Monday, September 18, 2017

King's Chance Pays Off At Thunder Mountain In ULMS Action

Alyssa Knapp Photo

Brookville PA (September 15, 2018) Russ King has been on a tear in the second half of 2017 that has seen him at or near the top of the regional and national Late Model events he has entered. And on Friday night at Thunder Mountain Speedway, he maintained that momentum by scoring a thrilling victory in the 30-lap, $3,000 to win Eric Witherite Memorial for the ULMS Late Models. The Bristolville, Ohio native and Jared Miley of South Park Pa brought the 24 car starting line up to the green on a very fast and racy surface. After the initial start was negated, following a mid-pack eight car pile up in turn two, King jumped out front while sixth starting Alex Ferree of Saxonburg, PA moved to second with a powerful inside move. Following a lap 7 restart, Ferree made the move pay off again as he managed to find a way around and take the lead away from King.

Ferree held the lead the lead until a late race restart that saw  King throw his car to the outside with precision and purpose entering turn one while emerging with the lead coming out of turn two. 15th starting Matt Lux of Franklin Pa was busy putting on his own impressive run to the front as he entered the top 5 as the laps wound down.  But King would not be caught on this night despite the best attempts of Ferree who took a strong second place. Following King and Ferree across the line was Waterford Pa' s Dave Hess Jr, Miley and Lux.

" I went too hard on tire selection to run with Ferree on the bottom." King said following the victory. When asked about the late race heroics that propelled him to the lead. "We were rolling around under caution later in the race it packed the top back down and I decided to just send it."  King's plans for the rest of 2017 are "a race by race deal."

Ferree was optimistic post race, and said he "hooked a rut" which allowed King to get the lead on the late race restart. "Russ was good tonight and he had the momentum on the high side "  Ferree and the Joe Corrado team will also compete at annual Steel City Stampede at Lernerville Speedway in October.

Alysa Knapp Photo

30-Lap $3,000 to win Eric Witherite Memorial ULMS Late Models

Russ King, Alex Ferree, Dave Hess Jr, Jared Miley, Matt Lux, Charles Powell Jr, Doug Eck, Greg Oakes, Dave Blazavich, Breyton Santee, Robby Marherfka, Bob Dorman, Damian Bidwell, John Weaver, Gale Huey, Paul Kot, Kenny Schaffer, George Lee, Andrew Wylie, Matt Latta, Denny Fenton, Brady Wonderling, Waylon Wagner, Andy Boozel

Cautions: 6
Heat Race Winners: Jared Miley, Alex Ferree, Russ King
BMain Winners: Andrew Wylie, Waylon Wagner
Quick Time: Russ King
Hard Charger: Matt Lux

In support division action Bruce Artsberger of Rockton Pa drive his #101 to a very convincing win in Street Stock action.  Jon Lee of Mahaffery Pa  collected win #11 on the year in Limited Late Model competition, and Ray Hicock Jr drove to a win in the Strictly Stock main event.  Mike Kauffman  was the Quad winner and Mark Weldon in the Side by Side feature.

2017 Pennsylvania Super Late Model Power Rankings: Week 26

Hey there race fans, you're probably wondering where week 25 went. I have decided to go to every two weeks since specials season has started and there's only a race or two each weekend. I announced this on Twitter, but you may have missed it.

This proved to be a pretty smart decision, and a pretty good amount of points were scored over these last two weekends of racing action, resulting in all but two of the top ten scoring points over the two week period. It saves me from coming up with creative ways to change how I explain a driver scored no points. I mean, there's really only so many ways you can say it, and if I had to say it like 6 or 8 times out of the top 10, it would prove to be some pretty tedious reading. See, I have your best interests at heart.

Now that I have explained all that, let's get to the brass tacks of it all. Jeff Rine managed to slightly increase his lead over Alex Ferree for the season title. With the racing weekends winding down, it's looking more and more like he's going to hold on. There are no guarantees in racing, though, and if Ferree manages to get hot to close the season out, it could definitely get interesting.

Anyways, let's go ahead and get to those rankings.

1. Jeff Rine************, 127 points. Jeff got the win at Port Royal last Saturday.

2. Alex Ferree**********, 106 points. Alex ran second at Thunder Mountain this past Friday.

3. Coleby Frye***, 73 points. Coleby came home second at Port Royal last Saturday.

4. Charlie Powell*********, 71 points. Charlie ran third this past Saturday at Hummingbird

5. Max Blair******, 70 points. Max failed to score any points over the last two weeks.

6. Michael Lake*******, 64 points. Michael got a second at Roaring Knob this past Friday.

7. Paul Kot******, 54 points. Paul got the win last Saturday at Hummingbird, and came home second at the same place this past Saturday.

8. Jared Miley*****, 53 points. Jared ran fourth at Thunder Mountain this past Friday, and followed that up with a win at Hummingbird Saturday.

9. Dave Hess Jr****, 52 points. Dave was third under the checkers at Thunder Mountain this past Friday.

10. Matt Cosner***, 51 points. Matt wasn't able to score any points over the last two weeks.

And that's the top ten for this two week period. Check back in two week's time to see what happened after the next couple week's action.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Friese's Spirit And Family Have Helped Forge A Great Career, And Have Helped Him Heal

Garry Ferguson Photo

Almost anybody would have understood if Chambersburg, PA Super Late Model driver Devin Friese would have parked his 20 year driving career for good. There are simply more important things than racing. But sometimes, the things that are most important to us are found within the sport, including the family beyond our genetic family which is a huge part of what racing really is. That family, often helps to heal us in rather amazing fashion sometimes. And so it was in the case of Friese who recently suffered the tragic loss of his fiancé on July 9th of this year. Friese took time off from driving following his loss, and when he returned, learned about the power of extended racing family and how it can lift people in need.

“I had some misfortune this year, my fiancĂ© Kelly had just passed away and we just finally started racing here again,” Friese said. “We missed several weeks this year and we’ve raced the least amount this year that we ever have to this point.”

But beyond the recent tragedy, is a story about a driver who has quietly gone about the business of being one of the most consistent drivers in his geography without much in the way of swagger, or over inflated ego. Winning a feature event virtually every year since he’s been racing might have given him a reason to exhibit such behavior. But that behavior is not to be found. A conversation with Friese reveals a man who is at peace with whatever happens with racing going forward, and is completely grateful for every single memory it has ever given him and his family. It is a family that has stepped up to offer him prayers and encouragement in a very trying time for him.

“My mom and dad took us to Hagerstown, and watched the races and so forth and as we grew older, we kind of got away from it a little bit, and in the late 80’s and early 90’s dad got back into it as a car owner. And he brought all us boys into it. We started going to the pits more often and started hanging around the car that he owned, and we did that up through the mid 90’s. And then probably in ’95, dad owned a car and had Brent Smith as the driver. It was a limited class and Brent wanted to move up and dad didn’t really want to, so dad started driving. He would have been 51 or 52 at that time, but it something that he always wanted to do, and he did that for three years and he was involved in a bad accident at Hagerstown and broke two vertebrae in his back.  And that’s how I originally got started. We doctored him up through all of that and he wanted to sell everything, he was done, and I asked if I could drive.  So he and mom talked and by ’97 I was driving and my first full year was in ’98, it was called a Late Model Sportsman, a limited class on two barrels and I ran them for two years.”

Drivers take different amounts of time to find competence, then consistency, and finally consistent podium finishes. No two drivers are alike. But perhaps what make’s Friese understated career achievements even more impressive, is the fact that he seemingly proved himself to be a very talented driver from the start. He hit the ground running so to speak, and did so in a geography that has proven to have some of the deepest fields in the country.

“It got to the point that for the money we were spending we could be competitive running local shows at Winchester and Hagerstown and so forth, so we made the jump to Super Lates in 2000. My first year in Late Models we won two races at Hagerstown which was a tough place to win races and still is to this day, and the late Rodney Franklin who passed away a few years ago of cancer, took me under his wing so to speak and taught me a lot about racing and driving. I still talk to his family to this day. I give him the most credit for helping me along.”

And Friese is more than just a wheelman. The 43 year old home builder took it upon himself to learn the car inside and out and personally takes on tasks in the shop as his schedule allows. But his family is with him every step of the way, and has been since he started out.

“It’s definitely a team, one thing we’ve done and that my dad has always strived for us to do, is for this to be a family deal. We’ve had Mike Price help us out the last few years, but I’m very involved in the process.  We run Masterbuilt Race Cars and as far as the nuts and bolts and general mechanics and putting bodies on and so forth, I can do myself. My brother Trevor does all the valves and adjusts the motors, I don’t fool around too much with that, but everything else I’m involved in. It is a struggle and this year it’s probably shown up than it has in a long time. For years it was wherever we were picking to go race at, I would literally pull in to the shop, jump out of my vehicle, grab my clothes, jump in the truck and Trevor would have everything ready for me. And when we brought Mike on board, it was pretty much the same way. It’s hard for me to get there during the week to work on stuff that I wanted to do, I just couldn’t do it because of the home business.  We had a slowdown as everybody did from 2005 to 2008, but since then it has been pretty good in this area as far as home building goes. We do 30 to 40 homes a year, so it’s been very busy.”

Friese called Hagerstown Speedway home at the start of his Super Late Model career, but quickly found that travelling would be a big part of his future. He’s made his way to tracks as far as Tennessee, The Dirt Track at Charlotte, and most everywhere in between at one point or another.

Jen Wetzel Photo

“We’ve been fortunate to get our share of wins. But I am at peace if I quit racing today.  I think we made somewhat of an impact for somebody that races the way we did it which was a very family oriented racing package that we try to put out there every day because that’s what we do. Within my area, within a three hour radius, there are a lot of tracks and a lot of good tracks. Places like Port Royal and Dog Hollow and so forth. They’re good tracks, fun tracks and racy tracks which makes it nice for me. I was never one to follow points much. The few years that we did do points we were very successful. I always like hitting the big shows within three or four hours of us.  If I quit racing today, I would be satisfied with the tracks that I got to in my career.”

So he set out to make his own way, wherever it took him calling no one particular place home, while making his mark on the Mid-Atlantic Super Late Model Scene. Friese toured with the now defunct Three States Flyers, and became a fixture at the annual Appalachian Mountain Speed Week. And he would manage wins and impressive finishes virtually everywhere he went, including top 10 finishes when the World of Outlaw Late Models or Lucas Oil Late Model Series were making stops close to home. However, two seasons brought his profile to a new level. In 2011 and 2015, he won tour championships with the UFO Late Model Series which both took him to a new level of racing and how to compete on another level, and how also helped cement his legacy as one of the best drivers in the area.

“Those years were very special to me. We never really liked to commit to much, maybe the first few years at Hagerstown but that was really it. 2011 was nice because my brother was the crew chief and it was me and him on the road together and that was our first championship in a touring series. The first one is always sweet no matter if it’s a local track or a series like that. The 2011 title we had locked up going into the final race. We knew there was no way we were going to be caught, so it was like the pressure was off.  The 2015 championship went down to the wire. We went into that last race weekend at Dog Hollow just seven points apart. There were two complete shows, a Friday night and a Saturday night, so it was a dog fight to say the least. The first night we wound up winning, but Yoder (Dylan) got a top five and was still only a few points back. I finished one spot ahead of him in the final race. So that one was more satisfying, we had to race for it. It went to the last few laps of the season to pull that one off.”

Derek Bobik Photo

 He fills his schedule with special event dates where he can these days, since there is currently no regional touring series in his area, and laments the rising costs associated with racing at a high level.
“The regional series have dissolved around here, which is a shame for obvious reasons. As much as I love the sport and we all do, I think the sport is in serious trouble. There’s just more people getting out of it than getting into it and I think a lot of it is cost driven. We’re still racing for pretty much the same purses as we always have and the cars, motors and shocks and stuff are just going through the roof. I’ve always said with any type of racing, no matter what class you want to race in, race what you can afford! I’ve seen too many guys in my career that were good limited racers and moved up to supers and they really struggled which was a shame. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve always had parents that were willing to spend the money to get me in good stuff to go at, so I’ve been very blessed. But there is no shame in racing what you can afford and be good in that level of racing.  The costs are just through the roof and until they get it under control I think the sport really is in serious trouble.”

It is hard to say which way Friese decides to go next. He’ll take the off season and talk with his family. But whatever he decides, he has put together a brilliant career full of feature wins, two tour titles and done so with class and modesty. Few could blame him for calling it a day. However, in making the decision to not take that path following his loss, he found out just how deep his racing family is and it has helped him start to find peace and a new perspective altogether. Friese’s toughest competitors from over the years, have been among those who have reached out and offered support, yet again proving how a racing geography is more than a community, it’s a family.

“I don’t know where I’m headed down the road here. I don’t know how much more I’ll race this year to be honest. Losing Kelly is still too new and I don’t know what next year will hold. We’ll re-evaluate it over the winter and either keep on going or sell everything and get out and at this point it’s just too early to say. What I just went through takes this to a different level with losing Kelly. Drivers that we would have had a falling out with before over racing, which is just absolutely silly, those drivers have reached out to me after losing Kelly. They were thinking of me and praying for me and it brings it all into a perspective. The whole racing community is such a tight knit group, and if you’re not involved in it, you don’t understand it. But when you are involved in it, it really hits home. It’s a shame it took something like this for me.  I always knew it and I always thought it, but to actually feel it from so many people, it’s pretty touching and pretty overwhelming. The people are what keeps me going back. It’s the drivers, the car owners, the fans and promoters, just everybody. It’s just a tight, family.”

So what does the future hold for Friese? Time will tell. And in the meantime, he’ll see if the next generation of Friese’s might be ready to take over the driving, just like his father before him.

“My son Kelby is 17 now and he just loves it and I just love going to the races with him now. He’s involved on the car now. Everyday he’s like ‘I don’t know dad, maybe you’re getting a little old, maybe it’s time for me to get in’, so I don’t know. I remember Rodney Franklin when he talked about quitting. I asked him how do you know when you’re done? He said, you’ll know, you’ll just know when you’re at that point. And I used to say ‘whatever’, and I’ve told Kelby about that and said maybe I might be getting done. I can’t say it yet, but tomorrow I might say that I’m done, why don’t we just go and get a boat, we could have more fun. But he doesn’t hear any parts of that, he wants to go crate racing so I don’t know what I’ll do with him, but he’s all for it.” Friese said with a chuckle. “He wants to do it but it’ll be a family decision and we’ll all talk about it.”

One can only imagine that Kelby is in great hands, Friese and family are great hands to be in.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

2017 World 100 Pick'Em Final Standings

And now we have the final standings! Thank you all for participating in our World 100 Pick'Em Contest! And congratulations to our winner Tim Brown (Brownt32), and our podium finishers Jeff Burkey and Earl Jackson!

We hope you enjoyed playing and will see you in October for our 3rd Annual Super DIRTWeek Pick'Em Contest!  Thanks everyone!