By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
Christian Craig ran away with the victory in the season opener for the 250SX West but all eyes were on the battle for the final two spots on the podium. Vince Friese, Seth Hammaker, Garrett Marchbanks, and Hunter Lawrence all were within reach of those two spots but in the end, Hammaker and Lawrence ended the night on the other two steps of the podium.
Friese won the holeshot but once Craig took the lead, the veteran fell from the front. He battled hard with the top-four but fell out of the picture quicker than his run for the holeshot. Once Friese was out of the way, Hammaker and Marchbanks battled it out hard including making contact as the clock struck zero. Marchbanks tried to run him down but the last gasp of air pushed him away from Hammaker as Lawrence made the pass on his Yamaha.
Lawrence and Hammaker battled it out hard down to the checkers. Lawrence attempted to make the pass for second coming to the line but Hammaker had just enough momentum to finish runner up to kick-off 2022. It is his first runner-up finish in 10 career 250SX starts but isn’t his best career finish. Hammaker finished first in Arlington last season.
“That was a wild race,” Hammaker said. “That had to be one of the wildest races I have ever been a part of. Those last couple of laps I had Garrett (Marchbanks) behind me and I saw Hunter Lawrence was coming too and I was like man, I have to plan my passes around the lappers, hit the whoops solid, and just try to maintain that gap so they didn’t get too close. Hunter and I had a rather gnarly moment there coming to the finish line but that’s racing and I am glad I was able to pull off that second-place finish. Strong right tonight and I am happy about it.”
The 250SX West Series heads to the RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland, California next weekend, January 15th, for round number two of the season. Hammaker will enter the weekend second in West points just three points behind Anaheim winner Craig. Much like Anaheim, Hammaker will be making his debut on the dirt in Oakland as it was not on the schedule in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Photo: Rachel Schuoler