RPW Column: Sportsman Racers Looking For A Big Season In ’22; Big Events Planned

Column By: TOBY LAGRANGE / RPW – GLOVERSVILLE, NY – As this winter’s snow becomes nothing but a memory here in Upstate New York, the attention of race fans turns to on-track action which for most tracks will begin over the next few weeks.

This, of course is pending Mother Nature’s approval.

With the snow melt and new season comes a new, semi-regular column from yours truly concentrating on the DIRTcar Sportsman and DIRTcar Pro Stock Series. I will also through in some non-series and non-sanctioned events throughout the year, all leading up to the 2022 champions being crowned a week after Super DIRT Week 50, at the Brockville Ontario Speedway.

The first DIRTcar Sportsman (non-series) event of the season was slated to be at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway this past Friday night. As part of the April’s Fools Twin 40’s program, the weekly DIRTcar Sportsman division was set to kick off the season with a bang. Mother Nature however had different ideas and the Lyle DeVore promoted facility was forced to cancel the event.

The first DIRTcar Pro Stock Series event of the 2022 season also has fallen victim to the weather. The event at the Can-Am Speedway originally scheduled for this coming Saturday, April 9th, has been postponed until May 18th.

Once again the DIRTcar Sportsman Series has been divided into five regions (East, Central, Northern, West and West-Canada) and the Fall Championship Series. This popular format allows drivers from all over the Northeast to have a chance at the coveted DIRTcar Sportsman Championship crown.

The East and North Regions open on April 30th at the Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, NY with the Central Region opening on June 29th and June 30th at the Can-Am Speedway (LaFargeville, NY) and Land of Legends Raceway (Canandaigua, NY) respectfully. The West Region opens on June 16th at the Genesee Speedway in Batavia, NY while the West-Canada Series opens on May 28th at the Merrittville Speedway in Thorold, Ontario).

Some of the biggest Sportsman events of the season will make up the DIRTcar Sportsman Fall Championship Series. The series kicks off on September 23rd at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, as part of the Malta Massive Weekend. The series then heads to the Fulton Speedway for the Outlaw 200 Weekend and then on to Super DIRT Week 50 for events at the Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY), Brewerton Speedway (Brewerton, NY) and the Oswego Speedway (Oswego, NY). The series points events will conclude on October 15th at the Brockville Ontario Speedway. The series will also head to the Dirt Track at Charlotte on October 27th-29th for the World Short Track Championships, which is a non-point paying event.

The Sportsman division officially kicked off their 2022 season in the State of New York Saturday night at the Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown and about two hours northwest at the Five Mile Point Speedway.

On the Hard Clay, a total of 51 drivers entered the $1,000 to win event that kicked off the season for the second oldest track in New York State (103 years).

Anyone who was there or watched the event on Flo Racing could tell just how much work Brett Hearn and the staff at Orange County have put into the track surface itself. The racing was above expectations all evening and especially in the five Sportsman qualifying events.

In the first event, two-time and defending Glen Ridge Motorsports Park DIRTcar Sportsman Track Champion Andrew Buff looked to have the event locked up. However, both Jared Labagh and Charles Loidoice had different ideas. The two-track regular relegated Buff back to third on lap seven. They would finish in that order. Tighe Sherlock, Joey Bruning (by .05 seconds), Dylan Madsen and Howard Finch, Jr. would win the remaining events.

A pair of consolation events also were held with wins going to Jeff Higham and Dylan Smith.

The 25-lap feature would see Sherlock and Allen lead the field down to the green flag with Sherlock taking the early lead. With Sherlock out front, Labagh began to make his move. Labagh, the runner-up in points at the Middletown oval one year ago, moved into the second position on lap two and began to set his sights on the second-generation driver out of Bloomingburg, New York.

On lap seven Labagh took the Comfort Experts number 38 to the topside and made his way around Sherlock. From there Labagh was not challenged as he picked up the win over Allen, Cody Higbie, Loidoice and Grant Hilfiger.

“We were pretty patient in the beginning,” Labagh said. “Luckily tonight the outside was pretty cool. It was just a super slick and pretty cool track to race on and it was awesome that we could get the win tonight.”

At the Five Mile Point Speedway, the Sportsman division highlighted the track’s 72nd consecutive season opener. Brian Malcolm picked up the win and the $1,000 that went with it. Malcolm, of Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania, picked up the win over Gordon Smith, Kenny Peoples, Jr., Tim Guild and Marty Kelly, III. A field of 20 drivers took part in the event.

Until next time remember to support those that support racing.

 
 
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