Outlaws, summer nationals at the Grove

All sprint car fans’ eyes are on Williams Grove Speedway.

The Mechanicsburg facility is hosting the World of Outlaws this weekend for the annual Summer Nationals program. Friday night’s program was rained out; it’s a two-day show that continues tonight. Last year’s program also was cut to just one day due to weather.

Cody Darrah is the defending race champion. Darrah also was the winner 1n 2009. The Red Lion pilot drives for Kasey Kahne. Other winners of the finals since 2002 include Greg Hodnett (2002 and 2010), Donny Schatz (2003, 2007-8), Danny Lasoski (2004), Fred Rahmer (2005), Daryn Pittman 2006) and Jason Meyers, who won the 2011 title.

Who are the drivers that figure in this year’s program? Danny Dietrich, Greg Hodnett, Fred Rahmer and Lance Dewease are four locals that come to mind. Don’t count out Alan Krimes either. Former PA regular Daryn Pittman is the current Outlaw points leader and has to be taken seriously. Sammy Swindell has Randy Wolfe wrenching for him and a new Maxim chassis so he shouldn’t be counted out. Also Steve Kinser because he may be a bit upset at his car owner, Tony Stewart, right now. Some times when a guy is upset, he gets hungry for a win.

Stewart was also upset at last Saturday’s King’s Royal race at Eldora. The pair were in a skirmish and Stewart ended up wrecking. Stewart called Kinser an (expletive) twice during interviews with the track’s announcer. Stewart owns the track and he and Kinser’s race cars. I wonder how the week has been for both of them.

The Outlaw drivers are grumbling about the World Racing Group. That has happened before. Donny Schatz held court at Lernerville this past Tuesday night and minced no words to reporters in the media room. He called the outlaw management WWF, and stated the drivers are puppets. One thing I know about Schatz is he’s not afraid to let you know where he stands and he means what he says.

Lincoln and Port Royal Speedways are dark this evening. The Juniata County oval returns next Saturday with sprint cars, late models and 305 sprint cars.

Lincoln ran Thursday night. Greg Hodnett won that race over Alan Krimes and Fred Rahmer. Daryn Pittman and Donny Schatz won feature events Tuesday night at Lernerville.

Jed Donahue will interview Greg Hodnett and recently hired Williams Grove PR Director Kevin Maloy on the PA Sports Network radio program between 11:30 a.m.-noon today. The pair will discuss this evening’s race. Local station WIEZ-AM 670 carries the program.

Last week I had the chance to talk with Doug Esh of Lancaster. Most of you know Esh, who drives the Chiapelli car at Port Royal. His family’s story is interesting to say the least. Esh could just as easy be driving horses instead of race cars. Esh’s parents were Old Order Amish from Lancaster County.

They are the parents of four children. They started raising two of them Amish until they decided to leave the church. Doug and his younger brother were brought up English. You don’t hear of that happening often. Esh told me how little pressure there is on him in his current ride and how it allows him to concentrate on racing rather than justify every move made to a car owner.

Look for Shane Stewart to race Kyle Larson’s sprint car. Larson is getting busy in the NASCAR Nationwide series. It is Stewart’s fourth team this season.

In Nationwide series racing Chicago Speedway hosts action today. ESPN and ESPN 2 have TV coverage. Race time is 3 p.m. Elliott Sadler won last year.

NASCAR returns to where it started in the truck series next Wednesday night. Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway joins NASCAR in bring the truck series to dirt. NASCAR hasn’t run a dirt race of any type in more than 40 years. Richard Petty won the last race on dirt at the North Carolina State Fair grounds sometime in September 1970.

Eldora’s show is unique in that they did not allow teams to build special dirt trucks. The asphalt machines will have to adapt as best they can and I predict there will be plenty of action. Speed Channel will carry the race live starting at 7 p.m. The race format is different for the dirt truck race – there will be time trials followed by five heats races and a consolation.

The main event will be run in three segments. It is a 150 lap show overall, with 60-, 50- and 40-lap distances. The race will be red flagged after each run allowing teams to change tires and work on their cars. Too bad they dont run this kind of format in a Sprint Cup race. It would be a lot more fun and interesting for every one if they did.

The Sprint Cup cars have the week end off before heading to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400.

Local late model driver Tim Wilson turned over his racer last week at Port Royal. The car suffered heavy damage. Wilson is from McClure.

Waylon Wagner is still awaiting the return of his big motor, which dropped a valve two weeks ago at Port Royal. Wagner competes in the late model class.

Elliott Sadler’s NASCAR show car will appear locally on Aug. 5 at Smitty’s Restaurant beside the Best Western Motel in Milroy. The car and other local racers will be on hand from 6-8 p.m.

Racing will be back up to full capacity next week. Until then, please drive safely!


Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel.