It was a successful kickoff to the weekend racing at Thunder Ridge Motorsports Park on Friday night.
Running its third event of the summer, the dirt racing track south of Craig was host to eight cars in two races Friday, doing a hobby stock and sport stock combined race, then pitting four modified cars against each other.
Track owner Gregg Kolbaba was planning on having his largest modified race of the summer, but didn’t get quite the turnout he expected from that car class.
It was still the best race of the summer, with a unique qualifying format.
Normally at Thunder Ridge drivers draw out of a hat to determine their starting position in the first race. But for the modified cars Friday night, each driver had the track to himself for three laps, and the one with the fastest individual lap got pole position.
“That’s kind of old school, not many tracks do that anymore,” Kolbaba said. “If you have a bunch of cars out, you can do qualifying all night and it’s pretty fun.”
The drivers letting loose on the track with no competitors to worry about was an entertaining show. It was also something the drivers participating in it enjoyed.
“Driving and having fun out there beats just picking randomly,” said Mike Opatik, a driver from Fort Morgan.
Josh Nye, of Rifle, qualified first in the speed laps, and was able to hold off the other drivers in a very tight six-lap race, which was a prelude to the main event tonight.
“Those three guys were pretty close,” said Kolbaba in reference to Nye, Opatik and Wade Pinkerton. “Mike started to make a bit of a comeback. Their laps times were all very similar.”
In the other race Friday night, three sport stock cars took on one hobby stock. After qualifying first, Bill Barker, of Delta, gave up his lead on the first turn.
Craig native Casey Madsen took the lead in the Bulldog Bug, but could not hold off Barker’s hobby stock. He righted the ship a few laps later, passed Madsen and pulled away for an easy victory.
Thunder Ridge will have more racing tonight at the park, and Kolbaba said fans can expect more cars.
“I don’t think there will be more modifieds, because they were supposed to be here tonight, but there will be more hobby stock out here,” he said. “There will be more cars in general for sure.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org