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Larry Ott: More than rain hits Holland Speedway

When Holland Motorsports Complex General Manager Tim Bennett announced the $10,000 Sunoco Pro Modified Triple Crown two weeks ago, he hoped it would provide the catalyst to give the class a renewed and relevant presence at the Southern Erie County oval.

However, only five NASCAR Pro Modified/Sportsman cars showed up for the first of the Sunoco triple-crown events last Saturday.

That is not exactly what Bennett envisioned when he drew up the concept. Saturday’s race was to headline Holland’s 57th season opener but was wiped out as was all racing at Holland by late afternoon thunder storms.

The Triple Crown is set to award a bonus of $10,000 to a driver who can win all three races. Besides Saturday’s race, the Triple Crown series included a July 9 race and the George Decker Memorial 75, July 30. If a driver can win two of the three, a $5,000 bonus will be paid.

Only Mike Fiebelkorn, Dean Kroll, Todd Lorenzo, Jeff Brown and Andy Jankowiak, driving the Matt Druar owned entry, showed up at Holland on Saturday.

Why so few cars?

Opinions vary. Some drivers opted to race Saturday at Wyoming County International Speedway in a $1,200-to-win 40-lapper. Others question Holland’s purse structure and some have had past disagreements with Holland management over other issues.

A few drivers perhaps harbor ill-feelings toward Bennett due to the fact that he opted to replace the NASCAR Pro Modifieds as the NASCAR premier weekly division at Holland in favor of the NASCAR Pro Chargers.

The NASCAR Pro Modifieds had been Holland’s NASCAR premier weekly division since 2007 while the NASCAR Pro Chargers were a long-time support class. Bennett cited lower car counts last season as the primary reason for the NASCAR Pro Modified demise. While the NASCAR Pro Chargers are racing weekly at Holland this season, the NASCAR Pro Modifieds are making only select appearances.

In 2015, the NASCAR Pro Chargers averaged 16.2 cars a night at Holland and the NASCAR Pro Modifieds 14.7.

For the record, Lancaster was not racing last Saturday so its Sportsman drivers had a chance to come to Holland. Also, some drivers who sometimes compete in NASCAR Pro Modified/Sportsman decided instead to race in the higher-profile Race of Champion Asphalt Modified Tour event at Chemung Speedrome on Saturday.

Bennett is assessing the situation and said that based on Saturday’s result certain decisions could arise regarding the NASCAR Pro Modified future at his track.

“I don’t know what’s happening there too much yet,” said Bennett. “I’m encouraged by some of the feedback I got with our Sunoco Triple Crown Series. Now were going to assess everything during the week and make a decision on the next two races and maybe to even reschedule this one.”

The NASCAR Pro Chargers brought 13 cars Saturday. Bennett was satisfied with their field.

“I think there was more on the way before the rain,” said Bennett of the NASCAR Pro Chargers. “I’m encouraged by the number of participants that have called us and have an interest in the NASCAR Pro Charger division. We’ll see how that goes. It’s something new and we’re going to have to grow with it.”

Bennett acknowledged that opinions can vary when realigning divisions at Holland or any other track and feels that the move to replace the NASCAR Pro Modifieds with the NASCAR Pro Chargers is still the correct call.

“You take a look at years back when we switched some different divisions around and we’ve done that in years past. We’re doing it now. We feel that it will be a betterment of the whole facility. You know we really need to look where racing’s going at the local level and bring the limelight back into it, and have some fun with the racing. That’s what we’re trying to do. You sometimes have to change with the times and we’re changing with them.”

Naturally not everyone agrees with Bennett’s decision to oust the NASCAR Pro Modifieds in favor of the NASCAR Pro Chargers.

As they have been all winter, the local auto racing jury will be watching this season as situations develop at Holland and will render their individual verdicts by how well they support Holland racing. Under any circumstance one would hope for better results than the five cars that showed up there Saturday.

Reis says thank you

Following two weeks of dusty, very rough and bumpy track conditions to start the season at Freedom Motorsports Park, the third time appears to have been the charm as far as greatly improving the track surface woes.

Freedom promoter Bob Reis was pleased with the track conditions that prevailed last Friday calling it fast, flat, tacky and dust free. Reis thanked the many Freedom drivers who gave him advice during the last two weeks and singled out competitors Andy Michael and Ted Mascho for donating their time and efforts to the project.

Ransomville standouts

Erick Rudolph has had an outstanding 358 Modified season to date at Ransomville Speedway. Rudolph finished second to Ryan Susice last Friday night. Rudolph now has compiled two wins and two runner-up finishes in the first four weeks, He is the favorite when the 358 Modified Super Series visits Ransomville Monday at 7:15 p.m. in a 75-lap race.

Billy Bleich Jr. has won three of the first four Street Stock features run at Ransomville in 2016 including last Friday night.