Hottest driver in nation greets fans at Opperman Memorial, Dewease and Hamilton 77 make appearance and ponder challenge. 5/28/02, Selinsgrove, PA -- The hottest 410 sprint car driver in the country will meet the fans and sign autographs this ...
Hottest driver in nation greets fans at Opperman Memorial, Dewease and Hamilton 77 make appearance and ponder challenge.
5/28/02, Selinsgrove, PA -- The hottest 410 sprint car driver in the country will meet the fans and sign autographs this Sunday at Selinsgrove Speedway as the oval hosts the Inaugural 30-lap Jan Opperman Memorial as part of the Middleswarth Potato Chips Susquehanna Valley 410 sprint series. Gates for the open-wheel doubleheader that includes the Super Sportsman will open at 4:30 p.m.
Signing autographs from 5 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. will be 36-year old Lance Dewease of Fayetteville, driver of Al Hamilton's famed No. 77 sprint car. Since taking over the reigns of Hamilton's mount late last season, Dewease has been on a literal tear in the sprint wars this season and seems to be as hot as his flaming red machine.
Flanking Dewease for the autograph session will be his red and gold No. 77, a car that was piloted by Opperman intermittently between 1974 and '76.
To date, Dewease has picked up an even dozen wins on the season including a trio of victories over the All Stars in Florida, making him the winningest sprint car driver in the nation as well as one of the favorites entering the Opperman Memorial.
Dewease will enter Selinsgrove on Sunday night having just completed a sprint car hat trick, sweeping this past weekend's activities at Williams Grove, Lincoln and Grandview Speedways on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively. The victory at Grandview was the 200th of his storied career.
The Opperman Memorial includes the $10,000 Chip Challenge as sponsored by Middleswarth Chips and Lash Service Center. If Dewease is lucky enough to earn the pole for the event, he could opt to go to the rear and if he can return to win, he will earn the hefty top prize.
But will he take the chance if he gets the opportunity?
"Track conditions will play a lot into it," says Dewease of what will dictate his decision to take the challenge.
"At Selinsgrove, it's pretty tough to come from the back and win in 25 or 30 laps because you have some fast cars up front to start."
"If we're going really good and I think we can pass cars we'll probably take the challenge but if we're not going good and it's in our hands to take it we probably won't do it."
"If I feel confident, yes I'll try! But it's going to depend on the racetrack. How passable it is and how fast it is. If the tracks super fast, its going to be tough to come up and catch someone that's out front."
"You're going to need a lot of breaks to come from the back and win at Selinsgrove."
Dewease's resume at Selinsgrove includes eight career wins, the first of which occurred in 1990. His tally thus far places him in sole possession of 26th spot on the oval's all-time win list. In addition to the wins, Dewease has also garnered 32 top-fives, including 11 runner-ups and 12 third place finishes at the Snyder County oval.
The Opperman Memorial carries a raindate of Sunday, June 9. Confirmed entries for the inaugural event along with Dewease include Sean Michael, Fred Rahmer, Greg Hodnett, Todd Shaffer, Keith Kauffman, Todd Hestor, Shawn Keen, Mark Smith, Brook Weibley and Western Pennsylvania flyer Kevin Schaeffer among others.