Local dirt tracks finally see return to action
Racing season got underway last weekend at Williams Grove and Port Royal speedways. Greg Hodnett wasted no time placing his name in the 2017 winners list at the grove. Australian Lynton Jeffrey survived a late race challenge from Dale Blaney to collect his first sprint car win at Port Royal. 32 super late models traveled to the Juniata County oval. Jason Covert mounted a final turn charge to outrun Kenny Moreland to the checkered flag. Covert’s margin of victory was a scant .182 seconds. In the nightcap Andrew Yoder won the limited late model feature.
Competition was tough at Port Royal. The super and limited late model cars featured a “who’s who” entry list of drivers. Upcoming youngsters and cousins, Trent Brenneman and Devin Hart, finished 10th in their respective feature events. That’s not a bad night considering the teams and money they were competing against.
The track surface was smooth and to the dry side. It reminded me of recent Labor Day surfaces. Those track surfaces have produced great competition.
Port Royal returns to action tonight with a three-division show consisting of 410 and 305 sprint cars plus super late models. Green flag is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Lincoln Speedway returned to racing and Danny Dietrich continues to be the class of the field. Dietrich won for the second time this year at the Pigeon Hills oval. The Adams County speedway is in action tonight with a three division program of 410 and 358 sprint cars plus All-American Outlaw cars. Race time is 6 p.m.
Selinsgrove Speedway will tech race cars this morning starting at 10. On track practice starts at 2 p.m. The Snyder County oval opens for racing next Saturday hosting 360 sprint cars, super late models and pro stocks.
It’s opening night at the Hagerstown Speedway where late model racers will compete to be a guaranteed starter in Bedford Speedway’s 81st anniversary race. Bedford will reciprocate and name their opening night winner a guaranteed starter for a Hagerstown special event.
Bedford Speedway hosts a car show at the track starting at noon Sunday. Cars may practice on the 5/8th mile oval starting at 3 p.m. Bedford opens next Friday night with super late models as the headline class. Bedford hosts the All-Star Circuit of Champions sprint cars April 30.
Kyle Larson won the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series race at Fontana, California last Sunday. Larson stayed out west to compete with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars at Placerville, California Speedway Wednesday night. Cup car owner Chip Ganassi admitted during interviews this week he is very nervous about Larson racing sprint cars.
I read an interesting blog recently titled For the Love of Racing written by Dana Horne. The writer took the NASCAR industry to task stating they have stopped caring about their fans. The article makes the point lack of caring is what is helping drive down attendance and TV ratings. Check it out on social media if you get the chance.
Cup action is at Martinsville Speedway Sunday. Fox Sports 1 has coverage starting at 2 p.m. The 500-lap race is demanding on both fans and drivers.
The Harry Earnest owned No. 35 race cars were wrapped last week end and they look great. Earnest and driver Daryl Stimeling are from Lewistown. Look for this team to be racing shortly.
Not all the news is good this week. Long time Hagerstown radio/TV personality Glenn Presgraves passed away Tuesday in Jacksonville, Florida. Presgraves loved auto racing and served as track announcer at several tracks during his long career. Presgraves was one of the original broadcast TV personalities at WHAG-TV in Hagerstown, Maryland. He was know as Mr. Sports in the region. I had the pleasure of watching him announce at Hagerstown Speedway and present awards during ARCH fan club banquets during the offseason. He was truly a sports icon in northern Maryland.
Finally, David Steele lost his life last Saturday night in a pavement sprint car race at Desoto Speedway near Bradenton, Florida. Steele’s career included the NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, ARCA stock cars, Indy Lights Series plus USAC where he won in midgets, sprint cars and Silver Crown racers. Steele won the Silver Crown title in 2004-05. Steele was also a two-time Turkey Grand Prix USAC Midget winner. Steele’s last win was Feb. 25 this year in a sprint car at Southern Speedway in the Florida panhandle. Steele was 42.
Let’s hope for good weather. Visit an area speedway soon. I’ll be back next week with more news and opinions.
Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel.