T.J.’s Notebook from the Joker’s Wild

Carson Short. (T.J. Buffenbarger photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

(July 15, 2021) — Carson Short turned up at the Kings Royal as the latest driver of the Pete Grove 70 car. Short, a World of Outlaws feature winner in 2020 at Tri-State Speedway, is making his first appearance at the Kings Royal in what turned out to be a last-minute deal.

“Pete Grove called me last week and asked me if I wanted to come out and race Attica and come over to the Kings Royal. Of course, I said yes,” said Short. “I was in Wisconsin at Wilmot racing my car with the World of Outlaws. I hurried home, gathered my seats, and came over.”

Short brought along Michael Dutcher, a well-known mechanic and car owner in the non-wing sprint car world that also has experience with winged sprint car racing as well. Dutcher is helping to bridge the gap due the Grove team being idle during most of the 2021 season.

“Pete (Grove) just hasn’t raced that much this year. They did not really have anybody to help Alex work on the car. It was last minute, and I knew that Dutcher was not racing this weekend, so I gave him a call to jump in the truck and head over here with me to help. He was more than happy to.”

Short indicated having a familiar face in a new situation can help.

“We can bounce ideas off of each other with Alex and try to figure out what I like because Dutcher knows how to get me comfortable in a race car,” said Short. “I think it will be good, we just have to knock some rust off of him.”

After watching the Kings Royal for many years Short is excited to finally get an opportunity to compete in one of the biggest sprint car races on the planet. Despite his past success with and without the wing Short has modest goals for his first Kings Royal effort.

“I have never raced the Kings Royal, but I’ve spent sometimes here in the stands,” Said Short. “It’s like going to watch the Knoxville Nationals every year since you were a kid and being able to contend to make the show. That is our goal here, to try to get where I’m contention to make the show, make good laps, and maybe even get a top 10 with these guys.”

After fighting ignition issues that cost the team some valuable test and tune time during the Brad Doty Classic at Attica Raceway Park, Short was able to transfer out the second non-qualifiers race, ninth in his heat race, and eight in the B-Main.


• Anthony Macri made his debut in Bernie Stueben’s Indy Race Parts car. Even though Macri has done some other racing in Central Pennsylvania, he indicated it felt unusual to not be with his family-owned team at Eldora. Undaunted, he missed the transfer in his heat race by one position and finished seventh in the B-Main.

• Derek Hagar’s team indicated with some of the deals that came together during the race at Bristol Motor Speedway earlier in the year his team will be competing in more 410 sprint car racing during the 2021 season.

• Ryan Smith was not exactly on our short list of drivers that we thought would be at Eldora, despite his strong performance during the 2021 season. The Greg Denochick owned team indicated the Royal was in their plans since the beginning of the season.

• Joey Saldana made his first outing since Volusia Speedway Park with James Fisher working on the Ed Neumiester owned entry.

• The Toyota Sprint Car engine made another appearance under hood of Giovanni Scelzi’s entry on Wednesday. Scelzi finished 14th in the main event.