Raz sets fast pace, wins pole for 51st Apple Cup

Owen Riddle lands second, wile brother Tayler will start third

AKIMA — Everybody, it seems, is chasing young Gracin Raz this weekend.

The 19-year-old driver from Lake Oswego, Ore., had the fastest car on the track in qualifying and will have the inside pole for Sunday’s 150-lap Super Late Model main event at the Yakima Speedway’s 51st annual Apple Cup.

Raz’s sleek black No. 27 machine, crewed by Jeff Jefferson and the Jefferson Pitts Racing team, turned in Saturday’s top qualifying time of 18.539 seconds on the half-mile oval with cool but dry conditions for the season-opening event.

Not far off the teenage pacesetter were the Riddle brothers from Naches. Two-time Apple Cup winner Owen Riddle checked in at 18.606 while Tayler stopped the clock at 18.619.

Raz had a solid No. 2 qualifying lap at 18.695.

It was a fast qualifying session with seven cars coming in under 19 seconds. Californian Jeremy Doss, who later won a dash race, was the fourth-best qualifier at 18.723.

Canadian Pete Harding, who has won the Apple Cup four times since 1998, was forced out of the field with engine trouble.

Steve Thompson of Richland won Saturday’s 75-lap main event for the Northwest Pro 4 Alliance. Jay Sauls was second and Tom Pinkowski placed third.

Sunday’s opening ceremonies start at 11:45 a.m. Main events start with a 40-lap Columbia River Legends race. After the West Coast Late Models open their series season with a 100-lap race, the Super Late Models take over for the 150-lap feature.