~~Since it was announced several months prior, there has been much talk about the Open Wheel Championship at Atomic Speedway at the end of October. Good, bad, and in between, people were talking talking and talking about the OWC. As last Thursday hit the calendar, beautiful sunny skies filled Southern Ohio with temps in the mid 60s as day 1 of the Open Wheel Championship was finally a reality. Running a bit of a different format than many big shows, which was talked about alot and still was that day, Thursday was traditional sprint car day with time trials, heats, and C mains if needed for the sprints. With a much smaller than expected car count for the traditional sprints, 23 cars made the trip to Atomic. Kody Swanson set a new track record on the fast smooth oval with a time of 14.883.
3 heats with the top 5 moving on to Saturday's A Main with the remainder of the field running the B on Friday. With the heat invert of 4, the heats were ready to roll. In heat 1, Swanson didn't waste any time moving to the front. Swanson did have a decent battle with Kory Crabtree and Matt Westfall before opening up a few car length advantage. Swanson held on to win over Crabtree, Westfall, Todd Kane, and with a last lap move in turns 3 and 4, Aaron Fry got past Chris Gurley for the 5th and final transfer spot. Brady Short slide out to the lead in heat 2 and pulled away from the pack. A great battle between Bryan Clauson, Dave Darland, and Robert Ballou for 2nd as Chad Wilson battles Randy Fink and Brady Bacon for 5th. Andy Hill slows the heat with a spin. Short sails out front as 3 cars battle for 2nd. Wilson clears Fink as Bacon follows and tries to battle Wilson. Short handles the field taking the win. Darland wins the battle for 2nd, Clauson, Ballou, and Wilson move into Saturday's A. The 3rd and final heat was quickly on the track as the program was pushed along very nicely. Kevin Roberts gets bounced around on the start and comes to a stop. Josh Davis runs a great race upfront and holds on taking a somewhat surprise win in heat 3. Dallas Hewitt, Sheldon Haudenschild, Tyler Courtney, and Nick Roberts raced into transfer positions. With the program over just after 9, the Atomic staff let cars in for Friday's program or those that wanted more track time from Thursday's program to test for about an hour and a half. A cool move I believe from the track staff.
Another excellent day for late October Friday as day 2 kicks off for the OWC. This day belongs the Renegade winged sprints for their qualifying, heat races, C Main, and B Main as a stout field of 53 cars were pit side Friday. After over an hour wait to start the program due to the EMS confusion, the show was ready to roll. With the track smooth and fast and wide, the high side was the quick way around. Danny Smith set quick time of the 53 cars on hand.
With a invert of 4 as well for the winged sprints, 6 heats races would take the top 3 cars to Saturday's A Main. 4th through 6th to the B, the rest to the C. With the track many grooves wide, it was very racey and had racing grooves for whatever line you wished to run. As heat 1 took the green, the pack gets bottled up off 2. Smith gets tagged and drops back to 7th, making it look like his A Main bid via the heat race was dim. Sheldon Haudenschild jumped out front as Travis Philo and Kody Swanson follow. Caleb Armstrong spins for a yellow. Jac Haudenschild quickly worked from deeper in the pack, racing into 2nd, setting up a father son battle at the front of the pack. As they duel upfront, Smith works back to battle for a transfer spot. Sheldon and Jac have a excellent battle, thrilling the crowd. Sheldon held dad Jac off for the win. Smith recovers to secure the 3rd and final transfer spot. Greg Wilson looks very stout in heat 2, wresting from 4th to 1st, battling Brandon Wimmer. Aaron Higgins spins for a yellow. Nathan Skaggs runs the bottom to perfection and it's a 3 car battle. Wilson breaks away as Skaggs chases him as Wimmer is solid in 3rd. With 2 to go, Wimmer tags the wall coming off 4 and takes a wild ride, flipping hard. Wilson controls the restart and holds on for the win over Skaggs and Ronnie Blair. Heat 3, another great battle. Chad Kemenah looked super fast in his first race aboard the Hunter 10h. Brady Bacon and Jimmy Stinson battled with Kemenah all race long. Bacon took the win over Kemenah and Stinson. Kevin Roberts can't shake the bad luck streak in his heat race at Atomic. Getting taken out of his non wing heat early Thursday, Roberts has issues in heat 4 of the winged heat on Friday. Caleb Helms spins in heat 4. Once things get to rolling, the battle heated up. Danny Lasoski made a late race move to take the win over Bryan Nuckles and Tyler Courtney. Keeping his winning ways a rolling in 2014, Dale Blaney took charge of heat 5 and never looked back. Blaney blasted to the win over Todd Kane and Kory Crabtree. Tim Shaffer shot from outside row 1 to the lead of heat 6. Shaffer looked stout and slid to the win over Randy Hannagan and Cole Duncan.
The show kept rolling along with the C Main up next. The top 4 from the C would move on to the B. Brandon Wimmer's crew worked quickly and got Wimmer on the track for the C. Wimmer whipped into the lead of the C. Wimmer had things a rolling out front as Brandy Bower was thrilling the local crowd, running the low side, closing the gap on the leader. Bower caught Wimmer and blew by for the lead. Bower remained fast and took a very popular win in the C. Wimmer, Josh Davis and Helms moved into the B.
Next up, the final race of the night, the B Main. The top 6 would move into the A. As the field raced into turn
1, Dean Jacobs and Taylor Ferns collided after the pack got all bunched up and side ways fighting for position. Bill Balog made the long trip from Wisconsin and took charge of the B Main. Rick Farley gets into the wall, slowing the race. Balog keeps his good run a going as Kody Swanson chases. As the battle upfront is fairly calm, Ryan Broughton is making a charge through the pack from the back, once again keeping the local crowd vocal. The battle for the top 6 heats up as the action is quickly heating up. Broughton enters the top 10, looking for more as DJ Foos enters the top 5. Foos tries a huge slider on Wimmer for 4th with 2 to go and runs over Wimmer's front end, sending both car wrecking. This was a huge break for Broughton, just one spot out now. Restart, Balog holds on and takes the win. Swanson, Ryan Meyers, Danny Holtgraver, Travis Philo, and with a move with 1 to go, Broughton races into the A Main after starting 22nd.
Bright sunny skies and temps in the low 70s greeted Atomic Speedway for the night night of their huge 3 day show Saturday. Dashes, the Charlie McCann non qualifiers A Main, and the 2 regular A Mains were all set and ready to roll Saturday. The track was once again in great shape.
Kicking the night off was the 20 lap Charlie McCann Memorial A Main for the top 20 cars that didn't make the winged A Main. Caleb Helms and Curtis Evans brought the field to the green. Evans escaped with the lead as the packed roared into turn 1. Before a lap was complete, Mitch Harble, Kevin Roberts, and Dean Jacobs collide. Complete restart, Evans once again gets the lead. Lap 2, Josh Davis Adam Strausser flip in turn 4. Evans leads once things go green. Lap 4, Rob Chaney claims the lead. Chaney looks stout upfront but Ian Madsen didn't come from Iowa to stink it up all weekend like he has to this point. Madsen, up from 11th, catches Chaney and an excellent battle rages on. Slide job for slide job, side by side, they swap the lead back and forth several times. Chaney kept the lead at the line but 5 to go, they are hard inches apart. Lap 16, Brandon Conkle spins for a caution. Restart, Madsen marched to the lead on lap 17 but he hasn't seen the last of Chaney. Lap 18, Chaney leads. Madsen is glued to his tail tank, looking to make another move. With the white flag in the flagman's hand, Madsen makes a move into the lead again. Chaney can't get back by as Madsen wins the battling, taking the win over Chaney, Helms, David Smith, and Taylor Ferns. In a field packed full of good cars, the top 5 featured some drivers that are just beginning their 410 careers, a great sign for our sport. A great race.
The top 10 fastest drivers that made the A would make up each Dash. A random draw was used to determine the starting order. The winners will start on the pole of their A Main event. Stinson and Lasoski paced the field in the winged Dash. The first 2 never changed spots all 8 laps as Stinson went on to win over Lasoski. Kemenah and Blaney moved into the top 4 with good runs.
Davis scratched from the non wing Dash as he used the same car to run both the winged n non wing part of the show and his car was still under repair from the McCann race flip. Same as the winged Dash, the first 2 never switched a spot, running flag to flag. Brady Short took the win over Bryan Clauson.
40 laps, $15,000 to win was on the line for the Renegade A Main. Ian Madsen was given an option of taking the $2000 that the McCann raced paid or tag the tail of the A and run for more. Madsen didn't blink an eye and said he came to race. Mark Imbler was added as a track provisional. Stinson and Lasoski lead the field to the green. Lasoski leaped into the lead, running right up on the cushion. Lasoski was making his debut in the Big Game Treestands 2 machine a good one pulling away from the pack. Lap 5, Duncan slows before the flag stand but is coasting around the top, trying to stay out of the way, as the yellow isn't flying. Finally, in turn 2, Philo has to spin not to ass pack the almost stopped Duncan, as the yellow finally waves. A almost bad bad moment that could have been totally avoided with a caution 8 seconds earlier like it should have been, very dangerous moment, thankfully all went well. Restart, Lasoski sets sail out front and looks untouchable. As the Dude is on cruise control upfront, Blaney starts to show no matter if it's the All Stars, World Of Outlaws, or Rengades, he's stout and their to take home the check. Lap after lap as I've seen several times this season, Blaney has his car working on the low side, closing in on the leader. Lap 15, Blaney blast to the lead. With only one causion all race long, the laps click off quickly. Blaney stretches his lead lap after lap. With not much changing up front, Madsen is moving through the pack, getting into the top 15. Blaney keeps is excellent season a rolling and is uncatchable, leading the final 25 laps with no real pressure. Blaney wins over Lasoski, Wilson, Skaggs, and Stinson.
Closing out the 1st ever OWC weekend was the 40 lap traditional sprint car A Main. Short and Clauson brought the field to the green. Short has been the car out front all weekend so far and this was no different as Brady shot to the lead. Instantly the pack started racing 3 and 4 wide behind the leader. Lap 6, Swanson stops with a flat left rear. Restart, Short leads as a great battle is on from 3rd to 11th. That pack of cars looked like a Talladega race. They were 3, 4, and 5 wide lap after lap, switching spots back and forth. As Darland and Clauson start to fade, Ballou and Kane start moving forward. As Ballou catches Short, the battle behind them is still amazing. Lap 21, Ballou takes the lead. With the battle still going on hard behind the leader, Short starts to back slide as well. Ballou right up on the fence is leading as Kane runs the bottom, closing in on the Mad Man. Gurley makes a charge and uses the extreme bottom to enter the top 3, looking for more. Ballou can't shake Kane but, Todd can't make a move either. In an excellent race, Ballou holds on to take home the $5000 payday. Kane, up from 12th, Gurley, up from 16th, Westfall, and Haudenschid round out the top 5. A great show with more passing than you could count.
With the 1st OWC now history, the weather gods truly shined on the Atomic staff to pull this one off. With much less than expected car counts, slim crowds Thursday and Friday, you gotta give the Atomic staff and crew kudos for doing business as usually and pulling this event off. Plus, you gotta give it to them for having the balls to do it this late in the year and pulling it off. They tried it, it was great racing all 3 nights, even though the ca count was down from what was expected, I think the support Saturday with Friday's okay crowd made it a positive race for the track. They didn't get rich by any means but I think they made a few bucks which is excellent. I heard much talk about the event all year, mostly negative with alot of naysayers saying no way they will pay that, no way will they run it, and many other non sense things but you gotta say guess what, now what? Atomic did it, pulled it off, paid the $$$, had excellent racing, and seemed to not lose their ass. Great job Atomic, glad to see a track that balls up to the plate and makes it happens reguardless of being surrounded by negative stuff all year long. Just goes to show you, try to focus on the positive at EVERY track that races and help keep this region thriving with racing when so many are closing tracks right and left.
Thanks for reading,
Duane