Racing is in a slight lull this week before PA Sprint Car Speedweek starts June 28, but we still have plenty to talk about.
The Port Royal Speedway is holding Juniata County Food Pantry Night, which includes an autograph session. The sprint cars, late models and pro stocks provide the action. A kids cash scramble is planned as well. Racing gets under way at 7 p.m.
Last week Dylan Cisney added his name to the 410 sprint car winners' list, capturing his first career victory. Cisney defeated some of the best in the business, outgunning Doug Esh, Chad Layton, Blane Heimbach and Mike Erdley.
The Lincoln Speedway has a 410/358 sprint car show joined by the thundercars. The green flag falls at 7:30 p.m.
The Selinsgrove Speedway half mile track is dark tonight, but that does not mean there is no action at the Snyder County facility. The small track is in the middle of a three day weekend show titled the PA Elite Karting series. Action concludes Sunday.
Bedford Speedway is hosting a monster truck show tonight starting at 7 p.m. In addition, monster truck rides will be available for fans and a motorcycle stunt show is planned. Lou Rocket Ray does the cycle stunts and is joined by a man named Doug Danger, who long jumps bikes. It should be interesting.
Susquehanna and Williams Grove Speedways have regular programs tonight, as does the Beaver Springs Dragway Sunday.
Hesston Speedway returns to action July 4 with a UFO late model program and support classes. Derrick Byler won the last late model program held there.
The PA Sprint Car Speedweek schedule is as follows: Next Friday, June 28, Williams Grove Speedway kicks off action at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 29, it's on to Lincoln Speedway. The show June 30 is at Big Diamond Speedway in Minersville, Pa. Tuesday, July 2, action shifts to Grandview Speedway. July 3 it's on to Hagerstown Speedway in Md. and July 4 the Lincoln Speedway hosts the Kevin Gobrecht Memorial, which pays the winner $7,000. Friday, July 5, it's back to Williams Grove for the $10,000 Mitch Smith Memorial. July 6 action moves to Port Royal and concludes one day later at Selinsgrove Speedway. All shows except the Gobrecht and Smith Memorials pay the winner $5,000.
In the world of NASCAR the Sprint Cup racers are in Sonoma, Calif. for the Save Mart 350. The track is a road course. Clint Bowyer is the defending race champion. TNT has TV coverage starting at 2 p.m. Race time is 3 p.m. Greg Biffle won last week's show at Michigan. Jimmie Johnson holds a 31-point lead over Carl Edwards. Johnson and Matt Kenseth are tied as win leaders this season with three each. Last week's win by Biffle was the 1,000th collective win by Ford Motor Company cars in Sprint Cup, Nationwide and the Camping World Truck Series.
Drivers continue to be added to the Moose Family Center race car show and kids big wheel races which is being held at the Moose Lodge in Millerstown, Pa. on July 13 from 8 a.m. until noon. Doug Esh, Mike Lupfer, Dan Berry, Scott Landis, Derrick Garman, Tyler Bear, Mike and Penny Harpster and Todd Shaffer are tentatively listed to attend. Other drivers are being added. There will be food, fun and live interviews by PA Sports Network host Jed Donahue. Local network affiliates will carry the event on air.
Congratulations go out to Devin Hart, who scored his second win last week in the street stock class at Path Valley Speedway. Hart is the grandson of Carol Renninger of Tyson Hill and the the late Butch Renninger, who would be very proud. Dylan Cisney did a great job at Port Royal and I predict he will win more races before the year is over. In the late model ranks, Matt Parks of Three Springs appears to be coming into his own, winning multiple times this season at Bedford and Port Royal Speedways.
Area racing fans opened their hearts and wallets last week as over $4,000 was raised for young Charlie Dean, son of the late Jason Leffler who was killed last week at Bridgeport, N.J. Speedway in a sprint car accident. All over the area, tracks passed the hat and the money is being administered by the USAC Benevolent Fund, which will disburse the funds.
Jeremy Elliott penned an excellent column Thursday in The Patriot News in which he correctly points out that 358 sprint car fields are dwindling down. The main reason is cost and I agree. Here's my two cents. Costs escalated when area tracks decided to start their own 358 class instead of sticking with the KARS (Keystone Auto Racing on Speedways) Series rules which controlled costs. Track operators didn't want to contribute to the KARS point fund or pay their $250 dollar a night sanctioning fee and KARS rules worked. Thirty five to 45 cars a night was the norm. Now there are very few cars and no one is making the money they need. In my opinion, local tracks should have stayed with KARS.
Make plans to visit your favorite track during the busy week ahead. I'll be back next week with more news and opinions. Until then, please drive safely!