Racers speed through Ray Potter Memorial on Saturday
The temperatures were high, the action was hot and the event was big in Week Three of the 2020 Columbia County Racing Association season.
A season-high of 68 cars were on hand at River City Speedway for the second annual Ray Potter Memorial Race on Saturday, July 25. The event served as a tribute to Potter, a former stock car racer who passed away in January 2019 at age 76.
Fittingly, it was a younger generation of the Potter family who was in the spotlight at the Columbia Country Fairgrounds facility. Vernonia's Ryan Potter drove the Cozy Lawn Maintenance-sponsored 1997 Dodge Neon to an impressive runner-up finish in the Tuner Division main event. The car is owned by Bob Berg of St. Helens.
Potter, 16, started last in the 11-car main and then maneuvered past nine tough competitors to get into the lead. Potter eventually finished just three car lengths behind winner Jeremy Hughes of Portland at the conclusion of the 30-lap race; in the process, Potter notched a career best finish in the Tuner Division. Andie Keller of Oregon City took third, followed by Christopher Lee of St. Helens and Thane Landis of West Linn.
"I was really excited about getting second, because in all honesty, I didn't think that I was going to be able to do that good," said Potter, an incoming junior at Vernonia High School. "I was really glad that Bob let me drive his car for this race. I was getting pretty close to him (Hughes) and I think if there were a few more laps, then I might've had a good chance to win. It was certainly one of the best races ever of my career."
Potter's finish was truly remarkable, especially considering that he was ahead of some outstanding drivers, including the last two CCRA Tuner Division champions. Berg, 56, won the 2018 title and Landis, 55, won the 2019 championship.
In other events, Corbett's Collin Winebarger won the Modified Division main event and Shane Jordan of Battleground, Washington, won the Modified B main. Salem's Doug Elkins captured the Late Model main, Vancouver's Don Jenner won the Sportsman main and Scott Fox won the Micro Sprint Car main event.
Terry King of Warren recorded his third straight top-three finish with a runner-up finish to Jenner in the Sportsman main. King, 49, started on the pole position of the 15-car field and he led the first 25 laps in his Ross Diesel & Auto-sponsored 1987 Buick Regal. Jenner drove his Chevrolet past King on lap 26, passing him on the inside of the back straightaway and then leading the remainder of the 30-lap race to win by five car lengths.
"It would've been nice to get the win, but once he (Jenner) got around me, he took control and pulled away to get the advantage," said King. "My car weighs 3,500 pounds and it's much heavier than a majority of the other Sportsman cars, most of which are approximately 2,500 pounds. I was getting good traction, my car was running good and I was glad that I was able to hold off all of the other guys in the race."
Winebarger has won multiple championships (2015 Modified, 2017 Super Late Model) at Salem's Willamette Speedway. He demonstrated his ability by driving an open-wheel car for owner Joey Tanner of Portland to capture the 16-car main event over runner-up Brad Martin of St. Helens. Vancouver's Aaron Elwess took third, Justin Russell of St. Helens was fourth and Doug Lockwood of Portland followed to round out the top five.
Drivers will return for Week Four of the season at 5 p.m. Aug. 1. You can see all of the CCRA events on the River City Speedway Facebook page.
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