The 50th version of the Morgan Hughes Williams Grove National Open was a great success.
Donny Schatz became the all-time National Open win leader with his fifth victory in the event, earning a cool $50,000.
But there was a lot more to the weekend. A very large crowd was on hand both nights to watch a large field of the best sprint-car racers in the world compete. There were 55 cars on Friday and 54 on Saturday. In all 56 different drivers competed over the weekend.
While Friday's track changed drastically during time trials, Saturday the track stayed very much the same, and just six-tenths of a second separated the top 40 in time trials, with just a second between the top 51.
With the field so close, there were some very good drivers who didn't make it to the A-Main on Saturday. In fact, two of Friday's top five didn't make the show Saturday.
The C-Main on Saturday featured three drivers who are in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, and also a recent Knoxville Nationals winner. Jac Haudenschild and Tim Shaffer advanced from that race, while Fred Rahmer and Steve Kinser didn't. Kinser used a provisional to start the National Open, while Rahmer was done for the night. Neither Haudenschild nor Shaffer made it to the A-Main.
Kerry Madsen who led 16 laps of Friday's feature didn't make the A-Main on Saturday either.
Outlaw provisionals are based on car-owner points and not on driver points. The other Outlaw provisional on Saturday was Kraig Kinser. That means both of Saturday's Outlaw provisionals finished in the top 10 Friday. With Rahmer now in Don Ott's car, he was not able to use a provisional since there were five owners ahead of Ott who didn't make the field. Brent Marks and Doug Esh used the Williams Grove provisionals.
Rahmer's previous ride, the Chad and Jenn Clemens No. 51, driven by Paul McMahan, won Friday's feature, and was fifth Saturday. Brian Leppo was in a second Clemens car, and finished second in the National Open. On a strange note, the Clemens team cars drew first and last for Saturday's time trials. Leppo drew the No. 1 and McMahan drew the No. 75. Clemens is also a partner in the No. 19 that Stevie Smith drives. On Friday, Clemens' cars were first, sixth and 11th. On Saturday they were second, fifth and sixth.
Local Outlaws Cody Darrah and Lucas Wolfe both did well over the weekend. Darrah had finishes of 19th and third, while Wolfe was fifth and seventh.
In Saturday's A-Main, after several aborted starts, Craig Dollansky took the early lead, with Schatz in pursuit. Schatz was able to wrest away the lead on the 14th of 40 laps, but Dollansky was back in front the next time around. Dollansky held the lead until the 25th lap when he tangled with a spinning car he was attempting to lap, and was forced to the rear of the field. From that point on Schatz held the lead.
In the closing laps, Leppo applied plenty of pressure, until Darrah began to challenge Leppo. Leppo finished second with Darrah in third. Daryn Pittman and McMahan completed the top five. Stevie Smith was sixth, with Lucas Wolfe, Lance Dewease, Sam Hafertepe Jr. and Thomasville's Greg Hodnett in the top 10. Hodnett came back from the rear of the field after a flip on the opening lap.
On Friday, McMahan raced to the victory in the 25-lap preliminary-night feature. McMahan's win was worth $8,000.
Madsen led the first 16 laps Friday before McMahan took the lead. Hodnett caught McMahan at the end, but had to settle for second, with Madsen in third. Shaffer and Wolfe completed the top five. Rounding out the top 10 were Smith, Kraig Kinser, Schatz, Steve Kinser and Haudenschild.
THIS WEEKEND: On Friday, Williams Grove offers the sprints and 358 sprints, while Trailway offers the Mike Zeigler Sr. Memorial Thunder on the Farm for stock cars. The limited-late models, street stocks, thundercars, Xtreme stocks and limited stocks compete.
Lincoln hosts the Hank Gentzler Memorial Manufacturers' Night for the sprint cars Saturday. This event usually produces about $2,000 worth of products for each of the 24 starters in the sprint-car feature. There are also prizes for the fans. The 358 sprints will also be on hand for a championship event.
Port Royal offers a 305 sprint regional event on Saturday, along with the limited-late models pro stocks and an enduro. Selinsgrove has a $5,000-to-win late-model classic on tap Saturday, along with a street-stock challenge. The street stocks here are Selinsgrove's roadrunners, with Susquehanna's Xtreme stocks and similar classes from other tracks also allowed to compete.
50 YEARS AGO: Things were starting to wind down on the local circuit on this weekend 50 years ago in 1962.
Susquehanna was done for the season, and Williams Grove was racing on Sunday afternoon.
Saturday night at Lincoln, Bobby Abel drove his familiar orange and blue No. 2 to his fifth victory of the season. Abel's win came over Dizzy Dean, Bobby Hersh, Bobby Gerhart Sr. and Pee Wee Pobletts.
On the same night, Lauden Potts, who passed away two weeks ago, drove to his first win of the season. Potts, in the Hackenburg No. 79, topped Don Kimberling for the win, with Johnny Mackison Sr. in third. Johnny Grum and Lorenze Alwine completed the top five. The URC sprints were also a part of that program, with Hank Rogers Sr. getting the win.
On Sunday at Williams Grove, Dick Tobias drove to his 11th win of the season, but first since July 7. Tobias drove the Regester No. 6 to the victory over Neil Haight, with Pobletts, Gene Goodling and Leroy Felty in the top five.
WALLS WINS AT TRAILWAY: Brian Walls won Saturday's limited-stock feature at Trailway and Jeremy Ott won the mini-stock feature.
Reach Bryan Householder at email@example.com.
SPRINT CAR POINT SERIES
Presented by Hosehead s.com
(Wins in parenthesis)
1. Greg Hodnett (15)1,594
2. Danny Dietrich (10)1,492
3. Brian Montieth (12)1,079
4. Daryn Pittman (2)1,038
5. Lance Dewease (5)1,037
6. Fred Rahmer (2)1,019
7. Brent Marks (3)827
8. Cory Haas (4)799
9. Alan Krimes (2)797
10. Chad Layton (4)736
11. Doug Esh (1)528
12. Aaron Ott499
13. Logan Schuchart (2)439
14. Blane Heimbach (2)428
15. Rick Lafferty (2)415
16. Brian Leppo (2)369
17. Adam Wilt (1)367
18. Stevie Smith (1)364
19. Jim Siegel (1)338
20. Mike Wagner333
21. Donnie Kreitz Jr. (1)293
22. Mike Erdley238
23. Billy Dietrich (1)217
24. Gerard McIntyre Jr.216
25. Frank Cozze (1)206
Associate sponsors: Winters Performance, Maxim Chassis, Ben Cook Racing Ltd., RAACE Foundation, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, ButlerBuilt Professional Seat Systems, BR Motorsports/King Racing Products, Don Ott Racing Engines, BioBased, Conroy Pneu-Control, and Fatheadz Eyewear.
Product sponsors: Champion Racing and Break In Oil, Kreitz Oval Track Products, Rodend Supply, KSE Racing Products, RE Technologies, Saldana Racing Products, Zemco Speed Equipment, ATL Fuel Cells, Pancho's Racing Products, Shaver/Wesmar Gear Drives, Keizer Wheels, Kevin Nouse Graphics, J and J Auto Racing, Eagle Motorsports, Wings UnLimited, VRP Shocks, Martin Design, WRT Speedwerx and PaPosseRacing.com.