2016 is shaping up to be a great racing season in central Pennsylvania. With the addition of some drivers that were travelers last year back to the fold, and some improvements at racetracks like Susquehanna and Port Royal, this could be an excellent season to check out racing as much as possible. There are many drivers to look for that will be favorites to pick up numerous feature wins and have excellent seasons, but we here at TDN are going to break it down for you.
– After an excellent start to the season in Florida, and picking up two wins already in central PA, how can you not look at Hodnett as the favorite when he enters the track this season. The defending central PA points champion will be a threat whenever he shows up, and I would be willing to venture that he picks up a World of Outlaws win or two this season as well.
|Patrick Miller Photo
Danny Dietrich – Dietrich has been a breakout star the past couple of years in Pennsylvania. His hard driving style and penchant for great victory lane interviews has made him a favorite in central PA in a hurry. Much like Fred Rahmer before him, Dietrich has become that driver you either really like, or really hate. Look for Dietrich to pick up where he left off last year with a lot of wins, and maybe even some wins when he is traveling.
|Patrick Miller Photo
Brian Montieth – Montieth is a high side runner who is always charging to the front. The defending Lincoln Speedway champion boasts a lot of wins and a lot of great battles with central PA’s best every year. The only thing eluding him so far in his career is he hasn’t been able to get over the hump and pick up a World of Outlaws feature victory. That could all change this season, especially with as fast as he has been at Lincoln to start the season.
Stevie Smith – Even though Stevie is a part-time runner in central PA running for the Fred Rahmer race team, he has to be considered a favorite every time he’s on the track. Even on a limited schedule he always manages to rank near the top of wins in central PA, and this year should be no different. Look for Smith to lead the charge against the Outlaws when they’re in town.
Lucas Wolfe – Wolfe was the Port Royal Speedway champion last season, and he’s always fast every time he’s on the track. While he may not have the wins some of the favorites have, he is a great time trialer and with his touring past you can expect him to battle for wins night in and night out.
Brent Marks – Marks had an okay season last year. He’s always fast when he’s on the track, but the wins have been harder to come by the past couple of seasons. But after having a top 5 run going in the Kings Royal before exiting the event, and qualifying for the Knoxville Nationals I would expect Marks to get over that hump and pick up many wins this season.
Ryan Smith – The winner of a World of Outlaws race a couple seasons ago at Port Royal, and a traveler with the All Stars last season, Smith could breakout for a lot of wins this year. He picked up 3 feature victories with the All Stars last season on some tracks he was unfamiliar with. All that time on different surfaces should only help Smith when he returns to Pennsylvania to run.
Lance Dewease – After a less than stellar 2015, Dewease scaled back his schedule to a part-time schedule this year and teamed up with PA legend Donnie Kreitz to run his car this year. After Justin Henderson had good runs at the end of the year running for Kreitz, and given Dewease’s skill and knowledge of PA tracks, this team, much like the Smith/Rahmer combination could be deadly.
|Patrick Miller Photo
Freddie Rahmer/Brandon Rahmer – The Rahmer brothers showed increasing speed and consistency last season in their second season in full-time sprint rides. Both of them picked up their first career feature victories last season at Lincoln and after looking fast the first few weeks at Lincoln, I would expect them to continue to improve throughout the season.
Steve Buckwalter – In my opinion this was the most underrated driver in all of central Pennsylvania last season. Buckwalter was the winner of the Speedweek show at Port Royal and picked up many other wins along the way. The difference last year was he showed consistency at both Port and Williams Grove. He should be a factor all year long.
Alan Krimes – Krimes is one of those guys that does more with less every year. A lower funded team, Krimes always is competitive at both Williams Grove and Lincoln. Look for that to continue this season.
Williams Grove champion – Greg Hodnett
Lincoln champion – Brian Montieth
Port Royal champion – Lucas Wolfe
PA Speedweek champion – Danny Dietrich
Drivers who will win WoO races this year – Hodnett, Dietrich, Montieth, Stevie Smith
Most wins at Susquehanna 410 shows – Danny Dietrich