Hello folks its about that time of the year. The 2014 Central PA racing season is about to kick off(if Mother Nature would allow it . Lincoln Speedway was set to open its gates 3 weeks ago but the area keeps getting bad weather in the form of heavy snow and freezing temperatures. This week Lincoln had to post pone their Ice Breaker 30 for a third week. Fans where up in arms because the temps where in the high 50's yesterday and they think Lincoln should have tried to get the show in. A little bit later I'm going to give my thoughts on why it was a smart move to try and wait another week, but 1st lets get to some predictions for the 2014 racing season.
Now I'm no Nostradamus and I'm willing to bet most of what I think is going to happen WONT but damn it it's fun to try and guess. I'm hoping to at least go 50% with them.
First off lets start with the track that is still set to open its gates first, Lincoln Speedway. Now last season Lincoln saw the Legend himself Fred Rahmer claim his 11th Career track championship. Fred retired at the end of the season so now it should be wide open for a new track champion right? Not so fast!!!
With most of the top dogs wanting to travel more in 2014 I'm not seeing any driver who will be able to beat the soon to be 5 time track champion "The Edge" Brian Montieth.
Now before the Alan Krimes and Cory Haas fans starting yelling at the computer screens let me explain why. Last season Brian had 7 wins at Lincoln. No other driver was even close. Krimes had more top 5's and 10's but when your giving Brian a 4 win cushion there is no way you will keep up with him. Only driver who has been able to match Brian in wins has been Danny Dietrich and he is one of the drivers along with Brent Marks and even Adam Wilt who will be doing some traveling. I see Brian walking away with his 5th crown in 2014.
The 358 division is going to look drastically different this season as well. 2013 Champion Niki Young has moved to a new team for 2014 and him being able to repeat will depend on how well him and his new team gel. Jeff Rohrbaugh lost the title by 10 pts and I think this season he is going to be locked and loaded to bring home his 3rd career 358 track championship. I truly feel its going to be a 2 driver race for the championship but Chase Dietz might and can play spoiler in 2014.
Port Royal Speedway in 2013 saw Blane Heimbach score his 1st career 410 track championship over 2012 champion "Bad" Chad Layton. This season is going to be more of the same as I see Blane going back to back at the Big Half mile. Its really a 2 car race up there but with the Draw procedure the track has instituted this season I can see guys like Mike Wagner and Mike Erdley making a run but falling way short.
But what about Doug Esh, Greg Hodnett, and Lance Dewease? Doug is in an unproven car this year, as is Lance in the Dietz 14. Greg is in the 27 and we all know that team chases money not points.
Williams Grove Speedway opens up for its 75th season in 3 weeks. This is probably the the hardest track to predict for the 410's but the easiest for the 358's and here is why.
Kevin Nouse has nobody who will keep up with him again this season. His only real competition last season was Austin Hogue and he has jumped up to the 410's in 2014. You still have Adrian Shaffer who is looking to bounce back after a horrible 2013 season and "The Godfather" Dale Hammaker who has been on a very long win less streak. I just don't see anyone stopping Kevin from becoming to 2 time defending champion.
Now the hard part....
The 410 division is going to be real hard to dominate in 2014. I would have picked Brent Marks to better his 3rd place finish last season but he is going to be missing a few races to travel. Danny Dietrich would be a good choice but Danny is a win it or wear it kind of guy and has not shown the must have consistency to bring home the championship at the Grove. Brian Montieth is another driver who should be up front and is poised to take the championship home, but until the 21 team and somehow keep Brian from running out of gas he will never finish up front enough to earn his 1st championship. That leaves me with 3 drivers left to choose and other then Fred and Todd Shaffer these guys are the only drivers to have championships at the Grove since the early 90's. The big 3 at Williams Grove in 2014 will be Greg Hodnett, Lance Dewease, and my pick for the 2014 Track Championship....
Donny Krietz Jr.
And here is why. I stated above that the 27 team will travel for $$ and until the 14 team proves themselves there is nobody who can stop Don from winning another track championship his first since 1993.
Trail Way Speedway is going to crown a new track champion is 2014. "Big" Brad McClelland came up 6pts short after dominating the track in 2013. He had 6 wins last season in the Rucker 6r but ran into a very consistent Jeff Rohrbaugh. This season rumors are Jeff is looking to head to Williams Grove and looking at the rest of the roster I don't see anyone who is going to stop the 6r in 2014. The track has gone to drawing for the feature lineup so now Brad wont have to start 8th or worse every week because of handicapping, as he has shown a knack for being very lucky at drawing a good starting spot, and other then Robbie Kendell I don't think the younger group of drivers at Trail Way are going to be able to stop the all time winningest driver in Trail Way Speedway History. Look for a very dominating season out of the 6r team.
Selinsgrove Speedway has jumped on the 360 train for 2014 but it's going to be the same thing different date for the fastest half mile on the east coast. Pat Cannon is going to win another track championship in 2014. Now I know last years track Champion Jason Shultz and TJ Stutts are both very capable drivers and have shown they can keep up with the Highland 3 team, but I dont see an upset this year. It will be kept close but Pat wins again.
Now on to why Lincoln Speedway postponing the Icebreaker 30 for another week was a great idea!!!
I stopped by Lincoln on Friday morning to pick up my season pass for the season and saw 2 things that where very alarming to me before I even got in the office. SNOW AND ICE
. The parking lots are still snow covered and not with just a little bit of snow. The turn 1 parking lot from the top of the hill on down is covered and not melting very fast. The turn 4 parking lot is in the same situation but only marginally better. The sun is just not hitting them enough to melt fast enough. Now I keep reading fans say "We'll I have a 4 wheel drive so I'm good to go". Well guess what? Not everyone has a 4 wheel dive truck or SUV to drive to the track in. Thats not even taking into consideration what could happen if we all park on the snow and while we are in the track watching our cars slide on the hills and end up ramming into another vehicle. That could be a very bad situation for a lot of people. When I got into the office I noticed 2 major things that in my mind would not have been good either. The infield was still snow covered and while we might not mind standing on some snow to watch the race, imagine the tracks liability if a fan slips on the snow while drunk and ends up suing the track because they broke an arm or a leg? Even worse think about a young fan who slips walking into the infield through the tunnel and gets hurt? Its just not worth it.
Now the track was in even worse shape. All along the front stretch there where patched of ice where the snow was melting and running down onto the track. How can the Great Fred Putney get the track ready when it continues to freeze like that every night? "But it was supposed to be 59 degrees Saturday". OK point made but go back and watch the video from the early 200's when Lincoln decided to race with snow melting and the water seeping down onto the race track. Darren Eash was hurt that day because he set up to go into turn 1 and slid on the water causing him to crash hard into the turn 1 wall. Numerous drivers crashed that day for the exact same reason and those that didn't wreck ran half speed around the bottom of the race track to avoid the water. It was not a very good race in any way shape or form. I for one am glad Lincoln Speedway learned from that day and are holding off until they can give the drivers a safe track to race on, and the fans their monies worth in the form of a great race.
I'm like everyone one of you reading this, I'm dieing to get out of my house and hear the rumble of sprint cars. I cant wait to hear Wayne Harper tell us "All is right with the world" as he does every year on opening day, but damn it for the safety of not only the drivers who we all go to cheer for, and the fans who are doing the cheering, it was a GREAT THING Lincoln Speedway waited another week to hold the IceBreaker 30.
Well folks that's it for this week. Like always feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on my predictions and my thoughts about Lincoln postponing this week. You can leave a comment here (just don't be chicken and post your name with your comments), you can email me at email@example.com, or you can hit me up on twitter at . I love hearing back from everyone of you.
Until then stay safe and I hope to see everyone next Saturday at Lincoln Speedway for the IceBreaker 30.