PORTSMOUTH, OH - How competitive are the All Stars? This year's 19th annual Ohio Speedweek saw five different winners in six events. Last year Speedweek saw seven different winners in seven events. Byron Reed, this year's repeat winner, was the...
PORTSMOUTH, OH - How competitive are the All Stars? This year's 19th annual Ohio Speedweek saw five different winners in six events. Last year Speedweek saw seven different winners in seven events. Byron Reed, this year's repeat winner, was the only one of this year's winners to win a Speedweek show last season. For the season the series shows 15 different winners out of 28 events. A total of 93 different drivers competed this year, with 19 making all six shows. Although Dean Jacobs did not win a race, his consistent finishes (7-5- 4-10-4-5) gave him his first career Ohio Speedweek championship by only three points over the second place tie between Chad Kemenah and Kelly Kinser.
Tyler Walker raced with the All Stars for Ohio Speedweek. Car owner Denny Ashworth said he "wanted someone who could stand on the gas." Walker's plans for the rest of the season are uncertain, except for USAC Silver Crown and sprint racing and several NASCAR Craftsman Truck starts. Walker finished seventh at Attica, second at Wayne County and third at Sharon. He then hit the wall in the first heat at Limaland and crashed in the feature. He also crashed at Portsmouth and finished 19th at Fremont. Walker said he had fun this week, but wasn't used to the dust, which was hurting his eyes. Walker is still employed at Ray Evernham's NACAR race shop in North Carolina, and will race when and where he can this summer. Ashworth said his driver choice for the rest of the season is undecided, with a lot of drivers making inquiries during the week.
Jason Johnson was celebrating his 25th birthday at Portsmouth Saturday night. He set quick time on an oval which was perfect for racing due to rain all morning long and scattered afternoon showers which stopped about 5 p.m. The crowd on hand was Portsmouth's largest crowd of the season despite threatening skies.
James Fisher was pre-entered for Speedweek and raced Sunday, but did not rejoin the tour until Friday at Limaland. The reason: Craig Dollansky dropped off four engines at Fisher Racing Engines for freshening and Fisher could not race until the engines were completed.
Mary Beth Roe, vice president of Millstream Speedway in Findlay, was on hand at Lima Friday. Roe reports that she and the other track owners are rebuilding the 3/8 mile facility from top to bottom with hopes of holding a test and tune day or a race later in the year, with hopes of opening with a full schedule of Sunday night racing in 2002.
Mike Wagner was running fifth at the end of the race Thursday at Sharon, but ran out of fuel on the last lap and crossed the finish line in tenth. He then failed to make the 1,200 lb. minimum weight requirement and was disqualified. Wagner's crew was so busy repairing his machine under the last red they forgot to add fuel to Wagner's machine. He needed about two gallons of fuel in his tank to make weight.
Brian Ellenberger missed Thursday's show at Sharon with a neck injury (non-racing related). He also skipped the last two races.
Central Pa. driver Chris Knopp was a surprise visitor to Ohio Speedweek. Knopp, who has been racing since 1996, but is really in only his second full season of sprint car racing, said he just wanted to see some different racetracks. The Lincoln speedway regular made the A main each night he competed. Chris took a hard flip during hot laps at Sharon, and decided to head back to Delta, Pa. to have his sore collarbone and ribs checked out by his own doctor, bypassing the final two nights of action. Billy Pauch was also a surprise visitor in the J&M 55. The Speedweek tracks he visited (Attica, Wayne Co., Fremont and Sharon) were his first ever visits to those facilities and his best finish was fourth at Sharon.
Bob Hampshire, owner of Greg Wilson's No. 63 sprint car, underwent a heart catheterization to clear a blockage Tuesday morning during Speedweek. He was back at the track Thursday, tired but feeling better. Hamp is scheduled for an angioplasty on June 17 to clear an artery that is 80% blocked.
At Fremont, promoter Jim Ford has two new sections of bleachers open off turn four Tuesday. Every one of those new seats were filled for the event. Fremont has also received some grant money for construction of new rest rooms for next season. Tuesday's 50/50 drawing was the largest of the season at Fremont, worth $3,640. Lima's 50/50 Friday was $1,924.
The All Stars return to action this Saturday for their only Michigan appearance of the season at Butler Motor Speedway on July 14.