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Strong field set for Montana 200

Strong field set for Montana 200

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The field for this year's Montana 200 at Raceway Park in Kalispell couldn't get much stronger.

Seven of the eight previous winners will be on hand for the biggest auto race in the state. The winner of the Super Late Model contest takes home $5,000 of the $25,000 purse.

"The caliber of drivers will be the best ever," said track owner Sharon Slack. "The fans are pumped. It's unreal the excitement it has created."

Racing begins Friday at 7 p.m. with heats, trophy dashes and qualifying. The top 22 cars will advance to Saturday's main event. Winged sprints will also race this weekend. Saturday's events begin at 7 p.m. with opening ceremonies.

Defending champion Tom Sweatman, of Cosmopolis, Wash., is one of two drivers looking to become the first three-time champ in the 11-year history of the race. Sweatman, who races on the NASCAR Northwest Series, also won in 1997. Spokane's Mark Groskreutz, a member of the NASCAR Southwest Series, won the Montana 200 in 1994, and 1996.

Marion's Ken Kaltschmidt will be one of the fan favorites. Kaltschmidt was a fixture at Raceway Park prior to joining the NASCAR Northwest tour on a full-time basis last season. He currently sits 24th in points, although he's made just four starts.

Troy Conrad, the 1999, champion, and Garrett Evans also figure to be among the favorites. Conrad is currently ninth on the Northwest Series, while Evans is 13th.

Justin Martz, son of Gov. Judy Martz, is registered, along with Flathead Valley favorites Bob and Troy Schweigert, and Rocky Erickson. Bob Schweigert won the second Montana 200 in 1992.

Libby's Mark Owens and Ronan's Cory Wolfe are also past championship from Montana in the field.

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