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Family Business at the Fall Classic

October 05, 2010

Family business at Fall Classic

October 4, 2010 by Scott Spruill  

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Harding follows his father into victory lane ||

YAKIMA, Wash. — Pete Harding is basically an institution at the Fall Classic. At any of Yakima Speedway’s big events, for that matter.

And now, so is his family.

The four-time Fall Classic winner from British Columbia watched his son Shane Harding dominate Sunday’s 200-lap Super Late Model main event in the Northwest’s final race of the year.

As Shane climbed out of his jet-black No. 29 racer in the winner’s circle, the victorious moment was especially poignant with Pete standing aside the celebration in his mild-mannered way.

Shane Harding stands on his car and celebrates his victory in the 23rd Annual Yakima Speedway Fall Classic in Yakima, Wash., Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010. (Andy Sawyer/Yakima Herald-Republic)


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“To share this experience with my son, I just couldn’t be more proud,” said Pete, who is also a two-time winner of the Apple Cup. “This is the biggest win of his career and for it to come here, at a track that has been so good to me, makes it even more special.”

The Hardings started side-by-side on the front row of Sunday’s 23rd annual season finale, but the reason Pete had such a good view of Shane’s impressive run is because he was involved in a spectacular wreck that demolished a billboard on the backstretch just 25 laps into the race.

Not exactly a good omen for the day with Pete’s trademark yellow No. 39 machine getting towed to the infield in pieces.

But this nonetheless remained the Hardings’ day as the 32-year-old Shane avoided plenty of other first-half carnage by setting the pace for the entire first 100 laps. After a 15-minute break for tires and fuel, he briefly relinquished the lead to veteran Garrett Evans and then local product Jason Jefferson, but Shane was back in front on lap 140 and in control the rest of the way.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am for this — it’s by far my biggest win ever,” he said. “I was here with my dad at the first Fall Classic and then I crewed for him when he won three in a row (1997-99). I hope this repays a little for all he’s done for me.”

It took all of Harding’s sharp set-up, speed and skill to deal with Jefferson, who debuted a car that struggled in Saturday’s qualifying but rocketed from 21st in the starting grid to third at the break.

Jefferson, from Naches, resides in Colorado and crews for Greg Pursley, who competes on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and Camping World Truck Series. When he sped around Evans on the outside following a lap 122 restart, it appeared to be for good.

But 18 laps later, Harding got under Jefferson and held him off the rest of the way. Back when Jefferson was a mainstay on his home half-mile oval, he had three consecutive top-four finishes between 2002 and 2000 but never won.

“We’ve been up here before and just missed it,” said Jefferson, who did win the 2003 Apple Cup. “We were frustrated with qualifying but didn’t give up, and today we really found something. It was looking good for us, but the 29 (car) was real good, too.”

Jefferson said he was inspired to make a strong run for ailing longtime friend and supporter Doug Bettarel, a Yakima businessman who was inducted into the Speedway’s Hall of Fame on Sunday.

“I wish we could’ve got a win for him,” Jefferson said. “He’s meant a lot to us. It was still a good day. The good news is I’ll be back with this car.”

Evans, a veteran with all the credentials of Pete Harding and then some, dueled Naches’ Owen Riddle for third over the final 10 laps and barely managed to hold on for the final spot in the winner’s circle. The two made contact on the homestretch of the final lap and spun across the line, Riddle’s car getting the worst of it.

Pete Harding was not the only notable causality of a rugged first 100 laps, which took two hours to run — twice as long as the second half. Defending champion Joey Tanner from Portland got mixed up with Gary Lewis and Brandon Riehl on the lap 25 and none of them regained form after that.

In the 75-lap Street Stocks race, Mike VanAmburg watched Josh Wilson’s lead car burst into flames with five laps left and then held off Bryon Goetz for the win.

John Rose started the afternoon by outlasting Chris VanAmburg in the 50-lap Hobby Stocks main.

Super Late Model

100-lap main event: 1, Shane Harding; 2, Jason Jefferson; 3, Garrett Evans; 4, Owen Riddle; 5, Naima Lang; 6, Jared Vorce; 7, Kelly Mann; 8, James Mugge; 9, Mike Zamora; 10, Christian Roeder; 11, Randy Marshall Jr.; 12, Dan Obrist; 13, Jeff Knight; 14, Ron Dexter; 15, B.J. Tidrick; 16, Tayler Riddle; 17, Rusty Webb; 18, Wade Bland; 19, Dave Garber; 20, Mike Longton; 21, Jason Fraser; 22, Rick Suran; 23, Mark Owens; 24, Chris Hart; 25, J.C. Wofford; 26, Dirk Stephens; 27, Joey Tanner; 28, Pete Harding; 29, Gary Lewis; 30, Brandon Riehl; 31, Mark Sundberg; 32, Blake Williams.

Street Stocks

75-lap main event: 1, Mike VanAmburg; 2, Beton Goetz; 3, Rich Peters; 4, Brian Pepper; 5, Gary Flammang; 6, Ron Stewart; 7, Brian Tischler; 8, Billy Benge; 9, Josh Ingram; 10, A.J. Baxter; 11, Todd Connell; 12, Randy Pugh; 13, Chuck Roberts; 14, Josh Wilson; 15, Steve Sawyer; 16, Bill Rutherford; 17, E.J. Trujillo; 18, Shane Brim; 19, Mel Patnode; 20, Andy Beaman; 21, Mike Rubino; 22, Mike Easley; 23, Mike Wallace; 24, A.J. Baxter; 25, Jimmy Zorrozua.

Hobby Stocks

50-lap main event: 1, John Rose; 2, Chris VanAmburg; 3, Thomas Benscoter; 4, Ron Morton; 5, Mike Hill; 6, Jeff Stevenson; 7, Morgan Morrison; 8, Don Klang; 9, Tom Wentz; 10, Chris Richter Jr.; 11, Greg Taylor; 12, Kelly Valentine; 13, Vern Huson; 14, Dan Wilson; 15, Jerry Walker Jr.; 16, Tyson Richter; 17, Darrell Schlaht; 18, Terry Cook; 19, Marc Geimer; 20, Kenny Mullins; 21, Reece Kastl; 22, Don Briggs; 23, Bobby Stewart Jr.; 24, Ben St. Mary.

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