By T.J. Buffenbarger
(May 16, 2022) — This past weekend for myself centered around the All Star Circuit of Champions three nights of racing Friday at I-96 Speedway for the Mace Thomas Classic, Saturday at Wayne County Speedway, and closing out the weekend Sunday at Waynesfield Raceway Park.
I’ll go into detail more about the Mace Thomas Classic in the Great Lakes Edition, but I felt all three nights of racing were superb. Friday’s program was action packed with both classes, Saturday had some great racing for the lead, and Sunday was jam packed with wild action we would expect out of Waynesfield.
Seeing the All Stars in person just strengthened what I already felt about the series for the 2022 season. The depth of the teams following the All Star tour top to bottom is very strong. If you look at the equipment and talent currently in positions one through eight any of them could win on a given night. Throw in Scott Bogucki, who has already shown speed, non-wing sprint car converts Chris Windom and Kevin Thomas Jr. improving, and Greg Wilson popping in from time to time creates one of the strongest traveling collectives we have seen with the series.
It was also my first time seeing the new All Star race format that was inspired by the procedures used during PA Speedweek. The format is unusual with the fastest car in each heat being the only one inverted. One intriguing thing that can happen is that fast qualifier can knock cars out of the dash to determine the first six starting spots in the feature by winning a heat race, but that has yet to happen this year.
The entire weekend was highly entertaining, and Friday was enjoyable to catch up with many of the teams and officials from the series.
- Justin Peck broke into the win column with the All Stars this weekend by scoring two of the three feature victories. Peck had to sweat out both victories due to late race restarts at I-96 and Waynesfield. Peck has shown speed all year including a victory at Williams Grove Speedway earlier this year, but circumstances seemed to keep him out of victory lane with the All Stars until last Friday.
“We have had speed all year, it’s just been spotty. We just haven’t been consistent through the night. It seemed like one part of the night we lacked, and it put us a little bit behind or when we did have the speed most of the night or during feature time, we put ourselves in bad spots,” said Peck. We kind of got wore out early in the year going for a win and wrecked at Bridgeport. We had a shot at winning that race and I just ran into a lapped car which was my fault. Just little stuff like that.
Peck feels coming off his performance this week that saw him nearly score a World of Outlaws victory at Lincoln and the two wins with the All Stars that some of the little tweaks made by himself and the Buch Motorsports team are starting to pay off.
- One of the biggest gains of any team this off season on the All Star Tour is Vermeer Motorsports with driver Hunter Schuerenberg. Schuerenberg with fellow Missourian Clinton Boyles obviously have the type of chemistry a lot of car owners and drivers hope to find when putting together a race team. Saturday’s win at Wayne County put the team in a four-way tie for the most victories on the tour this season. With the top four in the overall standings separated by less than 100 points, I think it is time to consider Schuerenberg an All Star title contender.
- While a lot of the attention Sunday was focused on the unusual green, white, checkered finish circumstances at the end of the race, the one thing I had my eye on were the repairs being done to Parker Price-Miller’s car after his wild flip off turn two at Waynesfield. The crew nearly made repairs in time. I was waiting to see how the team was going to handle the fuel from the other tank to get it into the new one because under All Star rules you cannot add fuel in the work area except under an open red. The race resumed before the crews could make repairs to the car, but it would have been interesting to see how that process would have went had they made it.
Other notes from around the country
- Cole Macedo and the Ray Brooks Racing team can claim winning a feature due to proper preparation this past week at Fremont Speedway. While leading the main event Macedo’s crew found a hole in a tire during an open red flag that was large enough that most teams would have changed it out and gone to the tail of the field. For over 30 year Stephen and Mike Linder have carried a standard tire plug kit from NAPA that you would see on a street vehicle. The team plugged the tire and it held up over the closing laps for the victory.
- While talking about the improvement in some of the teams on the All Star tour, Jacob Allen’s progression from 2021 to 2022 has been astounding to watch. Allen appeared to be on his way to a second victory in his home state, backing up his win earlier in the week at Lincoln Speedway, before running out of fuel.
- If you have caught the highlights from the 410-sprint car feature at Knoxville Raceway from this past Saturday, make sure to do so. Lynton Jeffrey, Brian Brown, and Aaron Reutzel put on a torrid battle for the lead with Brown coming out on top.
Knoxville Raceway employee Eric Arnold pointed out that the 410 sprint car class is seeing seven more entries per night over 2021, likely attributed to the increased purse the track is paying for the division this season.
- Jeffrey bounced back from mechanical issues that took him out late in the main at Knoxville by winning at Huset’s Speedway on Sunday.
- The weekend looked busy in this part of the country on Saturday with Fremont Speedway, Wayne County Speedway, Sharon Speedway, and Atomic Speedway all running 410 sprint cars. While Sharon did rain out the three remaining tracks all had full fields of cars along with nearby races in West Virginia for the FAST Series and in Michigan at Butler Motor Speedway.
- This week the World of Outlaws come to town Friday at Attica Raceway Park before heading over to Sharon Speedway on Saturday.