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Racing lost a friend in Dave Kepner

COMMENTARY

The racing world lost a goodwill ambassador this week.

Dave Kepner passed away Tuesday. Kepner’s influence on area racing was diverse.

Kepner spent much of his driving career piloting racers he maintained himself. Kepner excelled in a variety of stock car classes, winning track titles and more than 100 feature wins.

The Juniata County native enjoyed the most success at Port Royal and Selinsgrove speedways. Kepner also raced at other area venues including Bedford, Williams Grove and Hagerstown, Maryland, speedways. Kepner was liked and respected by fellow competitors, promoters and fans.

Kepner’s diversity came in other roles he played during his racing career. First he passed down his love for the sport to his family. Children and their spouses have gone on to successfully race themselves. Kepner was a member of the Juniata County Agricultural Society, where he served several terms on the board of directors. That position allowed Kepner to be placed on the racing committee, which oversaw operation of Port Royal Speedway.

Kepner’s understanding of competition rules and the needs of the racers provided a perspective often overlooked by promotional teams. Through it all Dave Kepner and his family continued racing. Kepner performed a limited amount of driving himself during the 2015 campaign. This year, son Corey spent his time behind the familiar No. 12K.

Kepner was never selfish with his knowledge. His willingness to share with others was a big part of his passion for the sport. Kepner’s children and grandchildren will carry on his legacy and love for the sport.

Memorial services were held Friday. Dave Kepner, gone but not forgotten.

The World Finals are in full swing at the dirt track at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Local racers Doug Esh, Tyler Bear, Greg Hodnett and Danny Dietrich are among the PA Posse drivers in competition. Stevie Smith also made the trip. Pennsylvania driver and Outlaw regular Jacob Allen is not in action after coming down with a severe case of the flu. Jac Haudenschild is replacing Allen in the 1A car for the weekend.

Congratulations to Chad Kemenah on holding off Dale Blaney to capture the 2016 All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car title last week in Ohio.

Cory Haas has parted ways with car owner Mike Barshinger after 11 years. The 410 sprint car driver is seeking employment elsewhere.

Austin Hogue shocked the sprint car world, announcing he is leaving the sport immediately. No reason was given for the departure.

Injured sprint car driver Kevin Swindell has started his own 410 sprint car team. Swindell hired driver Spencer Baystone. The team went off to last weekend’s Ohio All Star shows and promptly scored two fifth place finishes. Plans for next season are to race All Star and Ohio sprint shows.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup machines compete tomorrow at Martinsville. Jeff Gordon, the defending champion, makes his final Sprint Cup start in substitution of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NASCAR announced it has made rule changes for the 2017 season concerning how many starts a Sprint Cup driver can make in Xfinity and truck races. Cup drivers with five years or more experience will be limited to 10 starts inXfinity and seven in truck racing. No starts will be permitted in the final eight Xfinity races or four truck races. That’s probably a good thing.

Stewart Haas Racing has joined forces with Nike for 2017. Nike will be the exclusive apparel supplier for the race team as they transition from Chevrolet to Ford power. A new company logo is planned.

Have a great racing weekend. Until next time, please drive safely!

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Craig Rutherford writes about motorports for The Sentinel.

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