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A season-high 78 drivers compete Saturday and Sunday at the River City Speedway

COURTESY PHOTO: MIKE WEBER - Bernie Lujan (no. 53) of St. Helens battles for position with St. Helens' Marty Wallace in an Iron Giant heat race on Sunday, Sept. 6, at the River City Speedway in St. Helens.It was the Labor Day weekend, so what did the race drivers of the Columbia County Racing Association do?

They went to work of course, with a season-high 78 drivers competing on the River City Speedway's quarter-mile clay oval track in the CCRA's third straight sold-out event.

Competitors who had outstanding performances included local drivers Bernie Lujan, Dennis Liebig, Jake Van Ortwick, Jimmy Brinster and Stephen Kaptur, who all recorded top-five main event finishes. Scappoose's Van Ortwick won Saturday's Northwest Dwarf Car main in the TFT Construction/Finish Line Graphics-sponsored car owned by Warren's Tom Fischer.

Scappoose's Liebig drove his TFT Construction-sponsored car to top-five Dwarf Car main event finishes both Saturday and Sunday. Liebig won his eight-lap heat race and finished fourth in Saturday's 30-lap A main, then took seventh place Sunday. St. Helens' Brinster was third in Saturday's Dwarf Car main, then came back to take fourth in Sunday's race. Portland's Ryan Martinez led from start to finish to win Sunday's 40-lap Dwarf Car main, after placing second to Van Ortwick on Saturday. Martinez is a former two-time CCRA Dwarf Car champion (2012-2013).

Fischer's daughter Teagan, 19, placed 11th in the Dwarf Car main events both days in her TFT Construction open-wheel race car.

"I had lots of fun and it was a clean weekend of racing so that was really exciting," said Fischer, the 2017 CCRA Dwarf Car Division champion who had to compete in a heat race, then the C and B mains to qualify for Sunday's A main. "I was in the A main on Saturday and I didn't have to transfer like I did tonight. … It was kind of fun being in all three races and also my heat race. I think that I would rather just qualify for the A main without being in the other mains, though."

Scappoose's Shawn Dorie took ninth in Saturday's Dwarf Car main in his Family Fun RV-sponsored race car. Dorie had a shot at second on Sunday, but got bumped and spun out on the back straightaway with just three laps remaining. He was unable to recover and finished 15th.

COURTESY PHOTO: MIKE WEBER - Jake Van Ortwick (no. 53, right) of Scappoose competes in a heat race on Sunday, Sept. 6, at the River City Speedway in St. Helens.

"I knew I couldn't win because Martinez has a faster car, but I was hoping to get second place, but then somebody bumped me and that caused me to spin out," Dorie said. "Then I had to go to the back on the ensuing restart, but that's the way it goes sometimes. It's been a crazy year for sure, but I had lots of fun driving my new car."

St. Helens' Kaptur took third in Saturday's Modified Division main and also took 10th Sunday in the Discount Race Car Parts-sponsored open-wheel race car owned by Don West of St. Helens. Madras' B.J. Wild led all the way to win Sunday's 30-lap Modified main while Vancouver's Aaron Elwess grabbed second. Elwess drove his Tommy's Transmission/Opsahl Dawson-sponsored car to the Modified main win Saturday, followed by Vancouver's Don Jenner and Kaptur.

St. Helens' Lujan drove his 1986 Ross Diesel & Auto/Industrial Coatings-sponsored Chevrolet Monte Carlo to a third-place finish Saturday and a fourth Sunday in the Marson Trucking Iron Giant Series. Zack Simpson of Hoquiam, Washington, won Saturday's Iron Giant main, followed by Chris West of Woodland, Washington, and Lujan.

On Sunday, Forest Grove's Joey Tardio started in pole position for the 16-car Iron Giant main and led from start-to-finish to win the 35-lap race in his Transaction Transmission/Pro-Line Remodeling-sponsored 1985 Chevy Monte Carlo. Tardio won by a straightaway over West, who took second place again. Chase Berkeley of Colville, Washington, was third, followed by Lujan, Vancouver's Matt Jenner and St. Helens' Marty Wallace. Wallace drove his Alliance Automotive Monte Carlo to a fifth-place main event finish on Saturday. Warren's Terry King drove his Ross Diesel & Auto 1987 Buick Regal to 11th place Saturday and 13th place Sunday in the Iron Giant Series. It marked the second straight year that the popular Iron Giant Series was held at the speedway.

"It was a good weekend and my car was running well enough to stay near the front," said Lujan, who earned more than $600 for his third- and fourth-place finishes. "I did some work on the car and I had a couple of issues with it, but I'm absolutely happy with the two top-five finishes. Things are getting better and better with the car and I've worked out some of issues that have caused problems on the car. It was a lot of fun to compete in the Iron Giant Series."

The eighth and final event on the CCRA schedule is the Sportsman Showcase Race at 5 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Columbia County Fairgrounds facility in St. Helens.


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