Kennewick’s BJ Tidrick had a wild checkered flag race in the Montana 200 on Saturday night at the Mission Valley Super Oval and came away a two-time winner.
Tidrick had planned a weekend of work in the garage, but his father called him Friday morning, offered him his # 21 car, and urged him to drive to Montana.
Tidrick and his team showed up at 5 a.m. on Saturday. They missed Friday’s qualifying so he started 15th in the field of 17.
“We had problems all day,” he said after the race. “We had an oil line failure, a problem in the back. We had huge problems with our set of training tires. Nothing went well, then everything went well.
It was the third time he had raced with his father’s car, and it broke down the two previous times.
However, once Saturday’s race got underway, Tidrick quickly moved through the peloton and looked like he had one of the better cars. Before it was all over, he found himself in the middle of the night’s two biggest crashes.
On lap 71, Tidrick slipped into the infield in a multi-car crash at Turn 4 that knocked out Agni Howell of Kalispell, JD Undem of Frenchtown and Jeff Mullins of Naches, Wash.
Howell was the top qualifier on Friday night, but he accepted an offer of $ 1,000 ahead of the race organizers to start at the back of the field and make things more interesting. He had climbed the ranks to fifth place before the accident ended his evening.
A crash penalty on lap 71 moved Dave Garber from Spokane to the back of the field. Garber had taken pole position before the race once Howell took the silver and came back.
Garber quickly came back to the front and was fourth on lap 101 – the first lap after a 15-minute halftime break – when Tidrick and two others before him got tangled up before turn 3. Tidrick’s car crashed. rotated 180 degrees. , and he left the track back as 1994 champion Cory Wolfe of Ronan crashed into the side of Alex Lessor of Kalispell. They were the first three before the accident.
“I had a really good jump on that restart and I was like, ‘I won’t have a lot of chances against Alex, so I’m going to take this chance.’ We had a good run on the outside and I had a little lunge on him, ”Tidrick said after the run. “I knew I had run it tight but I thought I had given it enough room, and just a little bit of contact …”
Tidrick was able to resume the race, as was Wolfe, who returned from the pits without a front bumper, hood and both fenders. The accident, however, ended the night of the lessor. Tidrick and Wolfe moved to the back for the restart, and Garber took over the top spot.
“I felt bad for Alex,” Tidrick said. “I would have loved to fight him.”
Tidrick and Wolfe chased Garber down with a squad reduced to eight cars and a few minor yellow flags helping along the way.
Tidrick regained the lead after a restart with 60 laps to go, and it was essentially a two-car race from there with Wolf unable to keep pace in his badly damaged car.
Garber stuck to Tidrick’s rear bumper the rest of the way but couldn’t catch the 2005 champion. The closest he had come was on the last corner, when the two collided, sending Tidrick in a twist for a checkered flag side finish.
Tidrick said after the race the car started to get harder to control with around 20 laps to go and his steering issues led to the late exit.
“I might have had a right front (tire) collapsing. … I was just fighting it, fighting it, fighting it. Then, with about two starts, I lost the power steering. It was all I could do to hang on. I was trying to keep it at the bottom (of the trail)… and I think Garber got me just enough to help go around.
“I think I’m going to play the lottery tonight. I have been lucky several times.
Garber was second and Wolfe third.
Tidrick collected a check for $ 10,000 after winning the race, which was held for the first time on the Polson track. The Montana 200, created in 1991, had been held at Montana Raceway Park in Kalispell every year until 2019. Operators the following spring announced that the track was permanently closed.
Mission Valley Super Oval is in its third season under the direction of new operators Tony and CleAnn Undem of Frenchtown. The husband and wife team, and a hard-working team of extended family and friends, have made several improvements to the trail since taking over. They expanded the concessions, parking and on-site camping for this year’s Montana 200 and erected several additional bleachers. The Undems didn’t have an official attendance tally on Saturday night, but both were convinced it was possibly the biggest event in track history.
“None of this is possible if the drivers and the fans don’t show up,” CleAnn said after Saturday’s race. “We are just amazed at the participation and we really appreciate all the support. “
Montana 200 Winners
2021: BJ Tidrick
2020: Race not held
2019: Owen Riddle
2018: Jérémy Doss
2017: Owen Riddle
2016: Jérémy Doss
2015: Owen Riddle
2014: Garrett Evans
2013: Jonathan Gomez
2012: Jeff Jefferson
2011: Shane Mitchell
2010: Gary Lewis
2009: Gary Lewis
2008: Gary Lewis
2007: Gary Lewis
2006: Jeff Jefferson
2005: BJ Tidrick
2004: Christian Roeder
2003: Kenny Kaltschmidt
2002: Tom Sweatman
2001: Ron Dexter
2000: Tom Sweatman
1999: Troy Conrad
1998: Tim Elliott
1997: Tom Sweatman
1996: Marc Groskreutz
1995: Mark Owens
1994: Cory Wolfe
1993: Marc Groskreutz
1992: Bob Schwieger
1991: Lance Wade