World of Outlaws champion Brad Sweet topped the National Sprint Car Poll for the 2019 racing season.
Sweet garnered the most votes from pollsters from across the nation to earn the title presented by the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. The results were announced during the Chili Bowl last week in Tulsa.
Sweet earned the title over Outlaw runner-up Donny Schatz, with Knoxville Nationals winner David Gravel in third. All Star champion Aaron Reutzel, the nation’s leading winner, wound up fourth.
Hanover’s Logan Schuchart rounded out the top five. Local driver Danny Dietrich was ranked seventh, with Lance Dewease in 10th. Freddie Rahmer was ranked 14th. Western Pennsylvania driver Tim Shaffer was 18th.
In other awards, California driver Mason Daniel, who raced at Knoxville, was named Rookie of the Year.
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Sweet’s Kasey Kahne-owned team won Team of the Year, while California driver Buddy Kofoid and Giovanni Scelzi tied for the Wild Card award.
Port Royal Speedway’s Steve O’Neal earned Promoter of the Year for the fourth straight year.
Dan Musselman of Maxum Chassis was Builder of the Year, while Mike Kearchner was Media Member of the Year.
The late Bill Simpson was posthumously awarded the Outstanding Contribution to the Sport award. Simpson was a longtime manufacturer of safety equipment for racers.
In the poll for 360 sprint car racers, Texan Sam Hafertepe Jr. was named Driver of the Year, with Blake Hahn ranked second. Local racer Mark Smith ranked third. Other local drivers to be ranked included Davey Franek in eighth and Chad Layton in ninth.
Chili Bowl: NASCAR star Kyle Larson won his first Chili Bowl midget feature on Saturday night.
Larson chased fellow NASCAR driver Christopher Bell for the first 38 laps before taking command. Larson went on to score the win over Bell, stating in victory lane: “I’m sorry NASCAR, I’m sorry Daytona, but this is my biggest win.”
Conner McIntosh, Logan Seavey and Rico Abreu completed the top five.
East Berlin’s Andrea Cap earned the honors as Ms. Motorsports 2020 at the show on Saturday evening.
New Trone driver: Hanover-based car owner John Trone has hired a new driver for the 2020 racing season.
The Trone Outdoor Advertising No. 39 will be piloted by Indiana’s Cale Thomas.
Trone parted ways with York’s Cory Haas over the winter months. Haas wants to cut back on his racing schedule, while Trone hopes to race more often.
Thomas has never raced in the area, but has always dreamed of being able to come to this area to race. His family-owned team will remain intact if he has time to go home for any extra races.
The 22-year-old driver will pilot the Trone car for about 60 races during the season. Plans are to compete in most of this area’s bigger shows while getting Thomas' feet wet on the local circuit.
Former driver-turned-mechanic Kevin Frey was the one who pointed out Thomas’ abilities to Trone.
The Trone name has long been a part of the local racing circuit. Starting in the mid 1950s, a No. 39 racer was fielded out of Ray’s Sunoco station in West York, owned by Trone's father. Drivers such as Dave Leppo, George Kessler, Bobby Hersh, Johnny Dubendorf, Ed Zirkle, George Weaver, Rick Schmelyun and Tommie Spriggle drove for the senior Trone before he stepped away from the sport.
John Trone brought the Trone name back to the sport and has fielded cars for a number of drivers, including Haas, Greg Hodnett, Doug Esh and Tim Glatfelter, since his return.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.