The wait is over! Friday nights full of thunder and edge of the seat racing returns. The green flag will wave on the 2017 season on Friday night as the Fab Four presented by Turners Premium Iced Tea takes center stage to kickoff an action packed schedule. This Friday night, the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds join the party as the Precise Racing Products DIRTcar Late Models have the evening off. Also on the card will be our People’s Gas DIRTCar Sprints and the Diehl Automotive DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds as well as our Millerstown Pic-A-Part RUSH/DIRTcar Pro Stocks.
The chase for the Fab Four championships will begin for three defending champions on Friday night as well as Jack Sodeman Jr. Russ King, and Mat Williamson look to go back to back in 2017. The off season has seen a few changes for some drivers for the upcoming campaign. So with that, we give you a small preview of what to expect in 2017!
People’s Gas DIRTcar Sprints:
Sodeman took his first ever Lernerville championship in 2016 and is again one of the front runners to look out for following a season that saw him get some well deserved luck, combined with amazing consistency. But for him to repeat, he’ll have to keep a very tough pack of competition behind him. 2015 Champion AJ Flick should be looking to make his way back to the title. The young driver took Sodeman to the final night of action in 2016 and has been active in the early part of this season at Port Royal Speedway. Two more drivers who are at different ends of the experience spectrum but will potentially be in the mix for the title will be former track champion Rod George and Sye Lynch.
George returns after several years away and looks to pick up where he left off, while Lynch, who turned some of the fastest laps in the final month of the season, may be primed for a breakout year. Expect Dan Shetler who came up just short of victory lane on several occasions in 2016 to be a factor as well. Also, expect an occasional appearance from Danny Holtgraver who will race more at a local/regional level in 2017. On the new driver front, Sadie Siegel has moved up from the Sportsman division to join the 410 Sprint ranks. While Brandon Spithaler, Brandon and Brent Matus, and John Garvin Jr. will be on the road for significant parts of the season as they currently tour with the All Star Circuit of Champions.
Precise Racing Products DIRTcar Late Models
Russ King found himself on top of the Late Models for the first time in his career in 2016 and he got there by finishing features and finishing well, on every kind of surface. It was what it took to keep multi-time champion Alex Ferree from registering yet another title. Ferree will look to add to his staggering totals in 2017 and could be in a neck and neck battle all year for the title once again. The two drivers looked very strong in action last weekend in the ULMS Late Model opener.
Certainly capable of etching his name on the track champions list in 2017 will be one Mike Norris whose progress in 2016 was one of the best stories of the season. The young Saver, PA based pilot turned heads with heat wins at major national events and a quick time at the World 100 in September and has found his groove at Lernerville over the course of the last two seasons. Also capable is Mike Pegher Jr. who registered a fifth place finish in the points in 2016 and has experience in victory lane. Expect several regional driver appearances in the first half of the season as drivers tune up for the annual Firecracker 100.
Diehl Auto DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds
Mat Williamson punched his ticket to the title with two separate three-race winning streaks and virtually every other finish in the top five en route to his third championship in 2016. He returns for another run this season and will be formidable to say the least but 2014 champion Rex King Jr. will have a good deal to say about that. King came out of the box strong this year taking the first regional Modified tour race of the season last month and will be looking to overcome some bad luck that has hampered his Lernerville success of late. Look for a potential race all the way to the finish line in August between the two drivers, and should all go his way, Brian Swartzlander will also make a case for a championship in the coming year. Also in the mix for the title could be Rex King Sr. who seemingly manages several wins a year at the action track.
One driver who has had very little go his way the past few seasons but could be due for a turnaround is former champion Jeremiah Shingledecker who turned some of the quickest laps of the season last year but was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Long time Dave Murdick can certainly relate to Shingledecker’s misfortune and then some as well, and could be due for wins in 2017 as well.
But perhaps the most intriguing driver in 2017 could very well be Garrett Krummert who returns to action following a truncated 2016 that saw his early season success come to an abrupt end. Krummert has a feature win at Lernerville under his belt as well as regional Modified tour races as well and is a strong dark horse candidate for the title in 2017. Fans may also want to pay attention to a steadily improving JR McGinley who moved up to Big Block Modifieds in 2016 and got stronger seemingly every week last season as well as Steve Feder who took his first feature victory last season
Millerstown Pic-A-Part RUSH/DIRTcar Pro Stocks
Corey McPherson will not let go of his spot on the podium easily in 2017, but will have some very strong competition to stay on top of in the coming season. 2016 Runner Up Joey Zambotti has found victory lane with increasing regularity in recent seasons and if he can avoid misfortune, could be running neck and neck with McPherson once again.
But the competition level in the division is historically the deepest of all the Lernerville divisions and it’s evidenced once again by 10-15 cars that can cross the finish line first on any given night. Among those, Aaron Easler, Tyler Dietz, Joe Kelley, Terry Young and Bob Egley could all make cases for being title contenders. After a unlucky 2015, Easler returned to form and then some in 2016, finishing third in the final points, while Tyler Dietz took his first feature victory in the division and was a force to be reckoned with in the second half of the season. Kelley seemingly manages a couple of wins every season, and knows what it takes to win championships as well, while Young has had his fair share of wins over the course of his career.
The action gets underway Friday, April 21 as Opening Night 2017 kicks off the Lernerville Season. Grandstands open at 5 PM, racing at 7:30 PM sharp! We’ll see you there!