Williams Grove Speedway hosts the Morgan Hughes National Open this weekend.

The event, sanctioned by the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, will be contested Friday and Saturday, with the winner of Saturday night's main event pocketing $50,000.

This weekend's event not only offers bragging rights between the two groups, but close point battles for the WoO title and the Williams Grove crown are at stake as well.

On the local scene, Greg Hodnett took over the point lead from 8-time track champion Fred Rahmer last Friday night after Rahmer suffered motor issues during the main event. Rahmer held the points lead since opening day, but now trails by 35 markers with a few races remaining on the Grove schedule. Rahmer, the all-time feature wins leader at Williams Grove, announced earlier this season his upcoming retirement plans at season's end. Although he has won nearly everything of importance at Williams Grove, a National Open win is not among his career achievements.

On the Outlaw side, Darryn Pittman is looking to grab his first career WoO title in his Kasey Kahne-owned entry. He holds a 52-point margin over 5-time WoO champion Donny Schatz of Tony Stewart Racing.

Schatz has won the National Open five times, including last year, and has visited the Williams Grove winner's circle on both of the Outlaw visits this season.

Tonight's show includes a 25-lap feature event paying $8,000 to the winner, while Saturday's 40-lap A-main carries the 50-grand payday. Both nights will include time trials and qualifying events to determine the starting lineups, with racing action beginning at 7:30 on both nights.

The first Williams Grove National Open was contested in 1963, with the winner eventually going on to Indy Car fame. Michigan's Gordon Johncock was one of the many stars to grace the winner's circle at the Mechanicsburg oval.

Other area tracks are off this weekend or closed for the season, but Selinsgrove Speedway has a special show slated for Sunday afternoon, but only if Williams Grove Speedway does not have to use a Sunday raindate.

The Snyder County oval will host twin-25 lap features for the 410 sprint cars, paying $2,500 to the winner of each feature. Joining the sprint cars will be the four cylinder pure stocks. Gates open at 2 p.m. and racing begins at 4. The track office phone number is 374-2999, if you want to make sure the program is on.

NOTES: Last weekend, Billy Pauch won the first of twin-20s for dirt modifieds at New Egypt Speedway in New Jersey, marking his 700th career victory. Many drivers don't even race 700 times, let alone accomplish that milestone. ... Reading's Maple Grove Raceway kicks off the 29th annual Auto Plus Nationals this morning for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying continues Saturday leading to Sunday's eliminations. Tickets are still available by contacting the track at (610) 856-7200. ... Next week, the 42nd annual NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week will be held at the New York State Fairgrounds. More information in next week's column, but for ticket information, contact DIRT at (877) 395- 8606, or superdirtweekonline.com.

(Kaminski covers auto

racing for The News-Item)