This weekend Dale Blaney returns to tracks where he honed his craft as a sprint car driver.
The former Lernerville track champion is coming off a championship season with the UNOH All Stars and, most recently, Blaney from Hartford, Ohio, won the 100th All Star feature of his stellar career.
At 50, Blaney is enjoying life with a new team. Same cars and motors, just a new owner and new car number.
And having that new number might be the toughest adjustment yet.
His car owner, Tony Kennedy, raced the No. 14K for years in southern Ohio and now has turned over the reins to Blaney and longtime mechanic, George Fisher.
For many years, Blaney and Fisher campaigned the No. 2 on the wing of their sprinter, and a new number will take some time to get used to, Blaney said.
“My main problem is finding 14K on the scoreboard rather than the No. 2,” he joked.
“At Eldora [Speedway] the other night, I looked on the board for the feature [lineup] and saw the No. 2 was starting second and the 14 was starting fourth. I thought, ‘Great, starting on the front row,’ but I quickly realized I was starting fourth.
“I’ve been really happy with the way we’ve been running. Every night we’ve raced, we’ve been in the top five except for the most recent World of Outlaw event where we finished sixth.
“I love racing at Lernerville. It’s always a good racetrack, it’s always a fun place to go to. We’ve won a few World of Outlaw races there recently; we really run well there.”
Blaney has two UNOH All Star wins at Lernerville. His first came in 1996 when he collected his second All Star title while driving the Hughes Wheel and Axle No. 94. Blaney’s second and most recent win came in 2010 while driving for Fisher.
The UNOH All Stars will head to Mercer Raceway Park at 7 p.m. Saturday for their first of three visits to the oval.
“We’ve never won at Mercer,” Blaney said. “We’ve always either qualified poorly or missed qualifying for the feature through the heat race and had to run the B-main [consolation race], so we never started better than eighth or ninth.
“It’s hard to win at Mercer from outside of the second-row starting position at an All Star race. We’ve never put ourselves in a good position at Mercer. [Danny] Holtgraver and [Tim] Shaffer have won there recently, but I put that on myself. It’s a tough place, but my confidence is pretty high right now. We’re going to have a good run at Mercer this time.”
This season, the All Stars have several veteran drivers joining the tour after years on the road with the World of Outlaws.
Chad Kemenah, a four-time All Star champion, and “The Wild Child” Jac Haudenschild have joined Blaney, Shaffer and Holtgraver as the drivers to beat on the All Star tour in 2014.
Besides the All Stars at Lernerville, the RUSH Late Model Series along with the Sportsman Modified Series will be on the card. … Motordrome Speedway will be in action at 7:30 p.m. Friday with five divisions at the NASCAR weekly racing series asphalt oval in Smithton. Garry Wiltrout, Bryan Shipp, A.J. Poljak, Anthony Aiello and Paul Koffler Jr. were winners on opening night. … Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway will race at 7 p.m. Saturday.
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