Tracks getting ready for season

COMMENTARY

Area speedways and race teams are gearing up for the 2017 season.

Selinsgrove Speedway will open the race season April 8 with 360 sprint cars, including the Empire Super Sprint  group, super late models and pro stocks to kick off the year.

Two practice sessions are planned on March 25 and April 1 on the newly resurfaced Snyder County oval, which received 120 tri-axle dump truck loads of sifted clay on the track this fall. Selinsgrove promoters will release the full schedule after Jan. 1.

The speedway’s annual Susquehanna Valley Mall race car show dates are Feb. 26 through March 3.

Port Royal Speedway’s office will resume  regular business hours Jan. 4. Management reminds current season ticket holders the deadline to renew their seats from last year is Feb. 1. Unclaimed seats will be available to the general public after that date.

The entry list for the Chili Bowl at Tulsa, Oklahoma, next month has reached a record high. As of Dec. 26, 358 entries have been filed with more expected. Of those, only 57 drivers registered have previously advanced to the final Chili Bowl A-Main. Several PA sprint car and midget drivers are entered. The event runs Jan. 10-14 at Tulsa Expo Raceway.

The final two race dates for the annual USAC Eastern Storm sprint car series have been announced. Grandview and Lincoln speedways join Williams Grove, Port Royal and Susquehanna as race presenters. The programs are scheduled June 13-18.

Greg Hodnett will head down under to compete in the 45th annual Lucas Oil Grand Sprint Car Classic at Premier Speedway in Waarnambool, Australia, Jan. 20-22. Hodnett has competed in this event before, finishing runner up in 1996 to Danny Smith.

Hodnett won 23 sprint car events in 2016, 19 of which were 410 wins. The remainder came in 360 competition.

Cory Haas has secured a new sprint car ride for 2017. Haas joined the Trone motorsports team. The group plans to enter 60 to 65 races, focusing on Williams Grove and Lincoln speedways. Haas will enter special events at Port Royal and Susquehanna speedways.

The saga of Rockingham International Speedway continues as the track was put back up for sale after a successful bidder secured the facility in a foreclosure auction recently. County officials remain committed to helping the track reopen for racing should a purchaser be found. The last Cup race held at the track was in 2004 when Matt Kenseth edged out Kasey Kahne by .01 of a second in one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history.

Dover International Speedway crews are in the process of removing seats at the one-mile oval. At its peak in 2009 the seating capacity was 135,000. Next year the facility will hold 85,000 spectators. Most of the removal work is being done in the top grandstand.

Jeff Gordon recently completed a two-day test session for the Rolex 24 endurance race at Daytona International Speedway. Gordon will team with drivers Ricky Taylor, Gordon Taylor and Max Angelelli driving a Cadillac DPI in the IMSA sanctioned event Jan. 28-29. Gordon previously competed in this endurance race in 2007 where his team finished third. Gordon will test one more time Jan. 6-8.

Happy New Year to all. Racing will return soon. The northeast season opener at Lincoln Speedway is just eight weeks away!

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Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel.

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