There was no stopping Owen Riddle.
The 31-year-old super late model driver from Naches, Washington, jumped ahead of a fast field on the second lap, kept his focus during an hour-long delay as track officials dealt with a brief light rain and an impressive lightning show that cleared the packed grandstands, and held off a determined charge by his brother Tayler for nearly the entire distance to win the 27th annual Coors Light Montana 200 auto race late Saturday night.
Riddle completed the 200-lap main event in 2 hours, 39 minutes and 13.799 seconds
He finished 1.566 seconds ahead of his brother, who is also from Naches.
Pole sitter Preston Peltier of Fort Lupton, Colorado, was third.
“It’s kind of surreal standing here again,” he said during post-race car inspections in the pit area.
“It wasn’t a repeat of 2015 (when I beat Garrett Evans of East Wenatchee, Washington.)
“This time I had to hold my brother off for much of the race.”
Owen Riddle was a wire-to-wire in 2015.
Evans won it in 2014.
The Riddles ran 1-2 for the final 160 laps of this one.
The main event had 18 cars entered, but only 12 were left when Owen Riddle took the checkers. Eight cars went the entire distance.
Jason Jefferson, of Naches, was fourth; 2011 winner Shane Mitchell of East Wenatchee, Washington, was fifth; Evans was sixth, Nicole Behar of Otis Orchards, Washington, was seventh; and Alex Lessor of Kalispell was eighth.
“Make sure I hit my marks every lap, which I did,” Riddle said of what kept him in front.
“We made a slight adjustment to free it up a little (at the 100-lap break).
“It kind of changes your mental focus a little bit,” he said of the weather delay.
“You get in that zone, then you come off racing and don’t know how long it will be.”
He said the track was a little different after the rain “because it cleared some of the rubber off,” but it didn’t appear to slow him down.
He came into the main with the second fastest time during Friday’s qualifying.
Last year he was the pole sitter for this race, which ironically enough was delayed a day because of hail and rain. That marked the first time since 2005 that the Montana 200 was not held as scheduled.
“Trying to spread it out,” Riddle said of his 2017 schedule.
“Pick the ones I want to go to.”
So far, that race strategy has been very profitable for him.
He’s raced four times, winning all four now. The Montana 200 victory earned him a payday of $15,000. His brother received a check for $5,000 for being the runner-up.
“It’s pretty exciting for the whole team,” Tayler Riddle said of the 1-2 finish. “We all work out of the same shop.
“He (Owen) had better drive off the corners (tonight),” Tayler said.
“It was kind of hard at the break to guess what changes to make (to the car). We had to do something to win.”
Tayler, like his brother, was in his fourth race of the season. This was his second runner-up finish.
Both will be competing in the Summer Showdown in Monroe, Washington, at Evergreen Speedway on Friday and Saturday night. The winner will receive $25,000.
27th Montana 200
At Montana Raceway Park
Super-Late Model Main Event
1. Owen Riddle
2. Tayler Riddle
3. Preston Peltier
4. Jason Jefferson
5. Shane Mitchell
6. Garrett Evans
7. Nicole Behar
8. Alex Lessor
9. John Newhouse
10. Agni Howell
11. Ryan Wells
12. Brock Denney
13. Joey Bird
14. Clint Habart
15. Christian Roeder
16. Mitch Kleyn
17. Don Staggs
18. Jeremy Doss