Story By: GARY HEEMAN / LERNERVILLE SPEEDWAY – SARVER, PA – It may be hard to pinpoint a favorite coming into Friday night’s visit from Tony Stewart’s All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars. The talent spread throughout the current roster is deeper than it’s been in quite some time. But beyond the touring regulars, a strong mix of area drivers combined with the potential for some talented, unexpected visitors makes this Friday’s performance a wide open affair.
At the top of the list, current All Star points leader Aaron Reutzel has looked every bit as good as advertised in the early going. Coming off some very successful seasons in the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series, the Texas native has looked incredibly fast and scored a win in the area as he bested the field on hand at Sharon Speedway on May 11. Reutzel also nearly pocketed $100,000 in April as he came up just short at the World Sprint Car Championships at Mansfield Motor Speedway, losing a hard fought, last lap battle with Tim Shaffer.
Lurking a mere 16 points behind Reutzel is one Jac Haudenschild who took an early season All Star win at Attica Raceway Park in April and looks to be battling for the championship all year long. Add defending champion Chad Kemenah to the mix along with rising stars Carson Macedo, 2018 Lernerville feature winner Cale Conley and Parker Price Miller plus the veteran presence of Dave Blaney, and the invaders find themselves with a stacked and stout lineup heading into Friday night.
SHAFFER LEADS AREA DRIVERS INTO BATTLE
The “Steel City Outlaw” Tim Shaffer may have started the season with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Cars, but has seemingly found a home with the All Stars in 2018 thus far and for the time being, and he probably makes as strong a choice of a prohibitive favorite as their is. Apart from the aforementioned win at Mansfield, Shaffer has two series wins in 2018 so far coming at Bubba Raceway Park and Wayne County Speedway and his legendary performances at The Action Track over the years speaks to the sorts of things he can still do any night, against any level of competition that graces the clay at Lernerville.
Beyond Shaffer, former track champions Carl Bowser and Brandon Spithaler have been steadily progressing in their All Star careers to this point. Bowser has been making strides every week in his bid to become series Rookie of the year while Spithaler has been showing glimpses of a coming breakout in his second year on the tour.
Pittsburgh, PA native Danny Holtgraver may not get the chance to run as often as he would like to, but the former track champion normally makes the most of the opportunities and having taken runner up finishes in both World of Outlaw and All Star series action before, stands more than a punchers chance of winding up in victory lane as well. Defending track champion AJ Flick will be looking to etch his name on a podium finish at his home track and if his performance last week is any indication, he is certainly more than capable as he managed to put a straightaway between himself and the rest of the field in dominant fashion for his second feature win of 2018 and took home Hard Charger honors last Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway in the Weikert Memorial. Look for Flick, Jack Sodeman Jr., Dan Shetler, and the much improved George Hobaugh to provide solid competition in much the same fashion as they did at Sharon in May.
PLENTY MORE SPRINT RACING ON TAP
The Allegheny Sprint Tour 305 Sprint Cars will be making their first appearance at The Action Track on Friday night. The last time the tour graced the clay occurred in October of 2017 as part of the annual Steel City Stampede where Greg Dobrosky took the honors in victory lane while in their other appearance in June of 2017, Drew Ritchey found himself under the checkers first.
The RUSH Sprint Cars finally have their season off and running after Mother Nature doomed their early season with one rain out after another. Arnie Kent managed to keep Gale Ruth Sr. behind him in a riveting performance on May 16th. The wingless beasts have provided fans with thrilling and highly competitive racing in their first year as a mix of veteran and beginning pilots have been treating fans to some great shows in the early going.
Pits will open at 4 PM on Friday evening with grandstands opening at 5 PM. Hot laps are tentatively scheduled for 6:45 PM with Time Trials following immediately and racing set to begin at 8 PM.