Short Track Roundup (2/25/98)

25 February 1998


Mobile, Ala - The 1998 racing season is slowly getting up to speed and this
past weekend there was racing action from coast-to-coast on the short
tracks. Mother Nature, or her arch-nemesis, Al Neenyo, did disrupt some
events such as the World of Outlaws and the Southern All Stars, but there
was still plenty of racing going on.

The SCRA Sprints opened the 1998 season at Perris Speedway in California
and the new season started out as the old ended, with Rip Williams taking
the win. Rickie Gaunt finished in second with Richard Griffin taking third.
 After having the opener at Manzanita canceled due to rain, the World of
Outlaws finally were able to make their 1998 debut and Jac Haudenschild was
glad they did. ‘Wild Child’ took the opening win ahead of Mark and Steve
Kinser. 

In other sprint car action, Lincoln Speedway, New Oxford, PA,  held their
season opening event and in front of a huge crowd Todd Shaffer grabbed the
win in the Icebreaker 25. Lance Dewease was next across the line and Jeff
Shepherd crossed in third. Many of the racers from Lincoln headed down to
Hagerstown, MD for the Annual Northeast Season Opener at Hagerstown
Speedway where Donny Kreitz Jr. beat Sean Michael and Kenny Jacobs in the
feature. There was another sprint car race, this one in the midwest, North
Texas Speedway to be exact, and it was Ed French taking the win in the IMCA
sprint feature. Jeff Day was second with Glen Passmore in third.

The Hav-A-Tampa Late Models visited Waycross Motor Speedway in Georgia for
their third race of 1998 and Scott Bloomquist got his first series win in
almost a year and a half as he led flag to flag. Earl Pearson Jr. finished
in second with Skip Arp third. Arp leads in the points standings with
Bloomer now in second as the series takes a month’s hiatus. Pearson has
managed to put together a team that will allow him to follow the series for
the rest of the season and he should contend for the championship. At
Hagerstown Speedway the Late Model portion of the program was won by Marvin
Winters. Gary Stuhler came home second and Rick Eckert trailed those two
across the line. 

On the pavement side of the Late Model scene it was Jimmy Cope and Dick
Anderson putting on a whale of show at Desoto Speedway in Florida. The two
swapped the lead back and forth before Cope led the final laps for the win.
Anderson was second with Pete Orr taking third. The Southern All Stars
tried to run the Early Bird 100 at Montgomery Speedway USA in Alabama, but
rain came on Sunday washing out the race. They will try again next Sunday
and expect a great show as Fast Qualifier John Wilkinson III has elected to
start on the rear of the 36 car field and try and win the race, and a
$10,000 bonus. Shane Sawyer led all the way to win the SARA Sportsman race
at Charlotte County (FL) Speedway. Dewayne Dempsey was second and Sonny
Hughes finished third as the series opened its 1998 season.

It has been announced that Colorado National Speedway has been sold and
that Pikes Peak International Raceway is now part owner of the track. From
the way the new owners are talking, the two tracks will work together in
promoting and staging events. CNS is a Winston Racing Series track and is a
3/8 mile asphalt oval and PPIR is a one mile D-shaped oval. Pikes Peak has
held only special events up until now, and CNS is a weekly track. Hopefully
these two will be able to co-exist peacefully.

Fairgrounds Speedway, in Birmingham. AL, will revert back to its old name
of Birmingham International Raceway. Apparently the city of Birmingham has
decided to let the track open this year, despite the fact that the full
renovations are not yet completed. The track will be repaved following the
1998 season and a new wall will be placed around the track. In this process
the track will become wider. The track will open on April 25 when the
Southern All Stars will visit the famed Speedway. 

NASCAR was holding a meeting with drivers and other interested parties
involved with the old ARTGO series to help answer questions that many have
had. No report on the meeting has been forthcoming and the series still has
no schedule or name.

Big news for the Super Late Models on dirt is the announcement by Maryland
Screen Printers Inc., the people that bring you the Big Johnson T-Shirts,
that they will sponsor a National Championship for Dirt Late Models. Racers
will accumulate points over 12 designated  races and then will use the
results from their best nine finishes to attain the championship. The
reward is $15,000 to the racer that has the most points from such
prestigious races as the Show Me 100, The Dream, The World 100, The Topless
100 and the National 100 among others. There will also be a $500 award to
the driver who wins the pole for each of those 12 races. Tracks that will
host events include Volunteer Speedway, Pennsboro, Cherokee Speedway, Dixie
Speedway and Kentucky Lake Speedway. Maybe this will finally settle the
question of who is the best on dirt.

That about wraps up the action from the past weekend around the short
tracks, but there will be plenty of  racing to be found this weekend. This
week will see the Winston West series in Las Vegas, and the World of
Outlaws will be there too. SCRA will be back at Perris Speedway and the
USAR ProCup will make its 98 debut at USA International Speedway in
Lakeland, FL. Many local tracks will be having season opening practice and
races so where ever you live, if your local track is running this weekend,
head on out and take in the action. Some of the best racing around is on
the short tracks and the prices are a bargain too. Have a Ball, Ya’ll

John Kaiser -- The Auto Channel
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