|Date: 11/30/2008 2:08:27 PM|
November 29, 2008 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANOTHER BONUS SEASON COMES TO AN ENDS AT HAGERSTOWN SPEEDWAY
HAGERSTOWN, MD -- With its 60th Anniversary in the books just last year, Hagerstown Speedway was back in 2008 for another unrivaled season of programming from start to finish.
Opening with the Race-A-Rama show at Hagerstown’s Valley Mall where numerous drivers and car owners were able to show off their off season efforts, the speedway’s opening day for February 23rd proved to be a bit too early to get things underway. Rick Eckert won two of the first shows split up by Mother Nature who laid claim to three of the first five before things finally got underway on the March 29th with the Grand Opening event for the weekly appearing divisions. Overall, six weekends were lost to weather while another four required postponing to available dates.
It was a not so easy race for the championship titles as things were kept fairly close throughout the season and by the end, two drivers, Roy Deese Jr. and Andy Fries, returned to sit at the head tables during the Annual Awards Banquet last evening while a new face, Dale Hollidge, entered the championship ranks.
After having a disastrous 2007 season with some of it due to fibromyalgia, a muscular disorder which began during his 2006 championship season and he still had to deal with it, Deese, a veteran from Laurel, Md, claimed the Cindy Rowe Auto Glass late model championship for the sixth overall time aboard the Deese Trucking late model owned by both he and his dad, Roy Deese Sr.
“Our goal was to race at Hagerstown weekly and have the best season we could have, try to win some races and if everything fell into place, maybe come out of it with the championship,” Deese said. “You have to have some luck and everything needs to fall in place. You have to be fast enough to have the opportunity and have the luck to take advantage of the opportunity. I had a good start, then had some parts and engine issues, struggled through the middle of the year and then finished up competitively at the end.”
Deese took off on the first two point events with wins and remained atop the standings all season, but not without worry and a lot of hard work to continue his grip. By the fourth week Kirk Ryan took over second and was only 40 points behind. Selinsgrove veteran, Jim Yoder who joined the fields this season, unseated Ryan a few weeks later and was only 24 back. Ryan and Yoder again swapped the spot for another week until Yoder laid claim and was 46 back. In the final four races, Deese was back in the forefront with a 3rd, 6th and 4th and opened a 207 point advantage when Yoder finished 14th and tenth twice.
It came down to the McBee/Hays Memorial double point finale when eight time champion Nathan Durboraw and Yoder were separated by only 11 points. When Yoder had a rear end problem and finished 22nd with Durboraw ending 12th, Yoder’s half season hold to the runner up spot ended. Deese ended 179 to the good.
“Yoder and Ryan were right on me earlier in the year but for the last point race, if I didn’t qualify, it was going to be real close,” Deese said. “If I didn’t qualify and Yoder ran 6th, he was the champion. I had to run the consy and in the feature was racing for 5th and they wrecked in front of me. I couldn’t avoid it and it ended my night to finish 20th. I was about biting my fingernails off.”
Deese admits to working hard to claim his title and there’s no question about it. He gave it 110% this season.
“It’s nice to be part of history at that track,” he said. “I don’t take it for granted. They’re not easy to win. I’ve had the opportunity and six times able to take advantage. I work hard at it and sacrifice a lot to show up at Hagerstown prepared. I can’t take a chance of bending it up on Friday and be ready for Saturday.”
Deese claimed the first two point race victories and continued on for seven top five finishes and ten top tens in the 11 Cindy Rowe events while overall, he had ten top fives and 13 top tens in the 20 events that were held.
“My goal next year is to win another championship” Deese stated. “I know that bothers Nathan. He’s concerned with him having eight and I have six. It’s still a privilege to win races and championships at Hagerstown.”
The wins were spread out with 15 different drivers sharing the 20 events as Gary Stuhler again led the way this season with three triumphs including the Winchester/Hagerstown Shootout I, the Red Nininger Memorial Shootout II event and the McBee/Hays Championship. Stuhler missed the August weekend when the Bowers/Durham Championship event was held, an event he’s won ten times to receive honors for his more than 30 years and 335 wins. Stuhler was at Florence (Ky) Speedway to be inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame.
Eckert scored twice at the start while Jeremy Miller posted wins in the open tire Ernie’s 25 Special and IRS Hub City events. Single wins went to Yoder, a career first, Les Hare, D. J. Troutman, a career first in the Bonebrake Tribute , D. J. Myers, Ronnie DeHaven Jr., Andy Anderson, Frankie Plessinger, J. T. Spence, the 2007 champion and Durboraw. Bart Hartman was the Lucas Oil winner in Shootout III while Tim McCreadie just took the Octoberfest victory three weeks ago.
The Lucas Oil event for the Schetrompf Classic was lost to weather and could not be rescheduled but was combined into the Shootout III event while the 27th Annual Conococheague World of Outlaw event also fell by the wayside when weather intervened with no suitable date to both parties for rescheduling.
There were 137 different drivers in competition with an average of 30.9 cars for the 11 point events, 33.9 for the 20 overall evens and 40.8 in the six special / sanctioned events.
Ernie’s Auto Enterprises provided extra cash for the hard chargers as Kirk Ryan, Deese, Jack Pencil, Alan Sagi, Paul Crowl, Jamie Lathroum, Andy Anderson, along with Gary Stuhler and J. T. Spence both twice, traveled the longest distance during the point races.
In the Hoosier Tire Mid Atlantic late model sportsman division, it was Andy Fries, Mercersburg, Pa., returning for a third dose of championship in the entry he and brother Toby own. Fries won the first time out in the Grand Opening, but was not a point event. It was not until the Maryland Clash event in August that he got to victory lane again but throughout the season, had eight top fives and 12 top tens in the 14 point events while scoring 10 top fives and 14 top tens in the 16 overall events.
“We set goals for wins but wanted to get more wins than last year, but didn’t accomplish that,’ Fries said. “We started the year out and we weren’t running for the championship. We dropped out back there at the beginning of the year, fell back back in points, thought we were out of it. Toby said ‘We’re out of the points now, we don’t have to worry about that’. Then a couple weeks later, we were right back in.”
Fries went atop the standings the fifth week, but then Kyle Lear took over for another couple weeks as Fries came back in Mid June and never gave up from then on. Lear was only 24 behind and then Barry Miller was making it tough on him as he was only 64 behind. Then came Ashley Barrett, having broken a wrist from a second week crash. After missing a week and battling with the cast on his arm during a few others, from mid May, Barrett put together four wins and four runner ups but ended 54 back when the final point race was rained out.
“Ashley was on a mission there near the end, he was coming,” Fries said.
Fries already has plans in sight for next season. He’ll be parking his equipment and teaming with fellow sportsman driver, Nick Pappas of Gaithersburg, Md, who will be providing the car and motors.
“He has a new MD1 chassis car on the way and he said, ‘Just run it,’” Fries said. “I might be doing more racing next year. He wants me to run all over the place.”
There were 74 different drivers with an average of 28.9 cars in the 14 point events and 29.3 in the 16 overall events. There were nine different winners as Barrett led with four including the Shamrock Nationals event. Friese had two while Jerry Bard and Kyle Lear each had two with a Maryland Clash win apiece. Richard Walls, Barry Miller, Derek Byler, a career first, and Wayne Walls Jr. were single winners.
Checkered Flag Lube Center/ St. Thomas Towing were the hard charger sponsors as the following capitalized on that program: Byler, Steve Axtell Jr., Miller, Cory Houck and Barrett while Bruce Kane, Bobby Beard and Kyle Lear each earned the award twice.
After running seven races during 2007, Dale Hollidge, Mechanicsville, Md. made Hagerstown his priority on Saturdays and ran an unmatched effort to collect his first Ernie’s Auto Enterprises pure stock championship.
“We decided we were going to run Hagerstown all year and see what we could do,” Hollidge said. “Luckily we won the championship. We have a good team, everyone works together.”
Making the 135-mile one way trip, he collected four wins including the Shamrock Nationals event and had 12 top fives in 13 events and 14 top fives in 15 overall events.
“We finished 19th one night,” he said. “We were leading but broke the motor with three to go. We hardly had any mechanical failures and were always up in the top five.”
With the exception of the second week when Hans Stamberg led the points, Hollidge was on top the rest of the season with Stamberg behind by only 13 points. Darrin Younker and Bobby Taylor then trailed him until Stamberg returned to the runner up spot and went on a tear by winning four of the last five races, but ended 53 back when the final race was rained out.
Seventy five different drivers competed in the pure stock events with a 30 car average in the 13 point events and 31.1 in the 15 overall events. There were six winners with Stamberg leading the effort with six, Hollidge with four while Younker had two wins. Single winners included Mike Warrenfeltz, Kenny Dillon in the Cornett Tribute and Wayne Hawbaker, a career first in the Ernie’s Special.
Pure stock drivers taking advantage of the J & M Sportsworld hard charger money were Bobby Taylor and Jim Snyder once with Younker, Hollidge, Hawbaker and Stamberg each collecting twice the extra cash.
Separate hard charger awards were given out during the Shamrock Inn Nationals and went to Dylan Yoder in the late model sportsman event after he passed 19 cars. Dave Kaiser earned the pure stock award for passing 11 cars and Delmas Moreland also passed 11 cars to be the 4 cylinder hard charger.
Additionally the 21st Century Fireplace Services also contributed $250 to Hard Chargers in the Octoberfest events. These went to Gary Stuhler, who gained 13 positions in the late models; Chad James in big bock modifieds, also with 13 advanced positions; Cody Darrah in the sprint event with 11 positions, and small block modified driver, Matt Sheppard, who advanced 19 positions.
The enduro racers were on hand for their 30-lap events with both “Krazy” Kenny Thomas and Mark Vegh winning twice with Thomas taking ownership of the 75-lap championship finale. Derek Riley and Mark Smith each won once.
Sprints were a part of the schedule with the wingless USAC sprints on hand for another year as 16-year old Chad Boat scored the victory. Jeff Shepard was victorious in the Pennsylvania Speedweek event and Pat Cannon added to his winning season with a triumph in the first time 358 sprint portion of the Hub City event. Fred Rahmer scored the Octoberfest triumph for the second consecutive year and third time overall.
Brett Hearn continued his Hagerstown success by winning the March 1st Octoberfest qualifier for the big block modifieds and then returned eight months later to take top honors in the postponed event. Jimmy Phelps was the small block modified Octoberfest qualifier while Rich Laubach ended as the small block winner three weeks ago. The DIRT Modified show scheduled March 22nd fell a victim to Mother Nature and was not rescheduled.
Opening day for the 2009 season has not changed but will be different, as it reverts back a number of years when the 410 sprints were on the opening program. That again will be the case on February 21st as late models and 410 sprints appear first with the 22nd used as a weather date. The Race-A-Rama will again precede the opener and begin on Wednesday the 18th.
For all the up to date news, the 2009 schedule, driver information and more, check out the speedway’s website at www.hagerstownspeedway.com.
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