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Larry Ott: Scott Just races to honor injured father

On the final Thursday of June, Scott Just was enjoying a Go-Kart racing event at Ransomville Speedway. Then a cell phone call came in with news that a racing family never wants to hear. Just's father, Dave Just was involved in a violent accident that night while racing in a Patriot Sprint Tour event at McKean County Raceway in Pennsylvania.

Although the elder Just had gotten out of his battered Sprint Car under his own power, he later went to the hospital and is suffering from injuries that are still lingering. Scott, a Sprint Car racer himself was back at Ransomville this past Friday night to honor his sidelined father by racing his dad's No. 54J car with the PST.

"My dad has some severe head trauma," Scott said. "It's more along the lines of a really bad concussion and eye trauma. He's resting right now. My dad could be worse but he also could be a lot better for sure. I'm just glad he walked away from it regardless of how bad he is now. You have to look at the positives of it. He's doing better. He's still functioning. Hopefully we'll get him back out in the car soon. I'm just grateful for the opportunity that my father and his wife Rachal have given me to let me race their car tonight and I dedicate this to them.

"I wasn't at McKean that night. I was here racing Go-Karts with the kids at the time and we got the bad news on a cell phone call and obviously everyone started scrambling and hoping that he was okay. He was functioning okay then but it obviously got worse later. After he got out of the car and the adrenaline wore off he realized how bad his head trauma was and he went to the hospital and spent the night. We kind of take it for granted what can happen to you in a car and nobody wants to think about it, especially myself but that's the reality of the situation. These things do happen. My dad is a stickler for making sure we have the best safety items.

"He might be back racing, if not by the end of this year then hopefully by the beginning of next year he'll be good to go. I hope he returns to racing but we'll see what the doctor's say to him and what he really wants to do when the time comes."

Scott finished ninth out of 15 entries in the 25-lap PST A-Main Friday.

GREAT TRACK CONDITIONS

Chuck Hebing, nicknamed "The Cobra", took the lead on lap three of the PST event Friday at Ransomville and dominated the remainder of the distance outracing Ryan Susice and Kyle Drum.

The early portion of Ransomville's 2017 season was plagued by poor and rough track conditions but due to very hard work by Ransomville's track preparation team that situation, based on the last few race events, now appears to be a thing of the past. Friday's track was very smooth, tacky and very racy from top to bottom. Hebing, who is the PST all-time A-Main winner with 44 and is considered as knowledgeable a dirt track expert as there is in area racing gave Ransomville's track surface Friday a glowing positive endorsement.

"This track tonight was absolutely a very racy track," Hebing said while standing in Victory Lane. "You could run right up near the top or there was also a lot of guys who were very good on the bottom. It was good. It wasn't rough but a good smooth track."

SUSICE A BUSY RACER

Ryan Susice is a very busy racer at Ransomville these days. Susice, of Ransomville, is campaigning a DIRT.car 358 Modified this season at both Ransomville and Merrittville Speedway and is also supplementing his 2017 race schedule with appearances in select Sprint Car events. His runner-up PST finish Friday matched his Ransomville PST results in 2016.

Next Friday, Susice will return to Ransomville for the DIRT.car 358 Modified season points finale where he currently leads the standings by 22 over rival Pete Bicknell. If Susice does emerge as Ransomville's season DIRT.car 358 Modified titlist it will be his second in a row at the Niagara County dirt track.

"I finished second in both PST races here at Ransomville last year," Susice said. "I'm real close to having my Modified ready to go for next Friday night. We've been real consistent here all season in the Modified -pretty much all top-two and top-threes. The last month we haven't been out of the top three so we'll just do next Friday what we always do and race hard and go for the win. It's $2,500-to-win next week so that's my ultimate goal to win the race and let the points fall where they will."

EMHOF ACCESSES PST

After Friday's PST driver's  pre-race meeting at Ransomville, PST owner/race director Mike Emhof, of Sodus, took the time to summarize the PST season to date.

"We're very pleased that we're able to come to Ransomville each season," Emhof said. "When the previous promoters, the Friesen family had the track we've been here many times and put on some great shows for them. Now with Parm (Atwal- current Ransomville track owner) and his staff here and working with Jennifer (Jennifer Martin-Ransomville general manager) it continues to be very good. We put on some really great racing here for our fans in the Buffalo market. We do appreciate their support.

"Jennifer and I talked again tonight and everyone can look forward to the Patriot Sprint Tour returning to Ransomville in 2018.

"Car counts are an issue this season it seems like in our sport all together. We've been up and down. It's pretty tough to count on cars at times. We've had some injuries. Unfortunately Dave Just is not with us. He took a pretty horrendous crash and we certainly have well wishes going out to Dave for a continued recovery. He was a staple on the tour. Steve Glover had an internal problem physically and had surgery. This is getting to be the time in the season where the finances start to show. We've had some excellent car counts too in the 30's and 40's some nights this year and hopefully that will become more consistent.

"I'll look at what I need to do as an owner of a series to bring the cars out week in and week out. Maybe it's not traveling for points anymore. We'll be fine. We're in this for the long haul."

While only a handful of drivers have raced the full 2017 PST schedule, as of last week, 87 different drivers have earned PST points this year.

QUICK HITTERS

Freedom Motorsports Park just announced that they will host an Outlaw Modified/ULMS Super Late Model doubleheader at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 16.

NYPA TQ Midget Racing Series spokesman Ken Hanghauer Jr., stated that the group's decision not to race at Lancaster National Speedway following a rain delay Aug. 19, was due strictly to what NYPA felt was "unsafe track conditions for their type of open-wheel cars due to a still partially wet surface and low infield lighting conditions."

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