Cory Haas wins record fourth 358 Sprint title; Duane Watson takes thundercar title in thrilling season-finale
YORK, PA, 11/17/07 - Lincoln Speedway track champions and special year-end awards were handed out at the Holiday Inn Holidome in York Saturday night, November 17th. Close to 400 people were in attendance to watch the crowning of the 410 sprint, 358 sprint and thundercar champions for 2007. The top ten finishers in the season-long point series for all three divisions were honored as well as special awards for each division.
RAHMER COMPLETES RECORD-BREAKING SEASON WITH 10TH TITLE IN 14 YEARS
Salfordville's Fred Rahmer, driving the Chad and Jenn Clemens-owned C&S Lawn & Landscaping/Miller Brothers Automotive/Bairís Tree Service/Materials Handling Systems/Media Camping Center No.51 sprinter, completed his quest to rewrite the Lincoln Speedway record-books by winning an unprecedented 10th track championship and, along the way, became the winningest driver in history at the Pigeon Hills oval.
It was back on June 27, 1987, that Rahmer recorded his first career Lincoln Speedway win. That same year, New Oxford's Steve Smith recorded three wins en route to his eighth of nine track titles and, upped his all time Lincoln Speedway win count to 124. Smith eventually recorded his 150th and final win on May 4, 1996. Both of those records (150 wins & 9 track championships) have stood for more than 10 years, and were considered by many to be unbreakable in our lifetime.
That was until 2007.
On April 7th, Rahmer record his 150th career win. Then on June 16th, Rahmer made history as he recorded his record-breaking 151st. Rahmer then went on to record six wins in 2007 en route to winning his record-breaking 10th career track championship at the storied 3/8-th-mile clay oval.
Along the way, Rahmer recorded 20 top-five and 23 top-ten finishes in 26 events in 2007. His sixth and final win of the year came in the Annual Kenny Weld Memorial, which he won for a record eighth time and upped his all time win mark to 154. Rahmer's six wins were also the most in the headline division for 2007.
2006 track champion Doug Esh of Lancaster completed a solid year by capturing two wins, 13 top-five, and 21 top-ten finishes en route to runner-up honors in the season-ending point standings. Esh capped off his two-win year with a victory in the 55th Lincoln Speedway season finale on October 20th.
Though he didn't record a win in 2007, York's Brian Leppo continued to impress the Lincoln faithful as he recorded seven top-five and 13 top-ten finishes en route to an impressive third place in the final point standings.
Fourth place in the season-long point battle came down to a very rare three-way tie between New Oxford's Jimmy Siegel, East Berlin's Niki Young and Hanover's Cris Eash.
Siegel picked up an early season win to up his career win count to four at Lincoln Speedway and along the way registered three top-five and 12 top-ten finishes, while Young picked-up seven top-five and 16 top-ten finishes.
Eash, the 1996 track champion, came out of retirement and recorded seven top-five and 13 top-ten finishes.
Denver's Alan Krimes continued his progression as a weekly contender for wins by registering two in 2007 to up his all time win mark to four at Lincoln, and became one of the more feared racers in the bottom groove on a slick track. In all Krimes recorded 10 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes during the course of the 2007 season to finish seventh in the season-long point standings.
Rim-riding crowd favorite Brian Montieth continued his edge-of-your-seat assault of the lightning-quick high-banked 3/8th-mile oval by recording a pair a wins to move into a tie on the all time win list with the legendary Lynn Paxton. In all, Montieth scored five top-five and nine top-ten finishes during the course of the season to finish eighth in the final point standings.
The Most Improved Driver in 2007 was Bridgeville, Delaware's Jeff Busby, who recorded his first career 410 sprint win in front of an appreciative crowd on July 14th and backed it up with three top-five and 11 top-ten finishes in his break-out season to finish ninth in the final point standings.
Finishing tenth in the final run-down was Thomasville's Josh Wells, who had two top-five and five top-ten finishes.
Though not finishing in the final top ten in points, York's Greg Hodnett finished only one win behind division-leading Rahmer with five wins in 2007. Hodnett recorded back-to-back wins twice at Lincoln, with another win sandwiched in between. Most notably, Hodnett recorded a win in the inaugural Sal Scarpitta Memorial on June 23rd and then came back a week later to win the Pennsylvania Speedweek Opener on June 30th.
SPECIAL AWARDS WINNERS (410 Sprints)
Super Sprint Champion - Fred Rahmer
Mechanic of the Year - Dennis Kohler
Rookie of the Year - Steve Buckwalter
Sportsmanship Award - Brian Leppo
Most Improved Driver - Jeff Busby
CORY HAAS REPEATS, BECOMES FIRST-EVER 4-TIME LINCOLN SPEEDWAY "358" SPRINT CHAMP
Last year, Dallastown's Cory Haas became the first driver to win three Lincoln titles in the ten-year history of the "358" sprint division at Lincoln. And much like Fred Rahmer in the headline division, Haas rewrote the record books again in 2007.
In a year that could be described as the most competitive season ever for the "358" sprints at Lincoln Speedway, Haas, driver of the Michael Barshinger-owned Trone Outdoor Advertising No.39 "358" sprinter, became one of eight different winners in 13 events at the Pigeon Hills oval in 2007. But that lone win meant a lot.
With his 12th career win on June 2nd, Haas became the all-time leading feature winner in "358" sprint history at Lincoln. And on the heels of seven top-five and 10 top-ten finishes, became the only "358" sprint driver to win four championships. Haas won back-to-back championships in 2002 and 2003, and with the 2007 championship, won back-to-back championships again (2006 and 2007) to rewrite the record books.
But the championship wasn't an easy one for Haas, as he battled Jeff Rohrbaugh for the coveted title down to the final event before clinching the championship.
Rohrbaugh was only one of two drivers to win more than one race in 2007. Rohrbaugh's two wins, coupled with six top-five and 10 top-ten finishes, kept him in the hunt all season long before falling short in the finale and settling for a hard-fought second-place in the final point standings. Rohrbaugh's season opening win on May 5th, followed by his other win on August 4th, gave the York driver three career wins in"358" sprint competition.
Hellam's Adrian Shaffer returned to Lincoln Speedway as a season-long contender for the track championship in 2007. His win on July 21st, the fourth of his career, made him the eighth different winner in eight events at the time, and coupled with his four top-five and nine top-ten finishes, gave him a well-deserved third place finish in the final standings.
Weekly contender Dale Hammaker picked up a lone win as well in 2007, and ended up with six top-five and six top-ten finishes to finish fourth in title chase.
Completing the top five in points was Scott Geesey, who registered two top-five and eight top-ten finishes along the way.
Rookie of the year winner Gerard McIntyre Jr. recorded a pair of top-five and eight top-ten finishes to finish sixth in the point standings. Close behind McIntyre, seventh in the final standings, was Adam Wilt, who recorded two top-five and five top-ten finishes.
Local favorite Danny Dietrich become one of four drivers to record "career first" wins at Lincoln in 2007 with his win on August 25th. His four top-five and five top-ten finishes earned the Aspers driver a respectable eighth-place finish in the final standings.
Former "410" sprint driver Glenndon Forsythe recorded one top-five and five top-ten finishes to finish ninth in the final standings, with Westminster hot shoe Brad McClelland registering a hard-to-get win and adding two top-five and six top-ten finishes to round out the top ten in points in 2007.
The highly-competitive season saw only one other driver than Rohrbaugh register multiple wins in 2007. Pat Cannon became the first two-time winner in 2007 with his win on July 28th (his first came on July 7th).
2005 track champion Billy Dietrich used his rim-riding style carry him to a lone win in 2007 and up his all time win mark to six on August 11th.
There were three other drivers other than Danny Dietrich to record career first Lincoln Speedway wins in 358 competition in 2007. They were John Westbrook (May 5th), Randy Rhoads (May 19th) and Todd Rittenhouse Jr.
who won the big 358 Sprint Championship on September 8th.
In addition to the eight different feature winners in 2007, there were 26 different drivers winning heat events. Cory Haas and John Westbrook led the pack with four wins apiece.
SPECIAL AWARDS WINNERS (358 Sprints)
358 Sprint Champion - Cory Haas
Rookie of the Year - Gerard McIntyre Jr.
Sportsmanship Award - Chad Criswell
Most Improved Driver - Jay Galloway
DUANE WATSON CLAIMS FIRST CAREER THUNDERCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
Abbottstown's Duane Watson dug himself an early-season hole by missing a race and was ready to write-off any chance at the thundercar track championship in 2007. Especially when defending track champion Neil Smith won back-to-back races on March 31st and April 21st and took a commanding lead early in defense of his championship.
But Watson kept digging, began to find something in his Larry Bartlett-owned Knollwood Automotive/Rick & Lees Collectibles/Meadowbrook Auto Sales & Storage Rentals No.3W Camaro, and picked up his first win of the season May 5th.
Then began one of the most dominating streaks in recent memory.
Biglerville's Nat Tuckey went on a tear, winning nine of the next 15 races. Meanwhile, Watson won four, and finished right behind Tuckey on most of the other nights. But Smith kept finishing races, and made it tough on Watson as the Hanover racer desperately wanted to repeat as champion. Slowly, Watson narrowed the gap and began to believe he might have a shot.
Tuckey, who eventually went on to win 11 races and had also missed an early-season race, suddenly decided to make the jump to late models, and sold his prized thundercar before season's end.
Smith, not to be denied, suddenly won back-to-back races on September 8th and September 15th to seemingly put a stop to Watson's charge. But Watson never gave up, and won two of the final three races.
In the season finale, Watson trailed by a mere ten points, and the championship came down to one thrilling race. Smith saw his hopes dashed early in the race after being involved in two incidents that sent his car to the pits. With Smith sidelined, Watson poured it on to win the finale and claim his first career Lincoln Speedway thundercar track championship.
In the end, Watson had seven wins and not only claimed the track title, but increased his all time win count to 17, tied with former track champion Mike Zeigler Sr. for tenth on the all-time Lincoln Speedway thundercar win list. His consistency showed over the long season, as he recorded an amazing 22 top-five finishes in 26 events. (Watson actually only ran in 25 races after missing an event early in the season.) He only finished out of the top-five in three races that he ran.
Watson was also the leading heat winner in 2007 with 13 qualifying event victories. Watson's banner years also included a win on August 11th in the special 25-lap $1,000-to-win Flooring Outlaw Thundercar Championship race.
Smith, the 2006 champion, ended up with four wins during the season to up his all-time win count to 42 career thundercars wins, second only to all time feature winner Bernie Beard's 72. In addition, Smith accumulated 14 top-five and 22 top-ten finishes, and ended up 95 points short to Watson in the end.
Though Ronnie Thomas, Mike Slaybaugh, and Scott Fisher did not record wins during the 2007 season, their consistency earned them well-deserved positions in the final point standings.
Thomas recorded six top-five and 21 top-ten finishes to finish third in points. Mike Slaybaugh had 10 top-five and 17 top-ten finishes to end up fourth. And Thomas' teammate Scott Fisher had three top-five and 12 top-tens to finish fifth and earn "Rookie of the Year" honors.
"Most Improved Driver" Gino Comi ended up with one top-five and eight top-ten finishes to finish sixth while "Sportsmanship Award" winner Greg Emlet Jr. rode eight top-ten finishes to a well-deserved seventh place finish in the final point standings.
Sam Gallagher, a contender early in the season in the battle for the track championship, finished eighth on the heals of eight top-five and 17 top-ten finishes. Roy Warehime Jr. recorded his first career thundercar win in 2007 on
May 26th, and also accumulated two top-five and nine top-ten finishes to finish ninth.
And rounding out the top ten was 11-time winner Nat Tuckey. Even though he didn't compete the final two months of the season, his 11 wins, 16 top-five and 17 top-ten finishes still earned him a well deserved tenth-place in the final standings. To no one's surprise, Tuckey led everyone easily in the laps led department with 135. Duane Watson was second with 85 laps led.
Other winners during the 2007 season included Craig Wagaman (2 wins) and former three-time thundercar champion Bobby Beard (1 win).
SPECIAL AWARDS WINNERS (Thundercars)
Thundercar Champion - Duane Watson
Rookie of the Year - Scott Fisher
Sportsmanship Award - Greg Emlet Jr.
Most Improved Driver - Gino Comi
Donít forget to check-out Lincoln Speedway On-line at http://www.lincolnspeedway.com for all the final results of the 2007 season along with statistics and point standings. The 2008 Lincoln Speedway schedule is still being finalized and is planned for release in the near future. This we do know, Lincoln will host its traditional Northeast Season Opener featuring the 410 sprints in the Ice Breaker 30 on Saturday afternoon, February 23, 2008. Gates will open at noon, with the first official green flag waving at 2 PM.