The sprint car title is going down to the wire at Port Royal Speedway.
Tonight is the final points race and Todd Shaffer holds a 55-point lead over Alan Cole entering the race. Mike Erdley is in third place just 65 points back. Mark Smith is in fourth place, 85 points behind, and Keith Kauffman is in fifth place, 165 behind Shaffer.
It will be interesting to see how it all comes out. Shaffer's chances could have ended during heat races a week ago. He was involved in a wreck and the car was pretty well damaged. Hard work by the Gary and Patty Beam crew got the car back on track in time for the feature and Shaffer finished third. That's quite an accomplishment considering the damage done to Shaffer's car.
I would never count Todd Shaffer out. His driving talent speaks for itself. Shaffer has won three other titles at the Juniata County oval, in 1995, 1998 and 2003. On the other hand, don't overlook, Cole, Erdley or Smith. Should Shaffer have problems, they will try and capitalize on them.
This evening's race is the fifth annual Butch Renninger Memorial event. It's hard to believe Renninger has been gone from this world more than four years. His memory will always be strong and he left the world of racing better than he found it.
A track champion at Port Royal and Bedford, Renninger raced hard and to win. He was the most fun-loving guy off the track that I have known. If Renninger was around, laughter was normally present. Buck Garloff has a special tribute planned for tonight. I'll look forward to seeing it.
As for racing, the late models run this evening for $2,000 to win. Parents should bring their kids out for the bicycle giveaway. Last year, at least 60 new bicycles were given to children. Tonight is also the final "Challenge at the Port" night for race fans. The winner receives a four-ticket pack for all three fair week sprint car races. They also win autographed merchandise from racers and an invite to the pre-race Tuscarora 50 picnic and party.
Drivers will sign autographs at the picnic and the autograph line is open to the public. I'll have more information on the time for that next week. The Auto Racing Club of Hagerstown, Md., will visit Port Royal this evening. If you are an ARCH member, you can save $2 when purchasing a general admission ticket by showing your membership card. ARCH will be signing up new members tonight.
If you aren't a member, considering joining. They run the best off-season racing banquet of any club around. One final note about this evening at Port Royal: Lap sponsors are being sold in memory or honor of loved ones with all proceeds benefiting the American Heart Association. There also will be Butch Renninger AMA T-shirts sold with proceeds to charity.
On to fair week business. Enduro entries are still on sale at the speedway office at a cost of $50 each. Fifty entries will be accepted and the Aug. 30 race starts at 5 p.m. Drivers will run 100 laps.
Reserved grandstand seats are on sale for the Tuscarora 50, which is Sept. 6. Contact the speedway office. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until noon and 1 to 4 p.m.
The Tuscarora 50 Foundation hosts its annual Chili Cook off Sept. 6 in the speedway parking lot. Contact Ellie Alexander or husband Nate at AB Auto Glass in Mifflintown for details.
Jeff Shepard is slowly progressing in Iowa after suffering serious head injuries during the Knoxville Nationals. You can obtain updates from the Steve King Foundation web site. He has spoken a few sentences to car owner John Zemaitis. Cards can be sent to Shepard's Service center, P.O. Box 830, Finksburg, MD., 21048.
Lincoln Speedway's points chase is also going down to the wire. Three point shows remain. Cris Eash has a 15-point lead over Brian Montieth. Niki Young is in third place, just 40 points back, and Fred Rahmer is fourth, 50 points behind.
Dale Blaney holds an eight point lead over Lance Dewease in All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car action.
Selinsgrove Speedway hosts a four division show tonight consisting of 358 sprint cars, late models, pro stocks and road runners. Action starts at 7.
The World of Outlaws Late Models visit the Bedford Speedway Friday. The limited late models also run for $1,000 to win. The race will be broadcast on the Outlaws' web site.
Joe Gibbs Racing has been hit with fines and team member suspensions for altering their cars with magnets under the gas pedal. The purpose was to hide Toyota's horsepower advantage. This came after NASCAR ordered a 15 horsepower cut in Toyota engines a couple weeks back. Points were taken away from the teams involved.
Joe Gibbs is a class act and also will fine and suspend employees involved. The whole situation will only serve to fuel folks that feel Kyle Busch has been too good this season for the law of averages. Fingers will be pointed, right or wrong, that Busch's team has cheated to get their wins. That's a shame as it will overshadow Busch's talent and success.
Bristol, Tenn., is the sight for tonight's Cup race. ESPN has TV coverage starting at 7. Carl Edwards is fresh off a win last week at Michigan. Edwards dominated last years Bristol race and is a favorite again.
That's going to do it for this week. Until next week, please drive safely.
Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel. He is affiliated with Port Royal Speedway.