By Mike Leone
Allied News Motorsports Columnist
RAIN SHOWERS washed out the season finale for Sharon Speedway on Saturday night. The event was to include a special Super Late Model race under the ULMS banner for the fourth time this season along with an E-Mod non-winners event, Stock Cars, and Mini Stocks. The event won’t be rescheduled due to numerous special events throughout the rest of the month in the region.
The 2013 season is now complete at Sharon. Congrats to the following champions: Jim Weller, Jr. (Hubbard, OH) -Big-Block Modifieds, Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Albion, PA) -RUSH Late Models, Mike Kinney (Ashtabula, OH)-E-Mods, Mike Clark (Bristolville, OH)-Stock Cars, Jeremy Double (Bristolville, OH)-Econo Mods, and Travis Creech (Niles, OH)-Mini Stocks. Five of the six champions will celebrate their first career titles at the awards banquet in February. Weller is the only prior champion as this will be his third crown.
Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway also fell victim to Mother Nature on Saturday night. Their season finale will be this weekend for the 25th annual “Pittsburgher”. The National Dirt Racing League (NDRL) will put this event on featuring a two-night extravaganza. The NDRL Super Late Models will race for $10,000 to-win Friday night with a whopping $25,000 to Saturday’s 25th winner! The RUSH Late Model Touring Series and UEMS E-Mods will run complete shows each night for $1,500 to-win Friday and $3,000 to-win Saturday. Race time is 7 p.m. both nights.
On Friday I headed east to Williams Grove Speedway for night one of the “National Open” weekend sanctioned by the World of Outlaws. An amazing field of 63 Sprint Cars was on hand- the highest WoO count outside of the Knoxville Nationals this season! A great crowd turned out as it was 88 degrees and sunny when I pulled in the parking lot at 5:30.
I mentioned in last week’s column how hot Don Kreitz Jr. has been since the end of August. That hot streak continued with another victory. The Sinking Springs veteran battled with Danny Dietrich before making the winning pass to the delight of the crowd on the final lap of the 25-lap affair. Dietrich dropped to the bottom in turn one, but Kreitz drove past Dietrich in the middle of the track and pulled away to the $8,000 win!
Kreitz, who only competes part-time these days, won the last race at Susquehanna Speedway on Aug. 25, the last race at Port Royal Speedway winning over $13,200 in the Tuscarora 50 on Sept. 14, bagged the $7,500 season finale at Hagerstown Speedway on Sept. 29, and then made it two in a row at Williams Grove!
An amazing eight of the top nine finishers were “PA Posse” racers and Ohio All Star racer, Dale Blaney, finished 10th! The only WoO racer in the top 10 was Donny Schatz, who finished fourth, after starting 11th. WoO point leader, Daryn Pittman, was 11th.
Once again 63 cars were present on Saturday as a total of 66 different drivers competed over the weekend! Kreitz was hoping the magic would continue on to Saturday night, but it was another central Pa. legend getting the headlines.
While I mentioned last week Billy Pauch winning the 700th race of his career, Fred Rahmer has made a mark in racing history himself. His career accomplishments are many with over 500 victories himself. The “National Open” was an event that always had seemed to elude the all-time Williams Grove feature winner much like the “Daytona 500” did for so many years for Dale Earnhardt Sr.
On Saturday night the stars seemed to align perfectly for Rahmer. An invert eight put him on the pole of the dash, which he won purring him on the pole of the 40-lap feature. Then after an early battle with Steve Buckwalter, Rahmer broke free and went on to win the biggest race of his career- the $50,000 “National Open”.
Earlier this season, Rahmer announced he would retire at the end of the year. Rahmer always said he wanted to go out on top. After having a terrible 2012, Rahmer bounced back with a new team in 2013 driving for Rob Sell, whose son went off to college at Penn State. Rahmer won the title for the 11th time at Lincoln this season and the eight-time Williams Grove Champion is currently leading the points at the Mechanicsburg oval as well. Saturday’s victory was the seventh overall of the season for the 55-year-old Salfordville, Pa. driver.
In victory lane on Saturday night, Rahmer said he was going out on top and was retiring. He eluded that Stevie Smith would possibly finish the season out in the Sell #20s. After a terrible performance on Friday night, Smith’s #19 was parked for the season and he’s looking for a ride in 2013.
So the question is will Rahmer walk away and yield the Williams Grove championship to Greg Hodnett? The championship pays $10,000 to the driver and another $10,000 to the car owner. Sell could put someone like Smith in the car and maintain his owner points, while Rahmer would probably still hold on to second in drivers points. Two point events remain at Williams Grove in addition to a feature’s only program on Oct. 26. Lincoln has a pair of non-point events remaining and a $10,000 to-win event looms on Nov. 16 at Susquehanna Speedway.
For more on the legendary career of Fred Rahmer, check out his website at www.fredrahmer.com.
Even though they failed to win the feature for the second night in a row, the WoO racers fared better on Saturday night taking six of the top 10 spots including the runner-up by Pittman. It was good to see Lance Dewease make the podium finishing third. Dewease was the first to congratulate Rahmer in victory lane. Dewease has had one of the worst seasons of his career winning just three features. His first season in the Michael Heffner #27 will be his only one as Heffner informed him last week he’d be making at a change at year’s end.
Pittsburgh’s Danny Holtgraver took his own #D4 out to Williams Grove and finished 20th on Friday and 15th on Saturday. It was only the third and fourth time out for the #D4, which ran the opener at Lernerville and an event at Mercer Raceway Park this summer. Holtgraver will be back in the Bryan Grove/Rob Hunter #45 for the All Star season finale Saturday at Eldora Speedway.
Aliquippa’s Tim Shaffer could only muster a 24th on Friday and a 27th on Saturday. Shaffer was in the J&M Motorsports #55 for the second straight weekend, which is based in central Pa. Shaffer will be back in the Janet Holbrook/Aaron Call #83 at Eldora, which could be the final run for the car.
On Sunday, I headed to Selinsgrove (PA) Speedway. The big Snyder County half-mile oval featured the “410” Sprint Cars in a twin 20 program. It was another beautiful sunny 80+ degree day. Twenty-four Sprints turned out.
Hanover’s Logan Schuchart went wire-to-wire to win the first 20 lapper. The grandson of the great Bobby Allen owned victories in the “358” and “360” Sprint divisions at the speedway and now can add a “410” win to his resume! A caution on lap 14 was all that slowed the #1s to the $2,500 win. Chad Layton trailed him home over “410” rookie Brock Zearfoss, who went from sixth to third.
New York racer Justin Barger competed in his first “National Open” over the weekend and did a good job qualifying for both features. Barger stopped at Selinsgrove on his way home. In the first feature, Barger went from 18th to 10th. It was an important finish as Schuchart drew a 10 for the inversion putting Barger on the pole of the second feature.
Barger dominated the nightcap, but a caution was displayed on the final lap for rookie Brad Howard, who did a 360 spin, and even though he kept going, the caution was displayed wiping out a clear path to the victory for Barger.
Meanwhile, Rick Lafferty was closing on Barger in the final lap before the caution. Then on the restart, Lafferty drove under Barger in turn one and went on by. Lafferty drove off for the $2,500 victory. It was the Pennington, New Jersey driver’s fourth win at four different speedways, but first ever at Selinsgrove. Lafferty became the fifth different “410” winner in as many 2013 events.
Barger, a standout in the “360s” was a disappointing second over Blaine Heimbach. Schuchart had a strong run in the second feature in fourth after starting 10th and beat his uncle Jacob Allen.
Mike Leone is a motorsports columnist for the Allied News. Follow his updates on Twitter @mikevleone.