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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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Dirt Racing

Kyle Larson Wins at Williams Grove

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Photo: Paul Arch

WILLIAMS GROVE, PA (April 16, 2021): Kyle Larson made his first 410 Sprint Car race of the season a memorable one, capturing the Tommy Hinnershitz Classic at Williams Grove Speedway. Larson, who admitted to having some rustiness earlier in the night, got better as the night went on. He won his Dash, which put him on the front row beside his good friend, Lance Dewease, and then he chased down the veteran who was seeking his 100th career win at the track. Larsen went on to score a convincing win.

Also getting to victory lane was the defending 358 Sprint Car champion, Derek Locke.

“I used to hate this place,” Larson said. His early struggles at the track were well documented. “But, now that I have a fast car here, it’s really fun.” Larson went so far as to say that Williams Grove is now one of his favorite venues. And, why not? In the last twelve months, he tabbed three wins at the track. Larson clearly enjoys racing at Williams Grove and going head to head
with his pal.

“I knew that I had a really good car,” Larson noted. “I was catching (Dewease) at both ends. I showed him the nose in three and he was getting tight.” Larson sailed by Dewease on the outside of turns one and two and never looked back. Still, Larson was concerned that the wily veteran might chase him down in traffic. “He has a lot of laps here,” he explained.

Indeed, Dewease was closing in on Larson until he encountered the lapped car of T.J. Stutts. It took Dewease several laps to get past Stutts and, by then, Larson’s lead was insurmountable.  Dewease noted that his car got really tight as the race went on. “We weren’t very good after that red flag with three laps in. He (Larson) got by me and he checked out.” So Dewease must wait a little while longer to claim the big win.

Dewease and Larson had the front row by virtue of their respective Dash wins. Freddie Rahmer, Jr. and Ian Madsen were in the second row, with Anthony Macri and Tim Shaffer right behind. Kerry Madsen rolled off from row four, along with Tony Stewart, the surprise winner the night before at Virginia Motor Speedway. Tyler Courtney and Zeb Wise were in row five and Paul McMahan and Zach Hampton started from the sixth verse.

Dewease fired first and opened a three car length advantage over the NASCAR star. Ian Madsen held down third, ahead of Rahmer, Shaffer, Macri, and Wise. Dewease maintained his advantage through the first three laps before the red was displayed for Stutts, who turned his car over midway down the backstretch. The damage was minimal, and Stutts was able to pit for some repairs to enable him to continue.

After that stoppage, Dewease resumed command. However, Larson was stalking him and he made several aggressive runs to the inside of turn three. With each successive lap, Larson drew closer. He did pull alongside Dewease in three with nine laps completed and he made the winning move at the opposite end of the track on the tenth circuit.

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Soon thereafter, the only caution was displayed for Cap Henry’s spin between turns three and four. Dewease got to start on Larson’s tail, but he could not capitalize on that opportunity. Larson rolled into turn one without any threat from Dewease and he completed the remaining 20 laps without seeing any light blue flashing next to him.

After the caution, the driver making progress was Rahmer. After falling back a few spots in the first third of the race, Rahmer found some speed in the middle stage of the contest. He regained the third position on lap 12 and he began to close in on Dewease. “The middle part of the race we were really good,” Rahmer commented. “We left a little on the table though.” While Rahmer made things interesting, he could not get close enough to Dewease to challenge for second.

While Rahmer was coming forward, Shaffer started to fall back. Shafer raced in fourth in the early going but gave up several positions over the second half of the race.

At the checkers, it was Larson, Dewease, Rahmer, Ian Madsen, and Macri. Tony Steward was sixth, followed by Shaffer, Kerry Madsen, Courtney, and McMahan.

The heat winners were Ian Madsen, Stewart, Kerry Madsen, and Shaffer. Brett Shearer took the B Main over Danny Dietrich, who made his second engine change of the night in time to start the A Main. Dewease was the night’s fastest qualifier with a lap of 16.316

“It was good to get the year started right,” Derek Locke said about his victory. After starting in the eighth spot, he steadily advanced to the second spot in the early going. He chased Tyler Brehm for five or six laps. The leaders were dicing in traffic and narrowly avoided a spinning car in turn three near the halfway mark. For the restart, Locke slid the wing back a bit and he was able to drive past Brehm easily in turns one and two.

Brehm followed Locke the rest of the way. Chris Frank, Cody Fletcher, and Kyle Denmyer completed the top five. Chad Criswell, Brett Wanner, Matt Findley, Scott Fisher, and Zach Newlin were the next five across the finish line.

Wanner, Brehm, and Denmeyer won their heat races. There was no B Main.

Williams Grove will return to action next week with a Yellow Breeches 500 race night featuring the 410 and 358 Sprint cars. Then, on April 30, the ASCS National Tour will invade the speedway, along with the United Racing Club. These organizations will bring some of the best 360 Sprint racers in the country. The 410 Sprints will also be on the card.

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Dirt Racing

Opening Night At Lernerville Speedway Postponed

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SARVER, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Western Pennsylvania dirt track racers and fans were revving up their engines in preparation for Friday night’s opening night at Lernerville Speedway but Mother Nature had other plans.

Lernerville announced Friday morning that opening night has been postponed due to weather.

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Opening night will now be Friday April 23 with Fab4 racing revved up by Marburger Farm Dairy.

For tickets and more information visit www.lernerville.com.

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Dirt Racing

Shaffer Scores Again at Lincoln

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Lincoln Speedway

ABBOTTSTOWN, PA (April 10, 2021): Tm Shaffer became the first repeat winner of the season in the 410 Sprint division at Lincoln Speedway. Shaffer caught a break with eight laps remaining in the contest when Chase Dietz failed to clear the leader, Aaron Bollinger, in a daring two for one slide job attempt in turns three and four. Shaffer was able to turn under the wreck in progress and assumed the point for the restart. He was never headed.

Also grabbing checkers this night were Hayden Miller in the 358 Sprint Cars and Scott Shaffer in the Outlaw Vintage Racing Series Modifieds.

Shaffer proclaimed that his new pairing with Heffner Motorsports has the makings of a great team. And, he should know. The Hall of Fame driver has been part of several championship caliber combinations over the years.

“The 16 (Bollinger) was putting a good pace on and I was just waiting for lapped traffic but he was getting away,” Shaffer said. Shaffer called upon his vast experience to get the victory. “Sometimes you just have to wait for it to come to you and it did.” Dietz, however, was impatient, and it cost him dearly. “I hated to see that,” Shaffer said of the accident that handed him the win. “This can be a humbling sport.”

Scott Fisher and Bolliger were paired up on the front row for the start of the 30 lap event run under the track handicapping system. Glendon Forsythe and Dylan Norris were in the second row. Tim Glatfelter and Shaffer occupied row three. Opening day victor, Tim Wagaman, lined up beside Dietz, while Austin Bishop and Tyler Ross started in row six. Poor heat race performances relegated Kyle Moody, Brandon Rahmer, Jimmy Siegel, Freddie Rahmer, Jr., Matt Campbell, and points leader Alan Krimes to the second half of the starting order. Also mired in the back of the field was Danny Dietrich who arrived late after racing at Port Royal Speedway earlier in the night. Dietrich was able to tag the tail of the third heat and wound up seventh in his qualifier.

Bollinger seized the early lead and it looked as though he was going to give himself a belated birthday present. He raced out front up until the mishap with Dietz on lap 22. Shafer bolted into second on the opening lap and he chased the younger driver throughout. Fisher, Norris, Glatfelter, and Forsythe followed.

As Fisher was falling back, Dietz was coming forward. He reached the top five with just five laps down. In five more rounds, he was fourth. At the halfway mark, he was third and gaining on the leaders.

Dietz was certainly on the charge as the race entered the stretch run. He got a tremendous run down the backstretch and swooped under Shaffer in turn three. Dietz was carrying plenty of momentum and, when Bollinger bobbled just a bit, Dietz saw an opportunity. Instead of sliding up behind the leader, Dietz continued on the low line and tried to slide him as well. He drifted up as Bollinger was regaining control coming off the cushion. There was impact. Hard impact. It carried both cars up to the wall in turn four. Shaffer was able to check up to avoid the accident.

Shaffer led Glatfelter the rest of the way to get his second victory of 2021 at Lincoln. Norris held off Freddie Rahmer, Jr., who climbed up from fifteenth on the grid. Ross turned in a creditable job to nail down fifth.

Tim Wagaman, Kyle Moody, Landon Myers, Billy Dietrich, and Bishop completed the top ten. It was Myers’ first start of the season and he came from the tail after pitting for an engine problem as the field was pushing off. Also making his first start of the season was Cory Haas in his new ride, the Buzz Wilson 38. Haas also endured a sour motor, but his problem was not corrected and he placed last in the race.

Heat wins belonged to Forsythe, Norris, and Bollinger. There was no B Main.

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In the 358 Sprints, fans expected to see a repeat win by Jeff Rohrbaugh, who started on the outside of row one. But it was the youngster, Miller, who won the race into turn one.

Miller was anxious before the race began. “Before I went out there, I was shaking so bad. I was pacing in the trailer,” he explained. But the nerves never got to him once he was inside the car.

Rohrbaugh fell back to fourth on the opening lap, and would never contend for the victory.

Steve Owings slid into the second spot and he challenged Miller occasionally during the 20 lap affair. However, Zane Rudisill was the one who had the fans excited in the final laps.

Rudisill picked off two racers to get into third on a restart with just a handful of laps remaining. Then he took second and began to close in on Miller. A final caution with three to go gave him a shot at the leader, but Miller was up to the challenge.

“I raced with Zane in the 600s at Path Valley and I know how tough he could be,” Miller said. “The last three or four laps I made the car as wide as possible.”

After Miller and Rudisill came Owings, Kody Hartlaub, and Cody Fletcher, the points leader. Another Cody, Phillips, led the next group of five to the finish line. Jordan Strickler, Matt Findley, Justin Foster, and Riley Emig were next across.

The race was stopped twice for violent flips by Jon Stewart and Brett Strickler, both between turns three and four. Neither driver was hurt.

The three heat winners were Rohrbaugh, Hartlaub, and Jordan Strickler. Jacob Balliet scored in the B Main.

Scott Shaffer charged from eighth to get the Vintage Modified main win over Wes Cassel and Mark Hahn.

Next week, Lincoln Speedway will present the 18th Annual Weldon Sterner Memorial. The race will pay $6,900 to the winner. Sterner is remembered as the owner of the potent 69 cars driven by Van May. He was also a promoter of Lincoln Speedway for a number of years. Joining the 410 Sprints will be the 358 Sprints. On April 24 there will be a triple header for the 410 Sprints, Central PA Legends Cars, and Mid Atlantic Modifieds.

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