As these words are being written, I’m preparing to leave for the fifth race of Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek at Grandview Speedway.
With four races completed right now, it’s apparent that this Speedweek will go into the record books as an epic one. Car counts have been quite high and crowds have been fantastic.
I’m sure that the mid-series additions of NASCAR standouts Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne have been a big boost to the “front gate” at these races. The thing is, these guys didn’t just show up for an appearance. They came to race.
Larson, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series point leader for most of the season, is still a sprint-car racer at heart. He comes from the tough California sprint-car circuit and has done just about everything there is to do in a race car.
A few years ago, during his first Cup Series season, Larson won a NASCAR support-series race on the road course in Sonoma, California. One scribe asked in victory lane if there was anything Larson couldn’t do in a race car after he had conquered the tricky twists and turns of the road course. Larson’s reply that day was to say that he still hadn’t been able to beat the Pennsylvania Posse on central Pennsylvania’s dirt tracks.
That’s not the case anymore.
Larson stood at 2 for 2 after Monday’s Speedweek win at Lincoln and Sunday's Speedweek win at Path Valley. An obviously elated Larson spun doughnuts at both ends of the front stretch and then climbed from his racer and onto the wing to wave the checkered flag and start his celebration at Lincoln. He was really excited in victory lane, and even referred to checking out videos of Lincoln races. He said that he knew from videos that when defending track champ Alan Krimes got to second, he’d have to move to the bottom of the track to fend off Krimes’ advance.
An hour after the races, Larson was still greeting fans in the pit area. It should be noted that Larson said he sold more T-shirts at Path Valley than on a normal NASCAR race day.
Kahne hasn’t fared as well in his first two races, but his efforts at Path Valley showed that he came to race as well. Kahne was involved in an early-race tangle at “the Path.” He could have packed it in at that moment, but instead, went to the rear of the field and came back to ninth at the finish, just behind then Speedweek point leader Freddie Rahmer.
Rico Abreu, the little guy from California, has been making Speedweek stops between his other commitments. He had a third Saturday at Lincoln, and was in the top three when trouble sidelined him at Path Valley.
Then there is the overseas group. There are five Australians who have thus far joined in the Speedweek fun. James McFadden, in the local Highlands car, has fared best so far, and was in the top five in points heading into Tuesday’s show. Former frequent local Australian visitor Gary Brazier, is on hand, but as the owner-mechanic for his son Jordyn. Add Sammy Walsh, Mitchell Wormall and Sean Zemunik to the “Down Under” Posse.
Speedweek continues at Hagerstown Wednesday, Port Royal Thursday, Williams Grove Friday, Port Royal Saturday and concludes at Selinsgrove Sunday.
Other racing:Trailway races Friday with the 358 sprints headlining a show that includes 600cc micro sprints, street stocks and limited stocks.
On Saturday, Lincoln hosts the K1 Racegear Summer Series for the 358 sprints, plus 600cc modifieds and All American Outlaws. Susquehanna has the super sportsmen, 305 sprints, limited-late models, Legends and Xtreme stocks Saturday.
Late models and late model sportsmen headline at Hagerstown Saturday.
Selinsgrove takes Saturday off to prepare for Sunday’s Jan Opperman/Dick Bogar Memorial Speedweek show.
1972: For the first time since Hurricane Agnes hit the area, this weekend was a full one on the area racing circuit in 1972. Hagerstown returned to action after cleaning up the flood damage at the speedway.
Friday night at Williams Grove, Loganville’s Paul Pitzer drove the Gurtizen brothers No. 50 to his second consecutive win there and third overall that season. Out at Bedford, “the Ohio Traveler,” Rick Ferkel, scored his first local win of the season in his own No. 0.
Saturday at Lincoln, it was Steve Smith in victory lane for his third win of the season in the O.J. Myers No. 19. Wrightsville’s Bobbie Adamson was back in Selinsgrove’s victory lane that Saturday in Al Hamilton’s No. 77. The win was Adamson’s 12th of the season. Gus Linder put Mickey Banas’ No. 69 in Jennerstown’s victory lane Saturday for his fourth win of the season.
At Port Royal Saturday, Jan Opperman drove to the win in the Bogar No. 99. Opperman backed up that win with a Sunday score at Hagerstown, bringing his season win total to 20.
At Susquehanna on Sunday, Tommie Spriggle scored his first win of the season. If my recall on facts I’ve gleaned over the years is correct, this win would have been the first for a team headed by York mechanic Ed Stauffer after the original Trone team disbanded. The car would have been No. 25.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.