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Dana Blair 's Column


This column canít even start off by saying that winter is over and it is now race season. It seems as though this season is off to a more prolonged start than usual. While a few races have been able to sneak past grumpy ol' Mother Nature, a lot more have been lost to her cantankerous ways.

Races arenít the only thing lost to start this race season. I have to start off on a sad note this time around. Many of you from the western PA area know my dad and his group of friends that traveled and sat together at races from Ohio to Central PA, but especially at Lernerville, Mercer, and Tri-City. With dadís health failing he isnít able to get to the races anymore, but the rest of the gang still does. On Saturday April 16th, two of them went to Sharon. On the way home from the races, Simon ďJuniorĒ Berdar suffered a fatal heart attack as they were going through Sharpsville, PA. Bill Poole was the one driving and was able to pull into the city police station immediately, but it was too late. Iím just glad he was able to get one last race in and didnít have to suffer. The gang is now one man short.

This season has already had itsí share of things happening. From Steve Kinser having a new series lined up to run if their DIRT contract issues didnít get resolved, to Kevin Swindell flipping out of the park at Eldora while lining up for the A-Main. What made Kevinís even stranger was that they had just bought his way into the A-Main after he finished fifth in the B-Main. Sammy was even up to his own old tricks as he ran his pit buggy into a car on the track that had tangled with Kevin at a USCS asphalt show. A DQ for Kevin was the result of that action.

Craig Dollansky actually held the point lead for a little while over Steve, but the ďPickle GuyĒ (car is green and his mechanic is Gerkin) is now back out front and won three in a row before Daryn Pittman stopped the streak. That win gave Australian car owner Reeve Kruck his first win with the Outlaws. Challenges to Kingís throne are rare and short lived, but maybe Craig, or even someone else, might be able to reel him in a little closer this year. Lasoski hasnít been as strong of a contender as usual so far and Schatz doesnít hit his stride until mid to late summer.

The All Star northern opener at Attica once again proved to be a great way to open the season for the group. There was a lot of concern as to how this weekend was going to shake out due to the just completed reconfiguration of the track. They took the top 18Ē off the track and every one, myself included, was concerned that it would make it a bottom only track. Those fears were short lived as the racing was great both nights. Stevie Smith had his easter egg dialed in both nights, but running over Dean Jacobs right rear the second night cost him a sweep of the weekend.

Craig Mintz sure has something figured out at Attica so far this year as he is making a habit out of running up front and coming up through the pack to the front. It sure looks like he should find his way to the horse track in front of the crowd this season on a Friday night.

A lot of northern Ohio sprint car fans are anxiously awaiting the return of the Outlaws to Attica this summer. Glad to see that Janet was finally able to make that happen this year. She had wanted to have them in before but politics (in racing? No, never! Cough cough) kept the little speedplant off the schedule. It should make for a great night of racing.

The other much anticipated sprint car race in Ohio this year was the Ohio Challenge at Jim Nierís K-C Raceway. The billing of being the Outlaws vs the All Stars had a lot of people fired up for this race. They were even more fired up after it didnít happen. And no one is saying why it didnít happen, other than the Outlaw press release that claimed rain in the afternoon forced the cancellation. Rain was the easy reason to use, but not the honest one. People camped out at the speedway reported very minimal rain at the track. Through the grapevine I was told that many of the teams were in Indy on Friday night and wanted to officials to call the show then, based on the forecast, so that they could go run Knoxville on Saturday night. As it turned out, two teams did go to Knoxville, Terry McCarl and Brooke Tatnell. Now since these two are not contracted drivers in the Mean 15, they didnít have to worry about any legal ramifications. They would have been subjected to the Outlaws point penalty rules if the race had been run and they werenít there and raced at Knoxville. The race was called just before 2:00 in the afternoon, so if those two were close enough to drive in to K-C before race time, there is no way they could have turned and made it to Knoxville, so they had to have made their decisions long before the race was called. Did they know something that others didnít? Were they taking a calculated risk? Did they not care about the risk? Other teams were reported to have been witnessed in places 2-3 hours away from the track in early afternoon. If so, were they forcing the officials to call the show off due to the fear of not having all their teams there? If so, looks like the drivers just trumped the contracts. If not, was it that they didnít want to cause more unrest by having to enforce the contracts against the drivers that didnít show? Another story making the rounds is that they called it early so they wouldnĎt have to pay tow money. Could that really be the reason for it? Hard to tell, but it seems to be a safe bet that there was a lot more to this cancellation than just the weather. Maybe the grapevine will produce some more information on this subject somewhere down the line.

It didnít take Dean Jacobs long to get the Pullins Motorsports car running back at the front of the pack. The Butler, Michigan All Star show saw Dean lead every lap to collect the win. The All Star show at Attica on May 27 will see Dean introduce another Jacobs to the world of sprint cars, as his oldest son, Cody, will be behind the wheel of Deanís #27 he ran last year on the All Stars. A lot of people remember Cody from his younger days when he would stand behind the flagman and flag each race with his own set of custom made race flags. Once he got enough to go the pits, he put the flags down in order to go help work on his dadís cars. Now he wants to try it out behind the wheel of one of the most wicked types of race cars out there. Itís pretty cool that it will happen at Attica too as Janet has always been one of Deanís biggest supporters. Good luck Cody!

Young Kyle Wilson, son of driver Rick Wilson, picked up his first win with the Patriot Sprints. The Canadian Wilsons are some real throttle mashers with the New York based 360 circuit. This circuit keeps growing and getting better every year. Owner, Tom Taber, has made some real progress with this group and the 2006 season looks to have even more in store. The Patriots are coming to Central PA Speedway in Clearfield, PA on June 3 and return to Mercer Raceway Park in Mercer, PA the following night. This will be two great nights of 360 racing.

While we sit here and ponder if a hearse carrying a corpse can use the car pool lane, your news, notes, and other racing info can be sent to me using the e-mail link at www.blairsigns.com.

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