By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- Let's try this again.
A year after a thunderstorm hit Selinsgrove Speedway -- wiping out what was to be the first-ever World of Outlaws Late Model Series visit to the track-- the series returns this weekend to sanction the 15th annual Late Model National Open with a two-day show.
The weekend kicks off with a 40-lap feature for the touring series on Saturday night paying $8,000 to win. The pro stocks will be on the racing card on Saturday.
On Sunday, the 50-lap Late Model National Open pays $10,000 to win. The limited late models (steel blocks) will join the card on Sunday.
Time trials, heats and a B-Main will set the field for both nights for the Outlaws.
The speedway switches to a 7 p.m. start time this weekend as the gates open both days at 4.
Rick Eckert of York, who began his late model racing career at the speedway in 1985, won the National Open in 2011 and the Fall Classic last year to raise his career late model win total at the track to six.
Eckert finished sixth in the points in 1985 and was third in the points in 1988.
Heading into Labor Day Weekend -- which begins for the Outlaws tonight in West Virginia -- Eckert is fourth in the WoO LMS points, 174 behind points leader and two-time series champion Josh Richards.
"Its been and up-and-down season and there's not been to many ups lately, we're struggling," Eckert said. "We been to some tracks that have been rough on our race car. We've struggled on short tracks, but we are better on big tracks."
The one constant that Eckert noted about Selinsgrove is how fast the track is.
"It doesn't slow down any," he said. "It's a high speed track which makes it interesting. I tend to do decent on bigger tracks as I've raced a lot around here. We're really looking forward to the weekend."
Eckert noted the weekly competition is tough at Selinsgrove, but he feels he can get back to victory lane this weekend.
"We have a slight advantage (on the regular WoO LMS drivers) since we've raced at the track in the past, so I don't see why I can't get back to victory lane this weekend," he said. "The local drivers like Jeff Rine and the Yoders are real tough competitors. I wouldn't count out the local guys, they are good."
Eckert -- who won the WoO LMS title in 2011 -- has a win, 16 top fives and 31 top-10s this season.
Another WoO LMS driver who has had time racing around Selinsgrove is big block modified veteran Tim Fuller, of Watertown, N.Y.
Fuller finished 17th in the 2012 edition Icebreaker 40 as this year's race was snowed out.
"The only thing that I learned from running the modified is that it was a really big track and it will take a lot of horsepower," Fuller said. "We were really cooking around the track in the big block, I can only imagine the speed in late model."
Fuller, the 2007 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year, is sixth in points with a win, five top fives and 19 top-10s this year. His lone WoO LMS win came recently in Michigan.
"Our season has been mediocre at best," he said.
Bear Lake racer Chub Frank has had a hot-and-cold season. He sits eighth in the point standings.
"We've have not been consistent this year," he said. "We have had fast cars some nights and have not been very consistent. It's not where I wane to be and its making for a long season.
"We have not raced at Selinsgrove before, but we where there last year to watch the night before," Frank added. "The track is fast. We're looking forward to racing there this weekend."