Colorado National Speedway 2018 Year in Review

Another season is in the books at NASCAR’s premier facility Colorado National Speedway and it will be remembered as one of the most exciting in recent memory. Adding to the stellar weekly program were special events such as the King of the Wing Sprint Cars that had a special two-day show July 6th and 7th. Salt Lake City’s Kyle Bergener and Eric Humphries from California won the feature events which also catapulted Humphries to the CNS series crown. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West returned in 2018 for a nationally televised event which was dominated by Derek Thorn and his teammates who finished 1, 2, 3. And of course the annual Father’s Day Monster Truck Show played to a packed house June 18th.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West take the green flag for the NAPA Auto Parts 175 (Starr photo)

Yet as usual the meat-and-potatoes at Colorado National Speedway is the weekly Whelen All-American Series Saturday night racing program and no division thrilled more this season than the Mountain States Fire Protection Super Late Models which featured 9 different feature winners! The championship was up for grabs until the final lap of the final points race thrilling the CNS faithful. Westminster’s Darren Robertson was able to pull out his second straight championship just barely beating out Bruce Yackey, Mark Neff, and Michael Scott. Robertson’s championship was especially impressive after starting the season missing an early race and having to climb back into contention race after race.

A host of exciting young drivers have added to the excitement in the Super Late Model division including Rookie of the Year driver Cody Dempster and well as Conner Snow, Kody Vanderwal, and Brett Yackey who won the last two feature events of the season including Challenge Cup XLIV.

Darren Robertson is crowned the 2018 Super Late Model champion (Starr photo)

Michael Scott who led the points in the Super Late Model division all season until the final night fared even better in the Snap-On Tools Pro Trucks by winning his first ever Pro Truck track championship at CNS. Michael had a dominating season winning 5 feature events and only finishing out of the top 3 just twice all season long. Scott’s only real pressure came from Rookie of the Year driver Brian Yackey who had an impressive debut season with consistent top 3 finishes. Former Late Model champ Jeff Walbaum won a couple main events and ended the season with an impressive 3rd place in points. Rounding out the top five in points were Matt Burton who hinted on social media that he may not return in the division and Troy Witthar.

Michael Scott celebrates his first Pro Truck championship (Starr photo)

There were a lot of reasons to be excited about the development of young Brett Yackey in the Super Late Models but in the Galitz Trucking Late Model division he was flat-out unbeatable. With 5 feature wins and only twice not finishing outside the top 3 Yackey was the dominant force in the division all season long. Nebraska’s Chad Cowen had a great year of his own somehow managing to stay within striking distance of Yackey until the very end. Nathan Gasser took home an impressive 3rd place in points finish on the strength of two feature wins at the end of the season. Nebraska’s Derek Smith took home 4th place in points. Rookie of the year Dave Hondel had a fantastic 5th in points finish and was joined by other promising rookie drivers such as: Don Cole, Natalie Phelps, Eric Bowers, and Justin McKeachie.

Brett Yackey the 2018 Late Model Champion (Starr photo)

The SUNOCO Race Fuel Grand American Modifieds were another very competitive division at CNS in 2018. While the car counts were not as high as in some years the 6 different drivers found winner’s circle in just 8 feature events! That means there were only two repeat winners all season long. In the end it was Kyle Ray winning his first ever GAM championship just barely holding off former champ Justin Case by a mere 13 points. Charlie Wilson was the surprise of the year winning the first feature in 2018 and finishing an impressive 3rd in points. 4th place on the podium went to Clint Schubert who also snagged the final main event of the season. Ed Vecchiarelli was 5th in points and Danny Liebert grabbed 6th place and the coveted Rookie of the Year Award.

Kyle Ray the 2018 Grand American Modified champ (Starr photo)

Fifty-four different drivers received points in the Great Scott’s Eatery Super Stocks in 2018 which means there were a lot of cars battling door-handle to door handle all year long. If drama is what you want drama was what you got in the Super Stocks as Robert Davey, Jonathan Lindberg, Sam Messerli, and Cody Milan had an intense points race from the start of the season all the way until the final race. The champion wasn’t determined until the final laps of the final race as Robert Davey was able to edge out Lindberg in a thrilling final night. The Super Stock season was overshadowed by the passing of long-time competitor Darrell Smith driver of the 02 car who has raced at the speedway for decades and has always been fan-favorite. An outpouring of emotion and condolences to Darrell’s friends and family from drivers and fans demonstrated just how much Darrell will be missed.

Robert Davey the 2018 Super Stock champ (Starr photo)

In 2013 CNS wanted to create a new division for new or inexperienced drivers and the Lincoln Tech Pure Stock division was born. Since that time not only has the Pure Stock division produced some great drivers that have since gone on to higher divisions but also have quickly become a fan-favorite division with large fields of cars and tons of door-banging action in every race. This season the division was dominated by youngster Tyler Mander on the strength of his 3 wins and 3 second place finishes. Tyler will now be forced to move up to a higher division in 2018. Drivers to watch next year: David Robinson, Ryan Raley Jr., Tim Coate, Michael Mathesen and Joseph Dike.

Tyler Mander in winner’s circle at CNS (Starr photo)

The streak is over. Jereme Wall had won almost every Chick-fil-A Figure 8 feature event since the spring of 2015. Wall was gunning for his 4th straight championship but that all ended in 2018 as Jereme struggled all season and others such as Justin McKeachie, Jared “Wally” Wall, and Harry Livermore Jr. emerged as the cars to beat. McKeachie became a repeat champion in 2018 on the strength of his 3 main event wins and several other top 5 finishes. Justin’s previous championship was in 2013. The Figure 8s had a resurgent season in 2018 with large fields of cars and promising up-and-coming drivers such as: Michael Wolfe Jr., Daniel Wood, Jeremy Jackson, and Brian McCartney.

Justin McKeachie celebrates his second Figure 8 championship

After a bit of a slow start to the season in the Elite V Twin Legend Car division Kyle Clegg dialed in his bright orange and white number 66 car and absolutely dominated the division going on to win his 5th championship. Kyle was nearly untouchable winning 9 feature events in 2018. Yet just because Clegg was dominate doesn’t mean the legend Cars were not exciting. Week after week the Legend cars showed up with massive car counts and thrilled the fans with action on every corner of the track. Danny Medina had a solid year finishing in second while Wayne Barlock Jr., Blair Cooper, and Nick Cooper rounded out the top five. Ryan Rudolf took home the Rookie of the Year award on the strength of his 8th place in points finish.

Kyle Clegg celebrates his 5th Legends Car CNS Track Championship (Starr photo)

Both the Mod Coupes and the Supermodifieds were back in action at Colorado National Speedway in 2018 and while the car counts in each field struggled there was still plenty of action on the track especially in the Supermodifieds which had 5 different feature winners in 5 race nights. Yep not a single repeat winner and not only that but the championship went down to the final laps in the final race. Randy Whitman slipped by Luke Johnson on the final night to take his first ever Supermodified championship. In the Mod Coupes it was all Adam Dienes winning every single feature event except two that were taken by Super Late Model ace Jace Hansen. 2018 was Adam’s first Mod Coupe championship.

The Supermodifieds prepare for battle (Star photo)

The Witthar Racing Trains division is another fan-favorite that never seems to disappoint when it comes to spills and thrills. Not only did Jared “Wally” Wall win his 8th championship in the division but also teamed up with his son Chad Sutherland during Challenge Cup and became one of the only drivers in CNS history to flip a Train! In 2018 Jared’s brakeman Terri Pugilse picked up her second straight crown.

Jared and Terri the 2018 champs (Starr photo)

In 2018 Colorado National Speedway opened up a new division for young drivers from 8 to 16 years old. The Bandoleros had a very strong debut season featuring two classifications for experienced and inexperienced drivers. This INEX sanctioned division quickly showed the CNS fans that these kids can mix it up and thrill the fans running on the CNS “ROVAL” which is a combination oval and road-course. In the regular Bandolero division Abrel Hilton, Hutson Milligan and Cooper Lewis took the top 3 spots on the podium in the final season standings. In the fast (experienced) division Nandini Breggin, Cullen Lewis, and Chello Milligan finished the season 1, 2, 3 and it will be exciting to see these young drivers move up to higher divisions in future seasons at CNS.

53 season’s of amazing racing and family-friendly fun have now been completed at CNS. The final event of the season Challenge Cup was highlighted by the new tradition of allowing the kids to trick-or-Treat with the with drivers in the in-field before the races. This tradition which is only a few years old has quickly become one of the most popular events at the speedway and a fitting finish to another amazing year at the race track. A special thanks to all the track staff including the tech department, security, scoring, ticket sales, and of course all the great folks that run the various concessions throughout the speedway. Plans for the 2019 are already well under way and Colorado National Speedway is looking forward to our 54th race season!

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