It’s been a decade since Jeff Montgomery completed his threepeat, that is, winning a third straight Daffodil Cup sprint car title.
While he’s not as busy driving today as he was back in 2004 through 2006, the Western Speedway regular still hopes to be in the hunt this Friday and Saturday (Aug. 12 and 13) when the Langford track hosts two nights of fast-paced, wheel-to-wheel sprint car action.
The Northwest Sprint Racing Association-sanctioned event promises to attract some of the international circuit’s most talented drivers.
“The local guys have had a bit of an advantage because they drive here a lot; they’ve cut their teeth here,” said Montgomery, who this weekend will drive his team’s lightning-fast winged car plus the non-winged Wilroc series car that has him leading the points race.
With the popularity of these races longstanding – drivers from around the Northwest have battled for the Daffodil Cup since 1961 – current NSRA points leaders like Oregon’s Matt Hein and Andy Alberding have narrowed the gap in recent years by hitching up their trailers annually to come racing in Langford.
“Andy and Matt have run a number of races here now,” Montgomery said, adding their teams are getting better at adjusting their cars to work well on the 3/8 mile tri-oval.
“At one point in time we did have an advantage, but now they know the set-up and how to drive it.”
While Montgomery, 46, has focused mainly on the more localized Wilroc series of late rather than travelling off-Island to “chase points” in the NSRA series, he did make the most of a trip to Washington last month, when he won the King of the Wing National Sprint Series in Wenatchee. He overtook Cobble Hill teenager Robbie Price midway through the feature main and took the checkered flag.
Western Speedway track announcer and multi-purpose volunteer, Cole Sorenson, explained that the Friday night races during Daffodil Cup weekend tend to be more of a warmup for the Saturday race card.
Both evenings are important, however, if a driver wants a shot at taking home the Cup, with aggregate points the method of determining the winner.
“If you have a good Friday night, it bodes well for Saturday,” he said.
Sorenson, who’s just 16 but wise to the recent and past history of the track, said the Daffodil Cup is “pretty much the only big race on the NSRA that Matt Hein hasn’t won.”
He added that defending Cup champion Alberding, Price and Duncan’s Darren Yates, the two-time Wilroc season champion who’ll be bringing a new car to the track this weekend, are among the potential winners along with Hein and Montgomery.
Although race length is often determined by how much time is available, Friday will likely see a 30-lap main and Saturday 40 laps, Sorenson said.
As for the Wilroc field, which tends to be more closely matched, which creates more sustained wheel-to-wheel battles on the track, 2016 Strawberry Cup winner Guy Barrett looks to offer up the strongest challenge to Montgomery, with Ryan Orchard also likely to be a contender.
There’s a chance that fans will experience a bit of history at the track this weekend, as former Cup winner Norm Ellefson, who took the title three separate times in the 1960s and ’70s, has been invited to drive one of his old race cars as the pace vehicle to start the Cup races.
The two nights of racing also include the Old Time Racer’s Association and dwarf cars. Action gets underway with qualifying at 5:30 p.m. both nights, fan fest at 6:00 and racing at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at westernspeedway.net or at the gate.
Here’s a list of the most frequent winners of the Daffodil Cup title:
5 – Scott Aumen (2013, 2011, 2010, 2008, 2007)
4 – Roy Smith (1976, 1975, 1971, 1968
3 – Jeff Montgomery (2006, 2005, 2004), Trevor Montgomery (2003, 1999, 1997), Craig Deaver (2002, 2001, 2000), Norm Ellefson (1972, 1967, 1966)