It was announced last week that Ryan Smith will drive a sprint car for Michael Heffner’s race team next year.
Heffner, who fielded cars for Greg Hodnett in recent years, has decided to stay in sprint racing, with the blessing of Sherry Hodnett.
Greg Hodnett died after a sprint accident in late September at BAPS Motor Speedway. Sherry Hodnett is Greg Hodnett's widow.
Heffner, who has been around the sport as an owner for 11 years, actually gave Smith his first ride in a sprint car. Smith was the first driver to pilot the Heffner racer. That was also Smith’s first time in the full-size cars and it lasted for several months at the end of that season.
They parted ways after that and Heffner went on to some stellar seasons with drivers such as Sean Michael, Keith Kauffman, Tyler Walker, Daryn Pittman, Lance Dewease and Hodnett.
Smith, meanwhile, also gained valuable experience in the sprints with Donnie Kreitz Jr. and Rob Warko as car owners.
Since they were last teamed, Heffner has won numerous races and several point titles.
Smith has also been winning races and spending some time on the All Star circuit. He has wins with the All Stars and the World of Outlaws, along with several on the local circuit.
For the 2019 season, the Heffner team will have a new look while still maintaining ties to its past. It's been decided to swap the digits of the car number, changing from No. 27 to No. 72. The Red Robin chain of restaurants will come on as a major sponsor.
Successful show at Trenton: Last weekend’s indoor races for the 600cc micro sprints at Trenton’s Cure Insurance Arena went very well.
Of the 120 entries, 111 took part in the three-day program. In the end, Erick Rudolph took home the Saturday night victory.
In recent years, Rudolph has been noted as a top dirt modified driver, and in fact he won a special modified event at BAPS Motor Speedway two years ago. Rudolph also has experience in asphalt modifieds.
He's also one of the big stars of the indoor three-quarter midget races held around the area each winter. This year he decided to tackle the dirt race as well. Rudolph was teamed with Lincoln Speedway champion Brian Montieth on the Frascetta Racing team.
While not faring as well as Rudolph in the wingless 600cc micro, Montieth opened some eyes in Saturday’s racing as well. After troubles in his Thursday qualifier relegated Montieth to an F-Main on Saturday, he managed to finish second in that event, and then made some bold moves to advance to a win in an E-Main event. The run to gain a birth in the A-Main fell just a few hundredths of a second short in the D-Main. New York state 360 sprint racer Scott Kreutter edged “The Edge” for the final transfer spot in that event. Kreutter would go on to advance from the E Main all the way to the A-Main, eventually coming away with a 12th-place finish.
Williams Grove champion Lucas Wolfe was a part of a four-car team fielded by veteran racer Lou Cicconi Jr. The other drivers on the team included Cicconi, and a pair of NASCAR crew men. Indoor three-quarter midget star Ryan Flores, an over-the-wall member of the Ryan Blaney pit crew, made his first dirt racing start, while former local sprint racer Michael Carber drove the fourth Cicconi car. Carber now works for Chase Elliott’s NASCAR crew.
Of the four, Carber would fare the best. Both Wolfe and Cicconi had “wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time” incidents on their respective qualifying nights and didn’t return for Saturday’s action. Flores showed some real flashes of brilliance in his qualifying race, but a sticking throttle would prove his undoing. He returned on Saturday, but didn’t fare as well.
Carber locked into the A-Main field on his qualifying night and ran in the top 10 for the entire feature, finishing just behind his younger brother Brian Carber in the eighth spot.
Brian Carber relocated to the Lewisberry area last year after taking a job with the Hyper micro-sprint manufacturing company. He won his qualifying-night feature and ran near the front for most of Saturday’s event.
Local sprint racer Steve Buckwalter also won on his qualifying night, but ran into troubles in the feature, getting involved in several tangles and eventually dropping from competition.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.