By Steve Inch
Sarver, PA (June 17, 2010) It’s coming! It’s been a long time coming, but it is coming! Soon, but not soon enough! The wait is equally thrilling and agonizing. You’ve waited for something your whole career, your whole life. And now it’s finally right there; it’s tangible. It’s so close you can actually, almost, touch it!
That’s where Danny Holtgraver’s Lernerville Speedway career is right now! After a string of top five finishes, (most of which have been top three finishes), Danny is poised to win his first career feature at Lernerville Speedway. Sure he has wins at both Sharon Speedway and Mercer Raceway Park, but Lernerville is different!
“Everybody wants to win there! And it’s not a slight towards Sharon, or Mercer, or Tri-City, but Lernerville is so special. It’s the best competition around, it’s the toughest track to figure out, it is the biggest stage for Sprint Car Racing in Western Pennsylvania!” exclaimed Holtgraver.
A win this Friday June 18 during the Mid-Season Championship will not only fulfill a lifelong dream, it will also lock him into a track provisional for the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup XIX Twin 30s on Tuesday July 20.
In its 40+ year history, the Sprint Car wins list at the Action Track reads like a Who’s Who of Sprint Car Racing. Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Brad Doty, Donny Schatz, Danny Lasoski, Herb Scott, Lou Blaney, Ralph Quarterson, Ed Lynch Jr., Rod George, Bob Felmlee, Dale Blaney, Kasey Kahne, the list goes on and on! From the best sprint car racers in the country, to those who’ve moved on to NASCAR, to local Hall of Famers and today’s local superstars!
Danny Holtgraver almost joined that list this past Friday June 11 as he tried to chase down leader and eventual feature winner Jack Sodeman Jr. in heavy lapped traffic. It was another near miss for the Pittsburgh 20 year old, whom, in his fifth season behind the wheel of a 410 Sprint Car, is quickly becoming one of the top shoes in Western Pennsylvania. He also came close to winning three weeks ago on Friday May 28, when he tried to run down eventual feature winner Carl Bowser.
Over the past month and a half, Danny has strung together six straight top five finishes, including a third place finish against the O’Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions on Friday, June 4. That stellar performance was bookended by a pair of runner-up finishes in the past two Ti22 Performance DIRTcar Sprint features during Fab Four Racing. Add in three heat race victories and Holtgraver has moved to second in the Budweiser Point Standings, just four markers behind Defending Track Champion Rod George.
By comparison, at the end of last season, Holtgraver had scored just two top fives and a total of six top tens, plus one heat race win. So what’s the difference between this season and last? Holtgraver explains, “It’s a combination of experience and confidence! We’ve run a lot of races at a bunch of different race tracks over the past two or three years, so the seat time has really helped. We’ve also had a lot of great help from Timmy Shaffer and Brian Kemenah!”
Tim Shaffer is a former Lernerville Track Champion, the Defending All Stars Champion and their current point leader, and spent over a decade on the road with the World of Outlaws. Brian Kemenah is a four-time All Star Sprint Crew Chief of the Year.
“My dad has put some really great equipment under me and working with Brian has really helped him with setup! The experience we’ve gained together allows him to give me a good setup and I feel confident going out there and running it hard. Then I can come off the track and tell him what the car is doing, what we need to go faster and he makes the changes.”
When asked about the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup XIX Twin 30s on Tuesday July 20, Holtgraver gushed, “I can’t wait! As well as the car has been running, I’m really excited to see where we are against the big guys! It’s all about qualifying. If you can turn a fast lap in time trials, it really sets you up well for the rest of the night!”
Reflecting on last year’s Silver Cup Twin 30s, Holtgraver stated, “In that first feature, we stayed on the lead lap until the white flag came out. I was pretty disappointed when I realized that if I had just stayed ahead of Danny (Lasoski) for one more lap, I would’ve started on the pole of the second feature and been on the front row for the four wide salute to the fans!”
“But the format is awesome!” continue Holtgraver, “I have higher aspirations than to just stay on the lead lap of that first feature, but it’s pretty cool how they invert the entire lead lap. It makes for interesting strategy for the first feature and some pretty awesome racing in the second feature!”
Finally, speaking about this Friday’s Mid-Season Championships, Danny said, “I’d love to get my first win and be locked into the Silver Cup all at the same time! That would be a pretty awesome night for us!”
Tomorrow Night, Friday, June 18 is another Fast Friday of Fab Four Racing with Mid-Season Championships for all four divisions. The Mid-Season Championships returned last year to rave reviews, and while it is a Fab Four Racing program, the format is slightly different than the standard weekly format. The top 12 in Budweiser Points following the completion of the National Guard Heat Races will redraw for the first 12 starting positions in each feature. Furthermore, Mid-Season Champions will win provisionals for the marquee events in the respective divisions. The Ti22 Performance DIRTcar Sprints feature winner will receive a track provisional for the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup XIX Twin 30s.
Don’t forget to buy your dad, husband, grandfather, etc. the best Father’s gift going . . . Firecracker 100 and Silver Cup tickets!! Log on to www.Lernerville.com or call (724) 353-1511 to buy your tickets today!!