The local racing season gets a major jump start this weekend, with several more tracks joining in the fun.
After last weekend's terrific weather conditions, it will be interesting to see how things fare this weekend.
Both Lincoln and Selinsgrove had tremendous crowds for last weekend's racing events on bright sunny days.
This weekend, Selinsgrove takes it one step further, with a two-day racing program for the visiting Race of Champions modifieds. On Friday, the ROC 358 modifieds will have a full program, while Saturday it's the big-block ROC modifieds that will offer a full program.
Lincoln will switch to an evening format this Saturday for its fourth show of the young season. This week, the thundercars make their first start of the season to join the sprint cars.
Port Royal will also get its racing season underway on Saturday evening, with the sprint cars and 358 sprint cars on the racing slate.
Then, on Sunday afternoon, Hagerstown kicks off its season. Or is that, completes last season? The Brawl in the Fall fell victim to a hurricane, and was postponed until this Sunday. Fields were set last fall for the races, although in the modified and 358 sprint classes there was not a full field on hand. The sprints and late models have their starting lineups complete. The modifieds and 358 sprints will run last-chance qualifiers for any newcomers who want to try for the final starting spots.
Four races, four faces: The local sprint-car season is now four races old, and four different drivers have visited victory lane.
Last weekend, Brent Marks and Thomasville's Greg Hodnett added their names to this season's list of winners. Marks won at Lincoln, while Hodnett won at Selinsgrove.
Brian Montieth and Jim Siegel were the earlier winners this year.
After Sunday's race at Selinsgrove, only one driver has scored all top-10 finishes this season. No surprise -- that driver is Fred Rahmer. Rahmer now has a pair of seconds, a fourth and a 10th this year. Of course, if this weekend goes as planned, that record will not be upheld, since Rahmer was not on hand last fall at Hagerstown.
Marks was on a pace to keep a perfect record of top-10 finishes intact as well, right up until feature time at Selinsgrove. Marks was starting ninth at Selinsgrove, but pulled pitside while the cars were lining up for the feature with a suspension issue.
After Lincoln's race, Marks was leading the Speedway Motors/Champion Racing Oil Central Pennsylvania Sprint Car standings, but when he was unable to start the race at Selinsgrove, Rahmer took over the top spot.
Montieth sure didn't have a weekend to write home about. He was running well at Lincoln on Saturday when he hit the wall while trying to avoid a couple of spinning race cars. While Montieth drove the car off the track, it did suffer considerable damage. At Selinsgrove, Montieth was running fourth late in the race when he suffered two flat tires.
Newcomers: In three races this season, Lincoln has seen 29 different cars compete in the 410 sprint-car class. This week's newcomer was Billy Pauch Jr., in the Dave Wilson No. 56. The strange thing is that when Selinsgrove raced on Sunday afternoon, only 10 of the 29 cars that have competed at Lincoln were in the field.
Since Selinsgrove had a field of 22 cars Sunday, that means that a dozen new teams were out for the first time this season on Sunday. The newcomers included third-place Pat Cannon, fourth-place Blane Heimbach, eighth-place T.J. Stutts, ninth-place Chad Layton and 10th-place Steve Buckwalter.
Buckwalter, by the way, had a much better run going than his 10th-place finish would suggest. Buckwalter was still running second late in the race when he had to pit to change a flat tire.
Another driver making his first start of the season on Sunday at Selinsgrove was Davey Sammons. It was the first time Sammons had raced since breaking his neck in a crash at Selinsgrove last September. Sammons finished 12th.
The driver who finished 11th was also making his first local start of the season on Sunday at Selinsgrove. In fact, it was his first local start ever in a winged sprint car. Jason Leffler will compete in a limited schedule of local sprint-car races this season for car owner Tom Buch in the No. 13 car.
Leffler, of course, has a very impressive racing resume that includes numerous starts in all three of NASCAR's top divisions, along with the Indy 500. He is a four-time champion of USAC's wingless sprint-car class. The one type car he has not raced much in the past has been a winged sprint car. That will change this season. Leffler is from Long Beach, Calif.
The other teams making their first local starts of the year at Selinsgrove were Mark Smith, who led the feature until tangling with the spinning car of Michael Ruttkamp, who was also making his first start. Add in Ryan Kissinger, Davey Franek and Jessica Anderson.
While Jacob Allen has been making his foray into 410 sprint-car racing this season at Lincoln, Sunday marked the first time he had ever raced on the big track at Selinsgrove. While Allen wasn't one of the front runners, he did keep out of trouble and came home with a 13th-place finish, which is his best in 410 competition. His nephew, Logan Schuchart, had to sit out the action after suffering engine troubles in warm ups.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dis patch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdis patch.com.