By DREW PELLMAN
It’s officially that time of year again — the reason why area dirt track fans save their vacation days for the final week of June every summer! The 32nd Annual Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek kicks off this evening at Williams Grove Speedway.
One year ago it was Danny Dietrich capturing the Speedweek title — the second time the driver of the Gary Kauffman No. 48 machine has accomplished that feat in his career. He did so without winning a race during the 10 races in 10 days schedule, but his consistency was more than enough to come out on top at the end of a grueling stretch of racing. Of the eight races that were completed (two were rained out), Dietrich was a top-five car in seven of them. He finished 2nd twice, 3rd three times, and 4th two more times.
Dietrich — also the 2016 PA Speedweek champion — is fresh off a successful Ohio Speedweek campaign with the All-Star Circuit of Champions. The Gettysburg racer finished third in series points behind Justin Peck and Tyler Courtney, and picked up a pair of victories — one at Attica Raceway Park and the other at Limaland Motorsports Park. In his career, “Double D” has secured 11 PA Speedweek victories, tied for fourth all-time with Stevie Smith and trailing only Lance Dewease (31 wins), Fred Rahmer (30 wins) and Greg Hodnett (26 wins).
Rahmer, who retired following the 2013 racing season, is known as the undisputed “King of Speedweek” with 13 titles (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012). Hodnett followed that mark with five Speedweek championships (2002, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2018), and Lucas Wolfe (2007, 2014, 2017, 2019) is the leading active driver with four titles to his name. After that, Dewease (1997, 1999, 2001) has won the week three times, Dietrich twice (2016, 2021), while single championships have been won by Stevie Smith (2015), Keith Kauffman (1996), Steve Smith (1991) and Kyle Larson (2020).
Following Williams Grove this evening (June 24th), Speedweek will shape up like this:
Saturday, June 25: Lincoln Speedway
Sunday, June 26: BAPS Motor Speedway
Monday, June 27: Lincoln Speedway
Tuesday, June 28: Grandview Speedway
Wednesday, June 29: Port Royal Speedway
Thursday, June 30: Hagerstown Speedway
Friday, July 1: Williams Grove Speedway
Saturday, July 2: Port Royal Speedway
Sunday, July 3: Selinsgrove Speedway
Last year, Dewease began the week with a victory at Williams Grove to kick off the series. Brent Marks won at Lincoln and BAPS the next two nights. Justin Peck scored the win in the return trip to Lincoln before Kyle Larson got on the board at Grandview and Port Royal the next two evenings. Hagerstown saw its scheduled show rain out, and then Dewease completed the sweep at Williams Grove. Port Royal’s second event was also won by Mother Nature before Marks capped a three-win week with a victory at Selinsgrove.
What will 2022 bring? Well, as Williams Grove track announcer Bruce Ellis would say, “We’re gonna find out shortly.”
Happy Speedweek, race fans. I’ll see you there!