Unusual Night at Crystal Produces Great Racing

The moon at Crystal Motor Speedway just before the feature started. - Jennifer Peterson Photo

The moon at Crystal Motor Speedway just before the feature started. – Jennifer Peterson Photo

By T.J. Buffenbarger

Dustin Daggett in front of a full house at Crystal. - T.J. Buffenbarger Photo

Dustin Daggett in front of a full house at Crystal. – Jennifer Peterson Photo

With a full, blood red moon in the sky for the 2013 Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP season opening event at Crystal Motor Speedway featured several unusual circumstances that culminated into one of the best programs we have seen at Crystal in years.   With all of Crystal’s previous events being rained out for 2013 the season opener with SOD featured a  full grandstand and over 140 cars in the pit area.

A combination of a heat race tangle with Gregg Dalman and Shawn Dancer, Ryan Grubaugh failing to run his heat race and having to transfer through the B-Main (more on this below), and Dustin Daggett suffering a flat tire on the initial start put this trio of drivers in the back of the field for the complete restart of the 25-lap feature event.  All three drivers rocketed through the field with Daggett leading the charge, but Dalman and Grubaugh were not far behind.  Dalman caught the wondering lapped car of Tank Brakenberry during his run to the front, otherwise it might have been a three car race through the slower cars.
Ruhl and Daggett’s race through lapped traffic was the best race for the lead seen in some time in SOD action at Crystal.   Two, three, and four wide racing with slower cars also racing side by side for position was stellar until Ruhl had to hesitate for a slower car that twitched slightly towards his line and allowed Daggett to motor away.  Dalman rallied to third with Grubaugh finishing fourth.  The racing through the slower cars was breathtaking with Daggett
The racing took place on one of the heaviest Crystal racing surfaces seen in some time.  While some complained of the bottom not being run in entirely, it would be difficult to not suggest ordering up the same preparation if possible for July when National Racing Alliance comes up to challenge the SOD series.
Crystal Notes…
With a majority of test and tune days at Michigan race tracks and Ohio opening night events being rained out leading up to the event at Crystal more mechanical issues were prevalent than in previous opening nights.  Brett Mann and Ryan Grubaugh both battled mechanical issues that kept Grubaugh from his heat race and Mann from competing.  Grubaugh rallied to transfer through the B-Main and finish () in the feature event.  Mann indicated that the Tracy Rice team would be getting their primary engine back from Gaerte Engines in time for Saturday’s event at I-96 Speedway.
Later in the night Jared Horstman had to scratch after making the feature through his heat race after breaking a U-Joint yoke and did not have a spare for his Ford powered car.   Chris Pobanz also suffered mechanical issues after making the redraw on Saturday and opted to start at the tail end of the 20-car feature.
The primary beneficiary of Horstman’s scratch was Gavin Hunyady, who made his first sprint car start in over a year and first on dirt in two seasons.  Hunyady also suffered some mechanical issues with his engine firing on only six cylinders that he believes will be resolved by Saturday’s event at I-96 Speedway.
Greg Wheeler led the opening portion of the feature, but admittedly needed a couple of more cautions, “to be able to stay in front of those kids” Wheeler said after the feature.  Fifth place for the 60 year old plus driver though was a great way to start his second SOD campaign after racing at Butler and on pavement for several years.
Look for Ryan Grubaugh in the Wohlfiel 3W for 10 shows in 2013.  - T.J. Buffenbarger Photo

Look for Ryan Grubaugh in the Wohlfiel 3W for 10 shows in 2013. – T.J. Buffenbarger Photo

Several onlookers told me during the off season that Ryan Ruhl would step up and be more a contender in 2013.  After Saturday night those projections seemed to hold true with a dominating heat race performance and tremendous battle with Daggett for the lead.  Ruhl had already competed in Florida and Central Pennsylvania this season and looked sharp from hot laps on at Crystal.  Look for him to pick up a couple of wins before the season is over.
Max Stambaugh drove up from Ohio to drive the Huffer Racing entry on Saturday at Crystal only to find the car would not fire properly and never turned a lap.
“Captain” Kirk Cheney returned to sprint car racing at Crystal after buying Matt Lumbert’s car from last season.  Cheney, who also competes in ice and super-moto motorcycle racing events, dropped the engine in just before Saturday and had not even fired it until arriving at the race track.   Cheney made the feature and looked like he had not missed a full season of action.  Lumbert is preparing a new car and should be out later this season.
Dalman was on his second race of the weekend after venture to Attica Raceway Park on Friday as part of his team’s new 410 sprint car program.  Look for Dalman to make select 410 starts throughout the season including the World of Outlaws program at I-96 Speedway in June.
Ryan Grubaugh caught many by surprise by wheeling out the #3w car now owned by Ricky Wohfiel.   Shortly before Crystal Wohlfiel contacted Grubaugh about running the car formerly owned by his late father Jim, and a deal was made.   Look for Grubaugh to run the #3w car for approximately 10 select SOD programs while running his #00 car the rest of the season.
Shane Ross was the lone Canadian Driver to compete Saturday at Crystal.
Chris Jones, the #10J version different than the Chris Jones that ran with SOD last year, plans on running for rookie of the year in 2013.  Ironically this Chris Jones also raced one season at Butler before tackling the SOD tour.
2012 SOD rookie of the year Eric Smith had a rough outing with his new car he put together during the off season.  Smith ended up flipping off of turn four being being tagged by Jim Lingar.
One of the more controversial rule changes in recent memory sends the lapped cars to the tail of the field during the A-Feature.  This new mandate did not come into play as both cautions occured before any cars were lapped.
Other Notes…
The World of Outlaws visit “the neighborhood” for the first time this season at Eldora Speedway Friday and Saturday.  With Skyline Speedway’s opener postponed, the All Star Circuit of Champions idle, and Attica and Fremont giving their 410 sprint cars the night off Eldora should have a strong car count.  Roger Slack visited with us on Monday night’s show talking about some of the minor changes to pit openings in the infield and other improvements for the 2013 season.
Fremont will have non-wing sprint cars under Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series and Michigan Traditional Sprints sanction on Saturday for $3,300 to win and $300 to start.
The King of Indiana Sprint Series also opens this weekend at Bloomington and Kokomo Speedways.  Meanwhile the United States Auto Club AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series visits the high banks of US 36 and Eagle Raceways this weekend.  It will be interesting to see which drivers and teams pull back from Eagle to race at Kokomo Sunday.
With all of the press releases we recieve from tracks and series new ideas tend to catch our eye.  This week Macon Speedway got our attention with Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Night featuring topless modifieds and  Jalapeno eating contest during intermission.  I’m not sure what topless modifieds has to do with Cinco de Mayo, but its nice to see the folks at Track Enterprises thinking outside the box.
As much as fans benefit from the SOD and NRA co-sanctioned events it would be nice to see both series on the same tire rule in 2014.  While both series tires are legal at co-sanctioned events the NRA tire is far superior, forcing many SOD teams to have to buy a different tire for every co-sanctioned event.   This partnership would be enhanced if both series were on the same tires or if the host series tire rule was in effect to even out the burden.

Five things we learned from Opening Night of the 2013 Sprints on Dirt Season

DSC_0223By T.J. Buffenbarger

  1.  Dustin Daggett is still really good.  Daggett found a new way to win by coming back from a flat tire on the first lap and racing through the field to victory.  Daggett’s battle for the lead was with Ryan Ruhl was part of one of the best features we have ever seen at the high banked 3/8-mile oval.   While Ruhl has presented to be a good challenger, Daggett is still the dominant force in the area.
  2. Several mechanical gremlins plagued teams that did not get any practice time leading into the Crystal opener.  Normally several tracks offer weekend test and tunes, but all of those being washed out combined with two Limaland rain outs left only a handful of teams getting any races in before Saturday.
  3. The equipment and competition level has been upped again in the Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP series.  Several great looking new cars appeared and several new heroes are starting to make their mark.  Drivers like Ruhl, Jay Steinbach, and others are starting to put their stamp on the series, showing that sprint car racing in Michigan is in good hands for years to come.
  4. Passing was the name of the game with Gregg Dalman and Ryan Grubaugh joining Daggett in going from back to front.  Dalman even added in jumping over Tank Brackenberry’s wheel midway through the feature and rallying back for a top three finish.
  5. Expect the unexpected this year.  Crystal’s program featured better racing than expected, and I believe this could be a them for the 2013 season.  With several new faces looking fast we could see some surprise winners throughout the 2013 season.

Look for a full notes column later on.

The first taste…

Dale Blaney and Chad Blonde race for position in front of fans in heavy coats for the 2013 opening event at Attica Raceway Park. – Mike Campbell Photo

Springtime in the Midwest often resembles winter more than spring.  Every year race track promoters around the area try to defy Mother Nature to try and give their teams an event.  Many times people often wonder why promoters would take such a risk.  Why bother trying to hold an event in when the weather in against you.

 

For those that did not venture to warm climates to start their season the answer is the giving fans and teams their first taste of racing for the year.  The competition is thinner and gives the opportunity for a promoter to hit a home run if the weather is right.   An opportunity to draw in different competitors and fans to their facility in hopes they might come back throughout the summer.

 

Normally more race teams are active early on in spring.  In this area many race fans did not go to Florida, California, and Arizona and hungry to see races.   Many have not taken a big summer vacation yet, racing or otherwise, and many youth activities are starting to wind down.  An early season show also gives promoters a jump on the competition getting some races under their belts before any other track can offer up competition.

 

I believe a late fall show has more risk than an early spring race.  By the time fall rolls around you are competing with High School Football, families tapped out from summer activities, and teams have torn up enough equipment that they might have already thrown in the towel hoping to regroup for next season.  For spring everyone has the burning desire to go out and race after winter.

 

Every season we gather around a heater in the pit area or in the grandstands wearing gear more appropriate for ice fishing than racing and might wonder for a moment why we are there?  Then cars fire up, racing begins, and we all forget about how chilly it is for just a moment.  Early spring races are a feast or famine proposition, and I’m glad some promoters are willing to take the risk.

Five things to watch this weekend….

Joey Saldana will look to continue gaining momentum with his new team while Rico Abreu will be one of the California drivers looking to for an upset win against the Outlaws. - Image courtesy of Peterson Media

Joey Saldana will look to continue gaining momentum with his new team while Rico Abreu will be one of the California drivers looking to for an upset win against the Outlaws. – Image courtesy of Peterson Media

  1.  The weather:  Several inches of snow cover the ground at TJSlideways.com headquarters in Wyoming, Michigan with flakes continuing to hit the ground.  The weather here generally heads east and does similar things.   Which tracks will brave the cold and race and who will cancel?
  2. Current KKR versus former KKR driver:  Daryn Pittman currently leads the World of Outlaws point standings driving for Kasey Kahne Racing while former KKR driver Joey Saldana is in the second spot.   What both drivers have done to date is remarkable with Pittman gelling well with the KKR bunch and Motter Motorsports with Saldana putting a team together from scratch during the off season.
  3. California locals running well against the World of Outlaws:  In this era where equipment is more equal than ever beating the Outlaws is not reserved for the Pennsylvania Posse anymore.  Tim Kaeding scored a win at Tulare while Jonathan Allard and Kyle Larson both race second in Morrie Williams’ car at Tulare and Las Vegas respectively.   While I don’t expect a local upset at the new Stockton 99 Dirt Track on Friday, Silver Dollar Speedway on Saturday could be prime territory for a local victory against the Outlaws.
  4. The new Stockton 99 Dirt Track:  Not often is a facilities first race something of the stature of a World of Outlaws program, but that will happen Friday at the new Stockton 99 Dirt Track.   It will be interesting how the kinks get worked out with a new track with the attention an Outlaw program garners.
  5. New Devil’s Bowl shape:   The Devil’s Bowl Speedway was reshaped over the off season and hosts the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by MAV TV American Real series Friday and Saturday for their annual Spring Nationals.   Teams that participated in various test sessions and practices over the past few weeks have given the rework rave reviews.

Fat Tuesday Blog: Kalamazoo Update and More…

townshipmeeting

The turnout at the meeting on Monday at the Alamo Township hall. – Tom DeVette Photo

Last night Kalamazoo Speedway received overwhelming support in the face of a noise ordinance proposed by Alamo Township that would seriously handicap the Speedway’s ability to operate.  The township meeting scheduled to be held on Monday night had to be postponed due to turned that exceeded the capacity of the Alamo Township Hall.   The new meeting time is February 25th at 7:00 p.m. at the Alamo Elementary School.  The proposed ordinance would restrict sound to 82 decibel during the day and drop that number to 55 decibel after 11:00 p.m. The meeting will be rescheduled for a later date at a larger facility.

Much of this has been brought on by a township board with six out of the seven members being elected this year.  Kalamazoo Speedway has operated successfully for over 60 years and is one of the most respected short track facilities in the country.  The turnout should be an eye opener to the residents of Alamo Township.  My personal dealings with Kalamazoo Speedway have been nothing but positive.  The facility is one of the cleanest I have ever been to, I cannot remember a race that was not completed at a reasonable hour, and I know that if it were not for the race track I would never get off for anything on D-Avenue.  Now when I’m making frequent trips to Kalamazoo I will stop at the exit the Speedway is located on for gas and such just out of habit.  I can assure if you if the race track is several handicapped that habit will change.
In the meantime make sure to keep up your support of Kalamazoo Speedway by sending polite letters and e-mails to Alamo Township and let them know how you support Kalamazoo Speedway.
Fat Tuesday News and Notes…
  • Butch Dowker’s condition improved greatly yesterday.  Dowker has been moved to a step down unit in Sparrow Hospital, his has improved greatly, and can take visitors.  Well Wishes also can be sent to Dowker Engines at 502 Island Hwy  Charlotte, MI 48813.
  • Rich Corson could also use some support after having a heart attack.  Rich’s family is asking the racing community to create a card tree for him to read during his long road to recovery.  You can send cards to Rich Corson 16636 Spaulding Markham, Il, 60428
  • Fans of Jackslash.com with ipod, iPads, and iPhones will be happy to hear that as of yesterday all new videos uploaded to the popular pay per view site will now support those devices.  Jackslash proprietor Sean Buckley is going to be working over the next few weeks to convert over 1,000 previous posted videos to the new format so iOS users can enjoy them as well.
  • For Ohio readers I can think of no better way to kick off the 2013 season in your region by heading out to the 11th Annual Northern Ohio Sprint Car Show March 15th – 17th at the Tiffin Mall in Tiffin, Ohio.  In addition to getting a look at a lot of the new hardware you will see on track there will be live radio shows, the Hoserville Ohio auction, and more.   Check out the Facebook page for the event for all of the information.  I have personally attended a few of these shows and you will not want to miss it.
  • Todd from FloridaSprintCarFans.com found out that Dave Steele will test a midget car for RW Motorsports on Thursday.  If all goes well Steele will race the USAC National Midget Car Series opener at New Symrna Speedway on Sunday and Monday.  Make sure to check out Todd’s highly entertaining musings including the constant reference to Steele as “His Holiness”.
  • Congrats to former Knoxville Raceway announcer Dave Reiff on being promoted to anchor on the ESPN NHRA drag racing broadcasts.
  • 200 lap pavement sprint car race has been scheduled at Rocky Mountain Raceways September 13th and 14th.

Weekend Notebook…

kalamazoographicAfter one week of open wheel racing during Florida Speedweeks here is what we have leftover in our notebook from the weekend.

  • Kalamazoo Speedway, in business for 64 years, is facing some adversity courtesy of a the Alamo Township Board that wants to implement an 82 decibel noise limit and other restrictions on the Speedway. There is a township board meeting tonight at the Alamo Township Hall located on 7901 North 6th Street in Kalamazoo, MI. Make sure to attend and support one of the best short track facilities in the country.
  • After Donny Schatz decimated the competition on Friday and Saturday at Bubba Raceway Park many industry pundits are already waving the white flag of surrender. I feel its too early to do so, but this weekend just reenforced the fact that Schatz will continue to be in championship form for 2013. While the Bubba Raceway Park fields were deep, not all of the World of Outlaws teams were in attendance. With the races at Ocala being sanctioned by the All Star Circuit of Champions some of the Outlaw teams could experiment more with setups and such without having the implication of points. It will be interesting to see what other contenders emerge at Volusia.
  • Another promising factor from the Ocala weekend was the lack of flat tire cautions on Saturday after the track went extremely dry slick for the feature. Thankfully their were minimal cautions with no fuel stop. Hopefully that trend continues for the remainder of 2013.
  • Butch Dowker’s condition has improved in the Intensive Care Unit at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan. Dowker is off the ventilator and spoke a few words. Visitors are not allowed at this point, so well wishes can be sent to Dowker Engines at 502 Island Hwy Charlotte, Michigan 48813.
  • Veteran Midget Car driver and Rumble Series competitor Rich Corson suffered a heart attack and is in  Palos Hospital in Illinois.  Here is an interview Corson did on Wednesday night before his heart attack.
  • Open wheel fans will have several drivers to keep an eye on during the ARCA Re-Max Series event at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday with Caleb Armstrong, Chad Boat, Drew Charlson, Ricky Ehrgott, Tom Hessert, and Kyle Larson appearing on the entry list.
  • The 2013 Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints schedule was announced this weekend. One race that was announced before the schedule was released is the first pavement event in the history of ESS. Asphalt Assalt. Evans mills speedway in Evan Mills, NY will be the host of the non-point special event on their 3/8 mile oval track. ESS officials have worked with teams to develop specific rules for the event to keep the cars as close to dirt configuration as possible. The feature will pay $2,000 to win and $500 to start. With ESS in action the night before at Mohawk International Speedway officials hope to draw plenty of cars for this one time special event.
  • The Florida Open Wheel action during Speedweeks diversifies this week with the opening event for the United States Auto Club National Pavement Midget Car Series at New Symnra Speedway. The New Symrna website has an entry list posted courtesy of USAC of 25 teams. Kyle Hamilton is slated to drive a second entry for RFMS Motorsports, second generation driver Ross Rankine and Kyle O’Gara team up with Bobby Santos III for RW Motorsports, and Riley Emmel and Chris Bell join Rico Abreu on the Keith Kunz Motorsports team. Randy Cabral, Greg Stoehr, and Seth Carlson from the North Eastern Midget Association are also entered for the two day program. Bryan Clauson is not on the entry list by is slated to drive an entry for Bob East and Klatt Motorsports at New Symrna, but does not have a full time midget car ride lined up for 2013 on the pavement.
  • Lebanon Midway Speedway is the latest track to jump on the non-wing sprint car bandwagon. With the success of Valley Speedway and the Wingless Auto Racing series Midway will offer non-wing sprint cars on a regular basis for 2013.
  • Congratulations to Eldora Speedway for officially sold out their NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event on July 24th. Sold out and Eldora are words I thought would never be said together as some of the Kings Royal and World 100 crowds seemed to be endless in how many people could pack the hillsides.
  • With Fremont Speedway, the United Sprint Car Series, and Empire Super Sprints releasing their schedules for 2013 we only waiting on approximately 25 series and tracks that run sprint cars on a regular basis to release schedules to make our master schedule complete.

Michigan Residents Have Plenty to Choose From in 2013

Fans will be able to see the Sprints on Dirt and National Racing Alliance together in Michigan on three occasions in 2013. - Mudclodbob Photo

Fans will be able to see the Sprints on Dirt and National Racing Alliance together in Michigan on three occasions in 2013. – Mudclodbob Photo

While putting together my personal schedule for the 2013 season I always look for what I refer to as, “low hanging fruit” in reference to good shows that are relatively close to home. This year Michigan residents will have some really good programs to choose from.  Several of these are real diamonds in the rough.  What is even more exciting is waiting to see what Michigan Traditional Sprints brings to the table with their 2013 schedule, several TBA’s on the Sprints on Dirt Schedule likely to be filled with three long standing tracks on the tour, and potentially two events that I would consider to be major potentially being brought to the area.

Here are a few highlights that stand out when looking at the schedule right now:
The Spartan Sprint Cars will take on a larger roll in 2013. - T.J. Buffenbarger Photo

The Spartan Sprint Cars will take on a larger roll in 2013. – T.J. Buffenbarger Photo

  • Opening Weekend on April 26th and 27th things kick off with Spartan Speedway getting things started on Friday night with their sprint car division.  With a drop in super late model shows at Spartan its a chance for the sprint cars to take center stage.  With last years purse increase and a return to the harder tire that made the series successful look for more big things from the sprint cars at Spartan.  Saturday the Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP tour starts an ambitious 2013 season where it all began in 1980 at Crystal Motor Speedway.  Michigan’s only weekly dirt sprint car venue, Butler Motor Speedway, also starts their 2013 season.
  •  May 4th at I-96 Speedway features the Sprints on Dirt and National Racing Alliance close to Engine Pro headquarters.  This is the first of three NRA appearances in Michigan for the 2013 season.  This is a huge win for sprint car fans in the area who get to see deeper fields added to what is an already entertaining Sprints on Dirt program.  In addition the half-mile is back in full for 2013 at I-96, back by popular demand of race fans that wanted to see high speed action.
  • Tri-City Motor Speedway by all accounts is the best up and coming race track in the area.  This year sprint car fans in Eastern Michigan can rejoice with three Sprints on Dirt programs and two Michigan Traditional Sprints programs.  Back when I lived in that area for a year I would have loved to have that sort of action in my backyard at as nice of a race track as Tri-City.
The World of Outlaws return to I-96 Speedway's half mile in 2013. - T.J. Buffenbarger Photo

The World of Outlaws return to I-96 Speedway’s half mile in 2013. – T.J. Buffenbarger Photo

  • The World of Outlaws return on June 1st to I-96 Speedway for their yearly swing through the Great Lakes State.  The Outlaws will also return to I-96′s half mile this season after spending a year on the 3/8-mile track.  The always festive atmosphere at what is the biggest sprint car race in Michigan is always fun and usually brings a few surprise travelers to I-96.
  • The Midwest Super Modified association will try again to race at Flat Rock Speedway on Memorial Day  weekend.   May 25th is the MSA’s only date in Michigan for 2013.  Follow that up with the tradition of sprint cars on holiday weekends at Crystal Motor Speedway with a Sunday MTS program.
  • Auto City Speedway is full of Must See Racing events.  The Must See Supermodifieds have two dates on June 22nd and August 17th while the sprint cars appear on July 13th.
  • Sadly the only midget car event in Michigan for 2013 is at Springport Speedway featuring the USAC Ignite Midget Car Series on July 5th.
  • Kalamazoo Speedway is one of the best venues to see the Auto Value Super Sprints.  This year AVSS has dates on June 1st and July 20th.  Those who are enterprising can attempt the AVSS Kalamazoo/World of Outlaws at I-96 Speedway double.
  • Butler Motor Speedway also has two major sprint car races during the NASCAR weekends at Michigan International Speedway.   On June 15th the Sprints on Dirt return to take on the NRA Sprint Invaders while the All Star Circuit of Champions take center stage on August 17th.
  • Leading into Labor Day Weekend Spartan Speedway and Berlin Raceway both host championships for the Spartan Sprint Cars and Must See Racing Sprint Car Series respectively.  This is a nice championship weekend to lead into the holiday weekend.
  • Traditionally Labor Day Weekend showcases the Sprints on Dirt at Winston Motor Speedway on Friday and Crystal Motor Speedway on Saturday.  Winston is a fun little race track that has been very racey in recent years while SOD continues the tradition of sprint cars on holiday weekends at Crystal on Saturday.
  • On September 12th and 13th the Great Lakes Nationals expands to two days for 2013 featuring the Michigan Traditional Sprints.  With two nights of racing look for a few more cars to make the trip North.  The 13th is also Butler’s final night of action.
  • For now the season closes September 21st at Tri-City with the Sprints on Dirt, but look for two more shows to be possibly booked in late September.
If you look at the rundown of these shows alone we are really lucky to still have this kind of variety of open wheel racing to choose from.  Make sure to keep up on our schedule page and start planning out your 2013 season.
Notes….
  • Butch Dowker (center) looking over the car with his team. - T.J. Buffenbarger Photo

    Butch Dowker (center) looking over the car with his team. – T.J. Buffenbarger Photo

    Butch Dowker has been hospitzlied since Sunday at Sparrow Hospital in the ICU.   Dowker’s was the first race shop I ever hung out in, had the first sprint car I ever sat in, and has been a big part of racing in the Michigan and surrounding area for decades.  Butch’s condition has improved, but he is very much under the weather.  Once we get further details we will pass them along.

  • We keep teasing the two dates listed above throughout the website.  Both of them are still in the negotiation stage.  All I can say at this point is they are both dirt races and one is about 90% done while the other has a 50/50 chance of happening.
  • One byproduct of the Sprints on Dirt series racing at Plymouth Speedway has been interest in the division by some Indiana 600cc Micro Sprint teams looking for another avenue to move up the racing ladder.  It will be interesting over the next couple of seasons to see if any of those teams make their way into the series.
  • Several Michigan Traditional Sprints series events this season will be co-sanctioned by the Ontario Topless Sprints.
  • Make sure to keep an eye on the Auto Value Super Sprints schedule as several dates have changed from its first release.
  • Hartford Motor Speedway confirmed they will hold only special events for the 2013 season.  The track is for sale, but the Borden family realizes that it is more valuable as a working race track than not working, so they are hosting several events this season.

World of Outlaws Media Poll

Sammy Swindell. - Bob Buffenbarger Photo

Sammy Swindell. – Bob Buffenbarger Photo

Shawn Miller from the World of Outlaws sent out a poll to their media members on who they felt would finish in the top five in points and win the Kings Royal, Knoxville Nationals, and Williams Grove National Open.   The votes will be tallied in February, but I will share my picks and the reasoning behind them.

My picks to be the top five in points for the 2013 World of Outlaws season…

1.  Sammy Swindell:  If Swindell and new crew chief Brian Bloomfield can get in a groove and stick together through the grind of the World of Outlaws season look for them to end up with a championship.  When Bloomfield was with Jason Meyers they had their own chassis and engine program.  Swindell is an independent thinker and I could see this combination being one of the best on the tour. After running the full tour last season after doing a partial schedule the past few seasons Swindell should be back in the groove to make a run at the title.

2.  Donny Schatz:  Look for Schatz to start out consistent and finish the same with some big wins along the way.  Tony Stewart Racing’s deep resources show up as the season goes on combined with Schatz’s talent will mean another good season on the tour, but I just could not pick them over the Swindell/Bloomfield combination.

3.  Craig Dollansky:  Dollansky also has plenty of resources to make it through the grueling World of Outlaws tour and always starts out well.  Overall I feel Dollansky might fall off during the West Coast grind to the third spot.

4.  Steve Kinser:  Kinser will be consistent, win some races, and will score another top five finish in the point standings.

5.  Joey Saldana:  I think Saldana combined with the Dan Motter team this year can land in the top five, but needs a full season or two before becoming a championship contender.

The winners of the big races will be…

Kings Royal:  Joey Saldana is my pick to win the Royal.  Saldana is so good at Eldora and even though he has suffered a couple of brutal crashes there that required some hospital time, Saldana has bounced back to run well at the Big E.

Knoxville Nationals:  Sammy Swindell will finally break his dry spell of 30 years to win the Knoxville Nationals.  He will celebrate by giving bus rides behind the grandstands until sunrise on Sunday morning (ok, probably not the last part).

Williams Grove National Open:  Paul McMahan will score the win for the Clemens team on their home turf.  McMahan runs well at the Grove and has really hit his groove with the CJB Motorsports.  Look for them to score wins all over the country including the Open.

Who do you feel is going to land in the top five in the Outlaw points and win these three major events?  Visit our Facebook Page to let us know who you feel will land in the top five and win these three major events?

 

 

Reaction From SOD Leaving ASCS and the 2013 Schedule

Ryan Ruhl in Sprints on Dirt competition at Crystal Motor Speedway. - T.J. Buffenbarger Photo

Ryan Ruhl in Sprints on Dirt competition at Crystal Motor Speedway. – T.J. Buffenbarger Photo

Today featured news close to home with announcement that the  Sprints on Dirt series is going back to being its own entity rather than a region of the American Sprint Car Series.

Mike Strevel and his crew have done a great job running the series for the past couple fo seasons.  Previous to Stevel taking over when ASCS became involved the Sprint Car landscape was different.  There were grandiose plans for National Tour races in the area and it was becoming difficult to find someone to run the series (aka get yelled at every night be race car drivers and teams).   Now with solid leadership SOD officials have decided to opt out of the ASCS agreement and go back to being their own entity.

The change will not affect either entity in the long run.  ASCS has been unable to break into SOD marketplace and the surrounding area.  Quality sprint car racing is plentiful in the area and promoters seem unwilling to bring in an ASCS National event.  ASCS is very successful in other parts of the country and will continue to be successful as will Sprints on Dirt.

On the SOD side of things most of the changes are things officials will be doing behind the scenes.  Teams should look for business as usual with registration forms and other items coming soon.

The 2013 schedule is available by clicking here. Overall Strevel and his crew have put together a very solid 2013 campaign starting at Crystal Motor Speedway on April 27th.  The schedule is very travel friendly with the only hair raising moment being the May 17th-18th weekend driving from Tri-City Motor Speedway near the thumb to the opposite corner of Michigan for a Saturday program at Plymouth Speedway.  One welcome addition to the schedule is two races on the 1/2-mile track at I-96 Speedway after being off the schedule for a season.  The season concludes with the one of the three visits to Tri-City.

Look for a few more races to be added to the Sprints on Dirt schedule as the winter goes on.  Some of the TBA’s on the schedule are regular tracks that were not done selling sponsorship for their nights and there might be a couple of more additions to the schedule that are currently not listed as TBA’s.  One of those potential additions would be a major event possibly in a mid-week position.

 

 

Top Speed Sprint Cars, Attica Events, and More…

atticaEven though a Chili Bowl hangover has set over the racing world the lull should be short lived with the Winter Challenge and Florida Speedweeks coming up soon.  Throw in all of the schedules coming out and its been a very busy week.

  • One bit of news that did slip by during Chili Bowl Week was the formation of the new Icar Top Speed Sprint Car Series for non-wing pavement sprint cars.  Formed the the proprieties of the Top-Speed modified division, organizers are aiming for 3-4 races in 2013 with the first being scheduled at Angola Motorsport Speedway on May 18th.
  • Attica Raceway Park announced this week their annual Spring Nationals has been pushed back one week to Easter Weekend, March 29th an 30th.  If the weekend gets rained out, rain dates are in place for the following weekend.  Attica also has an Ohio Speedweek date June 21st and two All Star programs on August 30th and 31st.  Look for an awesome weekly show in May that will a celebration of Attica’s 25th Anniversary.
  • Look for some big news out of the Sprints on Dirt Series and possibly at 2013 schedule after their banquet on Saturday.
  • One other aspect of the sport we have been catching up on since Chili Bowl are ride changes.  Look for a major update to the driver roster over the weekend.
  • Look for the 2013 master schedule to be continually updated.  We are also putting together our personal schedule for covering races in 2013.  Once a couple of more schedules are released we can finalize that and start making reservations.