Raudabaugh crowned 2002 KARS champion.

Raudabaugh celebrates KARS championship. MECHANICSBURG, PA - Carlisle's Jake Raudabaugh was honored as the 2002 Doorways Unlimited KARS 358-Sprint Series champion Saturday at the Holiday Inn-West in Mechanicsburg. The annual awards banquet ...

Raudabaugh celebrates KARS championship.

MECHANICSBURG, PA - Carlisle's Jake Raudabaugh was honored as the 2002 Doorways Unlimited KARS 358-Sprint Series champion Saturday at the Holiday Inn-West in Mechanicsburg. The annual awards banquet marked Raudabaugh's first KARS title.

The popular KARS driver ended the 2002 campaign with one feature win and seven top-10 finishes. Raudabaugh said winning the championship was not an initial goal at the start of the season.

"It was definitely on my mind," Raudabaugh said. "But we weren't sure we could make all the races, so it wasn't a goal right off the bat."

Brian Lebo, who has been Raudabaugh's car owner since 1998, agreed.

"(2002) was a great season for us, but we didn't expect to race for the championship," he said. "It just turned out that way."

Addressing a crowd of about 160 people at the banquet, an emotional Raudabaugh thanked his wife, Nikki, and son, Reece, as well as his entire family, for their continued support of his racing effort. Former KARS champion Dale Hammaker, who finished second in points, received special recognition from The Dent Solution for winning the most heat races during the year. It was the third-consecutive year the Grantville driver won the award. The Dent Solution owner Bob Keefer Jr. made the presentation.

Cory Haas, who was unable to attend the banquet, was recognized by Steve Roland of the Mt. Joy Pennzoil Stop n' Go Oil Change for winning the most Hard Charger awards during the year. Haas, who finished fifth in points, was named race Hard Charger five times.

Numerous other special awards also were presented.

As voted by membership, Dan Richcreek and Raudabaugh tied for Sportsman of the Year honors. Richcreek won the award last year, as well.

Brian Allman, who finished eighth in points, was named the Most Improved Driver.

J.R. Berry received the Hard Luck Award. Berry finished seventh in points, but destroyed three race cars in the process.

Rookie of the Year honors went to Keith Prutzman, who also finished third in points.

In addition to his Sportsman of the Year honor, Richcreek also received the Founders Award.

Sharon Gentzler was presented with the Lu Gurtizen Spirit Award. The award was started in memory of the late Lu Gurtizen, who along with late husband, Mike, owned the No. 50 358-sprint formerly driven by Mark Richard and Brian Seidel. The award is presented each year to a KARS member who demonstrates positive attitude, compassion and class, qualities that Lu possesed.

An Appreciation Award was presented to Warren "Trip" Kone, owner of Doorways Unlimited, the KARS 358-Sprint Series sponsor.

Jeff Gromis of Big Diamond Raceway closed the banquet with some comments about the upcoming season. The KARS Series will be at the Minersville track seven times in 2003.

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