SELINSGROVE, PA – No track has ever had to wait a half-century between holding its first and second USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship events, but the 50-year hiatus for Pennsylvania’s Selinsgrove Speedway is over this Thursday night, June 17, when the series returns for its first visit to the half-mile since 1971.
The event will serve as round three of the 14th edition of the Eastern Storm series, which consists of five USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car events during a span of six nights in Pennsylvania and New Jersey June 15-20.
Mitch Smith pulled the upset against the USAC regulars during the 1971 Selinsgrove race, winning that night’s feature event 50 summers ago, and holds the long-standing one-lap track record of 23.420 seconds for USAC that will, more than likely, be erased on Thursday night.
For the high majority of Thursday’s field of entries, most of their Selinsgrove experiences have occurred within the last calendar year.
The debut USAC Silver Crown National Championship race took place at Selinsgrove in August of 2020 and was won in miraculous fashion by Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.) who charged from the 23rd starting position to the victory, making the winning pass only two laps from the end after earlier suffering engine trouble and was involved in a mid-race accident. Cottle, a 2013 Eastern Storm feature winner, will drive for car owner Tim Hogue in Thursday’s USAC National Sprint Car event.
The man Cottle passed at the end was C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) who established the USAC Silver Crown track record at Selinsgrove with a lap 21.676 seconds. Leary started from the pole, led the first 72 circuits of the 74-lap race and finished 2nd.
Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) can also count himself as a winner at Selinsgrove, capturing the 2020 USAC East Sprint Car feature after leading the final seven laps of the 20-lap affair. The three-time USAC National Sprint Car champion also earned a 7th place result in the Silver Crown nightcap later in the evening.
Likewise for Alex Bright (Collegeville, Pa.), the USAC East Coast Sprint Car point leader, who won with the series at Selinsgrove on May 22 of this year, making a pass for the victory with just four laps remaining. Bright also led the first two laps with USAC EC at Selinsgrove in 2020 before finishing 5th.
Bright is one of several east coasters with USAC experience at Selinsgrove, and who will be competing this Thursday night with the USAC National Sprint Cars, including Carmen Perigo (Stoystown, Pa.), Steven Drevicki (Reading, Pa.), Briggs Danner (Allentown, Pa.), Mark Smith (Sunbury, Pa.), Nash Ely (Sinking Spring, Pa.) and Chris Allen Jr. (Monroe, N.J.). Timmy Buckwalter (Douglassville, Pa.) has yet to compete with USAC at Selinsgrove.
Perigo finished 5th in his USAC Silver Crown run at Selinsgrove in 2020. His two USAC East Coast Sprint Car appearances there have resulted in an 8th in 2020 and a 3rd in 2021 where he also won his heat race.
Three-time USAC East Coast Sprint Car champion Drevicki took the runner-up spot with the series in 2020 behind Bacon, and also won his heat race in 2021. Danner, likewise, was 2nd in 2021 after leading the first 21 laps with the USAC EC series. Smith was 3rd with USAC EC in 2020 and 4th in 2021. Ely’s Selinsgrove debut took him to a 6th with USAC EC back in May of this year while Allen finished 7th in both of his USAC EC starts in 2020 and 2021.
Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) finished 4th with USAC EC at Selinsgrove in 2020 and was running 5th in the Silver Crown portion when he was involved in an incident that knocked out his front end with just a little more than 20 laps remaining.
Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) also occupied a spot inside the top-five in the 2020 Silver Crown race when his right rear tire went flat with just a few laps remaining. Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) was running 2nd when trouble befell him in the event and the same for Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), a top-five occupant in the final laps before dropping back at the finish.
Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) and Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) also had top-notch qualifying runs during their Silver Crown trip to Selinsgrove. Swanson qualified 4th and Westfall 7th before both experienced hardship in the feature event.
Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.), the 2015 Eastern Storm champion, was leading the 2020 USAC East Coast Sprint Car feature with seven laps remaining when he flipped.
Several talented individuals will make their Selinsgrove USAC debuts on Thursday night. Among them are 14-time USAC National Sprint Car feature winner Chase Stockon plus two-time Pennsylvania USAC National Sprint Car winner in 2021, Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.). Thorson, the 2016 USAC National Midget champion, is currently the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year with the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars in 2021.
Fellow Rookie and a top-ten resident in the current standings, Paul Nienhiser (Chapin, Ill.), will make his first trip to Selinsgrove on Thursday as will 2016 USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year, Isaac Chapple; 2020 USAC National Most Improved Driver Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.), 2018 USAC Southwest Sprint Car champion Charles Davis Jr. (Buckeye, Ariz.), first-time Eastern Storm competitor Alex Banales (Lafayette, Ind.) and more.
Eastern Storm round number three at Selinsgrove will feature both the 410 c.i. USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship and the 360 c.i. USAC Rapid Tire East Coast Sprint Cars.
Pits open at 4:30pm EDT with grandstands opening at 5:30pm, the drivers meeting at 6pm and hot laps at 6:30pm.
Adult admission tickets are $25, students age 12 to 17 are $15 and children 11 and under will be admitted free. Add $2 for grandstand reserved seats. Pit passes are $40.
All Eastern Storm events will be streamed live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3dgONXz.
TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CARS AT SELINSGROVE SPEEDWAY:
1 Lap – 7/17/1971 – Mitch Smith – 23.420 – 76.857 mph
10 Laps – 7/17/1971 – Mitch Smith – 4:01.560 – 74.516 mph
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINNERS AT SELINSGROVE SPEEDWAY:
1971: Mitch Smith (7/17)
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINS AT SELINSGROVE SPEEDWAY:
PAST USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS AT SELINSGROVE SPEEDWAY
1971 FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Mitch Smith (#11 Wasson), 2. Lee Osborne (#7 Meskowski), 3. Bobby Adamson Sr. (#42 Ziegler), 4. Dick Tobias (#17 Ruppert), 5. Lee Kunzman (#4 Amerling), 6. Joe Saldana (#21 Morse), 7. Bruce Walkup (#29 Seymour), 8. Tom Bigelow (#25 Smith), 9. Pancho Carter (#18 Forberg), 10. Larry Cannon (#71 Hoffman), 11. Greg Weld (#6 Leffler), 12. Darl Harrison (#45 Maloy), 13. Rollie Beale (#3 Kilman), 14. Bill Koepfer (#36 Stahl), 15. Leigh Earnshaw Jr. (#82 Earnshaw), 16. Larry Dickson (#1 Leyba), 17. Gary Bettenhausen (#2 Davis), 18. Jimmy Kirk (#53 Smith), 19. Jimmy Sheaffer (#50 Hank), 20. Lennie Waldo (#10 Wacholz). NT
2021 USAC EASTERN STORM SCHEDULE:
June 15: Grandview Speedway – Bechtelsville, PA (USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars)
June 16: Bridgeport Speedway – Swedesboro, NJ (USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars)
June 17: Selinsgrove Speedway – Selinsgrove, PA (USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars)
June 18: Williams Grove Speedway – Mechanicsburg, PA (USAC Silver Crown)
June 19: Port Royal Speedway – Port Royal, PA (USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars)
June 20: Bloomsburg Fair Raceway – Bloomsburg, PA (USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars)