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  • Phil Allaway

Lebanon Valley Brings Wall-to-Wall Entertainment for Mr. Dirt Track U.S.A.

Saturday night is the biggest night of the season at Lebanon Valley Speedway as the Super DIRTcar Series comes to town for their annual assault on the high banks. This year, even more scratch is at stake as the winner’s share of the purse has increased from $17,500 to $25,500 thanks to additional sponsorship from Upstate GM Dealers and Amsterdam Trailer Repair.

A large entry of Big Block Modifieds consisting of Lebanon Valley regulars, Super DIRTcar Series regulars and some wildcards are expected to compete in the 100-lap feature. Last year’s race had 38 cars attempt to make the feature. Only 32 qualified and 31 started. With the extra $8,000 on the line, the number of cars attempting to qualify will likely rise into the 40s.

Who’s going to be there? Well, there’s the Lebanon Valley regulars, led by 2018 Lebanon Valley Speedway Modified champion Brett Hearn. He’s the defending champion of the race and has been consistent this season. Ronnie Johnson has also been very consistent in finishing second in points despite failing to win. Kenny Tremont Jr., Keith Flach, J.R. Heffner, Eddie Marshall and Kolby Schroder should be up there in contention as well.

Super DIRTcar Series regulars include the ever-present Matt Sheppard, who won back in 2016. He’s currently leading the Super DIRTcar Series points by 94 over Eric Rudolph on the strength of three wins and 13 top 10 finishes. Max McLaughlin, who made his Camping World Truck Series debut at Eldora, has improved significantly in his second full year. Finally, one cannot count out Baldwinsville, N.Y.’s Jimmy Phelps, who has been very competitive at Lebanon Valley in previous years

As far as wildcards go, the biggest one is likely Stewart Friesen. The Camping World Truck Series playoff contender will be in the house for his first visit of the year. The 2015 winner should be a tough out.

In addition to the Super DIRTcar Series, the King of Dirt Sportsman Series will be on hand for Mr. Crate Track U.S.A. presented by Andy’s Speed Shop. It will be the one and only visit to the high banks for the touring series in 2018.

This will not be an easy race. Sportsman races at Lebanon Valley are heavily contingent on momentum. You have to keep it up in order to be competitive.

There are seven drivers that have competed in all four King of Dirt Sportsman Series races this year. A couple of them race regularly at Lebanon Valley. Rob Maxon is currently second in Lebanon Valley Sportsman points with two victories. Michael Sabia hasn’t raced every week at the Valley, but he’s a regular competitor at the track and the defending champion of the race.

In addition to those two, Marty Kelly, III is full-time on the tour as well. For regulars at Lebanon Valley, Kelly is a regular presence at the track, but not in a race car. He normally serves as a pit reporter, interviewing drivers and providing fans with updates straight from the source.

Contenders Saturday night in the 30-lap Mr. Crate Track U.S.A. feature include Maxon, Sabia, Chris Lynch, Whitey Slavin, John Virgilio, King of Dirt Sportsman Series points leader Connor Cleveland and more. It should be a very interesting race.

Normally, Mr. Dirt Track U.S.A. only features two classes. Not so this year. Since the race is now on Saturday night, the Pro Stock and Pure Stock classes will be on the schedule as well. The Pure Stock class will go off with no changes from normal as far as format is concerned. The Pro Stock class will have no heat races, just a 20-lap feature.

The action starts quite early Saturday at the track. As noted on the track’s homepage, the Beer Garden will open at 2 p.m. with craft beers on tap courtesy of Donovan’s Craft Beer of Bennington, Vt., and Dwyer’s State Line Beer & Wine of Pownal, Vt. The first 200 attendees are entered to win one of two $100 giveaways.

In addition to racing in the Mr. Crate Track U.S.A. feature, Lynch will start off his evening by performing with his band, The Pit Crew, inside the Clubhouse at 4 p.m. Lynch is a skilled guitarist and a former contestant on NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Don’t miss it.

The gates open at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, just as Lynch and The Pit Crew take the stage. Tickets are available. General Admission seats are $24, while Premium (Reserved) Bleacher seats are $26. There are a limited number of Roof Top seats available for $30. Indoor Tower seats are sold out.

Premium Bleacher tickets can be purchased online using the link on the homepage. They cover the top four rows of the grandstands. General Admission tickets can only be purchased at the Box Office.

We at Lebanon Valley Auto Racing sincerely hope you come out to West Lebanon Saturday night. The racing should be hard and fast. With live music, good food, good drink, raffles and four classes of racing, there’s something for everyone.

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