We are hitting that part of the season that is in between major races. You have the 1st half of the season's major shows, a few weeks in between, then finish with some big races as the season winds down. Also, this is the time, if they do, some teams take a week or so off to regroup or rebuild to finish the season. It don't seem right, that we are already seeing ads for season championship nights.
Last Friday at Attica Raceway Park, Night number 15 of the new F.A.S.T series took place. 24 cars, which I think was the lowest F.A.S.T count all season, was ready for action. With rain the past few days leading up to Friday's show, the track was super fast. Brandon Wimmer, Brock Mayes, and Sam Hafertepe Jr won the heat races. Some great heat action was Wimmer and Chris Andrews battled all race long in heat 1. Plus, Hafertepe come from 5th to win heat 3. Taking the under car role for the night, WOO Late Models were the top billing, the sprint B was ready after the late model boys needed the track box scrapped a few times because it had a lip on the cushion. Mark Keegan held on to take the win in the B. The track was still super fast and in great condition. The cushion was still super fast, just a little less tricky after the scrap job. Even after the 50 lap WOO Late Model A Main, the track was still in great shape as the 30 lap sprint car A Main pushed off. To be honest, I totally thought it was going to be a dry slick night but I was way off. F.A.S.T series point leader, Craig Mintz, had the luck of the draw as he was the pole sitter for the event. A hungry Brandon Wimmer started outside of Mintz. As the green waved Mintz took the lead but Wimmer got a great run off 2, just as they entered turn 3, the red flew as Chris Andrews flipped wildly. It looked as Andrews car something as his car just dug in and sent him on a ride. Chris was OK but his car was a write off. Restart, Mintz uses his experience from the first start and takes the lead once again. This time off 2, Mintz runs just a little different, making sue he will lead going into 3. Mintz leads as Wimmer and Hafertepe quickly battle behind him. Lap 4, Cap Henry stops, bringing out the yellow. Restart, its still Mintz as Wimmer, Hafertepe, and now Wilson battle just car lengths behind Mintz. As a few laps past, 11th place started, Tim Shaffer starts to climb closer to the front of the pack. Half-way, Mintz still leads but, Wimmer and Hafertepe are right in his tire tracks. Lap 20, Lee Jacobs stops on the track. This has the making for a real shootout. Mintz is fast but seems to be taking it an easy running the cushion in 3 and 4. Wimmer has tried getting under him several times. Hafertepe has tried high, low, and in between to get past both guys. Wilson in cowboy up as well. Shaffer is super fast and is looking to get back on is winning track. Green, Mintz still leads the freight train. Shaffer gets a run and is closing. Each lap passes and Wimmer and Hafertepe are just a few feet off Mintz's rear bumper. Just a few laps to go, Hafertepe gets a run off 2 on the cushion, just about the same time Wimmer is trying to dive under Mintz to make his move, contract, Wimmer tags Sam and Sam flys off the track. Never lifting the go peddle, Sam flys back on track but, not after losing a few spots. This gives Mintz the breathing room he needed. With the checkered in the air, Mintz takes the win. Wimmer, Shaffer, up from 11th, Wilson, and Hafertepe round out the top 5. There was not a pass for the lead but, don't let that fool you. Wimmer and Hafertepe were glued to Mintz's tail tank for several laps. He is on a roll and having a great season, Mintz is working on showing the local veterans, this young gun is ready to break out and start making a name for himself.
When the announcement was made that F.A.S.T had been formed back in the winter, many wondered what drivers would show, if the concept would work and the fans and sponsors would support it, and if is was just going to be more money added with the same few track champions of the past handful of year taking the extra money. Well let me tell you, it was a excellent concept, it has brought more cars to race and fans to watch locally, and its wide open every night on who is going to win. With Byron Reed holding such a strong hold on the Attica and Fremont titles in recent year, some thought this would be just another extra bonus to Reed. To say how tough the competition has been this season, Reed has not won a F.A.S.T race yet. There has been 9 different winners in 12 actual races, 3 rain outs. The winners list has names on it like Tatnell, Shaffer, Blaney, Kemenah, but it also has names such as locals Brian Smith, Chris Andrews, Lee Jacobs, Brock Mayes, and leading the pack as of now, Craig Mintz. That is right, Craig Mintz. You take a driver that has won a few shows the past handful of years locally, who has been gaining more confidence and experience each year, show him he can win, combine him with a team and a sponsor that is just as hungry to win as he is, and you get 4 F.A.S.T wins, 6 overall, and a 72 point lead going into the final quarter of the season.
Saturday, after chasing many dirt races all season, it was time for a trip to Ft Wayne Indiana's Baer Field Speedway for the HOSS Sprints. HOSS is a winged pavement sprint car series that has good people running it, drivers young, old, and in between, but, they just never get much PR. I didn't get to see her this time but, Deb Swanson always welcomes me to their events if she sees me around. Deb, actually without ever meeting me in person, is the one who starting making the quilts for the HoserVille Ohio auctions in the beginning years. I always like to try and support an event or 2 of theirs each season plus, there is 4 HOSS regulars that live within 10 miles of my house. Of which, many of them visit me quit regularly at the store to do some bench racing, as well as parts shopping. A good field of 26 cars were ready to attack the big 1/2 mile Baer Field Speedway. Geoff Kaiser set quick time of the night. The 3 heats seen some pretty good racing. With the 6 invert, there was some decent passing going on. Only 1 of the heat race winners started on the front row. Eddie Kelly, Dorman Snyder, and Tim Cox won the heats. Tom Patterson's spin was the only thing that slowed any of the heat races. With a quick paced program so far on the night, the B Main was pushed off as the daylight was still shining a bit. Sam Davis and Jim Swain had a good battle in the B with Davis taking the win. Davis, an old Warsaw Speedway dirt regular in the late 80's early 90's, has found a home with the HOSS group in recent years. Going back for a minute, that is what you see at HOSS events. Guys like Davis, Hank Lower, Jerry Caryer, Tim Cox, and Greg Wheeler that have been racing for years on dirt and now finishing their careers on pavement. Then guys and gals like Geoff Kaiser, Jimmy McCune, and Sondi Eden that have raced a handful of years and are happy racing here. Finally, you got young guns like Chris Neuenschwander, Jeff Banyas, Kyle Flint, and Matt Rademaker that are getting the experience of open wheel racing with hopes of moving up the ladder some day. OK, back to the race, lol. HOSS uses some type of drawing system for the A invert, not sure how they do it, but on this night the invert was 9. I like that idea. Sam Davis and Jeff Banyas pace the field for the 30 lap A Main. As the green waved, Banyas got a great start and shot to the lead. Always seeming super fast when all 20 cars are out there for the A Main, the laps were clicking off quickly. Banyas opened a 8 car lengths lead within the 1st 5 laps. Clear track and green flag racing allowed for guys like Cox and Kaiser to make charges towards the front. By lap 10, the pack is getting ready for some traffic. Banyas handled traffic well but, Cox was closing quickly. Within a lap or 2, Cox was glued to Banyas's tail tank. Almost hitting a few times in traffic, the leaders were nose to tail, in and out of traffic. They battle this way for the next handful of laps as Hank Lower, Troy DeCaires, and Chris Neuenschwander was using this to catch the leaders. Lap 20, Swain slows bringing out the caution. With Cox hounding Banyas the previous 10 laps, the restart was going to be key in this one. Green, Banyas gets a good start and leads into 1 and 2. Cox gets a great run off 2 and uses his momentum to make a huge move going into 3 and takes the lead. Banyas don't slips to far back as they cross the stripe. Kaiser is working from 9th and makes the move of the race the next lap going into 3. Geoff slips past DeCaires and Lower both in the corner with an excellent dip and dive pavement slip job. Meanwhile, Cox is in clean air and is hooked up, putting a whipping on the field the past few laps. Lap 25, Chad Atkinson spins for a yellow. That was the only thing slowing Cox as he had opened up a half a straight away lead in just a few laps. 5 to go, its all Cox. Tim motors away and takes the win. Banyas, Kaiser, Lower, and Neuenschwander round out the top 5. A pretty decent race and some good runs by some of the young guns.
Sam Hafertepe has dropped off the WOO tour and will be racing around the mid-west for most of the remaining season. This could be, note could be, the start of much more of the silly season beginning already. Several rumors, that are just rumors so far, are floating around already about the rest of 09 and the start of 2010. If I catch any real info, I will past it on. As of now, this Saturday, you can catch yours truly, helping Lisa Hammer fill in on Dwight Allen's Racing World show live this week. That should be fun.
FRIDAY: FAST Attica OH
SATURDAY: FAST Fremont OH, WOO KC(OH) Speedway, MTS Eldora, HOSS Illiana IN, MSCS Haubstadt IN