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It is the day before the Fourth of July and I had already been told our office was closing at 1:30. Unfortunately Bruce had to work until 3:00 so I would stay at work until 2:15 and then head out to pick him up and we would be off for the long racing weekend. Every year we travel into Central Pennsylvania to attend the Pennsylvania Sprint Week and there is usually a modification along the way. Tonight the Port Royal Speedway was the sight for the sprints and they were also returning to the Port for a Saturday show. We did not see the necessity of going to the Port twice so we decided earlier we would head to Susquehanna Speedway to catch a night of the 600cc Micro Sprint Speed Week. It seems every year the forecast is the same, chance of afternoon and evening showers and tonight it did not look good.
Bruce books a lot of our hotel rooms on Priceline and tonight we were staying at the Yorktowne Hotel in York, a short 15 minute ride from the track. The hotel is an 11 story Renaissance Revival-style hotel with 20 foot ceiling and ornate chandeliers. It in right in the middle of historic York and looks nothing like the Days Inn. It is beautiful and Bruce was able to book it through Priceline for $60 plus tax. If you go to the hotel website to book this room the rates start at $125 per night. We checked into the hotel prior to going to the track and for a minute I did not care if it rained, but I digress.
We pulled onto the parking lot at 7:00 and the cars were completing their final warm-ups. The skies were blacker then I had seen them in a long time. There were several fans waiting outside the gate trying to make a decision if they should pay and go in or wait. I am not a gambler but if it did not pour rain on us it would be a miracle. They starting pushing off the first ARDC Midget heat so we plunked down our money and in we went certain it was only a matter of time. The first of three midget heats took the green at 7:15.
Now comes my personal beef with ARDC. On the final lap of the first heat Mike Miller spun in turn one. The leaders were already heading into turn three and would be getting the checkered as they came out of four, but the caution was thrown enabling Miller to restart at the rear and get a quailfying spot on the last lap. One heat race later going into turn one on the final lap Michelle Miller, Mike’s daughter, got into the back of the final qualifying car of Doug Dodson spinning him and she continued on in the final qualifying position. My question is why no caution as in the previous heat. I sure hope this is not the return to catering to the Miller family. Because I never understood the reason for it in the past. ARDC has come a long way in the past few years. Don’t mess it up.
The micro sprints wer 60 strong in the pits and they ran 7 qualifying heats and a C and B main. There were also the Keystone legend cars on hand and their count was 34. In all there were over 125 cars in the pits.
Back to the weather, there was a slight drizzle at the start of the second midget heat and a fierce wind picked up. It swirled dirt in the pit area and blew down a few standing signs but then it stopped, for now. The clouds overhead were almost frightening but the racing went on. Soon a friend came over and told us the races at Port Royal were cancelled due to heavy storms. We made the correct decision to come to Susquehanna.
Every now and then a few drops would fall but then stop. Our good friend ,Stephanie Stevens, who drives an ARDC Midget and received a bad concussion two weeks back in North Carolina, came up and we were talking when all of a sudden we saw two extreme stocks on the track. They were running a 10 lap feature for WOW (women on wheels). There were only two cars with the leader lapping the second place car and all the time rain drops continued to fall. Now they had to interview the two drivers in victory lane. Bruce’s question was what do you ask the second place driver who got lapped in a 10 lap event. The crowd was getting a bit restless at this point as it seemed we might not get to see what we all came for and with the exception of family and friend of the two being interviewed it was not WOW.
The 20 lap micro sprint feature was first and it was spun off without much to do. My favorite, Mike Dicely, was in the first caution and out for the event. One notable in the event was USAC Sprint & Midget driver Brady Bacon from Indiana. He came in for the entire Micro Sprint Week but did not have too much to show for it. I am not sure exactly were he finished tonight but I think it was around 8th. A light rain fell during the entire event and we were getting worried. Ben Murphy picked up the win followed by Dwayne Gutshall and Brian Guyett.
The ARDC 20 lap feature started in the rain and we were all hoping no one would get upside down or they would lose the track. The midgets did what they had to do and ran off the event non-stop. Steve Buckwalter put on a show has he came from his 10th starting position and took the lead from polesitter Randy Monroe coming down for the white flag. It was a enjoyable event with Scott Zipp following Buckwalter and Monroe accross the line. They made a good decision and decided to skip victory lane interviews and bring out the legend cars immediately as the rain continued to fall. The also put on a good show with a photo finish. Geremey Sheaffer passed Tom Mayberry for the lead with two laps to go but Mayberry battled back and they were side by side at the finiah line. Sheaffer won by less then a foot. It was 11:20 when all was complete and the rain stopped. It surely was a miracle that all the events got in and as we drove back down the Interstate to our hotel in York it poured on us.
The weather looks very iffy in central Pennsylvania for the rest of the weekend but hopefully the next blog will be tomoorow morning from Williams Grove.
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