|OHSWEKEN, Ont. (May 10, 2019) – Ohsweken Speedway’s 2019 season is just one week away from taking the green flag and it’s anybody’s guess who will be on top of the podium in the Strickland’s GMC Crate Sprint Car division following the September finale. With three of the top-five finishers in last season’s standings and four of the top-eight moving up to the Kool Kidz-Corr/Pak 360 Sprint Car division, a first-time Sprint Car champion seems increasingly likely.
With reigning champion Shone Evans and 2017 titlist Holly Porter jumping into 360s to join 2015 top point earner Dylan Westbrook, only two former Crate Sprint Car champions remain in the division. The first is the division’s inaugural champion, Ryan Hunsinger, who has started his own program for 2019 and will operate beneath a top-wing sporting No.r52. Jesse McDonald, the 2016 champion, makes his return to the division with Glenn Styres Racing in a new-look No.88.
Last year’s breakout star in the division was Brantford’s Lucas Smith. The driver of the No.49L stunned many in his rookie season after moving-up from the defunct Bomber division to finish third in the standings and collect two Feature wins. Looking to take another step forward in 2019 will be Hannah Ferrell, who will run her second season in the Barr Motorsports No.4 after a fourth-place finish in the standings last year.
From there, it’s a laundry list of youthful drivers seeking to further their progress up the Sprint Car ranks. Port Colborne teenager Jacob Dykstra finished sixth in last year’s standings and will look to break into the top-five with the assistance of mentor Shane Ross. Burger Barn Racing’s Dereck Lemyre will look to build on his seventh-place finish with a strong and consistent season.
Flying under the radar is St. Thomas, Ont. wheelman Jesse Costa. The driver of the No.52 was in the championship mix last year before injury sidelined him for part of the season. Costa should be considered a top championship threat in his second full season in the division. DJ Christie turned in a 10th-place overall performance in his sophomore campaign. Now the Beachville pilot will look to crack the top-five in his third season.
With 40 cars pre-registered, it’s difficult to mention each driver set for action, but a handful of popular favourites are looking to continue on early success in their Sprint Car careers including former Mod Lite kingpin Paul Klager, London’s Caleb Wood, 2018 first-time winner Liam Martin, fourth-year driver Jerry Hill, perennial improver Trevor Young and second-year Sprint Car convert Rob Neely.
The rookie class looks particularly strong, with 11 of the 40 pre-registered drivers eligible for rookie-of-the-year honours. Included among them is the reigning Can-Am TQ Midget champion on asphalt, Darren Dryden, who will pilot the Durnin Motorsports No.43. The Can-Am TQ Midget 2018 championship runner-up Adrian Stahle will also make his first foray into Sprint Car racing aboard car No.50. Another familiar name to Ontario racing fans will be Shane Stickel, as the former Canadian Vintage Modified and OSCAAR Modified will try his hand on the dirt behind the wheel of the No.39.
A trio of Glenn Styres Racing teammates will compete as rookies in 2019, including Noelle Teal in the Enriam-sponsored No.14t, Johnny Miller in car No.20 and Spencer Davis in car No.83. Also on the rookie list is former Flamboro Speedway Pure Stock driver Travis Hofstetter (No.2), Eric Gladhill (No.14), Allan Downey (No.19d), Nick Sheridan (No.45) and former Micro Sprint pilot Blake Nutley-Butler who will drive car No.96.
Fans will get their first look at Ohsweken Speedway’s new look Strickland’s GMC Crate Sprint Car division when the 2019 season of Friday Night Excitement gets underway with Auto Parts Centres night on Friday, May 17 featuring Ken Schrader and the UMP Modifieds. Cars will be on track for the first time on Wednesday, May 17 for the rescheduled Test and Tune night. Race time for all weekly events in 2019 is 7:30pm. For the full schedule of events, visit www.ohswekenspeedway.ca.