KNOXVILLE, IA (August 4, 2022): Sam Hafertepe, Jr. opened the 32nd Knoxville 360 Nationals with a dominant win over the defending race champion, Giovanni Scelzi. Hafertepe assumed control on lap six, moments before the only caution flag of the race, eliminating any chance for the early leader, Thomas Kennedy, to mount a counterattcck in lapped traffic. Kennedy was no match for Hafertepe in clean air.
It was the second year in a row that Hafertepe won the first preliminary for the 360 Sprint Cars.
Speaking to the pitside reporter, Wade Aunger, Hafertepe said, “earlier today you said I had a good looking car, and I said I didn’t know if it was fast, too. But it was really good tonight. I didn’t show very much in qualifying,” but what he did show was good enough to earn a quality starting position for the twenty lapper that concluded the night.
Thomas Kennedy had the pole, and beside him was Garrett Williamson. In row two, it was Scelzi and Hafertepe. Cory Eliason and Ayrton Gennetten rolled away from row three. Aaron Reutzel and Justin Henderson started in the fourth row. The fifth had Jason Martin paired up with Matt Juhl. Chase Randall had Corey Day as his dancing partner in row five. Anthony Macri lined up inside of McKenna Haase in the sixth row.
Kennedy entered turn one on the top and he fought off an inside charge from Williamson on the first lap. Hafertepe was lurking in third, followed by Scelzi, Gennetten, Eliason, Reutzel, and Randall. Kennedy opened up a slight margin over Williamson in the early laps, while Hafertepe took the measure of the second place car. Hafertepe moved into second just as Kennedy put lap five up on the board.
The Texan, Hafertepe, closed in on the Canadian pilot quickly and took the lead coming through turn two. He was scored as the leader on lap six and soon thereafter, the caution came out. That gave Hafertepe a clear track.
Kennedy lined up second for the restart, with Williamson, Scelzi, Reutzel, Gennetten, Eliason, Henderson, Randall, and Macri following.
By the halfway mark, Williamson moved into second, but he was a good distance behind the leader, who just seemed to be on cruise control. Kennedy still held the third position, but he was beginning to struggle. Scelzi was pressuring him for third, while Reutzel and Gennetten battled for fifth.
Scelzi got going and climbed into second by lap fourteen. Williamson was still third, but Reutzel passed Kennedy for the top five.
When the checkers fell, it was Hafertepe by 1.9 seconds over Scelzi. Reutzel was another two seconds back in third. Williamson and Kennedy completed the top five. Gennetten, Randall, Juhl, Eliason, and Parker Price-Miller made up the top ten.
Macri fell out of the top ten on the restart and he had to fight hard to return to eleventh at the finish. Right behind him was the hard charger of the night, Austin McCarl, who came from twenty-first to twelfth.
“The car felt good, it just took me too long to get going,” Scelzi noted. He explained that he began to run the inside line harder in turns three and four as the race went on and that he moved to the top at the opposite end of the track.
Reutzel expressed a contrarian view of the preliminary night racing. “You almost don’t want to win these prelim nights, because it means that you may not have qualified well. We qualified good, ran second in our heat, started seventh and got third, so we had a good points night and we might be first.” As it turned out, Reuzel was correct about the points after night one, as he was indeed top point driver on the night, by eight over Gennetten. However, the second half of the field will compete on Friday and there are plenty of quality cars in the remainder of teh field.
The top ten after night one are: Reutzel, Gennetten, Hafertepe, Scelzi, Kennedy, Eliason, Williamson, Henderson, Randall, and Juhl. All of them are likely to lock into the A Main for Saturday night.
The heat winners this evening were Scelzi, Randall, Price-Miller, Day, and Devin Cline. The evening’s fastest qualifier, Shane Golobic, trashed his car on the first lap of the first heat when he went over a wheel and crashed hard into the wall between turns three and four. Golobic’s time was 16.299. Likewise, the second fastest qualifier, Sawyer Phillips, was an early retiree from heat two with a terminal engine problem.
McCarl won the B Main and the C Main winner was Ryan Leavitt.
Reutzel Richer at Knoxville
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.
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.
Brown Bags Second Prelim at Knoxville
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.
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.
Hoffman and Fielding Reach the Top in Modified and Pro Stock Points, Respectively; Flick Closing In 410 Sprints; Maskal Still Ahead in Minis
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.