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LANCASTER DRIVER OVERCOMES LONG ODDS, WINS SUPER PRO TITLE IN ROOKIE SEASON

For a rookie driver entering Lancaster Dragway's Super Pro class, the only curve to negotiate is the learning curve.

Super Pro is the top class at the Lancaster drag strip, and it usually takes several seasons for a driver to find success.

Ken Staschak is a quick study. With one race to go in his rookie season, Staschak has clinched the Super Pro title.

"I guess you could sure say that I'm as surprised as anyone that I was able to get the Super Pro championship," said Staschak, driver of the Oliver Auto Repair 1972 Chevy Nova.

After placing second in Pro class points each of the last two seasons, he decided to move up to Super Pro this season.

"When the season started, I had a goal for the first year of placing somewhere in the top eight in points and making Team Lancaster to go to Maple Grove (Pa.) for the Sears ET bracket finals. To get the championship and also make the team was super," he said.

"We had problems in the early part of the year. We had engine head gasket and bearing problems. It took us awhile to get going. When I looked at the points at midseason, Joe Przepasniak had such a large lead that I figured the rest of us were all racing for second. At that point, we wondered if we made the wrong decision to move up from Pro."

Staschak came on strong in the season's stretch run, gaining two runners-up and a win in the last three races. Heading into Friday's 7:30 p.m. Lancaster drag finale, he has an insurmountable lead of seven points.

Several points races are still up for grabs.

Dave Weller, Lancaster's defending Street champion, enjoys a four-point lead over John Plowy.

"All we have to do Friday is win three rounds and the championship is ours, no matter what John does," Weller said. "All year long, I had to race mistake-free and for the most part I did it. We only had one first round loss and only one red light all year.

"Believe me, I've made all types of mistakes in the past. But you can only recognize mistakes and learn from them by making them. I had two wins this year instead of the five I had in 1996, but the competition is a lot tougher, plus we had a lot of races not completed due to rain and curfew."

Going into Friday's finale, the team of John and Mike Hayek is tied with Jack Baron for the Pro title with 85 apiece. Defending Heavy champion Greg Kerl has an eight-point lead over Tom and Paul Kaufman. Rob Schooping has a 94-80 lead in Snowmobile over Bill DiFranco. In Bikes, Joe Morock, with 86, leads Pat Vaughan and Brian Ihrig, who are tied with 80.

Around the tracks

The leaves are not the only thing changing in the hills of Perry these days. The conversion of Perry Speedway from dirt to asphalt is almost complete. As of Wednesday, about three-quarters of the clay has been lifted off the asphalt surface. The clay was laid on top of the asphalt when Perry went to dirt in 1986.

Perry will host its "Asphalt Launch To 1998" on Saturday. Gates open at 11 a.m. Practice for all types of asphalt cars is at noon. The Mini-Stock season championship will run at 2. Time trials for the Late Models, Pro-Trucks, Street Stocks and Mini-Stocks will be at 3, with trophies presented to the fastest in each class. Fans and competitors are urged to call the track at 237-3235 before coming Saturday. Bad weather or a delay in the dirt removal project could postpone activity until Oct 18. Perry will host a $1,000-to-win Enduro Oct. 25.

Wednesday's top six in DIRT Modified Super DIRT Week time trials in Syracuse for Sunday's Fay's 300 were Brett Hearn, Joe Plazek, Bob McCreadie, Billy Decker, Kenny Tremont and Jack Johnson.

Grand Island native Tony Buffomante has won this year's SCCA Star Mazda Series national championship, posting seven wins in his rookie season. Buffomante is testing an Indy Racing League car this week.

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