Tonight is the granddaddy of them all at Port Royal Speedway. The Tuscarora 50 for sprint cars closes the 2010 season at the Juniata County oval. Mike Erdley is the defending race champion.
The pro stocks are also part of the program, which gets under way at 7:30 p.m.
The winners list is a who's who of eastern racing. Four-time winners include Doug Wolfgang, Lance Dewease and Fred Rahmer. Greg Hodnett, Mitch Smith and Lynn Paxton have won three times. Two-time winners are Bobby Allen , Keith Kauffman and Donnie Kreitz Jr.
Who are the favorites to win this year's 50? I'm thinking a Port Royal veteran will go home the winner. My picks are Kauffman, Todd Shaffer, Hodnett or Erdley.
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of other drivers that can do the job. Some are struggling with tired equipment and low finances right now. And you never know how the luck of the draw will play out for starting positions. With 50 laps and a built-in fuel stop, I know the drivers that run traffic well can still get to the front. That should make for an interesting event.
The first two races of fair week went off with out a hitch. Kauffman gave a classic performance last Saturday night during the final points race of the season. Kauffman was running on the top side of the speedway and looked comfortable doing so. When he can run on the curb at Port Royal, he is going to be fast. Shaffer is another driver the same way and he was just a tick behind Kauffman last Saturday. That's why I feel either one of these guys could win tonight's race. Kauffman has 128 wins at Port Royal plus two more in a late model. Shaffer has won 94 times.
As Labor Day began, I stood in Port Royal Speedway's scoring tower thinking back to an earlier Labor Day program when Kauffman and Dale Kerstetter had a conflict during a late model race. Kauffman was driving Crowbar Henry's No. 21 Ford Mustang. The memory made me laugh all these years later. Do any of you remember that race?
Monday Daryn Pittman won the Labor Day Classic, which was his first win at the track. Pittman was on fire last weekend as he won three feature races and a pile of money. Pittman now owns 12 wins this year, two of which are 360 races. Scotty Haus and John Heane won the late model and pro stock feature events.
One thing I was disappointed in was the sprint car count (14) during Monday's Labor Day Classic. Seemed like no one wanted to race. In fairness, there were a lot of races and some guys cars were torn up and others are down on funds. But a lot of big names sat home. Back in the day most professional racers would not miss a chance at a payday. I guess times are changing. The fans would like to have seen them compete.
Two Mifflin County late model drivers have been fast lately. Waylon Wagner has won four feature events at Port Royal and also has won at Clinton County. Tim Wilson finally got to the winner's circle last Saturday night at Port Royal and finished second in season points. Both are good guys and fun to be around.
Congratulations to Lewistown driver John Heane on winning the pro stock title at Port Royal this season. While were on the subject of local teams and drivers, it was nice to see the Bolger Racing No. 18 back on track, driven by Daryl Stimeling. And Vince Snyder of Strodes Mills is also back racing sprint cars.
While I'm rambling on, racing owes Steve and Karen Stimely of Jake's Carts in Strodes Mills a big thank you for all the support they give to race teams and speedways alike. They help so many people and it's appreciated for sure.
Susquehanna Speedway will host 410 sprint car racing on Nov. 13. I like that. I attended the Turkey Day Nationals held there years ago on Thanksgiving and it was a great race. I hope the program goes well for them and I wish others would try selected later races.
Brian Montieth is in some impressive company. Montieth won the Lincoln Speedway points title for the third year in a row joining the likes of Bobby Abel, Kenny Weld and Bobby Allen, who also accomplished the feat.
The rumor mill is buzzing and the talk is Greg Hodnett may be headed back to the World of Outlaws next season. I hope Hodnett stays put, but we'll have to wait and see.
Ray Evernham, former NASCAR car owner and once crew chief for Jeff Gordon, drove a 305 sprint car at Fork Mountain Raceway in Bassett, Va., last weekend. Evernham finished second in the feature, which was billed as a national event. Gordon and wife Erin Crocker have both competed in sprint cars lately. Crocker ran a 410 sprint at Knoxville.
And Bedford Speedway's promotional team, led by J.R. Keiffer, has signed a three-year contract extension.
Richmond International Raceway hosts Cup action this evening. Denny Hamlin is the defending race champion. This is the final regular season race before the chase for the cup begins. ABC has TV coverage starting at 7 p.m.
Tony Stewart enters the weekend fresh off a win at Atlanta Speedway. Stewart snapped a 31-race winless streak, the second-longest drought of his 12-year career.
That's going to do it for this week. Get out to the races. The season is winding down. Please drive safely!
Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel. He is associated with Port Royal Speedway.