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Sports

July 10, 2013

THE CHECKERED FLAG: Rain continues to stall racing at local tracks

OPINION — LIKE A BROKEN record, Mother Nature continues to play havoc on speedways all throughout the Midwest and Northeast.  It was supposed to be a busy holiday weekend of racing, but rain interrupted or cancelled a lot of shows once again. 

Last Wednesday night, America’s Motorsports Park in Clearfield was to have their first “410 Sprint Car show in many, many years; however, with an 80% chance of rain that $3,000 to-win show was rescheduled to Sunday, July 21.  Rain also wiped out the first Sprint show of the year scheduled for West Virginia Motor Speedway on the new 3/8-mile oval the very same night. 

Thursday I decided to head east to Lincoln Speedway for PA Speedweek.  A huge crowd and 39 “410” Sprint Cars filled the Abbottstown facility for the 14th annual “Kevin Gobrecht Memorial”.  It was a sunny and steamy day in the low 90s, but the storms missed Lincoln.  It was appropriate that New Oxford native Stevie Smith would pick up his first win of the year in a race run in memory of his good friend, who he grew up with. 

Smith wasn’t even sure if he’d be racing earlier this year as his car owner Chad Clemens suspended operations on “The Black Bandit” after the 2012 season to focus on his World of Outlaw team and driver Paul McMahan; however, two months ago Clemens decided to resume operations focusing more on local racing for Smith. 

On Thursday night, Smith set fast time and finished third in his heat.  The invert was eight, which lined Smith up outside fourth row for the 30-lap feature.  Brent Marks looked strong early on taking the lead from Texan Sam Hafertepe, Jr. on lap four.  Smith was running the low line and was picking cars off.  Smith passed Hafertepe for second on lap 24 with Alan Krimes following in third two laps later. 

Smith and Krimes ran down Marks and it was three-wide for the lead and win on the final lap.  Smith came out on top for the $7,000 win- his 24th of his career at Lincoln.  Marks edged out Krimes for second with Hafertepe and Danny Dietrich completing the top five.  Just another tremendous race at Lincoln- can’t remember the last time I saw Sprints three wide on the final lap for just about the entire lap!

On Friday night I was at Lernerville Speedway for just the third time this season.  While storms were around Lernerville for much of the day including Butler, it was dry in Sarver for the Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series (BOSS) and RUSH Late Model “Off with the Tops” doubleheader.  There were 23 non-wing Sprints on hand and 37 Late Models.  It was the first non-wing Sprint show since Memorial Day 2011 when USAC was on hand, and first ever under BOSS.

Local Jack Sodeman, Jr. has always enjoyed running without the wing even though he doesn’t get that many opportunities.  His dad was a standout before wings became common in the late 1970s.  Friday night, the North Jackson, Ohio driver put on a dominating performance for his third career BOSS win in seven local starts.  It was Sodeman’s second straight Lernerville win and third of the season.  Sodeman beat out BOSS point leader and local racer himself, Brandon Spithaler of Evans City.  Western Ohio racer Mike Miller was third as Tony Beaber and Kirk Jeffries completed the first five.

Josh Double led all 25 laps of the RUSH Late Model Touring Series feature driving an impeccable race through lapped traffic to score his first win, and became the fifth different winner in seven events this season! Double’s $1,200 victory also put a stop to Series point leader Mike Pegher, Jr’s hot streak. Pegher entered the night as the perennial favorite winning two straight and three of the last six events and competing at the track he has called home since starting his racing career.

The 20-year-old Bristolville, Ohio driver Double drew the pole position and got a great start taking the lead over opening Sweeney Tour event winner Rick

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