Robustelli tops Week of Speed series
From Coos Bay to Elma, Washington — and three stops in between — Camden Robustelli, his sprint car and racing team had to persevere through multiple challenges during the recent Week of Speed.
Yet by the sixth and final race of the Aug. 16-21 Interstate Sprint Car Series event at the Grays Harbor Raceway, the Medford driver stood alone at the top of the leaderboard following the feature event, which was a culmination of several performances Robustelli put together earlier in the week to outlast the rest of the field.
Robustelli, 22, set the tone Aug. 16. on the opening night of the week at Coos Bay Speedway, taking first place in the 25-lap limited sprint car feature event after starting in ninth.
From there, he, along with his dad, Jason Robustelli, and the TJ Winningham Racing team traveled to Cottage Grove Speedway, Willamette Speedway in Lebanon and Sunset Speedway in Banks — all on consecutive days — before wrapping up the week last Friday and Saturday at Grays Harbor Raceway.
All told, he claimed two victories and placed second, third, fourth and sixth in the other four races.
“It was definitely a grind, to the say the least,” the driver said. “All that work that we do every week before a race, it was all crammed into a couple hours. Putting in all the preparation and setup work, weekly maintenance in that short time frame was hard to do. Also, with wrecked parts, the motor having issues, all that stuff ... in that short period of time was pretty tough to do. But we were able to get through it all.”
In addition to the win in Coos Bay, Robustelli charged up to first place last Friday, the first of two nights at Grays Harbor. But the day before at Sunset Speedway, Robustelli’s second-place effort on the Banks dirt track was his most memorable.
Going into the race, Robustelli believed he had the best car that night. He started in fourth place and within two laps had tracked down the two front-runners. But a collision between Robustelli and the two cars ahead of him crushed one of the headers on the right side of his car, cutting off airflow to the exhaust and disabling the power on those cylinders. Still, he was able to finish second to Harrisburg’s Tyler Thompson and keep hold of first place on the overall leaderboard.
“I was running on probably like five cylinders at the time and I was able to hang on to second place,” Robustelli said. “Just persevering through tough times, because if I didn’t finish that race, then I don’t think I would’ve won the Week of Speed. Even if I lost two or three positions, that would’ve been detrimental to winning the whole thing.”
That effort, combined with Robustelli’s wire-to-wire win last Friday night in which he led all 25 laps at Grays Harbor, gave him a nice cushion going into the final night of the week.
“I knew going in what I needed to do, which kind of increased the pressure,” Robustelli said. “If I didn’t get those positions or even finish, then I would’ve lost it.”
It wasn’t Robustelli’s first entry into the Week of Speed, as he and his dad worked together on his car in the event three years ago. But this year, Robustelli said he benefited from having the help of the team led by TJ and Stacy Winningham, Stevie Jones and Allen Colley, in addition to learning from past mistakes.
“We’ve always had speed and been able to compete for the wins, but never really put it all together,” Robustelli said. “Just learning from my previous mistakes, just capitalizing on every race and every point of the race really helped me succeed this year.”
As young as 5 years old, Robustelli raced cage karts before moving up to dwarf cars, then sprint cars at 16. This was his first year as a full-time sprint car driver. One day prior to the start of the Week of Speed, he took second place at the ISCS Sprint Tour to Central Point’s Jake Wheeler at Southern Oregon Speedway, his home track where he’s still looking to capture his first win in a sprint car.
“It’s definitely my toughest track. I don’t know why,” Robustelli said. “I won pretty much everywhere else before I won there. Same to the sprint car — I still have yet to win at Southern Oregon Speedway. But hopefully, one of these days I will.”
Robustelli, who’s also in his final year at Oregon State University studying electrical engineering, has three more sprint car races left this season as the current leader in the ISCS overall points race.
Reach reporter Will Denner at 541-776-4479 or firstname.lastname@example.org