With season complete, sprint car driver shuffle begins

COMMENTARY

It’s officially the offseason for local racers. The silly season has begun.

A number of top sprint car drivers are in search of  a ride for 2017, including Dale Blaney, Danny Lasoski and Joey Saldana on the national tours.

Area teams have started making changes as well. Lucas Wolfe and Zemco parted ways this past Monday. Wolfe secured the Michael Barshinger ride previously driven by Cory Haas. This team plans 70-80 races next season and a trip to the Knoxville Nationals.

The rumor mill has Stevie Smith back in the Zemco ride for the second time. The pair enjoyed success before. Smith left the team for a full-time traveling ride that fell apart shortly after. Sources also tell me Fred Rahmer will likely field only two cars for his sons next season. That makes sense as both drivers  enjoyed success this year. Mike  Erdley’s name has surfaced as possibly securing a seat for next season.

There was good news at the Juniata County Agricultural Society reorganization meeting Thursday night. President Don Clark reported an additional five acres of woodland has been cleared for parking and camping at the far end of the fairgrounds. Additional clay was been worked on the speedway and several pieces of track grooming equipment have been or will be purchased soon. Look for news about a major purse increase for a special race at the track next season.

Election of directors placed Beth Alleman, Jan Coldren, Clark, Mike Cleck and Keith Kauffman on the board for new terms. The board will meet next week to reorganize and elect officers.

Selinsgrove Speedway held their its awards banquet last Saturday in Williamsport. Promoters announced all divisions that raced on Friday and Saturday nights will return next season.

Congratulations to Brad Mitch Of McClure on claiming his second pro stock track championship at Selinsgrove. Mitch also won the title in 2014. Lewistown’s Eric Parker won the 358 sprint car title at the Snyder County oval. Parker celebrated his 25th birthday yesterday.

The Susquehanna Valley Mall race car show will be held Feb. 26 to March 3.

The Port Royal and Lincoln Speedway banquets will be held next Saturday night.

Lincoln has revealed its 2017 season opening date. The Icebreaker for 410 sprint cars is scheduled for Feb. 25.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup racers compete tomorrow at Phoenix International Raceway. Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards are locked into the final four championship run next week at Homestead, Florida. Kyle Busch and Joey Logano have the easiest path to move on to the final four. Busch can advance by winning, or finishing second and leading the most laps. Logano can advance by winning or by finishing second and leading one lap. Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin can only advance by winning the race.

International Speedway Corporation, owner of Phoenix international Raceway met this past week to review plans for a complete remodel of the track starting next season. The remake will take two years with an estimated cost of $150-200 million. The facility will be upgraded much like was recently done at Daytona International Speedway, making it more fan friendly.

Have a great racing weekend.

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Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel.

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