Thursday, May 23, 2013

Youth Movement, Bride and Groom, and More....

Raceway 7

Headed up to Raceway 7 for the first time last Friday for their five division show of Crate FASTRAK Late Models, Modifieds, EconoMods, Street Stocks and Mini Stocks.  Raceway usually runs a pretty quick program, but last Friday was just a tad longer, as track prep between races was used more often.  It was still a great evening of racing, and I saw lots of fine folks in the pits, stands and tower.  Thanks go out to the McDonalds and Jim Balentine Jr.

The headlining Late Model division showed just how fast the track was Friday evening, as one of the youth bridgade - Chad Wright - broke the Crate LM track record twice during the course of the evening on the 7/16 clay oval.  In his heat, Wright stopped the clock at 18.765, and later in the 22-car feature when Wright zoomed to his first feature of the year, he broke his hours long record with an 18.702 lap.  A caution on lap 16 of the 20 lapper gave  runner-up Kyle Zimmerman  hope, but Wright was just to strong.

The Modifieds - just like at Sharon Speedway - are putting on some of the most exciting racing.  Multi winner at Raceway and Sharon this season, Joel Watson, took the lead from early pacesetter Mike Potosley on loap 10 of the 20 lapper after quite a battle.  The action right behind Watson was torrid with Potosley and Russ Dunn, which culminated with a last lap, front-straight tangle, giving the runner-up spot to Mike Kinney

Be sure to check out Raceway 7 sometime this season....


Pre-feature prep for the Chad Wright #6 at Raceway 7 Friday evening

Chad Wright in victory lane following his first feature win of the season at Raceway 7


Joel Watson took another Modified win, with his victory at Raceway 7 Friday, in what was another thrilling Modified feature in the area.  Above celebrating in victory lane, below being interviewed by track announcer, Jim Balentine, Jr

Ryan Fraley picked up the EconoMod feature at Raceway 7 Friday evening, continuing his success on the Raceway/Sharon EconoMod circuit

Dave Airgood celebrates his marriage Friday morning with an evening of racing Friday at Raceway 7

Dave and Sandy Airgood were interviewed during intermission at Raceway 7, following their marriage that morning on live TV, after winning the yearly wedding contest at WFMJ-TV 21 in Youngstown, OH.  The long day started in the wee hours of the morning for the all-expense paid wedding, reception, then an evening of racing (and a third place feature finish in the Late Models), and then early Saturday morning being whisked off to their honeymoon.  Congratulations!



Sharon Speedway

Another successful night of racing in the record books at Sharon.  The highlight of the evening had to be the EconoMod feature, as 12 year old Jacob Eucker made track history by becoming the youngest feature winner ever at the track.  Eucker is the great-grandson of Sharon legend and Hall of Famer Dale Johnson.  Eucker has been running strong all season, and has come close to a feature win several times.  Saturday's thriller saw a laps long, sometimes side-by-side duel with 17 year old Jeremy Double.  It almost looked like two veterans out there.  The exurbuant winner seemed polished and professional in victory lane.


Twelve year old Jacob Eucker made history Saturday evening at Sharon Speedway, becoming the youngest driver ever to win a feature event.  Eucker won the EconoMod headliner

Pulled into victory lane at Sharon for the EconoMod feature win, Jacob Euker's nickname "Kid Smooth" is apt, and belies his youth

Jacob's Great-grandfather, Dale Johnson, shown here picking up one of many wins

Dale Johnson, first driver for George Blaney and a Hall of famer, leads the pack.  Johnson's Great-grandson, Jacob Eucker looks to be following in his footsteps

Dave Murdick, Sharon's 2012 DIRT Big Block Modified Point Champion, won his first feature of '13 at the track Saturday

Will Thomas, 2012 Sharon Late Model Point Champion also found his way to his first feature of the year Saturday at Sharon in the RUSH Late Models

Bob Diver pulled off what some might consider an upset win in the highly competitive Modified division at Sharon on Saturday.  Diver held off Alan Dellinger, as the Modifieds continue to impress this year

This Saturday and Sunday at Sharon is the Bill Emig Memorial, featuring the RUSH Late Model Touring Series, with $1500 going to the winner each night, along with several contingecy awards.  Saturday along with the RUSH LMs will be Modifieds, EconoMods and Mini-Stocks, while DIRT Big Block Modifieds, Open Stocks and Mini-Stocks join the card on Sunday

Main Event

Jack Varney won the opening race in the Main Event Series for Outlaw Super Late Models at Sandusky Speedway Saturday. 


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sharon Speedway

Sharon Speedway continues with it's impressive weekly "Steel Valley Thunder", and the DIRT Big Block Modifieds keep rolling along with large, competitive fields.  Last seaon, one would think the division may had been close to extinction, with numbers in the low teens sometimes common.  This year has been the opposite, and last week 21 of the open-wheeled monsters signed in, and Brian Swartzlander was the fourth different winner in as many events. 

The RUSH Late Models also continue their competitive ways at the track, as 2011 LM Point Champion, 20 year old Josh Double, held off hard charging veterans Bill Cunningham and '13 two-time feature winner Dennis Lunger with a less than a second victory.  RUSH Future's Cup challenger, 16 year old Eric Wilson, '12 Sharon LM Champion Will Thomas and LM rookie Shaun Hooks were right behind the lead trio.

In the Modifieds, Joel Watson made it two in a row, after starting sixth in the wide-open class. 

A six division program can prove to be an unwieldy task, but Sharon usually moves the program along at a fairly good clip. 

Josh Double, Sharon LM Point Champion in 2011, won the exciting RUSH Late Model feature Saturday at the track, in a barnburner over Bill Cunningham and Dennis Lunger

Joel Watson made it two in a row in the highly competitive Modifieds at Sharon last Saturday

The field of DIRT Big Block Modifieds at Sharon this year has increased substantially.  Among threats to win weekly are Rex King and Rex King Jr., here lined up for a heat on 5/4/13

Veteran Bill Cunningham is off to a strong start in the RUSH Late Models at Sharon this season

The Double brothers both have feature wins in their respective divisions at Sharon this year.  Seventeen year old Jeremy, #83 in the EconoMods, and 20 year old Jeremy, #38, in the RUSH Late Models


Main Event Opener At Sandusky Reset For This Saturday, May 18

The Main Event 2013 season opener has been rescheduled for this Saturday at Sandusky Speedway, as windy and rainy conditions blew in last week just as the field was lining up on the track for the 75 lap feature. 

A healthy field of 22 Outlaw Super Late Models were signed in pit-side, and it is expected the field may grow a bit this week, as it will be a complete new show. 

Sharing the bill at the half-mile speed plant are the MSA Supermodifieds, as the two classes combine for an all-out speed attack at the track. 

Among the exoctic looking Outlaw Super Late Models at Sandusky last week, were:

Two-time defending Main Event Points Champion, Bud Perry

Getting set to qualify was second-generation driver, Marcus Malcuit, who will be going after the title this year after finishing third last season

Last year's Sandusky Main Event winner Justin Schroeder has sights set on a repeat win

Last year's fourth place point finisher,Jack Varney, Jr., lined up for time trials last Saturday

Drew Charlson, who also campaigns on the ARCA New Car circuit, has plans to run the entire Main Event schedule for 2013

One of the sharpest cars on the circuit is again Brian Short

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Asphalt Aspects-Dirt Digest Returns

Well, I certainly have been derelict in maintaining my blog.  I am hoping to rectify that and will try to post at least weekly.  A lot has happened since the end of last season, over the winter, and now at the start of the 2013 racing season.  A few highlights to bring you up to speed....

Crate Late Model Racing Explodes

This can be taken several ways.  First would be the proliferation of dirt crate Late Models that are competing in the Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, West Virginia, Maryland cluster.  Less than ten years ago, you would be hard pressed to find many.  Now that has exploded into over 300 competitors.   Credit that to the to the hard work, determination and dedication of Vicki Emig and Mike Leone, who brought the crate concept to the area through Stan Lester"s FASTRAK organization in the south, spearheading the group's FASTRAK NE region, and taking it to unheard of heights.  For six years, Emig and Leone's tireless promotion of the series and procurement of sponsors and contingencies brought untold rewards to competitors.  Each year saw more prizes, purses and professionalism.  A Manufacturers Night with $30,000 worth of hard product giveaways, and a GM 604 Crate Engine giveaway were highlights last year.

There were some strains however, especially after the National Weekly Points were eliminated in 2012.  That helped Emig and Leone decide to break out on their own, to better serve the tracks and drivers in their area. 

So, I guess that is the second explosion, as Emig and Leone announced the formation of the RUSH Dirt Late Model Series, and FASTRAK announced their intentions of staying in the region also.  A common chant in the area - for anything - is "support local businesses", and loyalty, so it was interesting to see what was to happen to the southern-based FASTRAK.  RUSH got the early edge in signing up tracks, and there were a few surprises - in my mind - that aligned with FASTRAK.  Under the RUSH banner are Sharon, Pittsburgh, Roaring Knob, The Rock, Bradford, McKean Co., Allegheny Mt., with weekly and Tour races also at Lernerville, Hagerstown and Hesston.  Going with FASTRAK are Raceway 7, Eriez, Dog Hollow, Marion Center, Tyler County, with Mercer having some Touring races.  Several drivers have already run both series....  Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC is a title sponsor for each series....  And Emig and Leone continue their knack for securing numerous contingencies and sponsors, topped off again with a $30,000 Manufacturer's Night giveaway and a Sweeney Chevrolet GM 604 engine giveaway.

It's going to be interesting to see how the season shakes out.  Stay tuned.



Midvale Madness

Midvale Speedway continues its re-invention, as owners Randy and Sue Smith continue with seemingly limitless renovations.  The third-mile paved facility is becoming one of the premier tracks in the state.  This year all new front-stretch grandstands are in place, with yards of freshly poured concrete the base of it all.  The amount of concrete and asphalt at Midvale is somewhat mind-blowing. 

Opening night was a huge success, with the headlining Outlaw Late Models having Bryant Smith and Doug McMillan going side-by-side for ten laps as Smith got an inches only victory.  Smith repeated the win last weekend, although a duel with Ryan Tedesco did not repeat the Smith/McMillan success.  Contact and a few frayed tempers made an appearance, but the two principals involved seem to be fine after a phone call between the two the following evening.


New frontstretch stands at Midvale, shortly before completion

Midvale moment... Tedesco (70) and Smith (1) going for the lead

Main Event Series Set

One of my favorite series, The Main Event Racing Series, kicks off this Saturday, May 11 at Sandusky Speedway.  The asphalt Outlaw Super Late Models will share billing on the 1/2 track with the MSA Super Modifieds, for a grandstand shaking twin bill.  Two time defending Main Event Champion Bud Perry is set to go against Harold Fair, Jr., Scott Baker, Jimmy Carter, Tim Felver, Marcus Malcuit, Josh Smith, Brian Short, Jim Varney, Jr., and a host of others.



Blast from the Past - Roger Black won Main Event race at Sandusky on July 3, 1995.


Sharon Speedway Sizzles

Sharon Speedway is ushering in what so far is quite a succesful season.  A full field of DIRT Big Block Modifieds each week so far - up substancially from last season - along with impressive counts for RUSH Late Models, Modifieds and EconoMods.  In addition to the regular shows, a ULMS Super Late Model/UEMS Modified show is also in the books.  Davey Johnson set a new Super Late Model track record of 14.994 at the ULMS show, going on to take a close 30 lap feature win over Mike Knight. 

The Modified (formerly EMod) division at Sharon has been a revelation this year.  The level of competition is staggering, and even if someone gets out front early, the outcome is still in doubt.  RUSH Late Models, too, have been putting on a whale of a show, and last week had two last lap passes - Dennis Lunger over Will Thomas for first, and Eric Wilson over Josh Double for third, while Matt Latta looked for an opening on the foursome's bumpers.

Some Photo Highlights


Dennis Lunger has the distinction of winning the first ever RUSH sanctioned Late Model feature - on opening day at Sharon Speedway.  Lunger won again last week, 5/4, and sits atop the RUSH/LM Sharon point standings

Sixteen year old Eric Wilson is off to a strong start at Sharon in the RUSH LMs, and is currently second in the points

Jim Weller Jr. took the DIRT Big Block Modified feature, over a large and strong field, at Sharon last Saturday.  Weller being interviewed by track announcer Jim Pollock.

Matt Latta awaits the RUSH Late Model feature call

Among the many strong Modifieds at Sharon is second generation driver Joe Gabrielson, who has been mixing it up at the front all season.   A strong start sees him tied for second in points.