RPW Column: Crunch Time: The Race Is On For The 2022 DIRTcar Sportsman Championship

Column By: TOBY LAGRANGE / RPW – GLOVERSVILLE, NY – The month of August has not only been a hot one on the thermometer but also on the DIRTcar Sportsman Series.

Of the four events scheduled during the month to date, only one was lost to Mother Nature. That event of course was the SummerFast event at the Fulton Speedway.

The combined Central and Western (U.S.) Region event slated for the Ransomville Speedway on Wednesday August 24th was postponed by rain following the qualifying events. The features will be run on Thursday August 25th.

The event was captured by Brett Senek with Cody McPherson and Zach Sobotka finishing second and third.  This event will be covered in my next column.

On Thursday night August 11th, the Central Region visited the Thunder Mountain Speedway in Lisle, New York. The high banked track saw 19 drivers enter the event. When all was said and done defending Super DIRT Week Champion Zach Sobotka parked his Stirling Lubricants number 38 in victory lane.

Sobotka crossed under Dave Farney’s checkered flag in front of Hunter Lapp, Alan Fink, Dave Rogers and Mike Fowler. The win was worth $1,000 for Sobotka.

“I knew he (Lapp) was there, I just tried to hold the bottom each lap and hope not to make a mistake,” Sobotka said, “With not running here, you really didn’t know if the track would change or if you were running the right lane.”

Lapp meanwhile finished a hard fought second after racing Sobotka nice and clean.

“We tried, I got under him (Sobotka) on that one lap but the door closed and I didn’t want to get into him,” Sobotka said. “I tried to do the same line on the last lap but he protected, did what he should have. Hey, we will take second, we have been pretty good here and this was another good run.”

With the rainout at Fulton and the postponement of Ransomville’s Mike Bonesky Memorial one day, the next event on the Central Region schedule will be at the Can-Am Speedway on September 9th for the Showdown in September.

A look at the Central Region points heading into Ransomville showed David Rogers on top of the standings by four points over Tyler Corcoran. Mike Fowler, Andrew Buff and Sabotka round out the top five.

The East Region would see the Glen Ridge Motorsports Park host the lone event in the month of August. Back on June 19th Zach Buff picked up his first career series win, this time it was his older brother and defending track champion Andrew Buff taking the checker flag.

Buff’s win in the 40-lap event was worth $1,500 to the Latham star and came over brothers Justin and Zach. Michael Wright finished fourth with Garrett Poland fifth.

“It does feel good,” Andrew Buff said. “I mean it’s so cool to have them behind me and on the podium, but it also does feel good to finally get a Series win. When I drew the pole, I knew that was key but I also had to drive a good 40 laps to stay there.”

Buff, who now owns six DIRTcar Sportsman feature event wins at the track this season, would continue.

“I had to make sure I hit the restarts right, those guys are tough and you really just can’t make any mistakes. As the laps went on, I also made sure I hit the lapped cars right, especially in turn four where it was tricky.”

Buff has more than just the track championship at The Ridge on his mind. The oldest of the racing Buff brothers is looking for the DIRTcar Sportsman crown.

“We had to miss one East race and we are also trying to run all the Central regions,” he said. “We will see how the bonus points shake out and then we will try for it. The overall championship is what we want.”

For the middle brother Justin, he ran an impressive race but just did not have enough for Andrew.

“It’s a good finish, you always want to win but I think I had a second-place car and to be second to Andrew, I’ll take it,” Justin Buff said. “I don’t know If I really needed another caution or lapped cars. I just think everything fell into place and we will take this second.”

The next event on the East Region schedule is at the Bear Ridge Speedway in Vermont. It will also be the final event in the region.

A look at the current East Region point standings shows Mike Wright the leader by 26 over Jeremy Huntoon. Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald sits third 46 points back with C.V. Elms and Andrew Buff rounding out the top five.

The Mohawk International Raceway played host to the North Region (U.S.) series on August 11th. Picking up the win was Cedric Gauvreau. Gauvreau was followed across the line by Shane Pecore, Thomas Cook, Jessica Power and Gabriel Cyr. A stout field of 33 cars competed in the event.

The afore mentioned event at the Can-Am Speedway on September 9th will also be the next stop on the North Region schedule.

Taking a look at the North Region point standings we see Shane Pecore on top by four points over Cedric Gauvreau and by 12 points over third place Gabriel Cyr. Jessica Power is fourth (-20) with Travis Bruno and David Rogers tied for fifth (-22).

On August 27th the Brockville Ontario Speedway will host round number three of the North Region (Canada) Series. Out in the West Region, the Ohsweken Speedway will host the Canada Series on September 9th. The West (U.S.) Series ends with the Mike Bonesky Memorial at Ransomville.

The North Region (Canada) point standings show Shane Pecore on top by two points over Jessica Power and four points over Dan Ferguson. Adam Rozon (-14) and William Racine (-110) round out the top five.

In the West Region (U.S.), Cameron Tuttle holds down the points lead heading into the Mike Bonesky Memorial at Ransomville. He has a 16-point lead over Mike Fowler. Dalton Martin, Ryan Barrett and Noah Walker round out the top five.

The West Region (Canada) points race is a close one with Cody McPherson leading Brad Rouse by two points. James Friesen and Adam Leslie (-26) and Billy Bleich, Jr. (-28) round out the top five.

That will do it for this week. Please remember to support those that support racing!

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