Hiatus doesn't keep Gaboury from victory lane
Competing in motor sports for the first time in several years didn't seem to matter too much on July 27 for stock-car race drivers Brandon Potter and Dick Gaboury, who both won Columbia County Racing Association main events July 27 at River City Speedway in St. Helens.
Gaboury, a Rainier driver who was in his first CCRA race in four years, showed that the long hiatus had little effect. He captured the Western Heating & Cooling-sponsored Four Cylinder Division main event.
Potter, of St. Helens, won the Tuner Division main.
Defending division champions Joel Beehler and Devon Reed also continued to enjoy success on the quarter-mile clay oval track as both notched main event victories.
Beehler, of St. Helens, was a two-time winner. He captured the Street Stock Division main event and heat race.
Reed, of Woodland, Washington, recorded a Sportsman Division sweep as he won the trophy dash, heat race and main event.
Brayden Brookshire, of Vancouver, Wash., nearly had a sweep, too, as he won the Tracer Division dash and main and finished second in the heat race to winner Paige Gump of St. Helens.
The WESCO Sprint Cars returned to the speedway for the first time in 10 years, and Adam Smith of Moses Lake, Wash., captured the main event.
Gaboury started sixth in the seven-car Four Cylinder Division main. He passed front-runner Christopher Lee on lap seven for the lead.
Lee a first-year driver from St. Helens, led the first six laps in his Cornwell Tools-sponsored 1995 Dodge Neon.
Gaboury, a former CCRA Four Cylinder Division champion (2013), moved well ahead of the other competitors and led laps seven to 25 to take the checkered flag waved by CCRA official flagman Mike Watson.
Gaboury won by half a lap over West Linn's Lance Landis, the division leader in a Tri-Pod Development-sponsored 2003 Ford Focus.
"I had a great time tonight, and it was fun racing with Sande Simmet and Lance, and I can't believe that I won by half a lap," said Gaboury, who was a two-time winner, also taking heat race two. "I shook hands with Lance after the race and he said that he had lots of fun as well. It's fun racing with competitive guys like Lance and Sande. Everything just worked out really well for me."
Gaboury, 70, demonstrated that age isn't much of a factor in motor sports as he proved to be the fastest driver on the track in his Economy Auto Wrecking/Ram Light Truck Salvage 1992 Nissan Sentra.
Vancouver's Simmet, who earlier won the trophy dash, took third place in a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier. Lee was fourth, followed by Gresham's Lynn Yeaman and St. Helens drivers Tiffany Berg and Sharmain Jobanek.
Gaboury a co-driver with Kelso's Trenton Brogan, helped their T & T Tire of Kelso-sponsored race team stay in contention for the Four Cylinder Division championship. They are third in the series point standings behind Simmet and Landis. Amazingly, Gaboury was competing just three days after having skin cancer surgery on his chest.
"I didn't really know if I still had it in me until I was in the heat race, and after I won that by a lot, I knew that I was doing pretty good in my first race in four years," Gaboury said. "I'm glad that I was able to help Trenton out and keep him near the top of the point standings. I finished ahead of both guys (Simmet and Landis) that are ahead of us in the standings, so that will help us narrow the gap and move up closer to them in the points.
"Trenton and his dad, Gary, are both great to work with on our racing team, and it seems that I'm kind of like a part of their family."
Potter led the first lap of the Tuner Division main while driving the Cozy Lawn Maintenance/Eaton's Tire & Service Center 1997 Neon for car owner Bob Berg of St. Helens.
Potter then had a right front flat tire for a lap-two, yellow flag caution, and he exited to the pit area for a quick change. After returning to the track, Potter was positioned last in the eight-car field on the lap two restart.
Redmond's Dustin Wilkinson moved up front and led lap two in the Landis & Landis Construction-sponsored Focus.
Longview's Dan McDonald, who won the last Tuner Division main July 13, then took over first place on lap three after passing Wilkinson. McDonald led the next five laps in his 2004 Economy Auto Wrecking Nissan Sentra.
Potter, 26, maneuvered up from last place and passed McDonald on the inside of the back straightaway and led lap nine.
McDonald then came back and moved up front on lap 10 and led the next four circuits. The two drivers exchanged first place again as Potter moved up front on lap 15.
Potter stayed ahead for the remainder of the 25-lap race and won by a straightaway length over McDonald.
Wilkinson took third, followed by St. Helens drivers Scott Beaudoin and Matt Brown. Kelso's Joel Davis was sixth, followed by defending division champion Bob Berg and Mike O'Harrow.
"It was a good race with Dan McDonald, and we swapped the lead a couple of times so I felt pretty lucky to win," said Potter, who was competing for the first time in three years at the speedway. "It sure was a fun way to come back after a few years off, and I had lots of fun. I was sure glad that Bob Berg let me drive the car."
Beehler, 26, took the lead in the Street Stock main on lap four after passing Portland's David Weaver, who led the first three laps in his 1978 Chevy Monte Carlo.
Beehler led the remainder of the 25-lap race while driving the CLT Trucking/Hoyt Construction-sponsored 1985 Chevy Malibu for car owner and co-driver Greg Brumbaugh of St. Helens.
Division leader Terry King of Warren won the dash, and he was runner-up, followed by Weaver and Matt Taylor of St. Helens.
"It felt good to get a win, and I'm always happy whenever Greg lets me drive his car," said Beehler, who combined with Brumbaugh to win back-to-back Street Stock titles in 2017 and 2018. "I wish we had more than four cars, but it was still lots of fun, and I enjoy racing with Terry.
"We're very close in the point standings, so we'll see what happens, but I'm hoping that we can win another championship. The car is running really well, and the track condition is fantastic, too, so that helps a lot."
Gary Kordosky of Scappoose led the first three laps of the Sportsman Division main in his Chevy Monte Carlo.
Reed passed Kordosky on lap four to gain the lead.
Reed, 35, led the remainder of the 25-lap race to get the victory in his Dancin' Bare Tavern/Reed's Automotive-sponsored Chevy. Reed won by a straightaway length over runner-up Red Smith. Weaver, a double-duty driver who was competing in two CCRA motor sport classifications, took third, followed by Kordosky and Dennis Tower.
"It feels good to get the win, and I've won four out of five main events this year, but we just need some more cars in the Sportsman Division so we can have more competition," said Reed, the defending series champion. "It would be nice to win another championship this year, and that's what I'm hoping to do."
Brookshire, 11, drove his 1995 Toyota Tercel Economy Auto Parts/Dusty's Machine to his first-ever Tracer Division main event win.
Gump took second, followed by Chase Frelich of St. Helens and Kassidy Koch of Vancouver.
Smith drove his Smith Bros. Auto Body open-wheel race car to victory in the 30-lap WESCO main event.
Gene Cannon was second, followed by Jason Thomas, Bert Johnson, Steve Veltman, Edward Isackson, Gary Barnes, Jacom Gilman and Anthony Offh.
Isackson and Thomas won the heats, and Gilman won the dash.
The ninth event on the 14-race CCRA schedule is the Aug. 3 Hudson Garbage-sponsored race at 5 p.m. It will include the Northwest Ford Focus Midget Series and the Sunset Challenge.
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