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Sunday, July 5 – The plan was to get up and go to church then afterwards met Jeff Alhum and his friend Russ at the Pizza Hut at the intersection of Route 100 and Interstate 78. No we were not meeting to eat pizza. It was here we would let one of the vehicles and team up to head northwest to Selinsgrove Speedway. Of course we did have a side stop at Ester’s Diner at Exit 8 off Interstate 78 where we all ate too much. The ride to Selinsgrove went quickly as we bantered back and forth about racing and before you knew it we were pulling into the parking lot at 5:15. Tonight was the final night of Pennsylvania Sprint Week and the weather was perfect; right around 80 degrees, low humidity and close to a cloudless sky. We like sitting in the covered grandstand and went to find a seat on the turn four end of the wooden icon. Blankets covered almost all the seats and we found ourselves in row two. In addition to us Allan Brown, publisher of the National Speedway Directory and his friend Bruce from Ohio would be joining us.
Tonight the only cars on the dance card were the 410 sprints and 26 cars graced the pit area. Greg Hodnett was already declared the winner of the Sprint Week points based on his stellar performances and finishes earlier in the week. The scheduled starting time was 7:30 and exactly at 7:30 the green dropped on the first sprint to take time. The track was slow tonight with no one coming even near to the track record of 16.207 set back on 9/14/2003. At 7:52 when time trials ended it was Chad Kemenah setting fast time with a time of 17.470. Kemenah is from Findlay, Ohio and came in to run Sprint Week in the Sorokach Trucking #35. He won Grandview and was a factor in every race he entered. He pulled four for the inversion so tonight he would be starting in 4th if the second, third and fourth place times qualified in their heats. They ran three 10 lap heats and qualified 6 from each. This only left 8 cars for the B main and 1 of them was scratched with a blown engine. The B was shortened to 8 laps and only 6 cars were running in the end of the race. The field was set for the 30 lap A main paying $5,000 to win and it wasn’t even 9:00.
When I see a good show with plenty of passing and exciting competition at Williams Grove that is what I expect. When I see a good show with plenty of passing and exciting competition at Lincoln that is what I expect. When I see a good show with plenty of passing and exciting competition at Selinsgrove I am surprised. Selinsgrove is a big ½ mile track and they are plenty fast but sometimes plenty fast leads to a strung out field and no side by side action. I do not go to Selinsgrove with the same expectations I have as when I go to Williams Grove or Lincoln. Tonight’s feature was the unexpected. Although the track got plenty dusty there was still plenty of good racing and close competition. Brian Leppo jumped out front at the drop of the green and looked like he would be tough to beat but on lap 22 fourth starting Kemenah took over the top spot in turn one. Shortly there after Trevor Lewis, a URC regular driving the Nace #6, moved into second and was in hot pursuit of Kemenah. All this time Sprint Week Point Champion Greg Hodnett was charging up through the field. He started 14th and by now was challenging Mark Smith for fourth position. There was a lot of really good racing around the big ½ mile. Lewis was closing in on Kemenah when Dave Gravel flipped on the backstretch in front of the leader on the final circuit. The red came out and there would be one last shot at the leader Kemenah. Maybe on a green, white, checkered you might have time to set someone up and pass them but a green, checkered is tough. After the final circuit was run it was Kemenah in victory lane for the second time in 6 days followed by Lewis, Hodnett, polesitter Doug Esh and early leader Brian Leppo. All was complete by 9:53.
The part that still amazes me is when Chad Kemenah ran Central Pennsylvania tracks with the All Stars or World of Outlaws he sometimes did not even qualify for the main event, let alone win. The Sorokach Trucking car was formerly driven by Alan Cole and yes he won some events now and then at Port Royal Speedway, but you never thought of him as a major threat to win every race. Now you put these two unlikely people together for Pennsylvania Sprint Week and you get two wins and he was leading by half of a straightaway when he dropped out at the Grove on Friday. Combined they are a force to reckon with and what I think is the neat part is for the most part they are going to continue to run here in Central PA.
We said our goodbyes to Allan Brown and Bruce as they were heading back to Ohio and Michigan and then the four of us piled back into Russ’s Lincoln Town car for the ride back to the Lehigh Valley. All in all it was a nice day: good weather, good friends and good racing.
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