Pennsylvania is standing tall after last week's Knoxville, Iowa, Sprint Car Nationals. So is the All Star Circuit of Champions.
Tim Shaffer, of Aliquippa, also known as the Steel City Outlaw, won the nationals after starting seventh. Shaffer grabbed the lead with a slider move on Donny Schatz, whose engine was smoking, during the 48th lap of the 50-lap feature. Schatz held on to finish second. Shaffer earned a cool $150,000 for the victory and is on pace to earn close to a half million for the year.
And Shaffer is an All Star regular. He has earned more money than his World of Outlaws counterparts with less travel. He has All Star point money to collect at the end of the season. Plus, he's a Pennsylvania driver, which again speaks well for our entire state.
If that's not enough to make us proud, Greg Hodnett went to Knoxville and finished sixth. Stevie Smith finished 10th and Daryn Pittman 11th, ahead of 18th-place finisher Erin Crocker, a/k/a Mrs. Ray Evernham.
Lance Dewease finished 12th in the B-main and Dave Blaney was 20th. Tyler Walker was 22nd. Fred Rahmer also attended the big dance.
Hodnett, Pittman, Walker, Rahmer and Dewease have spent a decent part of the year racing at Port Royal, Williams Grove and Lincoln speedways. Smith has run a bunch of time trial shows. It again proves that some of the best in the world either live or race in central and western Pennsylvania. No matter who we all root for, we should be proud of them all. They truly are some of the best sprint car drivers in the world. Plus we can't forget about the great drivers that stayed home.
Both Lincoln and Port Royal have points battles that are going down to the wire. Brian Montieth leads Brent Marks by 130 points entering this weekend's action at Lincoln. Both are two-time feature winners at Lincoln this season. Montieth has won the last two points titles at the Pigeon Hills oval.
Port Royal's sprint car battle is even tighter. Chad Layton holds a 15-point lead over Rick Lafferty. Both drivers have won three feature events this year. The pair have come into their own this season and they have impressed me both on and off the track. I will be happy and sad for the winner and runner up when the points chase is through. Either will make a deserving champion.
In late model points, Scotty Haus has a 105-point lead over Tim Wilson, of Lewistown, after last week's action. Haus scored his fourth win of the year while Wilson dropped out with suspension problems. Wilson needs to keep racing hard and keep the pressure on. You never know when adversity will strike, much as it did to Wilson last week. If Haus has a similar fate, Wilson could be right back in thick of things.
Lincoln Speedway hosts its anniversary race which pays the winner $5,800 tonight. Lincoln will have all the 410 drivers as Port Royal will not run 410 cars against its big race, as Lincoln did for Port Royal during the Dream Race Extreme.
Port Royal hosts bargain night this evening. Admission is just $12. The late models, enduro cars and powder puff cars are joined by the 305 sprint cars, which have two feature events. One is a makeup.
Next week Port Royal hosts the Auto Racing Club of Hagerstown, Md., for its annual fan club night. It is also the kids' bicycle give away night and the Butch Renninger Memorial race for late models. The feature will offer a large payday to the winner.
The URC sprint cars race at Selinsgrove Speedway this evening. The late models also are part of the program. URC was scheduled to race at Bedford Speedway last night. Bedford Speedway hosts a five-division stock car show Aug. 27.
If you missed last week's racing at Port Royal then you missed some great action. Brian Towsey did an excellent job to win the pro stock feature. His car could qualify for antique status but you would never know it the way it runs. The racer is 1979 Howe Racing Chassis car. Towsey and Terry Naugle swapped the lead and paint before Naugle left the event with mechanical problems. After that, Dan Berry and John Heane put pressure on Towsey, who never skipped a beat.
I notice that Eric Tomecek scored his second win for owner John Westbrook during 358 sprint car action at Williams Grove. Tomecek won for the first time earlier this year at Port Royal. Westbrook called Tomecek the best-kept secret in sprint car racing and he is living up to that billing.
What could have been - Nicole Bower led the first 17 laps of last weeks 410 sprint car race at Port Royal. Bower had a good run going until mechanical problems struck. Mike Wagner passed Bower at the flag stand to lead lap 18. Bower was credited with 13th place after major problems on the final lap. Bower is going to win a feature soon. She won a 358 sprint car feature last year at the Juniata County oval.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel for the Trone/Keith Kauffman racing team. Kauffman finished sixth at Williams Grove and seventh at Port Royal last week end. Kauffman was running seventh and dicing in lapped traffic when a tire blew out. After restarting from the rear, Kauffman finished seventh. Kauffman previously passed some of the cars that were in front of him and a third or fourth place finish was not out of the question. Kauffman stared the event in 12th.
One driver who Bedford and Port Royal will be glad to get back this week is Eric Zembower. Zembower had his third root canal to the same tooth this week. Apparently that was the charm. Zembower sat out last week's racing after his face swelled up making it hard to wear a helmet, not to mention the pain from being tossed around inside a race car.
Bristol is the scene for this weeks Cup action. ESPN and ABC split TV coverage tonight. Race time is 7:30 p.m. Kyle Busch is the defending race champion. Kevin Harvick won last week at Michigan. It was Harvick's third win of the season.
Until next week, please drive safely. Remember, speed is for the speedway, not the highway!
Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel. He is associated with Port Royal Speedway.