As the local racing season concludes, winners of track point championships are preparing to receive honors at awards banquets. Here is a look at this year's divisional champions:
Lancaster Motorsports Park
Sege Fidanza parlayed eight wins into his seventh career Lancaster Modified championship. His biggest triumph was the Budweiser 100 in June.
Tim Windnagle survived a competitive season to secure Late Model honors. Jerry Gradl Jr., a second-generation driver, gathered enough wins and points to grab the Sportsman title.
Jarrod Brown proved to be the best in Street Stocks while Jim Ling drove his "Pink Flamingo Special" to the top spot in the Strictly Stocks. Jared Turnbull drove hard all season to capture the Hutchins Automotive TQ Midgets Series, driving for veteran car owner Harry Macy.
Lancaster still has one drag racing IHRA points meet remaining, Saturday at 11 a.m. Most of the divisional championships already have been clinched. Rick Thurnherr Sr. needs to win only one round Saturday to gather the Super Pro championship, the fourth of his career. Greg Kerl has a commanding lead in the Pro category as does Joe Skok in Heavy.
Alan Fletcher and Joe Karosik have clinched the Motorcycle and Snowmobile standings, respectively. Those earning championships in previously concluded points series are Brian Hahn Jr., Junior Dragster; Glenn Hughes, Quick 8; Bill Pappard, Quick 8 Motorcycle; and Andy Mikula, Street.
Arcade veteran Vern Bliss won the Holland NASCAR Late Model Pro-Stock championship and finished first in the NASCAR Northeast Regional standings. He also won the new Holland Triple Crown Series, which included the Budweiser 150. Neil Hopkins outdrove Neal Dietz in a close NASCAR Pro-Modified championship battle to win his third consecutive title in the class.
Brandon Metz captured NASCAR Pro-Truck top honors as did Chuck Anderson in the NASCAR Charger division. Bob Morgan was best in the Figure-Eight class. He will be the last eight-cylinder-powered Figure-Eight champion as the class will change to four-cylinder engines next season.
Luke Hallick won the NASCAR Challenger/Enduro class while Bob Martell placed first in the Mini-Stocks. Shane Riffel was the Holland Cup Lite champion. The Kennedy driver also finished first in Cup Lite traveling series markers.
DIRT star Danny Johnson of Rochester made Ransomville his Friday night racing staple and walked off with DIRT 358 Modified honors. He also claimed the checkered flag when the big-block DIRT Modifieds returned in the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRT Series 100.
Chad Brachmann, who will move up to the DIRT 358 Modifieds full-time next season, won his third straight DIRT Sportsman championship. Joe Stefanski beat one of the most competitive DIRT Pro-Stock fields in Ransomville history to notch his title. Alex Morris had another strong season to emerge as the Street Stock king.
Phil Vigneri amassed an incredible 10 feature wins this season to dethrone Brian Sage for the DIRT Sportsman title. Sage had won the last three. Jim Johnson took the Super Stock honors while Dan Schulz followed suit in the DIRT Pro-Stocks. Ed Vick Jr. was best in Street Stocks and Don Newton Jr. finished atop the Mini-Stocks.
Dan Bennett proved that consistency is the key to winning point titles. Despite going winless in the Super Sprint class, the Pendleton driver won the championship. This was Freedom's second year of Super Sprints as its weekly headline class, the only track in the state to do so.
Shaun Tidd was the winningest driver at Freedom, scoring 10 Mini-Stock victories and the track title. Jason Tingue was the class of the field in Super Stocks. Greg Oakes won a tight Modified points race over Rich Michael. Andy Michael collected six wins on his way to the Street Stock crown.
Wyoming County International Speedway
Wyoming County has one special race left, the Fall Classic at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Pepsi Modified Series, Late Model Clash, Street Stocks, Pure Stocks, Four-Cylinders, Casey's TQ Midgets and the Midstate Vintage Stock Car Club make up the slate.
Regular season champions were Ron Williams, Limited Modifieds; Jerry Harding Jr., Late Models; Craig Orr, Street Stocks; Dave Johnston, Pure Stocks; Ken Barber, Mini-Stocks; and Rich Watkins, Casey TQ Midgets.
Little Valley ran a six-race, special-events season. Dick Barton won the three-race United Late Model Series. Bob Babbitt finished first in Super Stocks as did Jim Kennerknecht in Street Stocks and Kenny Foster in school bus. Scott Holcomb and Mike Woodring won ESS Sprint Car features, as did Ray Bull in the American Race Drivers Club (ARDC) Midget special. Rex King won the BRP big-block Modified race and Pete Bicknell took the DIRT 358 Modified Shootout.
Hamburg's Lee Webber made the trip to Thorold, Ont., rewarding as he won the Merrittville Dwarf Car championship. Chad Brachmann emerged as the DIRT Sportsman champion for the third straight season. Pete Bicknell won his 14th career DIRT 358 Modified title. Ken Sargent again earned the most points in the DIRT Pro-Stocks. Lloyd Cichocki captured the Street Stocks.
Rob Pietz wears the point crown at the Port Colbourne, Ont., Sunday night race track. Pete Bicknell won an abbreviated DIRT 358 Modified point title in a season cut short by a lack of cars in this class. Ken Sargent was best in DIRT Pro-Stocks while Mark Loveland, Street Stocks, and Norm Mark, Mini-Stocks, rose to the top.
Rally and roast
The Friends of Auto Racing Fan Club (FOAR Score) will host its annual car rally and steak roast Saturday. The rally, which has registration at 1 p.m. and the first car off at 2, begins at Brauer's, 6612 Campbell Blvd., in Pendleton. The dinner concludes the day at Johnny B's, 6856 South Transit Road, Pendleton. Tickets are $16 per person. Call 625-9458 for information.
(This is the final column this season.)