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Archive for May, 2016

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Erie, MI (May 31, 2016) – Last September, when SOD announced its new Hoosier spec tires, there were numerous dire predictions of disaster and mayhem.  Now that a week has gone by since the opening races, one on the biggest, fastest track and the other on a high banked 3/8 mile, how did the predictions fare?  Well, not very well, actually terrible!  Not one of the negative predictions came close to becoming reality.

The fast-car dash on the big, fast Hartford Speedway was an exciting duel between Brian Smith’s 410 and Ryan Ruhl’s 360.  They raced side by side racing, Ruhl passed Smith for the lead, but a bobble out of turn 2 gave Smith a final shot at regaining the lead and he took advantage of it and drove off to the win.  The feature quickly put to rest the prediction that a 360 wouldn’t beat a 410 regardless of the tires.  Once again, contrary to popular opinion, Ruhl’s 360 not only won, but dominated the caution-free race.  Then, at Butler, 410s finish first and second, but a 360 finished third, passing more cars that anyone else in the feature.  It does appear as if SOD has delivered engine parity as promised.

Both nights had exciting racing and did not deliver on the prediction that racing on the new tires would be full of crashes.  Drivers quickly adapted to the new tires and became comfortable with them.  Originally leery of the new tires, numerous drivers gave rave reviews after using them.

Consistent with what Hoosier Racing Tire and SOD had told racers all along, the top finisher both nights opted to use standard right rear (17”) and left rear (15”) wheel widths even though some had narrower wheels ready to use.  Tire temperatures, as monitored by Hoosier Racing Tire, were well within the optimal range for top performance.  As with any racing tire, tire management is the key to success and air pressure requirements, whether or not to sipe the tires, etc. are all important factors in getting the most out of the new tires.

So why was the racing so good on the new SOD tires?  Maybe the drivers who had the courage to give them a try are more skillful than people give them credit for.  Or maybe the Hoosier Racing Tire engineers were more than capable of transforming SOD’s requirements into a top performing reality.  Both probably contributed to the successful debut of the tires.  Competitors are comfortable with the new SOD tires and are saving 10% per set compared to last year’s tires and tires being run elsewhere.

Yes, there was plenty of talk about the Engine Pro Sprints On Dirt presented by ARP Hartford and Butler races, but none of it had to do with the tires.  Fans will long remember the great racing they saw the first time SOD went beyond limits.  The spec tires are destined to have a significant impact on the sport of sprint car racing for years to come.

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On this day we remember and honor those who gave
all
so that we can now do what we like to do.

May our heroes rest in the peace of God.

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Erie, Michigan (May 22, 2016) – Doug Zimmerman led 99.5% of the race, but Fremont, Ohio’s Brian Smith pulled off a dramatic finish line win in the Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP WWIII feature at Butler Speedway Saturday night.

The feature got off to a rocky start when Quentin Blonde spun in turn three on the first lap and Brad Lamberson had no place to go and collided with Blonde. Both cars had to be towed off the track and race officials called a fuel-only red flag due to the twenty-lap clean up delay. A second attempt to start the feature didn’t fare much better, but cleanup was quick, and the restart had Doug Zimmerman charge into the lead from the pole position ahead of Bill Jacoby after original pole-starter Quentin Blonde was eliminated in the first lap crash.

Zimmerman, rejoining former car owner Tom Dale this season after taking 2015 off, quickly developed a huge lead and masterfully worked through heavy traffic. With everyone watching Zimmerman’s impressive drive, no one noticed Fremont, Ohio’s Brian Smith, top contender for 2016 SOD RockAuto.com Series Rookie of the Year quietly moving forward to second. A late race caution erased Zimmerman’s huge lead, and Smith, now in second, started pressuring the leader, but in spite of pulling alongside Zimmerman once when Zimmerman bobbled coming out of turn 2 late in the race, Smith couldn’t overtake the leader.

With five laps to go the last caution flew, and on the restart, it looked like Zimmerman’s race long advantage coming off turn two would be enough to hold off Smith. About four car lengths behind Zimmerman going into turn three on the last lap, the large crowd was on its feet as Smith made a seemingly impossible charge high through the corner and out raced Zimmerman to the win by .068 of a second!

The excited crowd was ecstatic when Smith did a “dirt angel” (you know, like a snow angel) on the front straight.

The new Sprints On Dirt spec Hoosier Racing Tire rear tires have produced exciting racing in the first two races, Friday at Hartford and Saturday at Butler, and have received rave reviews from competitors. Not only did the tires perform flawlessly, but Butler winner Smith ran the same set of tires Friday on Hartford’s big track and for his Butler win.

Butler Speedway, May 21 results:

Engler Machine & Tool Heat 1 (4 transfer to feature, top 2 redraw) – 1. 19Z Doug Zimmerman, 2. 4T Joshua Turner, 3. 4K Craig Karazim, 4. 3 Kyle Locke, 5. 47 Robert Bulloch, 6. 1 Eric Smith, 7. 6 Tyler Bearden

Lane Automotive Heat 2 (4 transfer to feature, top 2 redraw) – 1. 44J Bill Jacoby, 2. 12 Mike Baker, 3. 5 MaxStambaugh, 4. 81 John Gall, 5. 49T Gregg Dalman, 6. 19J Linden Jones, (DNS) 10J Jarrod DeLong

COMP Cams Heat 3 (4 transfer to feature, top 2 redraw) – 1. 19 Brett Mann, 2. 5QB Quentin Blonde, 3. 71H Brad Lamberson, 4. 27 Shelby Bilton, 5. 0 Stevie Irwin, 6. 4X Brady Locke, 7. 52 Zac Broughman

Engine Pro Heat 4 (4 transfer to feature, top 2 redraw) – 1. 25M Ken Mackey, 2. 2+ Brian Smith, 3. 20A Andy Chehowski, 4. 1A Mark Aldrich, 5. 46 Robert Huisken, 6. 8 Justin Ward

B Main (4 transfer to feature) – 1. 49T Gregg Dalman, 2. 47 Robert Bulloch, 3. 0 Stevie Irwin, 4. 19J Linden Jones, 5. 10J Jarrod DeLong, 6. 4X Brady Locke, 7. 46 Robert Huisken, 8. 8 Justin Ward, 9. 1 Eric Smith, 10. 52 Zac Broughman, 11. 6 Tyler Bearden

Feature – 1. 2+ Brian Smith, 2. 19Z Doug Zimmerman, 3. 3 Kyle Locke, 4. 4K Craig Karazim, 5. 25M Ken Mackey, 6. 27 Shelby Bilton, 7. 49T Gregg Dalman, 8. 20A Andy Chehowski, 9. 81 John Gall, 10. 0 Stevie Irwin, 11. 12 Mike Baker, 12. 47 Robert Bulloch, 13. 19 Brett Mann, 14. 44J Bill Jacoby, 15. 19J Linden Jones, 16. 1A Mark Aldrich, 17. 5QB Quentin Blonde, 18. 71H Brad Lamberson, 19. 5 MaxStambaugh, 20. 4T Joshua Turner

Engine Pro Lucky Dog Award – Gregg Dalman
KSE Race Products Hard Charger Award – Kyle Locke
Kistler Racing Products contingency awards: Josh Turner, Brett Mann
COMP Cams contingency award: Mike Baker
BR Motorsports contingency award: Craig Karazim
Keizer Aluminum Wheels contingency award: Mark Aldrich, Andy Chehowski
Allstar Performance contingency award: John Gall
Schoenfeld Headers contingency award: Quentin Blonde
Rod End Supply contingency awards: Brian Smith, Doug Zimmerman
Racing Optics contingency award: Craig Karazim
ATL Fuel Cells contingency award: Ken Mackey
King Racing Products contingency award: Andy Chehowski
Ti22 Performance contingency award: Brian Smith
DMI contingency award: Brett Mann

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Photo courtesy of TW Photographics

By T.J. Buffenbarger

Hartford, MI – (Friday May 20, 2016) – Ryan Ruhl kicked off the 2016 Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP season with a spectacular, rim riding display in route to a dominating feature win Friday night at Hartford Motor Speedway.  Ruhl from Coldwater, Michigan started on the front row and drove away just inches from Hartford’s unforgiving concrete wall every lap in route to the victory.

“The car was awesome.  I didn’t know what to expect with the (new) tires and the track being reconfigured,” said Ruhl following the first feature for SOD with its new open rule package with narrower spec tires Hartford’s first sprint car race on its widened race track.  “We did the same thing we always do and it was pretty close right off the bat.  Terry (Stewart) is awesome at getting (the car) to do whatever I tell him.”

For Ruhl the dominating victory was a bit of a surprise considering Hartford’s size and utilizing his 360 cubic inch engine against a number of cars with larger power plants.

“Because this track is huge, I figured more motor would help anyone else here. So when we were keeping up with the 410’s in hot laps I thought, ‘Maybe we’ve got a shot’.”

Dash winner and RockAuto.com SOD Series Rookie of the Year candidate Brian Smith started on the front row for the 20-lap main event.  Smith got the jump initially at the start before Ruhl gained momentum through turns one and two to take the lead coming off turn two.  Behind Ruhl and Smith Jay Steinebach and Steve Irwin raced for the third spot with Irwin getting a run on Steinebach off turn four on the bottom of the speedway to take away the second position.

Ruhl had motored away to a straightaway lead until encountering a group of slower cars on lap 13.  This allowed Smith to close briefly until Ruhl found an opening around the slower cars and motored away.  From there it was all Ruhl in dominating fashion lapping up to fourth position.  Smith claimed the runner up spot with Irwin, Joe Swanson, and Steinebach rounding out the top five.

Ruhl and Irwin won the heat race events while Smith won the dash.

Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP
Hartford Motor Speedway
Hartford, MI
Friday May 20, 2016

Engine Machine and Tool Heat Race #1 (8 Laps):  1. 16 – Ryan Ruhl, 2. 71H – Brad Lamberson, 3. 10S – Jay Steinebach, 4.2+ – Brian Smith, 5. 46 – Robert Huisken, 6. 7 – Joe Swanson, 7. 8 – Justin Ward, 8. 7X – Nic Rogers. DNS:  19 – Brett Mann. (First 3 finishers transferred to dash)

Lane Automotive Heat Race #2 (8 laps):  1. 0 – Steve Irwin, 2. 1A – Mark Aldrich, 3. 4 – Josh Turner, 4. 19X – Linden Jones, 5. 4 – Craig Karazim, 6. 1 – Eric Smith.  DNS:  81 – John Gall, 49T – Gregg Dalman. (First 3 finishers transferred to dash)

Comp Cams Dash (6 Laps):  1. 2+ – Brian Smith, 2. 16 – Ryan Ruhl, 3. 1A – Mark Aldrich, 4. 10S – Jay Steinebach, 5. 46 – Robert Huisken, 6. 0 – Steve Irwin. (Finish determines the first six starting spots in the A-Main)

A-Main (20 Laps):  1. 16 – Ryan Ruhl, 2. 2+ – Brian Smith, 3. 0 – Steve Irwin, 4. 7 – Joe Swanson, 5. 10S – Jay Steinebach, 6. 4T – Josh Turner, 7. 1A – Mark Aldrich, 8. 46 – Robert Huisken, 9. 8 – Justin Ward. 10. 1 – Eric Smith, 11. 19J – Linden Jones.  DNS:  7X – Nic Rogers, 49T – Gregg Dalman, 81 – John Gall, 71H – Brad Lamberson, 19 – Brett Mann, 4 – Craig Karazim.

Lap Leaders: Ruhl 1 – 20

Engine Pro Lucky Dog: Josh Turner
KSE Race Products Hard Charger Award: Joe Swanson
Kistler Racing Products contingency awards: Brad Lamberson, Ryan Ruhl
COMP Cams contingency award: Mark Aldrich
BR Motorsports contingency award: Jay Steinebach
Allstar Performance contingency award: Josh Turner
Schoenfeld Headers contingency award: Mark Aldrich
Rod End Supply contingency awards: Ryan Ruhl, Brian Smith, Steve Irwin
Racing Optics contingency award: Joe Swanson
ATL Fuel Cells contingency award: Jay Steinebach
King Racing Products contingency award: Josh Turner
Ti22 Performance contingency award: Brian Smith
DMI contingency award: Brad Lamberson

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Erie, MI (May 18) – Engine Pro Sprints On Dirt presented by ARP is heading toward our season opener at Hartford Speedway Friday night with a full head of steam. We are confident that we will finally get our new unlimited format off the ground after two rain outs at Crystal Motor Speedway. Then on Saturday, we move on to Butler Motor Speedway.

We are excited to share with you the fact that in just over three days, more than 30,000 people have viewed SOD’s Facebook event post for Hartford. If anyone ever had any doubt about the level of interest in SOD 2016, this answers the question.

Reaching 30,000 people did create a little problem for us. We wanted to be sure we shared our sponsor partnerships with everyone viewing our post, so we created an event photo for Hartford that includes all of our sponsor partners’ logos. Since Facebook limits event photo size and we have so many, the images are not as big as we would like, but we did what we could.

Both races pay competitors $350 to start the feature.

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