McKENZIE, TN - As the sprint car season reached it's pinnacle: the Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals, J&J Auto Racing drivers hoped to perform at their peak all across the country. Lance Dewease began last week by winning the Front Row Challenge...
McKENZIE, TN - As the sprint car season reached it's pinnacle: the Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals, J&J Auto Racing drivers hoped to perform at their peak all across the country. Lance Dewease began last week by winning the Front Row Challenge at Oskaloosa (IA), while Donny Schatz scored two wins at Knoxville and Jimmy Hawley won two in Western Pennsylvania. Manny Rockhold scored a win at Knoxville, while PA Posse drivers Keith Kauffman, Fred Rahmer and Todd Hestor won in Central Pennsylvania.
Donny Schatz led the brigade of J&J Auto Racing teams at the 41st annual Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals. Schatz scored the most points and earned the pole position by winning his preliminary night feature event and advancing five positions in the "A" Scramble. Schatz also raced the #15 ParkerStores/Featherlite Coaches J&J to victory in the Kele World Challenge from a 14th starting position. In both Thursday's prelim win and Friday's Kele World Challenge win, Schatz had almost a half-a-track advantage. Unfortunately, bad luck struck Schatz on the opening lap of Saturday's Knoxville Nationals "A" feature. The left rear tire came off of the rim heading into turn one. He wasn't able to avoid the rest of the field and was hit by several cars including hard impact from Brad Furr. Although, he was one of the cars to beat he finished 23rd.
Other competitors that highlighted the week in J&J Auto Racing sprint cars included Manny Rockhold winning his third career feature at Knoxville Raceway in Friday's Non-qualifiers program. "We haven't been the sharpest tool in the drawer, but we've been honing on it a little bit," Rockhold said. "We're getting better. I was disappointed that we fell one point out of being locked into the "C", but it all worked out. We had a good night."
Daryn Pittman raced from 22nd in Wednesday's preliminary feature to ninth in the #3 Winneabago Motorhomes/Gaerte Engines J&J. He also finished fourth in the "B" Main Saturday night before running 15th in the Nationals "A" Main. Lance Dewease, Skip Jackson, Danny Smith (subbing for Andy Hillenburg) and Ed Lynch, Jr. were also J&J competitors that raced in this year's Nationals.
Front Row Challenge
Lance Dewease made his tow to the Midwest payoff right away last week as he opened the "Nationals Week" festivities by claiming the Front Row Challenge WoO Gumout Race on Monday. Dewease drove the Joe Harz's #88 J&J to the $5000 victory by holding off Danny Lasoski and current Gumout point leader, Daryn Pittman, who drove his family-owned #3 Winneabago Motorsports/Gaerte Engines J&J.
Dewease, who was leading the points chase at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa., said he knew Lasoski was behind him during the final laps. "I saw the chalkboard on that last yellow flag," Dewease said. "I saw the 20L on there, so I knew he was behind me. We had a soft left rear on, and the longer I ran, the looser I got. Every restart I was pretty good, though."
Keith Kauffman put on one of those classic tales of sprint car mastery as he captured his 44th-career main at Williams Grove Speedway last Friday night. No matter where Kauffman needed to make his move, he did. If a move through, not around, the cushion was necessary, Kauffman pulled it off. If the driver had to maneuver to the inside of a turn to make the pass, he did it with as much success. A textbook lesson in sprint car passing written for the world to see by Kauffman.
"I guess I have to show these young kids how things are done," Kauffman said, who piloted the Middleswarth #7 J&J to victory lane over fellow J&J runner Fred Rahmer. "I don't know what's been going on with us this year at Williams Grove. We've been close, but not fast enough to win. I just don't understand it."
Kauffman started next to Rahmer in the sixth row and worked his way to the front quickly. Once he took the lead he was only slowed by caution flags. "I really wanted the race to get over," Kauffman said."We were running so good under green and those yellows just slow down your momentum.
Rahmer's second place finish allowed him to move past Lance Dewease in the Williams Grove point standings as Dewease competed in the Knoxville Nationals on Friday night.
Fred Rahmer continued his comeback from a mid-season slump of sorts by picking up his second win in-a-row in the 25 lap super sprint feature at Lincoln Speedway Saturday night. Rahmer drove from his 11th starting spot to move in behind race leader Cliff Brian on the 14th lap. The pair then ran side-by-side for the next four laps before Rahmer was able to slip by exiting the second turn of the 18th lap for the lead and then raced away to record his second win in-a-row, and the 11th of the year at the conclusion of the 25 lap event. "We were good on the restart, but we can be a lot better," said Rahmer upon exiting his Al and Betty Hamilton-owned Manheim Auto Action No.77 J&J in victory lane. "I'm just glad to win a race...we're playing it one week at a time. It's no sense getting too excited about anything, we're just going to keep plugging away." After suffering through a mid-season slump which saw the Hamilton Motorsports Team go winless at the Pigeon Hills 3/8th-mile track for seven weeks, Rahmer has started to get back on track by recording three wins over the last five races as he continues his march towards a fifth consecutive track title at Lincoln. "We've definitely been in a slump here, there's no two ways about it," commented Al Hamilton afterwards. "Everybody goes through that...we've had a long haul of it here over the last six to eight weeks..we've been trying to get things ironed out and it would appear we're headed in the right direction."
Todd Hestor won his second 25 lap Aumiller's Insurance Sprint Car feature of the season Saturday night August 11 at Port Royal Speedway. The win was worth $2,300 dollars to the Middleswarth Potato Chips team with a one hundred dollar bonus posted by Aumiller's. Team mate Keith Kauffman came from eleventh spot to finish second giving Team Middleswarth a one two sweep.
Feature victor Jimmy Hawley "rolled" a lucky seven for Doc and Debbie Crawford in their Mihalcak Motorsports #CIII, to pull within three digits of Rod George in the challenge for the Triangle Gasoline Sprint Championship at Lernerville Speedway. Â
Hawley said, "Todd Palmer did a great job on this J&J car tonight. It isn't getting any easier to win." On the All-Time Win List, Hawley has tied Terry Rosenberger with 29 victories for the 17th spot. Hawley currently has a remarkable 10 top three finishes, which is a testimony to his great pit crew.
Jimmy Hawley is on a roll in western Pa. Sprint Car action. Hawley followed his seventh win at Lernerville Speedway on Friday night by winning his third straight 20-lap Luxaire Heating & Cooling feature. "My crew gave me a completely different race car than what we had over the weekend," said Hawley. "I think we really found something that we like with this J&J."
Hawley, who started 11th, moved into contention on lap nine and a red flag on lap 10 was just what Hawley needed. When the green replaced the yellow, Hawley moved his way to second. One lap later, Hawley made the winning move on the outside of turn four, and once in front, Hawley pulled away for his fifth Mercer win of the year and 26th of his career in the Dr. John and Debbie Crawford-owned #CIII J&J.