IndyCar's Pocono return highlights big week
Area racing fans have plenty of choices to satisfy their racing hungers heading into the long Independence Day weekend. Big Diamond, Numidia and Selinsgrove offer plenty of great shows locally, while Pocono Raceway welcomes back the IZOD IndyCar Series for the first time in 25 years.
Big Diamond kicks off the action tonight with the 33rd Georgie Stevenson Memorial featuring the 358 modifieds, sportsman, roadrunners and 600cc modifieds. The Stevenson Memorial is always one of the more popular shows and the 2013 edition finds the modifieds running 35 laps for a $3,000 paycheck. Action starts at 8:15 at the Schuylkill County oval.
Drag racing fans will enjoy a huge three-day weekend at Numidia Dragway beginning tonight with the Friday Night Street Legal Drags. On Saturday and Sunday NHRA Summit Super Series points events will be held. Tomorrow's show also includes a thrilling show of funny cars, jet cars and the awesome fireworks show that the Dimino family has put on for the past few years. Local racers had a successful weekend last week; Mike Mackey of Paxinos scored wins in the street and pro classes, and Jeff Krushinskie of Shamokin was a runner-up in the pro class.
Selinsgrove Speedway offers a two-day program featuring last week's rained-out Middleswarth Potato Chips Firecracker 30 for the 358 sprint cars, with the late models, pro stocks and roadrunners also on the card, with a 7:30 p.m. starting time. Saturday's show is also Camera and Autograph Night for the fans, who can roam the pits before the night's racing and meet their favorite drivers.
The Snyder County oval also has Sunday evening action, bringing an end to the popular PA Sprint Car Speedweeks Series. The speedway hosts the Jan Opperman Memorial for the 410 sprint cars and also includes the winged super sportsman. Gates open at 5 p.m. and racing action begins at 7:30 for both events.
The PA Sprint Car Speedweek Series hits Williams Grove Speedway tonight for the Mitch Smith Memorial, paying a cool $10,000 to the winner of the 30-lap feature. Smith amassed 179 career wins in his Hall of Fame career and his legacy lives on in this 25th annual event. Current stars,Fred Rahmer and Lance Dewease have four wins apiece in the Smith Classic, while Stevie Smith (no relation) is the defending event winner.
Port Royal is the next stop for the Speedweeks tour. The Juniata County half-mile hosts the 410 sprint cars along with the late models and enduro series tomorrow night, leading into Sunday's finale at Selinsgrove.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Norwalk Raceway for the 7th Annual Summit Equipment Nationals, the 13th of 24 events on the 2013 schedule. ESPN2 will provide qualifying action tomorrow at 6 p.m. and three hours of eliminations Sunday evening at 7. Defending event winners are Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (P/S Bike). Winners of last week's O'Reilly Auto Parts Nationals at Route 66 Raceway outside of Chicago were Tony Schumacher (T/F), Matt Hagan (F/C), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (P/S) and Michael Ray (P/S Bike).
Sunday's Pocono IndyCar 400 (ABC live at noon) marks the first time in 25 years that the open wheeled stars have raced on the "Tricky Triangle", an event which was won by Danny Sullivan last time it was held.
"I think Pocono is ideal for IndyCars, with all the upgrades, improvements and safety items," said Sullivan, who also was victorious in 1984 at Pocono. "You should see a great return for the IndyCar Series."
Plenty of items of note include a three abreast start, reserved for Indianapolis and now Pocono and Auto Club Speedway (California), rather than the normal two abreast starting formation. The reasoning for the formation is due to the "Fuzzy's Triple Crown"; a three-race payout which will award a $1 million payout to the driver who can win the Indy 500, Pocono 400 and the October 19th MAVTV 500 at the Auto Club Speedway in 2013. Tony Kanaan, by virtue of winning the Indy 500, is the only driver eligible to win the $1 million bonus, but a $250,000 bonus awaits the driver who should win two of the threeevents in 2013. Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka, created by golfing legend Fuzzy Zoeller, is the title sponsor for the "Fuzzy's Triple Crown".