The local outdoor racing season started in a big way on Saturday afternoon with the Ice Breaker 30 at Lincoln Speedway.
Lincoln will return to action this coming Saturday afternoon, weather permitting, with another all-sprint program — this time with a 25-lap feature event.
When the weather forecast for last Saturday was favorable for a late February afternoon (sunny with a high of around 50 degrees), I knew Lincoln would have a good crowd for its opener.
I just never expected a crowd as large as the track got for the event.
From the time the gates opened, people just kept flooding in the gates. For two hours the lines to get into the track were unbelievable. In fact, as race time drew near, the lines still stretched for a long distance. Management made the decision to delay the start by about 15 minutes just to get everyone in the gates before racing started.
When the first heat race started, Lincoln was blessed with a standing-room-only crowd that many compared to World of Outlaws or Speedweek shows. I have no actual count, but judging by the fact that I waited 90 minutes to try leaving after the races, and still waited in traffic, I’d have to say the crowd might have been even larger than some of those events.
Typical opening-day skirmishes: The fans were treated to a racing program that had 30 410 sprint cars in the pit area, and plenty of racing action.
In many ways, it was a typical opening-day event. There were numerous minor skirmishes and one major crash during the day. The big crash happened on the first lap of the first heat, when Justin Whittall and York’s Bradley Howard both flipped in the first turn.
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Whittall was done for the day, but Howard repaired his car to qualify in the consolation race and ran all 30 laps of the feature for a 15th-place finish.
Dietrich spot on: Danny Dietrich was spot on all day, winning the first heat and coming from the third starting position to take the lead from Ryan Smith on the 12th lap of the feature.
Dietrich went on to become the first driver to visit Lincoln’s new victory lane.
The race track itself featured a typical opening-day surface. With sun and wind, it appeared to dry out during the feature, and in fact, Dietrich commented that the track surface changed several times during the feature. Early in the day, the first turn became a little rough, but by the end of the day it seemed to smooth out somewhat.
What many who waited in traffic to leave after the race didn’t see was that when track prep man Fred Putney Jr. took to the grader after the event, his wheel still sank several inches in the front-stretch clay.
Good runs and bad runs: Opening day was kind to some drivers and tough on others.
Several drivers had good runs come up short after meeting with Lincoln’s walls. Ryan Smith was one of those. Smith, who won Lincoln’s last race in 2019, led for 11 laps and was still running in second position when he spun in turn one and hit the wall.
The 2018 opening-day winner, Chad Trout, tangled with another car trying to miss Smith and was done for the day as well.
Defending track champion Brian Montieth raced from the 15th starting spot into the top five before he too met with the wall. This time in turn three. While the car didn’t appear too damaged, Montieth headed pitside. It was later reported that his incident happened because his car lost power steering.
Brock Zearfoss also dropped from the top five after a spin and tap of the wall in turn three.
York’s Chase Dietz looked strong winning his heat race, but was a spin victim in the feature and later dropped from competition with mechanical issues.
Several drivers who are known for their strong showings on low budgets at Lincoln didn’t fare well on opening day. Spring Grove’s Tim Glatfelter, Billy Dietrich and Scott Fisher all missed making the feature race.
New local transplant Cale Thomas also failed to make the feature in his first local start. Thomas is the new driver for the Trone Outdoor team. His first venture on the local track was a learning experience and he will keep at it in the weeks to come.
Outlaws race at home: The Shark Racing team of Logan Schuchart and Jacob Allen used an off weekend from the World of Outlaws to visit their hometown track to help prepare for Lincoln’s Outlaw race in May.
Schuchart, who finished second, reported that the team hopes to make the next two Lincoln shows as well.
Allen dropped from the race early after a tangle.
The Rahmer brothers both raced forward to finish third and fourth. Freddie advanced all race long for third, after a stirring duel with Schuchart. Brandon dropped backward from fifth early, but rebounded for a fourth-place finish.
Dillsburg’s Anthony Macri came up to fifth from the 10th starting spot.
Perhaps the big surprise of the day was Tony Fiore, who who races a limited schedule each year. Fiore came from the 21st starting spot to finish 10th.
Announcements: There were two big announcements made at Lincoln on Saturday.
One was that Red Robin will sponsor this year's Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek.
The other was that Goofy's Eatery will sponsor Lincoln's Kevin Gobrecht Memorial race during Speedweek. That race will pay $9,200 to win, in honor of Gobrecht's car No. 92 when he drove the family car.
Forecast: The weather forecast for this coming Saturday isn't as promising.
The high is expected to be in the mid-30s with 11 mph winds, but 0% chance of rain.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHAMPION RACING OIL/RM LUBRICANTS
CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA SPRINT CAR SERIES
Presented by Hoseheads.com
1. Danny Dietrich (1) 50
2. Logan Schuchart 35
3. Freddie Rahmer 30
4. Brandon Rahmer 25
5. Anthony Macri 20
6. Glenndon Forsythe 18
7. Kyle Moody 16
8. Tim Wagaman 14
9. Jim Siegel 12
10. Tony Fiore 10