By T.J. Buffenbarger
1. Central Pennsylvania’s Sprint Car Passion Should be Cherished.
Racing season can have multiple points where you can declare the season has officially started. Once such benchmark is Central Pennsylvania holding sprint car races with snow still on the ground in February, which is what Lincoln Speedway did on Saturday.
Many of us remark how crazy we think the early season Central PA sprint car opening races are with teams and fans braving cold temperatures, sometimes extreme wet or dry track conditions, and other avoidable challenges many regions avoid by starting later in the season.
It is amazing in an area of creature comfort the Central Pennsylvania fans venture out to see a sprint car race outside this time of year. Its why Lincoln year after year never hesitates to start this season before.
One could argue the sprint car fan that ventures out to see a handful of sprint cars joined with six other classes at a facility not as nice at Lincoln might be more of a die-hard fan than one in Central Pennsylvania. Having the number of fans with that kind of passion to be able to hold a sprint car race year after year in the dead of winter is truly something special.
I know some in the industry internally grumble every year about the early Lincoln opener, but a lot of those folks would not be making a living in sprint car racing with their jobs if they were located elsewhere in the country.
I hope everyone involved in Sprint Car racing in Central Pennsylvania appreciates how special the situation is there.
2. Different Faces Up Front
The heavy track conditions and pill draw to determine the starting lineups on Saturday put some different faces towards the front. Typically the casual fan watching would expect to see Freddie Rahmer, Danny Dietrich, and other stars up front.
With Dietrich, Rahmer, and several other standouts drawing less than stellar numbers on a narrow racetrack there were some new faces towards the front of the field.
The Lincoln opener produced some good storylines starting with the 2020 Lincoln Speedway Most Improved Driver award recipient, Tim Wagaman, backing up that honor by wining the opening day feature. Add in Kyle Moody sniffing around the lead and Matt Campbell in the hunt for a win taking over for Brian Montieth had some interesting twists and turns.
3. Justin Peck / Tom Buch Combination is Interesting
When Justin Peck lined up 18th in Saturday’s feature at Lincoln I was interested to see how things would go. Starting 18th nobody would have thought anything if Peck pulled in a few laps and called it a day due to the heavy, narrow racetrack. Peck took on the challenge though, driving hard yet biding his time to score a 9th place finish.
Peck has shown some promise over the past several seasons, and this opportunity with Buch could provide the next step in his career. The Peck/Buch combination is one I plan on paying very close attention leading into and through the early portion of the All Star Circuit of Champions schedule.