ALGER, Wash. — It has been a long time coming for Jason Solwold to stand in victory lane at the Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup presented by Jack in the Box.
Saturday night the Washington native led all 40 laps of the 44th annual event presented by the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series, earning $15,000.
Asked how winning Dirt Cup stacks up against all his success at the Skagit Speedway, the driver the Anderson Motorsports No, 18 replied, “I don’t know, I think it’s going to sink in tomorrow. I’ve watched a lot of Dirt Cups. I won my first 360 show on the bottom and I didn’t hear anyone next to me, so I just kept to myself and stuck low. I had an awesome car thanks to Mel [Roberts], and I just have to say thank you to Mike Anderson and my Dad for putting this thing together.”
Jumping to the lead from the pole, Solwold held on through a pair of cautions on the start. Finding the tail of the field by the 10th round, the bottom served well as Jason only ever pulled high to negotiate a slower car.
Putting three lapped cars between himself and second running, Willie Croft, the California shoe had to contend with Seth Bergman and Aaron Reutzel following a lap-29 restart. Keeping the pair at bay, Croft finally cleared traffic as the red flag waved on lap 34 for Skylar Gee.
Shuffling the top five a bit on the restart, Johnny Herrera worked in the mix with the pass for fourth as the red lights blinked on again for Wayne Johnson, who flipped in turn four.
Leaving four laps on the board, Croft gave it his all for the lead, but would watch as the No. 18 began to pull away. Challenged for the silver position by Aaron Reutzel, the B.C. Funds No. 87 completed the pass on lap 38.
“We definitely had a car to win this deal, we just started too far back. Hats off to Jason Solwold though. It takes luck to win these things, and we just didn’t have luck on our side after last night’s little gremlins,” said Reutzel. “I really need to thank Mark at Shark Racing Engines. We wouldn’t be here tonight if it wasn’t for him. He builds a killer engine, and all our successes have been thanks to his engines and I can’t thank all my guys. This track had me clued all week and Don [Grable] gave me a great car.”
Willie Croft settled for the bronze step.
“Disappointing to run third two years in a row,” Croft said. “I’ll take it, but I really want that Dirt Cup win,” were the words of Croft on the front straightaway. “Hats off to Jason and Aaron, they ran a great race. I felt we were really good. Maybe not as strong as Jason, but I felt if we’d been in traffic maybe a little bit longer, there would have been more chances, but it went the way it went. I’ll take third and hang my head high.”
Coming from 15th, Johnny Herrera crossed fourth in the MVT No. 45x with Travis Rilat rounding out the top five.
Jason Solwold, Aaron Reutzel, Willie Croft, Johnny Herrera, Travis Rilat, Seth Bergman, Colton Heath, Trey Starks, Tayler Malsam, Robbie Price, Eric Fisher, Cameron (Cam) Smith, Trever Kirkland, Marc Duperron, Wayne Johnson, Skylar Gee, Jordan Weaver, Reece Goetz, Jared Peterson, Brock Lemley, Matt Covington, Greg Hamilton.