Aumen edges Murgoitio to win inaugural Salt City 200
by Andrew Kunas, WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – Scott Aumen has only run a handful of races this year, but he’s calling his 2013 season a success. Saturday
night he picked up his third win in just six starts as he held off a determined Mike Murgoitio to win the inaugural Salt City 200 at Rocky Mountain Raceways, also closing the season for the Western Winged Sprintcars Series.
The Salt City 200 was the longest race most of the participating drivers had ever taken part in. The race, unique by sprint car racing standards, was split into four 50-lap segments. Aumen, out of Duncan, British Columbia restarted third for the final segment, but after using the final segment break to make some critical changes to his car he wasted no time moving forward.
Meridian, Idaho’s Bryan Warf restarted second but immediately took the lead from Murgoitio, also from Meridian, and led Lap 151, the first lap of the final segment. The next circuit saw Aumen motor around Murgoitio to take second place in Turns 1 and 2 and then did the same to Warf exiting Turn 4.
Aumen motored away for several laps, but Murgoitio’s car came to him as he got back around Warf for second place on Lap 161, just after the race’s final restart. He than began to slowly close in on Aumen, catching him on Lap 165.
For the final 35 laps, all caution free, Murgoitio would repeatedly challenge Aumen for the lead in a duel that had the crowd at Rocky Mountain Raceways in a frenzy. Murgoitio made a passing attempt on Lap 171 but was thwarted by Aumen, who was also catching slower cars at the right time to put them, at least briefly, between himself and Murgoitio frequently. Murgoitio, however, never lost track of Aumen and stayed right on his rear nerf bar.
Another attempt came on Lap 180, and again on Lap 189. Aumen slipped up while passing a slower car in Turns 1 and 2, giving Murgoitio an opportunity to pounce on Lap 192, but again Aumen fended him off. Murgoitio finally got in front of Aumen exiting Turn 2 on Lap 195, but a determined Aumen motored back by him exiting Turn 4, with the two cars nearly crashing into each other.
Establishing himself back out front, Aumen was able to put a little distance between the two cars over the last three laps and went on to take the checkered flag, driving the Wickham/Turner/Stewart No. 44s Mid Island-powered A&A.
“That was pretty awesome,” a very happy Aumen said after the race. “We didn’t know if we could make it 200 laps. Heck we weren’t sure if it was a good idea to go 200 laps, or drive all the way down here, but it all paid off.”
With Duncan being located on Vancouver Island, Aumen’s team had to take a ferry ride to the mainland before they could even begin the long tow to the Salt Lake City area, but they came away with $7,500 for the win.
Aumen also won the Friday night main in August’s Daffodil Cup at his home track, Western Speedway, in Victoria, B.C. and was the overall Daffodil Cup points winner for that weekend. He also won an NSRA race at Motoplex Speedway in Vernon, B.C. two weeks later. To go with his three wins in just six starts, he also set three track records this season.
Talking about the length of the Salt City 200, Aumen described it as “a piece of cake.”
“200 laps straight, that’s a different story,” Aumen said, referencing the breaks after 50 laps. “We get to come in (the pit area) and get a drink, so I wouldn’t say it was physically demanding.”
Murgoitio, despite unofficially leading a race high 102 laps and leading at the end of each of the first three segments, had to settle for second place in the Gary Murgoitio No. 80 Losorworth-powered Wysong. Murgoitio had run no worse than third place in the event.
Fortunes seemed to be in Murgoitio’s favor earlier in the race. Twice he had lost the lead, only to see the new leader suffer mechanical issues and drop out, giving him the lead back.
North Carolina’s JoJo Helberg snagged the lead on Lap 52 and led 34 laps before his motor expired and he exited the track on Lap 86 during the second segment. The third segment saw a repeat as 2012 Western Winged Sprintcars Series champion Sierra Jackson of Middleton, Idaho took the lead from Murgoitio on a Lap 111 restart. Jackson led 14 total laps before she rolled to a sudden stop with a torque tube problem, again giving the lead back to Murgoitio.
In all, six lead changes took place between five different drivers.
Daleville, Indiana’s Aaron Pierce set a new track record in qualifying when he toured the 3/8-mile, high-banked asphalt oval in 12.475 seconds. Starting tenth after the invert, Pierce was in the Top 10 most of the race, but did have to go to the back of the field to start the second segment after sipening their tires during the first break, something they were not aware was illegal in WWS. Pierce, however, still managed to score an impressive third place finish aboard the Sam Pierce No. 26 Jackson-powered Beast.
Warf, who won the the WWS event at Rocky Mountain Raceways on May 27th, finished fourth in the Pat Russell No. 91 Hutchison-powered Beast after starting on the pole for the Salt City 200.
Johnny Giesler, who had earlier fallen a lap down after starting 15th, managed to unlap himself by the end of the third segment, being one of just six lead lap cars left after 150 laps. Giesler finished fifth aboard the Spiers-Jackson Racing No. V23 Chevy-powered Diablo, and that finish was more than good enough for Giesler to clinch the 2013 Western Winged Sprintcars Series championship.
For Spiers-Jackson Racing it’s a second consecutive title as Giesler’s teammate Sierra Jackson was last year’s champion as well.
Ryan Burdett of Salt Lake finished sixth and was the last car on the lead lap. Matt Mansell, Jimmy Waters, Davey Hamilton Jr. and Wade Bland rounded out the Top 10.
More information on the Western Winged Sprintcars Series can be found online atwww.wingedsprintcars.com
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Western Winged Sprintcars Series
Salt City 200
Rocky Mountain Raceways
West Valley City, UT
September 14, 2013
Fast qualifier: 26 Aaron Pierce, 12.475 seconds (new track record)
Salt City 200 results
1. 44s Scott Aumen (7), 200 laps
2. 80 Mike Murgoitio (2), 200
3. 26 Aaron Pierce (10), 200
4. 91 Bryan Warf (1), 200
5. V23 Johnny Giesler (15), 200
6. 36 Ryan Burdett (6), 200
7. 14 Matt Mansell (5), 199
8. 24 Jimmy Waters (3), 198
9. 60 Davey Hamilton Jr. (11), 197
10. 14w Wade Bland (14), 190
11. 11 Mike Straub (20), 179
12. 25j Sierra Jackson (12), 124 mechanical
13. 12 Ron Larson (13), 118 accident
14. 43 Kyle Bergener (19), 108
15. 7 JoJo Helberg (9), 85 mechanical
16. 76 Andy Alberding (8), 56 accident
17. 91h Davey Hamilton (4), 50 mechanical
18. 2 Mel Andrus (16), 50 accident
19. 24p Nichola Pepe (17), 46 accident
20. 50 Kenny Hamilton (18), 16 mechanical
Lap leaders (unofficial)
1-51: Mike Murgoitio
52-85: JoJo Helberg
86-110: Mike Murgoitio
111-124: Sierra Jackson
125-150: Mike Murgoitio
151: Bryan Warf
152-200: Scott Aumen