T.J.’s Notebook: Breaking Down the 2018 All Star Circuit of Champions Schedule

Attica Raceway Park. (Sprint Fun photo)

Attica Raceway Park. (Sprint Fun photo)
By T.J. Buffenbarger

Most of the standard dates during the Tony Stewart ownership era of the All Star Circuit of Champions are in place. Here are a few takeaways from the initial realize of the All Stars schedule for the 2018 racing season.

  • The most exciting of the new race dates on the All Star schedule from my vantage point is the Minnesota/Iowa swing in July. This three-day trip takes the All Stars to Jackson, Minnesota for a $10,000 to win event during the fair July 27th, a return to Knoxville Raceway on Saturday July 28th, followed by a trip to 34 Raceway in Burlington Iowa on Sunday July 29th.

    The All Star event at Knoxville is the week before the start of the 360 Knoxville Nationals, helping to build momentum into Southern Iowa Speedweek. After the Iowa swing the All Stars remain dormant until after the Nationals. This trip to Iowa could see some Ohio teams become Iowa residents for the better part of a month.

  • While the Minnesota/Iowa swing was a bit of a surprise the All Star season finale being held at Kokomo Speedway on October 6th was an event larger one. Replacing the Sprintacular on the All Star schedule the series now finishes its season at one of the most exciting ¼-mile facilities in the country. With the late season placement keep an eye on this date for a big car count with a lot of tracks and series closed for the season by early October.

    For those that enjoy co-sanctioned events with large numbers of quality cars the May 19th and 20th dates at Plymouth Dirt Track and Angell Park Speedway in Wisconsin co-sanctioned with the Interstate Racing Association. While not co-sanctioned the June 29th date at Plymouth Speedway in Indiana followed by the series going to the Dirt Oval at Route 66 in Joliet on Saturday June 30th gives fans a nice Indiana/Illinois double near IRA territory as well.

  • News started trickling out last week that Millstream Speedway returns to action with Larry Helms taking on the reins this time around to host three All Star programs next season. I’m working on a larger piece on this topic, but it will be interesting to see if Millstream can pull off a smoothly run program and operation in a limited basis. The biggest of those events is the finale of Ohio Sprint Speed Week. Other than the years Eldora and Attica hosted the finale the last race of Speed Week has struggled to find a home. Millstream always produced a lot of buzz on the front end of Speed Week, it will be interesting to see if it does the same at the end.

    One of the surprising tracks not showing up on the schedule is Atomic Speedway. After holding multiple All Star shows for several years Atomic Speedway now hosts a single event during Ohio Sprint Speedweek.

    Fremont Speedway is not on the All Star Schedule. At this point we’ve stopped caring about who might not agree with someone else, but the All Stars return to Fremont needs to happen. No offense to some of the tracks that run specials only or maybe host one sprint car race a year, but in my opinion every weekly sprint car track in Ohio should be on Ohio Speedweek.

    Speaking of Ohio Sprint Speedweek, the ultimate week of sprint car racing will take place over nine consecutive nights with no days off in between.

    I heard a lot of feedback last night from readers that were surprised Mansfield Motor Speedweek was not on the 2018 All Star schedule, this one did not surprise me. Mansfield seems to march to the beat of their own drum. The All Stars are off in April during Mansfield’s $100,000 to win Sprint Car World Championship.

    One aspect of the All Stars that changed towards the end of the Guy Webb ownership era and into the Tony Stewart regime is the amount of time the series spends east of Ohio. The All Stars will spend 13 nights in Pennsylvania this year with many of the dates in Central Pennsylvania.

  • Perhaps more surprising are the seven races the series will contest in the state of New York next season. I find it fascinating the All Stars are making headway in the heart of Modified and 360 sprint car country. 2018 will see the All Stars in New York seven nights at six different facilities.

    One thing to keep an eye on is how the All Stars presence in New York combined with some other combinations like the new RUSH Crate Sprint Car Series impacts existing regional sprint car events in that region. With that in mind sprint car fans in New York are going to get one of the largest doses of 410 sprint car racing in recent memory.

Overall the 2018 schedule continues the trend of heading east past the series traditional boundary lines and renewing a few others. This is a schedule that I will be interested in seeing versus the 2019 edition to see if the trips out east and to the Upper Midwest get traction and expand into more races. With that in mind I can’t wait to get to the Attica Raceway Park HD Supply Spring Nationals to get my first look at the All Stars for 2018.