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Gravel Grabs Wednesday Qualifier

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KNOXVILLE, IA (August 10, 2021): David Gravel hopes that history will repeat itself. When the Knoxville Nationals were last contested, in 2019, he hit a hot streak at just the right time, winning the Capitani Classic on Sunday, his qualifier, and then the Saturday A Main. Well, so far, he’s completed the first two steps and he’s well positioned to master the third.

“That was a fast-paced race,” Gravel said. “I was abusing my right rear, so I adjusted the wing, and then the wing kept sliding back on its own and I got tight.” Gravel was chasing Justin Henderson as the laps wound down. “He slid a lapped car and that broke his momentum. I was slipping in four and I knew I had to pull the trigger in one and two. I hope I passed him clean.”

As good as Gravel was, Giovanni Scelzi was a little better overall. Scelzi finished in second place in the race, but he earned the most points on the night, as he had better finishes than Gravel in the time trials and in the heat races. Scelzi, who dominated the 360 Nationals just the week before, claimed that he did not have much to do this night, explaining “this car just about drives itself.” He proclaimed himself “three-quarters of the way there.”

Another driver who was satisfied with his run on qualifier night was Donny Schatz, the third place finisher. “We could have got there,” Schatz commented. “Twenty-five laps is a lot shorter than it’s going to be come Saturday (the A Main will be fifty laps). We got going at the end. Man, you change one thing and you end up changing ten. You try to make a step in a certain direction and you take a step back. We’ll have a couple of days to let the masterminds come up with a plan. We’ll be there.” If anybody knows how to win at Knoxville, it’s Schatz, who has ten Nationals wins in the last fourteen attempts.

Zeb Wise, subbing for the injured Buddy Kofoid aboard the second CJB Motorsports entry, had the pole for the A Main. Next to him was track regular Justin Henderson. Third belonged to Justin Peck in a tribute car honoring Kramer Williamson, the late father of his crew chief Kurt. Next to him was surprising Josh Baughman. The third row consisted of James McFadden and Gravel. Schatz and Scelzi were in row four. Spencer Bayston matched up with Cory Eliason in row five. The sixth row had perennial 360 king Clint Garner and Sheldon Haudenschild. Further back in the field were Jason Sides (eighteenth), Logan Schuchart (twenty-first) and Danny Dietrich (twenty-third).

Wise led the field through the first lap and a half, but then Henderson assumed control. The Knoxville faithful were pulling for him to keep the invaders at bay, and for a long time, it appeared that he just might pull off the win.

Henderson led through lap twenty-one, but Gravel was lurking in his shadow. Gravel took over third on lap two and second on the next round. Wise held third until lap nine when his car gave out, leading to the first caution of the race.

Three Rivers Karting

Henderson maintained control over Gravel, but Scelzi moved up a notch when Wise dropped out. Scelzi closed in on Gravel, but could not get close enough to make a bid for the second spot. Schatz was riding along in fourth, with Peck holding down fifth.

Henderson was caught in heavy traffic as the race drew to a close. Gravel drew closer and he was able to execute a slide job in turn one to take the lead with twenty-one complete. Soon thereafter, Scelzi passed Henderson and Schatz was nipping at his heels.

At the finish, it was Gravel over Scelzi, Schatz, Henderson, and Peck. Haudenschild was sixth. Schuchart drove a strong race, coming from twenty-first to seventh with the aid of just one caution to gather up the field. Schuchart was the hard charger for the night. McFadden, Eliason, and Bayston completed the top ten.

Five heats were held, with the wins going to Josh Schneiderman, Kyle Reinhardt, Riley Goodno, Jake Bubak, and Ayrton Gennetten. Tanner Carrick won the C Main, and Schuchart took the B Main. Brooke Tatnell was the night’s fastest qualifier at 15.208 seconds.

The points for the night had Scelzi topping the list with 487, Schatz scoring 477, and Gravel 475. Schuchart came in with 472, followed by Tatnell at 460, McFadden at 459, Henderson and Peck tied at 458, Danny Dietrich at 449, and Baughman at 447.

A Main: David Gravel, Giovanni Scelzi, Donny Schatz, Justin Henderson, Justin Peck, Sheldon Haudenschild, Logan Schuchart, James McFadden, Cory Eliason, Spencer Bayston, Josh Baughman, Brooke Tatnell, Ayrton Gennetten, Davey Heskin, Clint Garner, Danny Dietrich, Josh Schneiderman, Jason Sides, Skylar Gee, Jake Bubak, Kyle Reinhardt, Don Droud, Jr., Riley Goodno, Zeb Wise.

DNQ: Roger Crockett, Anthony Macri, Wayne Johnson, Terry McCarl, Tim Shaffer, Lucas Wolfe, Carson McCarl, Mark Dobmeier, Chad Kemenah, Tasker Phillips, Robbie Kendall, McKenna Haase, Tanner Carrick, A.J. Moeller, Derek Hagar, Ryan Roberts, Austin Miller, John Carney, II, Jordan Goldesberry, Scott Bogucki, Matt Moro, Tori Knutson, Joe Simbro, Ryan Giles, Hunter Schuerenberg.

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Dirt Racing

Reutzel Richer at Knoxville

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Photo by Paul Arch

KNOXVILLE, IA (August 6, 2022): Aaron Reutzel raced to victory in the finale of the 32nd Annual Knoxville 360 Nationals. By leading all thirty laps, his winnings were $30,000, split evenly between the purse and lap money.

“We had a very good car at the start, but not so good at the end,” Reutzel said. “We were struggling at the end. I knew probably someone was coming, but that’s how I wanted the race to play out. I wanted to go green to checker, so I could run in lapped traffic and try to hide a little bit. We were able to get up front and make the best of it. It all worked out good.”

Regulars from the Knoxville Raceway dominated the front rows of the A Main starting lineup, which was based on the unique Nationals point system. Points are awarded for each competitive event–time trials, heat races, and qualifying night feature events–and the driver with the highest total starts on the pole. That honor belonged to Lynton Jeffrey. To his right was Reutzel. In row two were Clint Garner and Terry McCarl. Brain Brown and Ayrton Gennetten were in row three. Sam Hafertepe was the first outsider, and he started in seventeen next to the defending race champion, Giovanni Scelzi. Christopher Thram and Wayne Johnson made up row five, followed by Thomas Kennedy and Cory Eliason.

Reutzel carried a lot of speed into turn one and he rode the rim to take a modest lead over Jeffrey. Garner, Brown, and McCarl battled for the third position. Gennetten and Hafertepe watched the action unfold.

Reutzel began to pull away from Jeffrey while the battle amongst Brown, Garner, and McCarl became more intense when Hafertepe entered the fray. Hafertepe had the dominant car through the middle stage of the race, and he began to move forward.

Hafertepe made contact with Garner in turn two while moving into the third position with fourteen laps complete. Both drivers kept their cars under control, and they separated quickly and without any further incident. Garner fell back a bit, but, as the race wore on, he picked up speed again.

Meanwhile, Hafertepe pulled away unscathed and soon he was challenging Jeffrey for the second position. Hafertepe did take over second at the midpoint in the race, but he was more than two and a half seconds behind the leader.

Three Rivers Karting

As Hafertepe began to whittle away at the lead, the tension was beginning to build. It was obvious that Reutzel was fighting a loose car the last ten laps and Hafetepe was coming. The question was whether he would have enough time to catch and pass the leader.

Hafertepe cut the margin to under a second. With two laps remaining, he got the car up onto the inside berm between turns three and four. He scrubbed off some speed when the car got a little sideways. Although that miscue gave Reutzel some needed breathing space, Hafertepe came back on the final lap. He drew near to Reutzel entering turn one. But Reutzel had the better line and he was able to keep his momentum up as he rolled through the first and second turns.

Reutzel had a couple of car lengths on Hafertepe as they raced toward turn three. He took the checkers 0.725 seconds ahead of his fellow Texan.
Garner rebounded for third, followed by Jeffrey and McCarl. Brown slipped back to sixth. Eliason, Gennetten, Chase Randall, and Scelzi completed the top ten.

“We could have used a caution or anything,” Hafertepe observed. “He (Reutzel) drove a pretty good race and got through lapped traffic pretty well.” Hafertepe added that Reutzel got to spend a lot of time in clean air. He was apologetic about his scuffle with Garner in the second corner. “I got into Clint, which I didn’t mean to do. I was running in the middle and hitting a little patch of moisture and I missed it and got up into him. I didn’t want to race him like that.”

Garner downplayed his achievement. “The car was fast, you know. I did my best to do what I could there. I definitely felt like the ultimate underdog again here. When I stood in the lineup to do the introductions, there were a lot of great racecar drivers. Most of them could be the best or one of the best in the country. I’m privileged to be here . . . and I’m glad to be up here talking with you guys.” He assigned no blame at all to Hafertepe for the incident in turn two. “Good drivers know what they are doing and I knew what I was doing. We both kept them under control.” In fact, Garner took some of the responsibility himself, noting that he should have backed out but he did not want to give up another position.

Randall was named the Rookie of the Race and the Hard Charger. He passed nine cars in the contest. He netted an extra $1,000 for those awards.

The all-features format got off to a rocky start. A couple of cautions punctuated the E Main, which was won by Jett Carney. The D Main had two vicious accidents on the initial attempts to start that race. Seth Brehmer and Ryan Bowers collided head-on at full speed in the middle of the frontstretch. After a delay for fence repairs, a six-car pile-up occurred in turn one, with several cars flipping and one landing on top of another car. Fortunately no drivers were injured in either incident, but nine cars were eliminated in the process. Justin Sanders grabbed the win. The C Main win went to Kaleb Johnson, and Tyler Courtney scored the B Main victory. Sye Lynch was the only driver to race in three of the feature events, ending his night in the C Main.

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Dirt Racing

Brown Bags Second Prelim at Knoxville

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Photo by Paul Arch

KNOXVILLE, IA (August 5, 2022): Brian Brown sailed to victory on the second night of the 32nd Annual Knoxville 360 Nationals. Brown is the only driver to rank in the top five in career wins in both the 410 and 360 Sprint Car divisions at the famed raceway.

“It’s good to be up here,” Brown noted. “The final night of the 360s has been good to us, but not the qualifying night.” Brown, who is very good at maintaining relationships with his sponsors, added, “all of my sponsors are here and it’s really cool to be able to win in front of them.”

The twenty lap finale had Christopher Thram and Blake Hahn paired on the front row. Brown and Terry McCarl made for a powerful second row, with Wayne Johnson and Lynton Jeffrey in the third. Clint Garner and Kelby Watt were in row four. Tasker Phillips and Carson McCarl had row five, with Justin Sanders and Tyler Courtney in the sixth.

Brown wasted no time in getting to the front. He executed a textbook slider in turn three to take the lead away from Thram. Johnson was racing ahead of McCarl. Hahn fell to fifth on the opening lap, followed by Garner, Jeffrey, and Cale Thomas.

With Brown leading the way, McCarl moved into third and was pressing Thram for the second spot. Meanwhile, Johnson and Jeffrey were holding down the fourth and fifth positions.

On lap six, bad luck befell the night’s fastest qualifier. Watt was involved in a three-car tangle in turn one and he crashed while racing for a position in the top ten.

Three Rivers Karting

On the restart, Thram tried to dive bomb Brown in turn one. However, Brown had the momentum and the cushion going for him and he swept around the challenger as they raced through the first two corners. From there to the finish, Brown was untouchable.

There was a spirited battle for second between Thram and McCarl for the next ten laps. With six to go, McCarl powered by Thram in turn one. It looked as though Thram would pull off a bit of an upset by getting a podium finish, but Jeffrey came on in the final few laps to take the position away.

At the checkers, it was Brown by slightly more than four seconds over McCarl. Jeffrey, Thram, and Garner completed the top five. Johnson was sixth despite a very severe back condition. Thomas edged Kyle Larson for seventh. Phillips and Hahn completed the top ten.

“Those 24 cars are always tough,” McCarl said with a laugh. He was ready to make a move on Thram before the red flag on lap six, and he noted that Thram “took my line away from me. That’s exactly what I would have done with him. Then, McCarl commented that, after the restart, “it took me a while to get going again.” He speculated that his tire cooled down too much under the red.

Jeffrey was ecstatic with his third-place run, which earned him the pole for the big race Saturday night. He explained that, as of Friday morning, he was not sure if he was going to race. But, Jody Hegwood loaned Jeffrey the motor. It was removed from the car driven Thursday night by Devin Kline and it was installed in Jeffrey’s car in the morning. “It is a really good motor. I’m pretty excited. Sitting on the pole for the 360 Nationals is definitely a feather in the cap. We’ll just try and get it finished off.”

The five heat winners were Davey Heskin, Phillips, Austin Miller, Jeffrey, and Ian Madsen. The C Main victory went to Jett Carney, with Larson taking the B. Watt’s quick time was 16.422 seconds.

With all of the preliminaries completed, Lynton Jeffrey was the top point getter, edging Aaron Reutzel by three for the pole position. Clint Garner, Terry McCarl, Brian Brown, and Ayrton Gennetten will make up rows two and three for the A Main. Sam Hafertepe and Giovanni Scelzi will be in row four. Other drivers making the cut to the A Main were Christopher Thram, Wayne Johnson, Thomas Kennedy, Cory Eliason, Garrett Williamson, Justin Henderson, Tasker Phillips, Kyle Larson, Blake Hahn, Chase Randall, Matt Juhl, and Kelby Watt.

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Dirt Racing

Hoffman and Fielding Reach the Top in Modified and Pro Stock Points, Respectively; Flick Closing In 410 Sprints; Maskal Still Ahead in Minis

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FRANKLIN, PA (August 2, 2022): The big news coming out of Sunday’s event at Tri-City Raceway Park were the changes in the Donovan & Bauer Auto Group 358 Modified ranks. But the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Pro Stocks also have a new name on the top of the standings. What is more, a battle is brewing for the title in the Shawgo Real Estate LLC 410 Sprint Cars!

Jeremiah Shingledecker, the most successful driver in the 358 Modified division, is at the center of the story. He sold the car that carried him to the 2021 title and that was best in class in the first half of the 2022 season. The 37MD now belongs to rookie Austin Eyler. And, if that name sounds familiar, it is because he is kin to former 410 Sprint Car racer Rob Eyler. Well, Eyler stripped off the “MD” and he now campaigns the car as the 37. So, that left Shingledecker without a ride for the balance of the 2022 season at the track.

But wait, there’s more.

Shingledecker signed in to drive the potent Hoffman Door 00 on Sunday. The owner and driver, Kevin Hoffman, was under the weather, so he asked Shingledecker to take the seat for the night. Shingledecker did the Hoffmans proud, taking the wins in his heat and in the feature event.

Under track rules, the points for Shingledecker’s successes were awarded to the car, and not the driver. So, the Hoffman 00 vaulted into first place in the championship standings, as Kevin was the winner before the track had consecutive cancellations due to weather.

It is anticipated that Kevin Hoffman will return to the seat this weekend, so it will be up to him to keep the winning streak alive. But, if he is unable to race again due to his health, he knows that he will have a capable substitute to fill in for him again.

So, the Hoffman 00 sits at the top of the Donovan & Bauer Auto Group standings, thanks to the assist from Jeremiah Shingledecker. Jimmy Holden, who was second to Shingledecker Sunday evening, is second in the season’s standings by just 13 points, so things are not so settled any more. Shingledecker is still third based on his outstanding performances in his own car before it was sold. Nick Joy, who travels down from New York to race at Tri-City, is just eight points back, so he could easily surpass Shingledecker this week. Lonny Riggs, who had a strong top five last week, is now fifth in the standings and he could move up a notch with another good run.

In the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Pro Stocks, Pat Fielding now tops the points after getting his first career win in this division. Fielding has been in the Pro Stock game for a decade, just a few years less than his closest rival has been alive. Teenager Tyler Wyant trails by only ten markers, but his DNF (“did not finish”) on Sunday hurt him in the championship tilt. Josh Seippel, Charlie McMillen, and the Boozel brothers complete the top five.

Older brother Ayden Boozel started the season in the family car, wrenched by their grandfather, Bob Sloss, who was a successful Pro Stock driver in his day. But the younger sibling, Quinten, took his turn behind the wheel of the 44B on Sunday and he brought it home in the top five. Not bad for the first-time racer!

Three Rivers Karting

In the Shawgo Real Estate LLC 410 Sprint Cars, A.J. Flick moved into second behind former champion Jack Sodeman, Jr. More importantly, Flick shaved a couple of points off the lead. He now trails Sodeman by 23. Just one point further back is Jeremy Weaver, who now drives Bob McMillin’s car re-numbered as 35W. Bob Felmlee and Chase Metheney complete the top five in the winged warriors.

Levi Maskal still sits atop the rankings in the 4 Your Car Connection Mini Stocks. Matt Urey, a recent feature winner, is second. Chad Greeley, D.J. Macrae, and recently engaged Bodey McClintock make up the rest of the top five. Dalton Speer, who regained the winning ways last week, is seventh, behind Dillon Thorne.

The action will start for these racers, and many more, at 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 8. Pit gates will open at 2 p.m., and spectators can enter the grandstands at 4 p.m.

Regular event ticket pricing will prevail on Sunday evening. Adult admission, for those aged 16 to 62, will be $15. Seniors (ages 62 and up) will be $13. Student tickets will be $10 for those ages 10 to 16. Children under the age of 10, will be free, as usual. The Family Pass (good for two adults of any age and two students) will be $45. Pit Passes will be $30.

If you cannot make it to the track on August 8, Tri-City Raceway Park will be back in action on August 15 with another Sunday Thunder event, which will include the Shawgo Real Estate LLC 410 Sprints, the Donovan & Bauer Auto Group 358 Modifieds, the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Pro Stocks, and the 4 Your Car Connection Mini Stocks.

Then, on August 21, the speedway will host the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. Joining the most powerful Late Models on the planet will be the 4 Your Car Connection Mini Stocks. Please note this schedule change.

The track will close out the month of August with another Sunday Thunder program on August 28.

Get ready for the season-ending spectacular to be held over the Labor Day weekend. The activity will start with a practice session on Friday, September 2, with free grandstand admission. Racing will begin on Saturday, September 3, for the Shawgo Real Estate LLC 410 Sprints, the Donovan & Bauer Auto Group 358 Modifieds, the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Pro Stocks, the 4 Your Car Connection Mini Stocks, and the Junior Sprints. All five classes will return for the finale on Sunday, September 4, along with the RUSH Sprint Cars. Camping will be free throughout the weekend, and there will be fireworks and a bonfire Sunday to celebrate the end of the summer.

Further information about Tri-City Raceway Park can be obtained by calling the track office at 724-967-4601, or by e-mailing the office at tricityracewaypark2020@gmail.com. Or, you can check the web at Tri-CityRacewayPark.com, or the Facebook page at Tri City Raceway Park. Tri-City Raceway Park is located just a few miles north of Franklin, PA, at 3430 State Route 417 in Oakland Township.

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