By T.J. Buffenbarger
(August 22, 2022) — The Great Lakes Super Sprints get next weekend off after two successful nights of racing Friday at I-96 Speedway and Saturday at Butler Motor Speedway. Exiting the weekend, it appears we are down to a three-horse race for the 2022 GLSS championship.
Max Stambaugh from Elida, Ohio had a solid weekend and extended his lead to 34 points over Dustin Daggett for the 2022 GLSS championship. Stambaugh picked up his second victory of the year at Butler Motor Speedway, the first of which came back in May with the 410-sprint car division. Stambaugh had been close to getting his second victory at Butler this season multiple times, but flat tires and other issues seemed to plague the Smith Racing entry at the high banked 3/8-mile oval. Saturday Stambaugh avoided those pitfalls and now has a little breathing room in the tight race for the title.
Dustin Daggett from Portland turned in a solid weekend with a second place at I-96 and fifth at Butler and is still very much in contention for another point championship. Daggett is on a five-race streak of top five finishes since a 12th place finish at Fremont Speedway at the end of July.
North Port, Florida resident Danny Sams has more of a challenge in front of him after the past few weeks on the GLSS tour. While Sams did record a 6th and third place finish this past weekend, his crash at Fremont Speedway combined with a 12th place finish at Mt. Pleasant Speedway and 9th place at Silver Bullet Speedway have put him 91 points out of first place. Sams is still in contention but would need Stambaugh and Daggett to falter over the next two races to pull himself back into contention.
There are more drivers mathematically in the race for the GLSS championship, but much like Sams will require the top three to end up in the back half of the field or missing the feature at some point for them to make up ground.
The wild card in the 2022 championship continues to be the finale shifting to Attica Raceway Park. With Attica likely to draw a large field of high-quality cars, that race could cause the biggest shift in the standings since the series visited Fremont Speedway last month.
While the championship is not as close as it was a week ago, it appears the GLSS title will come down to the final event.
- Sams and along with sponsor Shannon Eiffert with Home Pro Roofing announced at I-96 Speedway that their partnership will expand in 2023. Sams will drive for two different race teams with Home Pro Roofing support. The car carrying #42D will expand Sams’s schedule to do some more traveling during the early portion of the season including the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia, King of the 360’s at East Bay Raceway Park, events on the High Limit Sprint Cars Series and other events were mentioned as possible stops in 2023.
Sams will also return to Randerson Racing competing at Great Lakes Super Sprints events and other select 410 sprint car races in the area.
The interesting twist about the announcement is the desire for Home Pro to have a car at every GLSS event, meaning during some schedule conflicts we could see a second driver in that camp at select shows in 2022.
Earlier this season Sams swept the 360 and 410 sprint car features at Wayne County Speedway when GLSS visited the 3/8-mile oval in Orrville, Ohio. Sams is slated to be a guest on the Open Wheel Spectacular podcast later this week to discuss further details of his 2023 plans.
- Sams was not the only one starting to make their intentions known for 2023 as Jason Blonde has recently been making starts with the newly formed Rhino Racing named after one of Blonde’s most stanch supporters Roger Arno. Phil Reneau, who like Roger is a big sprint car fan and a supporter of Blonde’s over the years in his various racing ventures, decided to put together a team for the veteran driver from Litchfield to assemble a “bucket list schedule” as Blonde an Reneau refer to it, to pick and choose races to compete in during the 2023 season.
After buying a good portion of Ken Mackey’s inventory, Rhino Racing aspires to get Blonde to some higher profile events that he has wanted to compete in during his career. Plans are still being worked out, but trips to Eldora Speedway to compete in the 360 sprint car class and Knoxville Raceway were all on the table when discussing plans with the team during some down time at I-96 on Friday.
Blonde and the Rhino team are using the rest of 2022 as a shake down for next season. The team has fought some fueling issues with their engines, which they plan on sorting out with a trip to the engine dyno later this month. Blonde will also continue to drive Mike Baker’s #12 car in winged 410 sprint car competition the rest of 2022 unless someone ends up buying the car before the end of the year.
- Taylor Ferns making her first winged pavement sprint car start driving for Mac Steele during the “Sandi DeCaire Classic 41” Saturday night at Citrus County Speedway with the Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series. Ferns has extensive non-winged pavement experience, and some winged sprint car starts previously in her career.
- Next Friday night at Hartford Motor Speedway Joe Conway will suit up for the final time in a sprint car. Conway described his “second mid-life crisis” of coming out of retirement for what was supposed to be one year of racing that turned three due to COVID restrictions 2020 and just wanting to have more fun in 2022.
Conway’s antics were documented regularly on this site during its infancy and dubbed, “the Joe Conway Experience,” which often involved watching the sun come up from the pit area after a night of racing surrounded by other miscreant, low budget racers that showed up to race every Saturday night because they wanted to have fun.
When I think back on my sprint car education the early years of the website were liken to college. Time spent with Conway around campfires with munchies and adult beverages (water for me though due to driving home that same night and being under aged) was a different sort of education than you would get with a full time race team or even a top fight local operation.
Seeing the sprint car world through a driver that had decent equipment, but only one of everything, with just one and sometimes if he was lucky two guys he could con into coming into the track to help assist in whatever way possible was great exposure the backbone that makes up a great majority of the sprint car racers on the planet. For that experience, I’m forever grateful as it gave me a point of view that is much more rounded.
Conway won’t be a stranger though as I joked that I saw him at more races once he was not driving than when he was, and I would expect that to continue once he pushes the car into the trailer for the final time Friday.
On tap this week…
The Great Lakes Traditional Sprints take center stage this weekend with two nights of racing Friday night at the Mt. Pleasant Speedway in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan before venturing over to Silver Bullet Speedway in Ownedale, Michigan on Saturday.
The GLTS point championship it also a close one between Keith Sheffer Jr. and Max Frank. These two young stars of the Michigan Sprint Car scene will enter the weekend with Sheffer holding a five-point lead over Frank. Jason Ferguson, who has been impressive at times during his first full season of sprint car racing, sits in third 80 points back and will need either Sheffer or Frank to stumble to pull himself back into contention, but a top three finish for Ferguson’s small family-owned operation would be a great accomplishment.
Winged 410 sprint cars are also in action Saturday night at Butler Motor Speedway. Last week many onlookers reached out to mention the GLSS event at Butler was the raciest they have seen the track in recent memory and got sprint car fans on the road as one of the first tracks to finish their program in the eastern time zone. If you haven’t been to Butler since Tim Wilber and his family took over the reins, it’s worth going to see how far it’s come and to see how far they have brought the facility and just a short amount of time.