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Big Pittsburgher 100 Weekend at PA Motor Speedway

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Steve Skarupa Photography

IMPERIAL, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A huge weekend of racing is on tap this at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway with the 31st Annual Pittsburgher 100, the Bill Hendren Memorial and Betsy Kriegisch Memorial.

The racing gets underway on Friday with six divisions of racing taking to “Dirt’s Monster Half-mile” including the Diehl Automotive RUSH Late Model Dirt Touring Series, the RUSH Sportsman Modified Dirt Series, the PPMS Pro Stocks, the Keystone Coach Works Hobby Stocks, the Four Cylinders, and the Young Guns.

In addition to those divisions Friday will also see the qualifying events (heats & dash) for the RUSH Late Model Dirt Series Bill Hendren Memorial and the RUSH Sportsman Modified Dirt Series Betsy Kriegisch Memorial.

Saturday, October 5, will feature the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series with a full program including the 100-lap 31st Annual Pittsburgher 100. The single-day event for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will include a complete program of Miller Welders Time Trials, Heat Races, and B-Mains – highlighted by a 100-lap, $20,000-to-win feature event.

Saturday will also feature the 40-lap Bill Hendren Memorial for the RUSH Late Model Dirt Series, and the 2nd Annual Betsy Kriegisch Memorial for the RUSH Sportsman Modified Dirt Series.

Bill Hendren, the patriarch of the Hendren family and founder of Hendren Racing Engines, had the foresight to begin building his affiliation with crate racing. As many of his open engine customers looked to crate racing as an opportunity to continue racing, Bill began offering free advice via the well known 4M.net message board. As the concept grew throughout the country, his generosity and expertise were rewarded as many of those who had utilized his knowledge, in the beginning, utilized him as their engine rebuilder as their needs arose. Bill passed away on March 19, 2011, but his legacy and dedication to crate racing lives on through his sons, Steve and Mike, as the Hendren’s are recognized throughout the entire country as a leader in this specialized form of racing as they continue to operate Hendren Racing Engines.

“I look back to several years ago to a surprise phone call I received from Steve Hendren expressing interest in having a memorial event for his late father Bill Hendren in conjunction with a RUSH Touring event,” explained RUSH Director Vicki Emig. “Although I never knew Bill Hendren personally, I certainly was well aware of his pioneering spirit and great success in the world of GM Performance crate engine racing. And now to have the Hendren Family allow us to hold their patriarch’s ‘only’ memorial event of the year under the RUSH banner is truly an honor!”

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“My family and I are looking forward to returning to Pittsburgh for the ninth annual ‘Bill Hendren Memorial’,” stated Steve Hendren. “This year will mark the first time that my mother Bettie will be able to attend this event in Pittsburgh, and it will be the first time she’s been able to attend a RUSH event as well. As a family, we decided to move all future memorial races to the RUSH Racing Series, and we hope to continue our bond with PPMS as well. The professionalism of RUSH, PPMS, and the racers in the RUSH series is second to none. We would like to thank all of our sponsors for this event.”

“The Miley Motor Sports family is honored to host the Bill Hendren Memorial during the Pittsburgher 100 weekend again,” expressed Matt Miley. “Bringing back the Pittsburgher was a dream of Red Miley’s when he founded Miley Motor Sports. He always strived to make the Pittsburgher bigger and better and we’re again taking the event to another level, honoring another man who made a difference in our sport, Bill Hendren. I’m sure both are smiling down upon us.”

Daryl Charlier has won the last two “Bill Hendren Memorial” races at PPMS, while John Mollick won the event in 2016. Charlier and Mollick will be two of the favorites trying to stop Kyle Lukon, who has won both of the PPMS Sweeney Tour races this year including “Manufacturers Night” presented by MSD Performance and the “Jook George Steel City Classic”. Lukon’s wins accounted for more than $13,600!

Betsy Kriegisch, the mother of RUSH Sportsman Modified racers Chelsie and Jessica Kriegisch, passed away after an extended illness on February 21, 2018, at the age of 57. She was a strong supporter of both her daughters’ efforts and by their side as they rose to prominence in the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. Both girls quickly became competitive and fan favorites. A memorial event as a Hovis Weekly Series show was put together and held last year at Pittsburgh that attracted an all-time Pittsburgh record count of 26, and was won by Rocky Kugel.

“This is going to be a tremendous weekend for RUSH,” said Emig. “To have both RUSH classes share the spotlight with the Lucas Oil Late Models is tremendous via the $5,000 to-win ‘Bill Hendren Memorial’ for the Late Models and the ‘Betsy Kriegisch Memorial’ for the Sportsman Modifieds. Through the gracious donations of so many people, we’ve been able to grow this event into the richest Sportsman Modified race in the history of the region. We have to thank Miley Motor Sports for allowing us to showcase our division at one of the region’s biggest events, and this will also be the RUSH Mods first-ever Tour race at the ‘Monster Half-Mile’.”

The pit gates at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway will be open from at Noon on Friday and all day on Saturday. The general admission gates are set to open at 5:00 p.m. on Friday and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. A Dirt Racing Outreach service is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., followed by a driver’s autograph session at 4:30 p.m on Saturday. The on-track action will begin at 6:00 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.

Two-day tickets are available for both the grandstands and pits, as well as, a one day ticket for Friday or Saturday only. Visit PPMS.com for pricing and tickets.

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Racing Notebook – Monday, July 5: Weekend Racing Recap and more

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Chris Graythen/Getty Images

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Monday’s Racing Notebook takes a look back at a historic weekend of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as this weekend’s local action from Lernerville, Jennerstown, PA and OH Sprint Car Speedweek  plus President Trump wants an apology from Bubba Wallace:

Harvick Wins 3rd Brickyard 400:

  • Kevin Harvick picked up his third Brickyard 400 victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday holding off Chip Ganassi Racing’s Matt Kenseth in overtime.  Denny Hamlin was also one of the strongest cars at IMS on Sunday until he blew a tire late in the race.  Check out our recap here.

Reutzel Wins At Fremont Speedway:

  • Aaron Reutzel was victorious on Sunday at Fremont Speedway in the Ollies Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions feature. Paul McMahan finished second and Lee Jacobs finished third.  It was the third straight podium finish for Reutzel in Ohio Sprint Speedweek competition.

Scott Dixon Wins GMR Grand Prix at IMS:

  • PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon started off the historic INDYCAR/NASCAR tripleheader at IMS on Saturday by capturing the checkered flag in the GMR Grand Prix.  Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal was second followed by Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud.  Check out our recap here.

Chase Briscoe Wins Xfinity Series Race at IMS:

  • Indiana native Chase Briscoe was the winner of the inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series race on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Justin Haley finished second followed by Noah Gragson.  The next race for the Xfinity Series is July 9, 2020 at Kansas Speedway

Kyle Larson Wins at Port Royal to capture PA Speedweek Title:

  • Kyle Larson captured the Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek Championship and did it in style by winning the 410 feature at Port Royal Speedway Saturday night.  Larson held off Brent Marks and Rico Abreu to capture his first win at “The Speed Palace” and his first PA Sprint Car Speedweek title.  Check out our recap here.
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Bubba Pollard Gets CARS win at Jennerstown; Heim 6th:

  • Bubba Pollard won the Inaugural Thomas Automotive American Freedom 300 at the Jennerstown Speedway Complex. It was Pollard’s second win in as many CARS Tour races after claiming the checkered flag at Hickory Motor Speedway in June.  Sammy Smith finished second followed by Jake Garcia.  Corey Heim, who has relatives in the area and was a guest on The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast finished 6th.

Buddy Kofoid Takes Night 2 Of Ohio Sprint Speedweek:

  • Buddy Kofoid started on the pole position and led wire-to-wire to capture the checkered flag in the second night Ohio Sprint Car Speedweek.  Kofoid was barely challenged except on three restart where he prevailed.  Aaron Reutzel finished second followed by Cole Duncan.

Friday Winners From Lernerville:

  • Erick Rudolph took home the checkered flag in the BRP Modified Tour main event at Lernerville Speedway coming from the rear of the field to hold off Rex King Sr. and Garrett Krummert.  Michael Bauer picked up his first career victory in the Peoples Natural Gas DIRTcar 410 Sprint feature.  Tyler Dietz beat Daryl Charlier and Corey McPherson to win the Millerstown Pic-A-Part RUSH/DIRTcar Pro Stocks main event and Greg Dobrosky won the Allegheny Sprint Tour 305 feature.

Cap Henry Wins Ohio Speedweek Opener:

  • Cap Henry opened up Ohio Sprint Speedweek by picking up his second career All Star Circuit of Champions feature win Friday night at Attica Raceway Park.  Buddy Kofoid finished second followed by Aaron Reutzel.

Trump Says Wallace Should Apologize:

  • President Donald Trump thinks NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace should apologize for the noose incident last month at Talladega, calling it a “hoax” in a tweet.  See both Trump’s and Wallace’s response below:

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Larson Wins Hodnett Classic and Speedweek Title at Port Royal

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Port Royal Speedway

PORT ROYAL, PA (July 4, 2020 – Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Kyle Larson put an exclamation point on the 30th Annual Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek. Although he clinched the Speedweek title simply by timing in for the night, Larson did not rest on his laurels. He went out and won his heat race and then he captured the Greg Hodnett Classic. It was Larson’s first career victory at the ‘Speed Palace’, Port Royal Speedway. Larson earned in excess of $11,000 for the effort, including a bounty of more than a thousand dollars for halting Anthony Macri’s winning streak. Larson also picked up the $5,000 point title for his eight days of racing in the area.

Larson was excited to get his fourth win of Speedweek and he was pleased that it came at another track that he had yet to conquer. “This place has probably turned into my favorite track,” Larson said enthusiastically. He gave props to Steve O’Neil, the promoter, and the entire Juniata County Fair Board for the amazing improvements that have taken place over the years. “They put every dollar that they earn back into the facility and it shows.” Larson was also complimentary of the track conditions, noting that the track retained some moisture, which helped the performance of his car. “What an amazing race car Paul Silva gave me. I had a lot of grip.”

While Larson said that he was looking forward to taking on the All Stars for several rounds of the Ohio Sprint Car Speedweek, he coyly admitted that he may be returning to Port Royal for some more action. Coming up soon will be the Bob Weikert Memorial with each race paying $10,000 to the winner. The big payday of course will be the Tuscarora 50 in September.

Two-time and defending track champion Logan Wagner obtained the pole position in the re-draw for starting positions. Brent Marks was beside him. Rico Abreu and Larson were in the second row, with Macri and Mike Wagner in the third row. Ryan Smith, sporting a Hodnett tribute wing, was in row four along with Kyle Reinhardt. Freddie Rahmer, Jr. and Lance Dewease were next on the grid.

At the drop of the green, Wagner and Marks charged into the first turn, with Larson, Abreu and Smith in tow. With one lap in the books, Kyle Moody flipped his racer in turn one, collecting Justin Schultz. Neither driver was injured, but they were both out for the rest of the race.

Wagner and Marks repeated their performance on the restart. However, once things got rolling, Marks and Wagner began exchanging slide jobs for the lead. Soon Larson was part of the battle for the lead. He grabbed second when Marks missed a slider on Wagner and scrubbed off some speed.

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Larson stalked Wagner through lap nine. He pulled off a slider of his own to assume the lead in turn one. Marks soon followed suit to regain the second position. Now, he was chasing Larson, one of the hottest Sprint Car drivers in the country.

On lap 12, Marks caught Larson and pulled the trigger on a slider in turn three to take the lead away. Larson rallied though and returned the favor at the other end of the speedway. This time, Larson began to pull away from Marks.

Larson’s advantage was wiped out by a caution on lap 25 when Danny Dietrich was unable to get his faltering machine into the infield completely. Marks would get another shot at Larson three laps later when Macri was also unable to exit the speedway when his racer broke down. On neither occasion could Marks pull off a pass for the win.

Larson got away cleanly both times and led the remaining laps without any interference. Marks held on for second, followed by Abreu. Brock Zearfoss was fourth. Lance Dewease made up considerable ground in the last third of the race, coming home in fifth. Logan Wagner, Mike Wagner, Smith, Reinhardt, and A.J. Flick completed the top ten. Dylan Cisney picked up the hard charger award by climbing from the last row to eleventh at the finish.

Heat victories went to Larson, Abreu, Reinhardt, and Marks. The B Main went to Danny Dietrich, who entered the night with a theoretical chance to tie Larson for the Speedweek title. However, Dietrich had multiple problems over the course of the night ending his bid for a fifth Speedweek championship. The fastest qualifier on the night was Macri, who led Group A with a lap of 15.826. Logan Wagner topped the second flight with a time of 16.118.

Port Royal will return to action next Saturday, July 11, with 410 Sprints, Super Late Models, and Limited Late Models. The Super Late Models will context their Summer Championship, paying $3,000 to the winner. Then, on July 18 and 19, the All Stars will invade the speedway for the Bob Weikert Memorial. Support classes have yet to be determined for those races.

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Larson Gets First Career Win at Williams Grove and Closes in on First Speedweek Title

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Williams Grove Speedway

WILLIAMS GROVE, PA (July 3, 2020 – Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Kyle Larson put a stranglehold on the points championship in the 30th Annual Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek. After scoring his first career victory at the venerable speedway, Williams Grove, and third win of the week, Larson will be the odds-on favorite to tote home the largest share of the points fund for the nine-race series. If that comes to fruition, it will be the first time ever that an invader took the title against the best of the eastern Sprint Car scene.

“This is an historic race track,” Larson noted. “It was great to get my first win here and the first one for Paul (Silva, his car owner and crew chief) here. To get my first win here and have the 69K (Lance Dewease) behind me . . .” Larson’s voice trailed off and he appeared to be in deep thought.

Larson’s win may have come with some controversy attached to it. When he made the winning pass on Brent Marks, there was some contact. “There was definitely some contact on my part,” Larson admitted. “I wasn’t expecting him to go to the bottom.” Larson explained that Marks had been running the outside line pretty consistently and that he had just put a lap on another car. “I was committed to sliding him and he came down. I just misjudged it. I hated that we had some contact.” Fortunately, both drivers were able to keep control of their cars and neither one appeared to sustain any significant damage. Marks held second until he made a mistake of his own, going above the cushion in turn one with two to go, and opening the door for Dewease to drive by on the low side.

Dewease and Marks paired off in the front row for the prestigious Mitch Smith Memorial. Dewease was gunning for his 100th career win at the speedway and 30th career Speedweek victory, which would have tied him with Fred Rahmer for top honors in that category. Larson, who quipped the week before that he hoped that he would not be at the track to see Dewease reach the century mark, lined up third. On his flank was T.J. Stutts. Rico Abreu and Brian Montieth were in the third row. Then came Anthony Macri and Chad Trout. Kyle Reinhardt and Freddie Rahmer, Jr. claimed row five. Way back in 18th position was Danny Dietrich, Larson’s main rival for Speedweek supremacy.

Dewease bolted out to a two car length advantage over Marks. But, just as the racers were settling in for the 30 lap affair, disaster struck in turn four. A five-car jingle took place, with two cars turning upside down. Brock Zearfoss was able to make repairs and rejoin the field for the restart. None of the others–Jeff Halligan, Matt Campbell, Chase Dietz, and Mike Wagner–were able to continue. The good news was than none of the drivers were hurt.

On the second attempt, Dewease repeated his opening move. Marks remained close, with Stutts getting the edge over Larson and Montieth. Marks followed Dewease for the first few laps. With two in the books, he dropped to the inside of Dewease and surged ahead coming off the second corner. He would maintain the advantage until lap 23, when Larson muscled past him in the first turn.

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Dewease held second until lap 18. That was when Larson also came off the bottom of turn two to take over the position. Dewease fell back several car lengths but did not lose any other positions. Montieth was close in fourth but he could not quite get close enough to challenge for third. Abreu and Rahmer moved up a few positions in the middle stage of the race. But the man on the move was Dietrich. He made steady progress and reached the top ten with ten laps remaining.

Macri surrendered his top ten spot and Montieth forfeited his top five position when they encountered mechanical problems in the final five laps.

Dewease took advantage of Marks’ mistake and that pretty much closed out the action.

Larson completed the 30 laps in nine minutes and 28.754 seconds. Dewease checked in over two seconds later. Then came Marks, Abreu and Rahmer. Dietrich was sixth but lost valuable points to larson for the championship. Ryan Smith, Stutts, Trout and Lucas Wolfe completed the top ten.

Dewease, Montieth, Marks, and Stutts won the heat races. The B Main belonged to Campbell. Dewease was the fastest qualifier at 17.330 seconds.

Williams Grove will be racing next Friday, July 10, with 410 Sprints and the URC 360 Sprints. July 17, the track will have the All Stars Circuit of Champions on hand for the Tommy Classic honoring legendary driver Tommy Hinnershitz, the first winner in the history of the speedway. Speedweek will conclude Saturday night at the Port Royal Speedway. The Second Annual Greg Hodnett Classic will pay $10,000.

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