.”

“This track is a lot of fun!” Kole Raz noted. “I have a pretty good mentor in Gracin, he’s pretty quick around here.”

Gracin Raz

The non-points 33rd running of the Fall Classic at Yakima Speedway is next for many of the NWSLMS teams. After an abbreviated schedule during the 2020, NWSLMS is looking forward to the 2021 season.

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 Hoosier Racing Tire, McGunegill Engine Performance, AR Bodies, Joes Racing Products, Penske Racing Shocks, Accelerated Graphics, Five Star Bodies, AFCO/Longacre Racing Products, Wheel Chill, Atomic Screenprinting and Embroidery, Franks Racing Radio, BLP, Jefferson Racing, The Ti Company, and Pacific Steel Structures LLC. For more
information on the series visit www.nwslms.com or on Facebook and Twitter.

By Seth Blanton

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