By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
There is something about homework, at one time or another, that all of us dreaded, especially if there was homework over the holidays.
That wasn't the case for Selinsgrove's Blane Heimbach this past winter.
He spent countless hours working on theories in the garage over the last off-season and that translated to his third 358 sprint car title at Selinsgrove Speedway. He is now tied with Harrisburg's Chad Layton for the most 358 titles at the track as Layton won the division's first three championships starting in 2001.
Heimbach opened the season with back-to-back wins on April 2 and April 9. He returned to victory lane on July 9. Heimbach established a record for a 25-lap non-stop 358 sprint car feature on April 2 with a time of seven minutes, 34.914 seconds.
Consistency was the key to his title.
He registered four second-place finishes; three third-place finishes, 12 top-five and 14 top-10s. His worst finish of the season was 21st on May 28. Heimbach also had three top-10s in 410 action at the speedway.
He leads Pat Cannon, Etters, a five-time 358 winner in 2011, by a single victory for the most 358 wins at the track.
Jessica Anderson of Berwick was poised to become the first-ever female to finish in the top-10 in points but she had to miss the final points race of the year because of school obligations. She had a career-high second-place finish in the Joe Whitcomb Memorial.
Logan Schuchart of Hanover made an impressive showing in his few starts at Selinsgrove, collecting $12,000 for three wins.
Jeff Rine of Danville made history this year in the late model division as he passed both Richie Jensen, Nescopeck, and Bobby Croop, Berwick, to become the all-time winningest late model driver. Rine won eight times this year, including his 70th win on July 16 to become the division's all-time win leader.
His win total stands at 72. With his fifth consecutive late model title, he's one shy of tying Jensen for the record of six-straight titles which Jensen won between 1989 and 1994. Rine has seven titles overall, the most of anyone at the track. His first title came in 1998.
While Rine was busy winning his fifth-straight title, Donnie Schick, Middleburg, kept his 11-year winning streak alive by going to victory lane Sept. 17. It was his 18th career win. He almost put the Paul Long colors in victory lane one final time last Saturday night as he lost to Sunbury's Tony Adams at the line by .03 seconds. Adams was the only driver other than Rine to repeat in the division this year. He now has 15 career late model wins.
A.J. Hoffman, Richfield, served notice on opening day that he was ready to defend his pro stock title with a win, the first of what would be eight. That tied him with Rine for the most at the track in 2011. He also won the Pro Stock 20 and set a track record in qualifying on April 30 en route to his second-straight pro stock title.
Bob Bussey of Northumberland captured his first-ever roadrunner title. Bussey won his first-ever race on April 2 and then won the following week. He closed out his title run by establishing a one-lap roadrunner record in qualifying on Sept. 24.
There were 13 records established this season at Selinsgrove in 410, 358, late model, pro stock and the roadrunner divisions between qualifying, heats, consolations and feature events.
Nicole Bower of Camp Hill made history on May 29 when she became the first-ever female drive to set fast time during the Keystone Cup event.
Even though Selinsgrove Speedway is wrapping up its season on Oct. 8 with the twice-postponed 13th annual Late Model Open, there are plenty of big races left in 2011, starting with this weekend's National Open for the 410 sprint cars at Williams Grove. Super DIRT Week XL takes place at the New York State Fairground Oct. 5-9. The 50th annual Eastern States Weekend at Orange County Fair Speedway (N.Y.) is Oct. 21-23, while Hagerstown's 24th annual Octoberfest is Oct. 29-30. The World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be held Nov. 3-5.
Today's column is the final motorsports column of the year. Let's hope we have more great racing and fewer rainouts in 2012. There are 169 days until the modifieds return for the Icebreaker V weekend on March 16-17 at Selinsgrove, barring no 410 race before that, but who's counting.
— Shawn Wood covers motorsports for The Daily Item.