One is the wily veteran racer who’s been a fixture at Evergreen Speedway the past decade, but is reaching heights he’s never reached before.
The other is the young up-and-comer with impressive Evergreen Speedway bloodlines who is now making a name of his own.
Though they may be at different stages of their careers, they’re both hoping to be the local driver who finally makes the breakthrough at Evergreen Speedway’s premier event.
Evergreen Speedway’s Summer Showdown takes place this weekend, and in Jeff Knight and Trenton Moriarity the track has a pair of local drivers who finally may keep the trophy in Snohomish County.
“I’m really excited,” said Knight, 47, who’s in his 17th year of involvement at Evergreen and 10th as a driver. “It’s the biggest race in the northwest and last year we ran third, so there’s no reason we can’t do well this year. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
This is the sixth annual Summer Showdown, with qualifying races taking place Friday and the 200-lap main event following Saturday. The previous five editions were won not only by non-Snohomish County drivers, but by drivers who weren’t regulars at Evergreen.
Moriarity and Knight, who both hail from Monroe and are Evergreen Speedway regulars, aim to change that. Those two have been the top two drivers in the Super Late Models division at Evergreen this season. After eight races Moriarity is the points leader with 376 while Knight is second at 352 — no other driver is within 36 points of Knight. Knight has the most victories this season with three, while Moriarity is right behind with two.
The two also have been knocking on the door in the Budweiser Crown Series races, of which Summer Showdown is a part. The Crown Series, created this year, strings Evergreen’s biggest races together into a premier series that attracts drivers from outside the area. In the previous three Crown Series races Moriarity finished third (opening night), fifth (Galloway 150) and second (Central Welding 125). Knight had a part failure that dashed his hopes on opening night, but he finished third in each of the other two.
All of which makes Moriarity and Knight the best candidates for the first Snohomish County winner at Summer Showdown since the race’s inception in 2012.
“Leading in points before the Summer Showdown is a huge deal,” said Moriarity, 24, who is the son of eight-time track champion Tom Moriarity. “It’s like I have a target on me to win the Summer Showdown, which is cool to hear.”
Moriarity is the hot driver coming into the race. Moriarity is in just his fourth year of racing and just his second in Super Late Models. But last year he won the track’s Rookie of the Year competition, despite a wreck at Summer Showdown that temporarily put a halt to his season.
Now Moriarity has hit his stride. He won two of the previous three races at Evergreen, including the race just prior to Summer Showdown on July 8. In the race he didn’t win he finished second.
“It’s been fun racing with Trenton. He’s really fast,” Knight said. “He’s relatively new in these cars, but he has a tremendous structure around him, including his dad. It’s tremendous competition and it’s fun racing with him.”
Meanwhile, Knight has been the track’s Steady Eddie. Knight, who had good years at Evergreen in the past but has yet to win a points championship, had a three-race winning streak in April and May. He’s given way to Moriarity in recent races, but he earned a place on the podium in his past seven outings.
“It’s awesome racing against Jeff because before I started racing my dad raced and he was always battling with Jeff,” Moriarity said. “Jeff helped me when I started, he sponsored me my first two years racing Mini Stocks. He has so much drive and talent and passion. Every week we don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’ve both had solid finishes all year.”
But will either be able to give the county its first Summer Showdown winner? Moriarity was already running fast, and he could be even faster this weekend after upgrading to a Chevy CT525 engine from his GM 604 crate engine, increasing his horsepower from 410 to 560. Knight isn’t upgrading his engine, but he is finally getting a full feel for the Fury chassis he began racing last year.
“I think a local could make the breakthrough this year,” Knight said. “There’s a lot of guys running fast at Evergreen this year. Trenton’s car is on fire right now. There’s been moments I’ve been on fire. Dan Moore, Mike Holden, Naima Lang, I think there’s a lot of guys with a chance and it would be super if a local could take the win.”
And if it’s going to be a local, look to Moriarity and Knight to lead the charge.
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