Go (Mid) West Young Man
The fact that Ross Kenseth is going to run a full season of ASA Midwest Tour races this season is a major coup for that series. One thing that draws casual fans to a short track race is the potential to watch a rising star race. Another draw is the ability to see someone with Cup ties on track. Kenseth, the son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Matt Kenseth, has both things covered and can bring plenty of mainstream attention to the tour - and short track racing. He also stands to benefit plenty from his decision of tours this year. Some of the best racing and fiercest competition out there is on the ASA Midwest Tour, so if the adage of “to be the best, you have to beat the best” is true, Kenseth stands to really stand out if he can have a successful season.
And They Are Still Krashing
We have joked before that SK Modifieds get their name from the words “Still Krashing” due to some of the ugly races that we've seen with that type of racecar. Well, there might have been one “race” last weekend that topped them all. At Waterford Speedbowl (CT), the tracks' regular weekly division race was halted after over an hour and 13 laps because of nine caution periods. The race director wisely pulled the plug and awarded the win to Ron Yuhas, Jr. We expect that this week's drivers meeting will be an interesting one.
Love it or hate it, there is no denying that the History Channel's “Madhouse” reality television show is showering plenty of attention on short track racing. When Burt Myers, who is one of the drivers featured on the show, went to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Icebreaker at Thompson International Speedway (CT) this past weekend, the crowds around his trailer were large, the T-Shirt sales were brisk and it was even joked that he was getting more attention at Thompson than even Ted Christopher! Which is saying something in Connecticut.
What Off Season?
Before it rained, the PASS North season was about to begin with this week's race at Speedway 95, but there are plenty of tour regulars and semi-regulars who haven't been getting rusty in the off-season. Johnny Clark, Ben Rowe, Steven Legendre and Gary Bellefleur have all raced somewhere so far in 2010. We don't necessarily expect for series part-timers Derek Ramstrom, D.J. Shaw, Brad Leighton, Lonnie Sommerville and Cassius Clark to be at the rescheduled PASS North opener, but they've all been on track somewhere or another this year as well.
Showing Some Support
We're beginning to notice a common theme among the most successful short track sanctioning bodies out there - and that is that in addition to running a successful Late Model or Super Late Model division, there is also a solid support division or three that go on tour as well. Three non-Super Late Model CRA divisions drew around 80 cars to Plymouth Speedway (IN) for the Cabin Fever 200 this past weekend, interest in the PASS Sportsman Series is said to be at an all-time high as its season starts (although all-time is still only the past several seasons in the history of that series), the ASA Midwest Tour offers a Sportsman and Late Model Truck division and this year the ACT is sanctioning a Sportsman mini-tour for the Flying Tiger cars that typically race at Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT). So it's not just the big guys who make for a healthy tour - it takes the support players to help out too.
Showstoppa Stops The Show
There were high hopes when Bobby MacArthur took over what was known as Star Speedway (NH) and turned it into All-Star Speedway. Many capital improvements were made, PASS races were booked and a really neat Modified mini-series took place at the track. But then things went south. Teams claimed they weren't paid. MacArthur claimed they were. A check to cover a PASS North purse from the track allegedly bounced and the police got involved. The track also ran afoul of the town fathers in the hamlet of Epping, NH. Now, MacArthur is living true to his nickname of the “Showstoppa” and there isn't much activity at the track as the 2010 racing season should be starting up. MacArthur has surfaced on many area Internet message boards claiming that short track racing is dead and blaming “ungrateful” teams are to blame for the situation and that he'll just play with his own racecars at the track during the week instead of scheduling a regular season there. It appears that the show won't be going on anytime soon.
Meanwhile, up the road at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Maine, things are looking up for the headlining Pro Series (Super Late Model) division this year. Mike Rowe, whose name is very well known in short track circles, is back to defend his championship. Former PASS South race winner Trevor Sanborn is taking aim at that crown though. ACT Late Model rookie Bradley Babb will run a limited schedule of races there and we also expect PASS North regular Joey Doiron and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver D.J. Shaw to make limited appearances as well. This is all in addition to a fine list of Saturday night regulars at the track that includes Aaron Ricker, David Oliver, Mike Maietta and Bill Rodgers. This should make for some fun nights at the Ridge this year.
Doing it Right
All too often in short track racing these days, young drivers move up too quickly at the request of their parents who think that little Johnny or Suzie Race Car Driver is ready to take on the world. Usually, they are wrong. It's too bad though because some of these kids could be very talented if they learned to crawl before they walked. That is why we applaud the UARA-Stars series and several tour rookies for taking part in a special rookies session during last weekend's open test at Rockingham Speedway (NC). Clint King, Dylan Presnell, Ronnie Bassett Jr. Matt Kurzejewski and Julia Dawson all took part in order to learn the track before sharing it with more seasoned drivers.
Hitting the Dirt
The Superpro Series is a Late Model tour up in the Midwest. This year, they'll be running Late Models on dirt, but they won't be dirt Late Models. Confused? Don't be. The asphalt-based series has scheduled a race on the dirt of Kankakee Fairgrounds Speedway to go along with a schedule that includes Winchester, Angola and Baer Field. While all of the competitors might not agree, we love the idea. It puts something different out there for fans to watch on the schedule.
You've got to feel good for Keith Sterkowitz this week. The driver known as “Mr. Consistency” won the first ever Howe CRA Late Model Sportsman Series championship back in 2006. But up until last weekend, he had never won a race. Well that all changed in the Cabin Fever 200 at Plymouth Speedway (IN). Sterkowitz won the race and threw that monkey right off his back. We're guessing that his second victory will come a little bit quicker than his first one too.