The 26th annual Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek is history.
It was a long week of exciting racing, with a few weather problems thrown in the mix. Speedweek opened with its high car count of 40 at Lincoln Speedway on June 27, one day after the scheduled opener was washed out by heavy rains after warm-ups at Williams Grove Speedway. The series ended Sunday at Selinsgrove Speedway.
The other weather problem came on Tuesday night at Grandview Speedway, where the forecast of bad weather kept the car count down to its lowest point, a full field of 24. Grandview was 15 laps into the 35-lap feature when the skies opened. Since the race hadn’t reached the halfway point, it will be finished the next time the sprint cars visit Grandview. The points were awarded for time trials and heat races, but feature points won’t be held over.
At the end of the long week, Danny Dietrich had secured his first Speedweek title. Dietrich was the only driver to go the whole week without a problem, a testament to the driver and crew. Dietrich won two Speedweek races. He finished second once, and had two fourths and two sixths during the week.
His closest challenger was Spring Grove’s Greg Hodnett, who won once and only finished out of the top five once. However, that one bad finish was a 23rd after a crash at Port Royal on Thursday night.
Lucas Wolfe, Brent Marks and Ryan Smith completed the top five in Speedweek points.
The 2016 Speedweek produced a total of 85 different drivers, with 10 of them competing in all seven events. Those drivers came from 10 different states and Australia. In fact, this year, there were two Australians who made Speedweek appearances. Sean Zemunik was on hand for the short-track races at Path Valley and Grandview, and then two-time Australian World Series champion James McFadden joined the tour at the first Port Royal show.
McFadden was subbing in the Highlands car for injured driver Pat Cannon, who suffered a broken ankle a few weeks ago when his drive line broke during warm-ups at Williams Grove. McFadden had a series-best finish of fifth at Williams Grove.
Bryan Clauson brought his “Circular Insanity Tour” to Speedweek, and had a best finish of second at Path Valley. Clauson, who led two laps in this year’s Indy 500, also won four heat races during the week. At the end of Speedweek, Clauson’s race count for the season stood at an amazing 95.
Former NASCAR driver and World of Outlaws sprint car champion Dave Blaney joined the series at Hagerstown and finished out the week, with a best finish of sixth among his four top-10 finishes. Blaney also set fast time on the final night at Selinsgrove. Blaney’s son, Ryan, is racing for this year’s NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year honors.
Tim Shaffer, who won the 50th running of the Knoxville Nationals, joined the series at Grandview, wheeling the locally owned Tom Buch No. 13. Shaffer had a series-high finish of ninth during the week.
The team they are calling the "Hall of Fame" team only competed four times during Speedweek, but driver Lance Dewease parked Donnie Kreitz's Davey Brown-prepared sprinter in victory lane in three of those races. Their other finish was a seventh.
This week: Williams Grove returns to action on Friday with the next installment of the Yellow Breeches 500. It's a regular handicapped event for the sprint cars, that offers the normal $3,600 to win, but the purse is increased at the back of the field, so the last-place car gets $500. The 358 sprints are also on the program.
Hagerstown races Friday this week as part of the first leg of the Hagerstown/Winchester (Viriginia) Shoot Out for the late models. Late model sportsmen, pure stocks, hobby stocks, e-mods and mini stocks make up the large program
The wingless super sportsmen race at Path Valley on both Friday and Saturday this week.
Lincoln has a very big program Saturday. It starts with the running of the rained-out Weldon Sterner Memorial Race, which pays $6,900 to win. Then the sprints go with a full program of racing as the opener of the Lincoln/Trailway/Susquehanna Shoot Out. That one pays $4,000 to win. The 358 sprints and All American Outlaws are also on the program
The second leg of that Shoot Out is Sunday at Trailway, when the 410 sprints return to the quarter-mile oval for the first time in a decade to run in the Armin Hostetter Memorial Race. The 600cc micro sprints are also on the card. Round three is the following Sunday at Susquehanna.
Port Royal races Saturday, with the sprints, late models and econo late models.
At Susquehanna Saturday, the PASS 305 sprints get top billing, along with the limited late models, road warriors and vintage cars.
Selinsgrove hosts the 360 sprints, late models, pro stocks and road runners Saturday.
50 years ago: It was another big weekend on the local circuit 50 years ago in 1966.
As he did on most weekends that year, Ray Tilley bumped up his win total for the season. This time, Tilley piloted Bud Grimm’s No. 88 to three wins on the weekend, bringing his season total up to 19. Tilley won Friday at Williams Grove, Saturday at Selinsgrove and Sunday at Hagerstown.
It was the first time in several weeks that Tilley was the only multiple winner for the weekend. In other Friday action, Lynn Paxton put Ree Smith’s No. 1 in the Dorsey, Maryland, victory lane for his sixth win of the season. At Winchester on Friday, Ray Dovel scored his 13th win of the season in the Lee Stultz No. S-3, while at Bedford, Muss Weyandt scored his third win of the season in the No. 5.
In Saturday action, Irvin King raced to victory at Lincoln in his own No. 86. The win was King’s second of the season. At Port Royal, it was Leroy Felty scoring his second win of the season in the Hackenburg No. 7. Out at South Penn in Everett, “The Kansas City Kid” scored the second win of his soon-to-be-legendary Pennsylvania career. Kenny Weld drove the family-owned No. 94 to that win.
Sunday’s winner at Susquehanna was another area legend, Mitch Smith, who piloted the Flock Brother Flying Tiger No. 2 to his 13th win of the season.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2016 SPEEDWAY MOTORS/CHAMPION RACING OIL
CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA SPRINT CAR SERIES
PRESENTED BY HOSEHEADS.COM
1. 27 Greg Hodnett 1248 13
2. 48 Danny Dietrich 786 4
3. 1 Lucas Wolfe 602 2
4. 19M Brent Marks 535 1
5. 21 Brian Montieth 532 3
6. 07 Doug Esh 429 1
7. 69k Lance Dewease 399 6
8. 87 Alan Krimes 373
9. 25 Aaron Ott 365 1
10. 94 Ryan Smith 348
11. 51 Freddie Rahmer 296 1
12 52 Austin Hogue 292 1
13. 3z Brock Zearfoss 282 1
14. 11c Cory Haas 274
14. 51s Stevie Smith 274
16. 17B Steve Buckwalter 236 2
17. 12 Blane Heimbach 206 1
18. M1 Mark Smith 202
19. 16 Gerard McIntyre Jr 171
20. 55K Robbie Kendall 166
21. 55 Mike Wagner 163
22. 15 Adam Wilt 153
23. 59 Jim Siegel 150
24. 8 Billy Dietrich 144 1
25. 20 Ryan Taylor 131
2016 www.Always Racing.com PA SPEEDWEEK POINTS FINAL
1.* 48 Danny Dietrich 1032 2 wins
2.* 27 Greg Hodnett 994 1 win
3.* 1 Lucas Wolfe 881 1 win
4.* 19M Brent Marks 806
5.* 94 Ryan Smith 799
6. 51s Stevie Smith 701
7.* 25 Aaron Ott 689
8.* 07 Doug Esh 684
9. 69k Lance Dewease 616 3 wins
10. 87 Alan Krimes 578
11.* 17w Bryan Clauson 571
12. 71m Dave Blaney 535
13. 13 Tim Shaffer 456
14.* 23 T J Stutts 447
15.* 3z Brock Zearfoss 443
16. 3 James McFadden 376
17. 55 Mike Wagner 346
18. 21 Brian Montieth 327
19. 51 Freddie Rahmer 326
20. 12 Blane Heimbach 248
21. 11c Cory Haas 222
22. 17B Steve Buckwalter 221
23. 8 Billy Dietrich 192
23. 5 Dylan Cisney 192
25. 21 Kyle Reinhardt 155