Fifty two seasons of short track racing have now come and gone at the Colorado National Speedway oval in Dacono CO. This past season at CNS saw some drivers capture their first championships while others returned after a long absence. There were also several special events that thrilled fans in 2017 such as the annual Monster Truck show on Father’s day which packed the stands on a gorgeous Colorado afternoon.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West made an early June appearance that saw local hero Chris Eggleston win his 2nd NAPA/Toyota 150 in a row (his 3rd in 4 years).
Challenge Cup along with the new tradition of trick-or-treating with the drivers has become a favorite night of both the drivers and the crowd which closed out another successful season at CNS.
New this year was the Royal Purple King of the Wing Sprint Car series that came to town on August 19th featuring some of the fastest Sprint Cars in the world. Jason Conn from Prince George British Columbia bested the field to the delight of the cheering crowd that made it clear they would like to see more of these events in the coming years.
The one thing that didn’t change was the dedicated and loyal fans that come week in and week out making Colorado National Speedway the best short track on earth.
2017 was filled with drama and excitement in every division and here is a recap of how it all went down…
Gillett Vet Clinic Super Late Models
Way back at the start of the season Darren Robertson from Westminster edged out Broomfield’s Jace Hansen for the first feature event win. Little did anyone know at the time that this would be the theme for the entire season in the Super Late Model division. Robertson and Hansen dueled until the very end creating a very intense and exciting finish to the season. While Robertson had a dream-season winning five feature events Hansen was busy collecting runner-up trophies. Hansen’s consistency was evident as he grabbed six second place finishes as well as a victory during the big Independence Day race. Yet in the end Robertson’s determination led him to his first ever CNS track championship marking the first time a Robertson has been the Super Late Model champ since his father Jerry in 2003 and 2004.
Behind Robertson and Hansen in third place was another son of a champion Brett Yackey who is in just his second year in the division and also a finalist in the Alan Kulwicki Driver Development Program. Brett’s father Bruce was close behind in fourth position. The final car in the top five in points was Cheyenne Wyoming’s Michael Scott who will also be awarded this season’s Rookie of the Year.
The Super Late Model division started off the season with large car counts but suffered some serious crashes early in the season that caused drivers such as Roger Avants and Mark Neff to remain absent for most of the year. However the division produced six different feature event winners in 2017 demonstrating just how competitive this group of drivers are. Darren Robertson, Jace Hansen, Kyle Ray, Chris Eggleston, Dominic Ursetta and Preston Peltier all found themselves in winner’s circle at least once in 2017.
Peltier not only won a points race on June 24th but also captured the prestigious 42nd running of Challenge Cup on the final night of the season.
In 2018 Darren Robertson will look to repeat but will have a host of drivers looking to add a Gillett Vet Clinic Super Late Model championship to their resume.
Snap-On Tools Pro Trucks
Without question the most interesting and dramatic championship race was in the Snap-On Tools Pro Trucks. Heading into the final race the top three trucks were separated by only 8 points. Tied at the top were Adam Deines from Longmont and Michael Scott from Cheyenne. Arvada’s Curtis Heldenbrand was just a mere 8 points back in third place. In the final race of the season all hell broke loose as Deines made contact with Scott in turn three which ultimately ended Scott’s chance at the championship. Deines was penalized after the incident being sent to the rear of the field and also after the race was over getting a four position penalty. Heldenbrand did all he could to swoop in at the last moment and grab the championship but crafty veteran Rudy Vanderwal snuck past Curtis on the final corner to take the checker.
It seemed fitting that the championship would come down to a game of inches in the Pro Trucks because year in and year out the trucks seems to be the most dramatic and competitive division at the speedway. When all the dust had settled Deines and Heldenbrand were tied atop the point standings but with Adam wining 3 features on the season and Curtis only one, the tiebreaker went to Deines as he scored his second Pro Truck championship of his career. Heldenbrand’s second place finish was impressive especially considering it’s only his second season in the trucks.
Michael Scott settled for third in points tied with Rudy Vanderwal who snagged fourth based on A tiebreaker. The final truck in the top five at the end of the season was Jeff Walbaum from Brighton Colorado.
Last season’s Pure Stock champ Jesse Davis debuted in the Trucks and finished an impressive ninth in points which was more than enough to award him the 2017 Rookie of the Year.
Quaker Steak and Lube Late Models
Which Yackey was more dominate in the Late Models? Brett in 2016 or Brian in 2017? No matter how you slice it the Late Model division has belonged to the Yackey kids the past couple seasons. In 2017 Brian Yackey won an amazing seven feature events propelling him to a 99 point gap over second place Bear Lynch. Adding to Brian’s dream season is the fact that he was a rookie in the division so he can also add Rookie of the Year to his trophy case. Brian finished off his impressive season by hopping in a Super Late Model and finishing 3rd in Challenge Cup! There is no doubt that young Brian Yackey is one of the drivers to keep your eye on in the coming years regardless of what division he chooses to compete in.
Behind Lynch second in points was another impressive rookie Brent Cave from Thornton. In fourth place was Gering Nebraska’s Derek Smith and Tom Powers from Castle Rock rounded out the top five. One more driver that impressed was Nathan Gasser from Westminster who didn’t run his first Late Model race until the end of July but snagged a feature win along with several top 3 finishes ending up in the top 10 in points at number eight.
SUNOCO Race Fuels Grand American Modifieds
It was a father vs. son duel for the majority of the season in the SUNOCO Race Fuels Grand American Modifieds. And if not for some bad luck on the second to the last night of points racing it might have come down to the final laps to determine who would be crowned the 2017 champion. Ed Sr. and Eddie Vecciarelli took turns all season long occupying winner’s circle and in fact only one other driver found pay-dirt all year long which was Rookie-of-the-Year Chad Guilford on August 19th.
As late as September Ed and Eddie were tied in points but mechanical issues on Sept. 9th ended Eddie’s chances at a challenge for the championship.
Ironically Ed Sr. would wrap up his 3rd Grand American Modified track championship on the 30th of September exactly 25 years (to the day) after winning his 1st track championship which was also the 1st ever in the Grand American Modified division.
Eddie did salvage a 2nd place in points finish and Clint Schubert from Calhan Colorado was 3rd. Last years champ Justin Case was 4th in points and Darin Clark rounded out the top five.
Great Scott’s Eatery Super Stocks
When Lochbuie’s Chris Cox showed up to the first Super Stock race with his Kenny Rogers “Six Pack” inspired Ford LTD everyone seemed to get a kick out of it. Well by the end of the season no one was laughing anymore as Cox dominated the division winning six feature events and also adding a win on Challenge Cup night in the only Ford on the track. Cox was consistently running at the front of the pack adding three top 3 finishes to his wins easily securing his first Super Stock championship. Chris’s father Michael (a two time champion) had a solid year as well and grabbed the runner-up spot in the final standings just 23 points back of Chris.
Lakewood Colorado’s Jax Hughes took 3rd in points with Nic Brinlee (who won 2 feature events) in 4th position. Pueblo’s James Larsen was 5th and the rookie of the year Jonathan Lindberg finished in 6th position.
Lincoln College Pure Stocks
2017 marked the 5th year for the Lincoln College Pure Stocks a division which was created to give a place for new drivers to get their feet wet in auto racing. The division not only serves as a training ground for new drivers but has quickly developed into one of the most excited divisions at the race track. Winning the championship can be bitter-sweet as it forces the champ to move up to a higher division the following year.
Cheyenne Wyoming’s Natalie Phelps quickly became a fan favorite at CNS after winning the first two feature events of 2017. Natalie would face stiff competition all season long from Tyler Mander from Evans Colorado and Sam Messerli from Thornton. On championship Night the final points race of the season Phelps had a slim 11 point lead on Mander but she wouldn’t be denied as she won the feature and locked up the championship. Phelps won six features in 2017 while Mander and David Robinson took the other two. Natalie appears to be primed for the Super Stock division in 2018 as she did run several events with the division late in the season.
Mander would take 2nd in points with Messerli in 3rd. Michael Mathiesen was 4th and Jake Fitzgerald was 5th.
Chick-Fil-A Figure 8s
What more can be said about Jereme Wall’s dominance in the Figure 8 division that has not already been said? Jereme once again showed his mastery of the X by winning 10 of the 11 Figure 8 features during the 2017 season. 2017 was Wall’s 3rd straight season championship and he certainly shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. If Jereme can win the 2018 Figure 8 track championship next season he will accomplish something no other driver has done in the division in Colorado National Speedway’s history. Both Lance Proctor and Joe Martinez have won 3 consecutive championships but no driver has won 4 in a row which Jereme has the chance to do in 2018.
Jereme’s brother Jared finished 2nd in points by virtue of his ten top-3 main event finishes. Harry Livermore Jr. was the only driver other than Jereme Wall to win a feature event in 2017 which catapulted him to a 3rd place finish in points. Impressive rookie Jermey Jackson finished 6th in points awarding him the rookie of the year.
While the action on the track was furious as it’s ever been the Figure 8 division was rocked off the track by the death of driver and fan favorite Michael Haywood who died following a traffic accident on June 20th. Michael was a great competitor and family member of the Figure 8 division as well as the Speedway in general. Michael will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.
Kyle Clegg won three straight championships in the Legend Car division in 2010, 2011, and 2012 but hadn’t been able to knock off Chris Eggleston and Danny Medina who each won two consecutive championships in the four years after. However, 2017 was Clegg’s year. After a bit of a slow start Clegg went on to dominate the division winning eight feature events. Clegg was so dominate that from the beginning of July until the beginning of September Clegg won every single feature event – six straight!
The Legends division as a whole continued to be one of the most entertaining groups of cars at the track with huge car counts and competitive racing throughout the field every night.
While Clegg cruised to the championship, Danny Medina struggled at times but persevered taking home the runner-up spot in 2017. Youngster Cody Dempster who was the 2016 Rookie of the Year had a fantastic follow-up season finishing 3rd just behind Medina and tied with Nick Cooper with 402 points.
Westminster’s Krystal Faulkingham had a solid first year earning her the 2017 Legend Car Rookie of the Year award.
Galitz Trucking Mod Coupes
The Mod Coupes are another division that is under-going the rebuilding process and with some end of the year rules adjustments the future is looking bright for the Coupes. Randy Whitman from Fort Collins won his 2nd straight championship via consistency. While Randy only won one feature event in 2017 he hd enough top 3 finishes to seal the deal on a repeat championship. Frank Denning the 3rd returned in 2017 and had a strong season finishing in 2nd place in the points. All eyes turned to Adam Dienes the 2017 Pro Truck champ who took over for Ron O’Neil in the #3 coupe after two races and went on to win all three feature events he started. Former champ Cris Muhler also returned late in the season creating excitement about next years Mod Coupe division.
The Supermodifieds returned to action at CNS this season yet now under the officiating and tech department of the track. The Supermods ran 3 events in 2017 with the hopes of building the division and adding more events in the years to come. New Caney Texas resident Ricky Otts won 2 of the 3 feature events and came in 2nd place to Kyle Ray in the other to win track championship. Randy Whitman and Chris Sheil finished 2nd and 3rd in the points respectively.
Witthar Racing Trains
Jared “Wally” Wall and his Last Call Train added a 7th championship to his belt in 2017 but this time with brakeman Terri Pugilse. Jared and Terri won 6 of 8 feature events on the season and taking the championship by 44 points over the Crazy Train piloted by Taylor Bellomy and Stephanie Brown.