Fan Notes from Mansfield Speedway All Stars

Saturday, October 14, 2017
Mansfield Speedway ParkMansfield Speedway Park (Tom Myers) 10/13/2017 Mansfield, Ohio – It was a Friday night…..double feature…..sprint car show!

Mansfield Motor Speedway hosted the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint cars for the last event of their 2017 #BACK TO DIRT racing season and it was a double feature. The program consisted of the rained out All Star A-main from May and also a regularly scheduled event.

Mansfield did a good by job running an efficient show. This was my fourth visit this year and it was, by far, my best experience. The second A-main was over by 10:45, the racing was good, the surface held up, the crowd was sizeable, the weather was great, there were 39 cars on hand and the track crew and push trucks were organized.

After this evening’s race, my opinion is that you only need one class at a time racing here. At this venue you can promote big races and get a big crowd without multiple classes of cars and you can run a quicker show. The weather was great for this time of year in Ohio. It was warm and sunny. The track was dusty, but smooth and racy. It developed a cushion during time trials but later on the cushion turned to dust. Drivers tried to lean on it but rooster tails of dirt and lost track position were the result. Later in the evening the track surface started eating tires and there was some concern about flats in the second feature but that didn’t happen thankfully!
DJ FoosDJ Foos A nice field of cars and drivers were on hand. Joining the All Star regulars were Jac Haudenschild and Parker Price Miller, who both had permission from the WoO to compete. Also on hand were Tim Shaffer, Joey Saldana, Carson Macedo, Travis Philo, Trey Starks, Cap Henry, Lee Jacobs, D.J. Foos, Cale Conley, Cole Duncan, Hunter Schuerenburg, Broc Martin, Brad Haudenschild, and Danny Mumaw among others.

When I arrived at 5:45, they were running hot laps. The track then lined up the cars in the infield for time trials, like they did for the Great Lakes Nationals. Only this time, it all worked quicker and much more smoothly. Yes, there were a smaller number of cars, but the track had a plan and they thought it through and executed it. Now, hopefully, they will be consistent going forward.

On this evening Chad Kemenah clinched his 6th series championship, tying Dale Blaney. The All Stars had a solid year of growth, averaging almost 40 cars per show! Tony Stewart was on hand directing the festivities and also the track crew. Blake Anderson told the crowd that there would be some exciting announcements coming up in the near future concerning the All Stars…..
4-wide Salute at Mansfield4-wide Salute at Mansfield The fast qualifier for the regular show was Ryan Smith, with a 14.527 lap. As I watched the action, I realized that this track was bigger than it looks. It looks like a Millstream, like a big 3/8 mile….but it is actually a true ½ mile I think. Maybe it’s the white walls all the way around that give it the look of being smaller. Even with the motors wound up the cars seem to take a long time to get around. Kind of similar to watching a race at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway . At Knoxville, the lap times are high 14 to low 15 seconds…and that without much banking. Mansfield is banked higher.

During time trials, Jordan Mackison set the quickest time up to that point and on his second lap his left front tire came off and he slowed to a stop without turning over. He ended up timing second quck in front of Macedo, Kemanah and Duncan. After time trials, the make-up feature was ready to go. Thirty laps would be the distance with Brad Haudenschild on the pole and Tim Shaffer alongside. My money was on Shaffer.

Shaffer grabbed the lead and by the second lap Ryan Smith had come up and passed Brad Haud for second. After a caution, racing resumed and Shaffer pulled out to a commanding lead until he got into traffic. Smith was really working good around the middle and bottom and passed Shaffer on lap 10 for the lead….Tim then passed Smith back before Brad Haud flipped it in turn two bringing out the red with twenty laps to go. Good race so far! It turned into an open red and the running order was Shaffer, Smith, Jac Haudenschild, who was running up high by the fence and Carson Macedo.
Ryan Smith swept the night with the All Stars at MansfieldRyan Smith swept the night with the All Stars at Mansfield On the restart, Shaffer kept the lead but as the laps wound down, Smith was reeling him in again, especially in traffic. Smith passes Shaffer on lap 26 for the lead as Jac, Macedo and now Lee Jacobs were all over each other fighting for third…maybe just ten to fifteen car lengths behind the top two! Just then, Macedo comes to a stop on the backstretch. On the restart, Smith takes the win, followed by Shaffer, Jacobs, Jac and Chad Kemenah. Smith was elated in victory lane. His car was working really well and recently, the team had been struggling but that seems to be behind them now.

As the heat races were getting underway for the regular program, would found out that Jac hurt his motor in the makeup feature and would scratch for the rest of the evening. The heats start around 8:15 and Kemenah gets the win in the first one, followed by Joey Saldana, Jacobs, Starks and Conley. The top five transfer and the top two go to the dash redraw. In heat two the finish is Helms, Duncan, Philo, Shaffer and Schuerenburg. Heat three got us Macedo, Henry, Jordan Mackison, Trevor Baker and Walter. T.J. Michaels was leading but got too close to the wall and turned over. Mitch Harble then had the lead but something broke and he went to the infield. In heat four, D.J. Foos has the lead and a right front comes off, sending him into the turn two wall hard. He was okay but was done for the evening. The finish was Smith, Spithauler, Price-Miller, Stambaugh and Armstrong. It was then that we learned that Chad Kemenah had clinched his second straight All Star title.

The dashes set up Philo on the pole with Macedo alongside. Smith and Duncan in row two and Saldana and Spithaler in row three. On the four abreast lap before the start, Armstrong gets tangled up with Baker and Hunter Mackison and Armstrong stops with front end damage. He goes to the infield and gets it fixed before the start!

When the green drops for the regularly scheduled event, Philo grabs the lead with Macedo trailing. Smith gets by Macedo but on lap three Duncan spins and keeps going but he did bring out the yellow. Duncan then pulls off before the restart.

When the race goes green again, Philo sprints away from the pack and opens a big lead. On lap ten, Baker rubs the wall in turn three and brings out a yellow…Macedo had passed Smith back for second. The running order is Philo, Macedo, Smith, Saldana, kemenah, Henry, PPM, Spithaler, Jacobs, Helms and Shaffer. On the restart, Philo gets out and away again with Macedo following but Smith gains and passes Macedo and sets after Philo. Once again, with traffic in play, Smith comes up on Philo and after many attempts finally passes for the lead on lap twenty one. Smith is again, using the middle and bottom to navigate faster through the turns. On lap twenty three Henry slows to a stop bringing out a yellow. On the restart, Smith stays out front but Macedo gets past Philo for second and tries feverishly to catch Smith. Macedo tries up high and gets a run on Smith at the turn two exit each lap but Smith then pulls away in three and four. Smith wins again, followed by Macedo, Philo, Kemenah and Saldana.

Wow, two really good features. Smith takes home $10,000 for a night’s work and at the same time gets a big shot of confidence. Now the racers are off to Eldora for the All Star finale tomorrow. I wish I could go but this will be the last race of the season for me.

Thank you All Star Circuit of Champions for a wildly entertaining season and thank you Mansfield Motor Speedway for going #BACKTODIRT. Let’s do this again next spring! In the meanwhile, I will wonder about the exciting news the All Stars are going to announce and at the same time my head will be filled with visions of winged sprint cars battling for $100,000 here on April 27th and 28th of next year.