Two marquee races on the menu for fans
Two very special races get the green flag Saturday night, as Selinsgrove Speedway hosts the Jim Nace Memorial 31st annual National Open for the 410 sprint cars, and Grandview Speedway presents the 43rd annual Freedom 76 for the 358 modifieds.
The Selinsgrove event honors the life and racing achievements of Jim Nace, the Snyder County track's only five-time sprint car champion, who died in 2009 after a seven-year battle with cancer.
In recent years, the event was divided into a pair of 22-lap feature races, but tomorrow's show will be a 44-lap feature event, with a $12,000-plus paycheck awaiting the winner. Various bonuses are on the payout ledger including a $300 to the fast time trial winner, heat winners will each receive $100 and $44 has been posted to the leader of each lap of the feature. Pat Cannon, the track's defending 358 sprint car champion, is a two-time and defending winner of this event. Other stars expected to be in action include the event's only five-time winner, Fred Rahmer, in his final visit to the oval in his retirement season.
Greg Hodnett was the opening day winner on March 10, Brent Marks took home the Ray Tilley Classic honors on May 26th at Selinsgrove and will be in action along with Danny Dietrich, Chad Layton, Lance Dewease, Brian Leppo and Adam Wilt. Many others are expected to compete for the huge paycheck.
A special meet-and-greet drivers autograph session is planned for the grandstand side of the track at 5:30.
The late models are also on the program for Saturday's show, as gates open at 5 p.m. and racing begins at 7. The event carries a Sunday raindate, with a sprint car only program.
The dirt modifieds invade Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville Saturday night for "the Granddaddy of all modified races" - the 43rd annual Freedom 76. The 76-lap feature event carries a huge purse, paying a whopping $25,000 to the winner. Many other contingencies include heat winner bonuses, $1,000-to-win cash dash, over $2,000 worth of feature lap leader awards for this prestigious event.
The list of past winners reads like a who's who among dirt mod stars, including Craig Von Dohren, Duane Howard, Meme DeSantis, Ray Swinehart and Billy Pauch Sr. Pauch Sr. just scored his 699th career victory last weekend at New Egypt (New Jersey) Speedway and is entered along with his son, Billy Jr. for the Sixer.
One of the pre-race favorites is nine-time Grandview track champion and four-time winner of the Freedom 76 - Jeff Strunk. Strunk is in his first season of driving for the New York-based, Four Star Motorsports team, and recently won the Coalcracker 72 at Big Diamond Speedway, worth $10,000.
Other notable invaders include New York stars Alan Johnson, Bobby Varin, Mike Mahaney and Stewart Friesen along with New Jersey drivers David Van Horn, Ryan Godown and Sammy Piazza.
A special pre-race parking lot party kicks off tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. with plenty of driver interviews, autograph sessions, live music and more leading up to race time.
The event at the Berks County track marks the end of the announcing career of track announcer, Ernie Saxton, who has called every Freedom 76 race in his long career.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series kicks off their six-race, Countdown to the Championship chase this weekend in Charlotte, N.C. with the sixth annual Carlyle Tools Carolina Nationals at the zMax Dragway. Heading into the playoffs, Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (P/S Bike) lead their respective classes in the chase to the crown.
ESPN2 will provide 90 minutes of qualifying action on Sunday morning at 3:30 a.m., and three hours of eliminations coverage on Sunday evening at 8:30 p..
Big Diamond continues with its Sunday racing programs. This Sunday, the limited late models replace the 358 mods on the schedule, along with the sportsman and roadrunners. Gates open at 4 p.m. and racing starts at 6:15.
Williams Grove hosts the 358 sprint cars and 410 sprint cars tonight with a complete program of qualifying and feature events along with the completion of the 358 sprint feature that was rained out over the Labor Day weekend.
Lincoln Speedway is also in action Saturday night and features the winged super sportsman 100 lap special and the limited late models.
Just a reminder to the NHRA fans, the 29th annual Auto Plus Nationals (Oct. 3-6) at Maple Grove Raceway, the fourth event of the six race playoff, is less than one month away and tickets are available by contacting the track at (610) 856-9200. Also, the 42nd annual NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week at Syracuse begins the following week (Oct. 9-13) and fans are encouraged to visit www.dirtcar.com/tickets for their reserved seats.