Hello and welcome back again folks to another edition of My Thoughts on a racing weekend gone by. What a beautiful weekend we had here in Central PA. Us fans here in the area where treated to not only spectacular weather but for the first time in 2016 every race track in Central PA had racing, which meant no matter where you decided to catch a race, you saw a damn good one. Lets jump right into shall we?
Friday night I made the long 8 min drive over to Trail Way Speedway to catch the season opener for the 358's at the smallest track that races full size sprinters weekly. The track was widened during the off season so I was excited to see what kind of racing it would produce, and even more worried about the pending car count the track would receive. I was pleasantly surprised with both. 18 cars strong packed the pits for the first race of 2016. Now 18 might not sound good but TW only got 18 cars twice in 2015, so to see that many their first night out was awesome to see. The Central PA 358 Point Series Champion Doug Hammaker was pit side in his red 66, as was the blue 90 of Jordan Givler. Also back was the 59t of Tim Stallings and the red Apple 12 of Mike Bittinger. I was especially happy to see the bright orange 64 of Randy Whisler back as he missed most of the 2nd half of 2015 because of lack of funds.
Once the action got underway you could tell the drivers loved the new track configuration. They where using every inch of it. Feature time saw Doug Hammaker on the pole with Givler slotted for the outside front row. Givler had something wrong with his motor and opted for the rear and pulled in on lap 2. The action was heated right front the start, but the Apple 12 of Mike Bittinger got a bad start by almost spinning out in turn 2 on the first lap and falling back only to make some contact with Tim Stallings and flipping as they made their way to the backstretch. When they got back to running we saw the teams run a couple laps then a caution would come out. They traded green, yellow laps for a while until finally they got going, and once they did....HOLY HELL. Hammaker would use the low line to perfection while Dwight Leppo and Seth Kearchner where bangin what little cushion they had doing everything they could to not knock down that wall. Leppo would catch Hammaker about mid way through the 25 lap feature and the 2 would run side by side/nose to tail the rest of the way. Leppo would show his nose up high only to see Doug move up and take his line away. Not to be outdone Leppo would move to the bottom and actually get faster. He would draw along side the 66 going down the backstretch but had to jam on the breaks to keep from wrecking them both. Hammaker would go on to win his first career feature win at the bullring over Leppo and Jeff Halligan who ran a strong 3rd the entire race only a few car lengths back. Cody Fletcher and a very fast and smooth Brandon Noel rounding out the top 5.
Saturday I made my 15 min trip to Lincoln Speedway (yeah I know I am 1 lucky dude) to catch the 410/358 double header. I stopped down in the pits to see how Matt Campbell was feeling after his bad flip out of the speedway Friday night at Williams Grove in his 410. Matt said he was just a little sore but was ready to go. Must be nice to be 18 and not feel anything right?
The 410 feature was fun to watch. After a strange start that saw cars getting together before they even took the green flag in turn 3, Freddie Rahmer and Adam Wilt would be flip victims in turn 1. Didn't really see what happened in either incident but it sure was a head scratcher. Once they got going Tim Glatfelter would look strong in the 39 car leading most of the feature until former 358 feature winner Tyler Ross would run him down late in the race for his 1st career and much needed 410 win. Alan Krimes was coming on strong at the end in his favorite catfish style, but simply ran out of laps. Glatfelter would finish a strong 3rd with Austin Hogue 4th and Robbie Kendall 5th. Might be wrong with saying this, but I don't think any of those 5 drivers are over the age of 30. Thats some damn good young talent at Lincoln Speedway every week.
The 358 feature wasn't as good but still fun to watch.Tyler Esh would jump to the lead and was looking to finally run his way to his 1st career 358 feature win. Esh who was on track to be the 2014 Central PA 358 Rookie of the Year until a wreck July 4th weekend ended his season has struggled since, but has shown his rookie form so far in 2016. Friday night 410 flip victim Matt Campbell would run Esh down and take the lead at the half way point, and run away with his 1st 358 feature win of the season.It was a much needed win for the 16 team as they have struggled so far in 2016, but I can tell you when I talked to the team in Victory lane they where ready to put it all behind them and start making a run for the 358 point series championship. Adrian Shaffer would race to a 3rd place finish with Matt Findley and last weeks 358 winner Jeff Rohrbaugh rounding out the top 5.
REPORT CARD TIME........
Who gets an A this week in Central PA? Well I can tell you there are quite a few who deserve it. Lets jump right in shall we?
Doug Esh - Friday night winner at Williams Grove Speedway. "The Hammer" was ranked 7th in the last power rankings which you can see right HERE so don't be surprised to see him make a big jump in the next rankings.
Greg Hodnett - Winner again at Port Royal Speedway. The best 410 driver in Central PA just keeps on keeping on. Can anyone stop this team in 2016?
Doug Hammaker - 2 wins in 2 races for the 358 Champion. Picked up his 1st win of the season at Susquehanna Speedway last weekend in the Capitol Renegade King of the 358's Series kickoff and then came back and picked up his 1st career win at Trail Way Speedway, the only track that runs the 358's he had never won at. Does this make him the odds on favorite to cash in for an extra $3,000 this year between the King of the 358 Series and the overall 358 title?
Greg Foster - 1st super sportsman driver to win 2 races in 2016. 3 races into the season and it looks like Foster has made the new Susquehanna Speedway his home away from home.
Cody Keller - Raise your hand if you bet money on Cody Keller to win opening night at Selinsgrove Speedway? Now put your hand down because your a liar. Talk about an upset right? Glad to see it as it will help not only the track, but also the fans. Last season Mark Smith and TJ Stutts pretty much locked down the track, so to see an underdog like Keller win already says the 2016 season might just be an open playing field for everyone.
Austin Hogue - 2 top 5's for the youngster. 2nd at Williams Grove and 4th at Lincoln Speedway
Tim Glatfelter - 3rd at Lincoln Speedway
Brock Zearfoss - 7th at Williams Grove and 2nd at Port Royal Saturday. This kid will be in victory lane very shortly.
Brandon Noel - Remember this name folks. This kid ran the last few races of 2015 at Trail Way but started off strong opening night. Ran a steady and strong top 5. Has 410 driver Gerard McIntyre helping him out on Friday nights and the last driver he helped went on to win a few races......that driver was?
Dwight Leppo - Ran a strong 2nd Friday night. Might be the driver to watch in 2016 at Trail Way Speedway.
Everyone that knows me knows I'm a huge music nut and 1 of my favorite bands right now is Volbeat. Well here is their new single The Devil's Bleeding Crown. Can't say I'm excited about any new music more then I am the new Volbeat that comes out in June. Check it out and hit me up and let me know what you all think. Trust me when I tell you this band makes any shitty day fun. Jam out to this while tailgating at your favorite track and watch everyone (especially the ladies) start dancing.
What's Coming Up this Weekend?
This coming weekend we have another jam packed racing weekend. Friday night Williams Grove Speedway has the Tommy Hinnerershitz Memorial for the 410's while down at Trail Way Speedway the 358's will be back in action
Saturday at Port Royal Speedway host the 1st annual Keith Kauffman Classic with the All Star Circuit of Champions. Lincoln Speedway has the 410's and 358's on tap, while Selinsgrove Speedway host the Spring Showdown for the 360's with both the URC and ESS 360's at the track. Susquehanna Speedway will have the Super Sportsman back in action. Sunday night Selinsgrove Speedway is back in action with the All Star Circuit of Champions.
So there you have it folks. Where are you going to park your rear ends to catch racing at this coming weekend? You have plenty of choices. So lets hope your work week goes fast so we can all get back to the track asap. Until then I hope you where ever you see a race, the action is red hot and your beverage of choice stays Ice Cold with a smidgen of dirt sprinkled on top of it. Until then have a great week race fans.
©Bill McIntyre & Central PA Racing Scene.com 2016