Big night planned at Elkins Raceway

Apparently Mother Nature doesn’t want us to have Autograph Night at Elkins Raceway.

Once again heavy storms moved through the area Friday and with more rain in the forecast for the evening track officials decided to postpone it to a later date to be announced.

This Friday’s Thunder in the Mountains will be the mid-season double point races with extra purse money available in all the divisions — $2,000 to win Topless Super Late Models, $12,00 to win Topless FasTrack Crate Late Models, $700 to win in the AMRA Modifieds, $400 to win in the Street Stocks, and $300 to win in the new Hot Mod division.

Gates will open at 6 p.m. and hot lap qualifying begins at 7:30 p.m. There will be a gigantic fireworks show and with double points and extra money there should be some fireworks on the track also. When the tops come off it changes the handling characteristics of the Supers and the Crates ,plus you can see the driver at work in the car. Make plans to come on out, bring a friend and enjoy a great night of dirt-track racing excitement!

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This past week’s NASCAR action was in two separate places, Saturday evening the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ran the “Eaton 200 delivered by Villa Lighting” at Gateway Motorsports Park in Illinois. This track is just a short distance from the famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

Grant Enfinger grabbed the pole position and held on to win the first stage of the event. Then newcomer Christian Eckes won the second stage. It was good to see two newer names shine through for a change.

This trend carried through to the final stage as Canadian driver Justin Haley grabbled the final stage and the race win.

Another young driver, Todd Gilliland, was filling Justin’s mirror and came home with a great second place finish. Todd is a third-generation driver and son of Cup series driver David Gilliland. Truck veteran Johnny Sauter came home third. Two more youngsters rounded out the top five. Myatt Snider finished fourth. Zane Smith finished fifth. The Trucks always put on a great show there and this was no exception.

The Xfinity teams had the weekend off. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series was twisting and turning in the wine country of California’s Sonoma Valley. Sonoma Raceway hosted the Save Mart 350 on the road course there.

A.J. Allmendinger put on a clinic in road course racing, capturing the first stage win. The teacher, however, made a fatal mistake on a restart. A.J. was shifting up through the gearbox and as he went from second to third he accidentally shifted back to first gear and extremely over-revved the engine, causing a catastrophic failure. To say he was heartbroken would be a gross understatement! He knew he had a car capable of winning and a freak mistake on his part killed it.

Denny Hamlin used strategy to take the second stage win and grab those all-important points. This took him further out of contention for the race win but it shows just how important those stage wins are.

Cole Pern, crew chief for last year’s Cup Champion Martin Truex Jr., showed why he earns the big bucks. He faked coming to pit road and caused others to pit at the wrong time while he had calculated fuel mileage and made one less stop for fuel in the final stage. Truex was the only car on this fuel run situation and it played out perfectly.

Kevin Harvick, who had probably the fastest car in the field, found himself over 20 seconds behind the race leader as the laps wound down. Kevin closed to about a 12-second gap but it was too little, too late and he could only finish second.

His Stewart-Haas racing teammate, Clint Bowyer, lead laps and finished third. Chase Elliott, on a similar strategy as Truex, was able to hang on to fourth place finish. Kyle Busch finished fifth. Of the other two Stewart-Haas drivers, Kurt Busch finished up sixth and the real surprise was Aric Almorola, who finished eighth. This was by far his best-ever road race finish and put all four SHR Fords in the top 10.

This weekend all three traveling NASCAR series will visit the Chicagoland Speedway, with the trucks on Friday, Xfinity on Saturday and the Cup cars race on Sunday.

Coverage this week shifts from Fox Network to NBC Sports, so check your listings for times and channels.

The racing world was saddened by the loss of a driver. World of Outlaw Sprint car driver Jason Johnson, 41, of Louisiana, was killed in a hard crash Saturday while battling for the lead in the feature event at Beaver Dam Raceway in Louisiana.

Jason was named WoO rookie of the year in 2015. Please pray for his family, friends and fans in this time of loss.

Also, NASCAR race broadcaster Wendy Venturini was out jogging on Saturday morning near Sonoma, California, and was struck by a car. She is still in the hospital and suffered a skull fracture and concussion. She is expected to make a full recovery but this could take up to six weeks or longer. She and her husband thanked everyone for their prayers and concern and asked everyone to continue the good will.

I’ve got to shut down this week’s column so just remember, at the end of the straightaway there is always another left turn.

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