There are plenty of issues to talk about this week in local racing. In no particular order, here goes:
Port Royal Speedway has a new maintenance staff and had improved track conditions last Saturday night. I am not going to criticize anyone because I like all parties concerned. I will say that their was less dust and that is what the town folks, racers and fans want to see.
Steve Swartz has done a commendable job and received praise from other track operators and prep men I spoke with this week. Swartz has been in contact with folks at Williams Grove, Lincoln and Bedford speedways. Those I spoke with have been impressed by Swartz's willingness to ask questions and take advice. Swartz has been assisted by Dave Forry, Brian Wilson, Dave Cisney, Ed Swartz and others. I believe they will have another good track this evening.
Tires, tires, tires. That has been a source of contention in sprint car racing the past week. Last week Goodyear did not have enough 100 compound tires to go around. Williams Grove Speedway mandated all teams use 200 compound tires, which upset the teams that did have 100 compound tires in their trailers. Lincoln Speedway was in a similar situation, but co-owner Alan Kreitzer realized that Lernerville Speedway rained out Friday night. Kreitzer made a phone call and found enough tires to allow his teams to use the tire of their choice.
Port Royal's tire supplier had enough tires left for the teams to get by. Williams Grove gave away vouchers for free tires to help ease the pain of their race teams. They caught some flack because they made the race for show-up points only rather than force the drivers to run strange tires in a full points show. Some teams liked that. Others did not. The Grove did the best they could with a bad situation that was beyond their control.
What caused this situation?
Goodyear Tire is the sole 410 sprint car tire supplier. Goodyear bought up the rights to area tracks, the outlaws and all stars. They own the market. They had production problems at their Akron, Ohio, plant, caused by a power supply interruption. They may also have misjudged how many 100 compound tires to produce. The 100 compound is the softer tire of the two. Hardly anyone has been using the 200 compound tire in Central Pennsylvania.
The drivers have mixed feelings on the Goodyear tires. A number I've spoken with feel that it is a high-priced, antiquated product, 15 years behind the times.
Everyone is supposed to pay the same price for these tires. Car owners claim their tire bills are increasing by $20,000 a year. Here are two arguments to consider: In theory, if all pay the same, no one is paying for someone else getting a discount. What happens with some products is that name drivers or teams get product at reduced or free rates in hopes that it will sell product to other teams that pay for the item.
On one hand, the reward is for a team to work hard, earn a deal and save some money racing. That has gone away with the Goodyear tire deal. Teams used to being on a deal and saving money find themselves back at square one and don't like it. Other teams feel like they should pay the same price as any other team. Then there are manufacturers, who feel they should be able to do what ever they want. After all this is America and a free enterprise system.
It's really not with any restricted deal. Who is right or wrong? I'll leave that to you to decide. But I hate tire deals. I know why they exist and understand what the parties are trying to do. Once the World of Outlaws and All Stars went with Goodyear, they came to Williams Grove, who bought in because they have so many outlaw races. Lincoln and Port Royal have none. Port Royal was going to stick with Hoosier Tire Co. until Lincoln Speedway committed to going with Goodyear.
Port Royal could not afford to be the only track on a different deal, so it signed with Goodyear. Each track has free tires available to give race teams. Port Royal could not have afforded to have free tires being given away at Williams Grove and Lincoln as it would have created a two-track circuit leaving Port Royal in the cold. Port Royal has the winning driver draw two pills and teams receive tires at random. As long as all three tracks are on the same program, the playing field is as level as it can be.
That is the way things are going to have to be.
The sprint cars, late models, 305 sprint cars and sidewinder class are in action at Port Royal tonight. The sidewinders race for $500. Fans should note the new starting time - the first green flag is set for 7:30 p.m.
Selinsgrove Speedway runs a four division card of 358 sprint cars, late models, pro stocks and roadrunners. The Snyder County oval will race at 7:30.
At Lincoln Speedway the URC sprint cars join the 410 sprinters for a two-card show. Last week young Logan Schuchart, 17-year-old son of hall of fame driver Bobby Allen, won his first 358 sprint car win at the speedway. Schuchart ran the bottom of the track, just like his pap did.
Bedford Speedway will be dark next Friday as the track takes a week off in preparation for the Bedford County Fair, which starts next July 25.
Congratulations to Chad Layton on winning his second sprint car feature of the year at Port Royal. Layton holds a 30-point lead over Rick Lafferty entering this evening's action. Layton owns four wins over all this year at area tracks.
Fred Rahmer was the winner of the All Star race held at Utica-Rome (N.Y.) Speedway Tuesday night.
Kasey Kahne Racing had a good night last Saturday. Brad Sweet won the All Star sprint car race in a Kahne-owned car at West Virginia Motor Speedway. Joey Saldana won the World of Outlaws feature in a Kahne car at Beaver Dam Raceway in Wisconsin.
Speaking of Kasey Kahne, no home has been found for him for 2011 in Sprint Cup racing. Kahne will join Hendricks Motorsports in 2012.
It didn't take Dave Blaney long to win in a sprint car. Blaney hit the winner's circle last Wednesday night at Tri City Speedway near Franklin. Blaney told reporters later that he is tired of starting and parking in Sprint Cup racing. He also said he is having fun driving sprint cars again. Blaney will race at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, this weekend.
Talks are taking place about the possibility of moving the Indy 500 starting time to noon next year. This will allow drivers to run both at Indy and Charlotte for the NASCAR race. Bruton Smith, Charlotte owner and Indy officials are talking about paying a $20 million bonus if a driver can win both races in the same day. Think about that - I'll bet Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and others will consider doing double duty. That would make the Indy 500 worth watching again.
How about young Austin Dillon? The grandson of Richard Childress won the NASCAR truck race last week. This kid is going to be good. He is only 20 years old and is already an accomplished dirt late model and modified driver.
His parents are about as down to earth as you can be and I think that has helped mature Dillon quickly. They are racers I have had contact with the last couple years in Florida during speedweeks. No big frills most of the time. I've watched them eat off grills and track concession stands like the rest of us while they race. They remember where they came from and what the sport is all about.
It says a lot about Childress, who owns the cars. They have good equipment and could have started at any level they wanted to. Childress is having his grandsons come up through the ranks from the dirt tracks and it is going to pay off for Austin Dillon.We will see him in a couple years driving a Cup car.
More has been learned about the 2011 NASCAR Cup schedule. It is likely that Atlanta, New Hampshire and Fontana, Calif., will lose race dates. They will go to Las Vegas, Kentucky and Kansas. Requests have been filed to change the schedule by International Speedway Corporation and Speedway Motorsports, which own the tracks involved.
Work has started on repaving Daytona International Speedway. The job will require 50,000 tons of asphalt to resurface 1.4 million square feet of racetrack. The last time the track was repaved was August 1978. The cars will really fly next February at Daytona. Work is scheduled to be completed by early January.
Kevin Harvick threw out the first pitch at the Eastern League All-Star baseball game in Harrisburg Wednesday night. Harvick is the current Sprint Cup points leader. The Cup cars have the have week off before heading to Indy for the Brickyard 400 next week.
That's going to do it for another week. I'll be back next week with more news and information. Until then, please drive safely!
Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel. He is associated with Port Royal Speedway.