Fans got some unscheduled fireworks as well as a night of dominant racing Friday in dirt-track action at Twin City Raceway.
The fireworks came courtesy of Chris Hawley, an Anchorage driver in the Legends division. In the middle of the 20-lap Feature, Hawley’s car caught on fire coming out of Turn 4.
But flagger Bryan Elliott alertly hopped out of the flag tower with a fire extinguisher to quickly end the display.
The dominant racing came from Dean Scroggins in the A-Stock and Keith Jones in B-Stock. Both won both heats and the Feature.
Legends driver Bryan Barber and Late Models driver Scott Sluka were not too far behind. Sluka finished second in his first heat, won his second heat and won the Feature.
Barber won his first heat, then put together his car after crashing out of the second heat for a Feature win.
Hawley has been racing Legends for 10 years and this is the first time he said one has caught fire on him.
He’s pretty sure the fire happened due to a loosened oil filter. As he came off Turn 4, he saw flames shooting from his car and also saw his oil pressure drop.
“I saw fire coming from the car but I was in the right spot,” Hawley said. “The flagging stand was right there and they have the fire extinguisher.”
Hawley could have jumped from the car, but when he saw Elliott climbing down from the tower, he figured, “Why bother?” He had no injuries from the ordeal.
“I stayed calm and didn’t panic,” he said. “I could have hopped out of the car, but I figured I would just stay in and let him put the fire out.”
Scroggins, who lives in Soldotna, has been just as hot as Hawley’s hood since he started racing at Twin City Raceway last season.
In A-Stock last season, he was Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Driver and set the track record. However, he finished second in the season points standings and would like to rectify that this year.
He said he hopes Friday’s sweep put him in the points lead.
Scroggins said he redid the setup in his car for a dirt shootout in Fairbanks on June 19 and 20.
He won that shootout, but the track in Fairbanks is shorter and flatter than Twin City Raceway. Scroggins stuck with the setup anyway.
“It’s golden. It worked here too,” Scroggins said. “It was a great setup. All I had to do was drive it.”
Jones, of Wasilla, has been coming to Twin City Raceway since 2009. He’s never won a season points title here, but won two Thunder Stock titles at Northstar Speedway in Wasilla before the track closed.
“The car handled good and it was running good,” Jones said. “The conditions were favorable for the car setup.”
Jones has now won three Features at Twin City this season, two in B-Stock and one in A-Stock. The A-Stock victory came earlier this season when his daughter, 17-year-old A-Stock driver Ashten Jones, lost a contact lens.
So Jones jumped in her car and won. He said he has no idea where he is in the points race.
“I just race for trophies,” he said.
Sluka is from Fairbanks and is in his second year of coming down to Twin City for races. He has won the dirt modified championship four years in a row in Fairbanks.
Last year, Sluka was actually able to win a Late Model Feature at Twin City driving a modified car, but this year he got a Late Model just for Twin City.
There were 14 Late Models entered Friday, so for the 10-lap heats the Late Models were split into two.
Shawn Hutchings won both his heats before finishing second to Sluka in the Feature.
Sluka finished second in his first heat race to No. 71 Bill Magers. Magers led the first six laps of the second heat, but on the seventh lap Sluka blew past him on Turn 4 and didn’t let go of the lead.
“That was a good pass,” Sluka said. “He went up a bit and I thought, ‘Now’s my shot.’
“The 71 car was really good today.”
As was the case for pretty much the entire evening, Sluka made the pass with his left front tire up in the air.
“In Late Models and modified, they call that, ‘Leave the left tire at home,’” he said.
While the method may leave him looking like he is on the verge of losing control, Sluka said that is not the case. But he did plan on adjusting his car a bit for Saturday.
“Four tires is always good,” he said.
Barber, of Anchorage, has been coming to Twin City since 2012, winning track titles in 2013 and 2014.
He has his eye on three in a row, and a convincing win in the first heat was another step in the right direction.
But midway through the 10-lap second heat, Alex Schwochart spun in front of Barber and Barber couldn’t miss him, crashing out of the race.
Barber broke both bumpers, bent the steering arm and stripped his spindle. He even hurt his left wrist, but as a right-hander he said that was no big deal. But he overcame all of that to win the Feature.
But not without some drama. On a restart, Schwochart and Barber touched again, but Barber was able to avoid a crash this time.
“We’ve raced with each other for seven years,” Barber said Schwochart. “We bump bumpers here and there.”
The following top-three results from Friday are unofficial. Official results, including results from Saturday, will be in the Clarion when they are available:
Heat 1 — 1. Dean Scroggins; 2. Jimmie Hale; 3. Jake/Rex Savely.
Heat 2 — 1. Dean Scroggins; 2. Sean Endsley; 3. Jake/Rex Savely.
Feature — 1. Dean Scroggins; 2. Sean Endsley; 3. Jeremy Echuck.
Heat 1 — 1. Keith Jones; 2. Chuck Winters; 3. Dustin Bass.
Heat 2 — 1. Keith Jones; 2. Dustin Bass; 3. Chuck Winters.
Feature — 1. Keith Jones; 2. Chuck Winters; 3. Dustin Bass.
Heat 1 — 1. Bryan Barber; 2. David Kusmider; 3. Mike Thomas.
Heat 2 — 1. Tyren Torkelson; 2. Brent Roumagoux; 3. Andy Schwochart.
Legends — 1. Bryan Barber; 2. David Kusmider; 3. Tyren Torkelson.
Heat 1A — 1. Bill Magers; 2. Scott Sluka; 3. Jason Magers.
Heat 1B — 1. Shawn Hutchings; 2. Al Ulman; 3. Sean Whitmore.
Heat 2A — 1. Scott Sluka; 2. Bill Magers; 3. Robert Reinhart.
Heat 2B — 1. Shawn Hutchings; 2. Al Ulman; 3. Jim Adams.
Feature — 1. Scott Sluka; 2. Shawn Hutchings; 3. Robert Reinhart.