Story By: RACE OF CHAMPIONS – NORTH EAST, PA – Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series competitors are preparing for their two biggest event weekends of the season. This year the Presque Isle Downs & Casino Race of Champions Weekend runs or the second consecutive year at Lake Erie Speedway in North East, Pennsylvania for the running of the 68th Annual Race of Champions 250, the culmination of the Race of Champions Season and the Series’ biggest event of the year.
There will be a plethora of talent that can capture the limelight in 68th Annual 250-lap “Granddaddy” Modified race.
Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Pennsylvania, won the race at Lake Erie Speedway in June and is seeking his sixth Race of Champions 250 victory. Hirschman is always a threat to winning any event that he enters.
Chuck Hossfeld of Ransomville, N.Y., currently leads the Series championship standings. Hossfeld has one victory this season in the ‘Ol’ Boy Cup at Lancaster (N.Y) National Speedway. Hossfeld has won this race three times in the past.
2017 Series Champion, Mike Leaty of Williamson, N.Y., finished second in the race last year to claim the championship and will be looking to advance one more position as he hopes to win his first ever Race of Champions 250. Leaty won the Race of Champions “Thunder by the Thruway” race at Lancaster on August 2nd.
“There was so much going on last year,” stated Leaty. “We are really not in the hunt for the points championship this year, so that’s not on our mind, but winning is and we certainly had a car capable of winning the event last year, but I knew we also had the championship riding on it, so that definitely played a role in how aggressive I was at the end of the event. We don’t have that this year, so we will see how things go.”
Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, N.Y., will be looking for his first win in the 250, while seeking his third consecutive win in the preliminary 75-lap $2,500-to-win Sportsman Modified Series race on Friday night. Emerling won the season opener at Lancaster in May and in the Series visit to Jukasa Motor Speedway in Ontario in July.
“We have had our eyes on the 250 for several years,” stated Emerling. “We’ve finished second at Oswego, the year we won the championship and we are trying to get the handle on Lake Erie. We will put our best foot forward and see where the chips fall when the checkered flag flies.”
Andy Jankowiak of Buffalo, N.Y., was making a late race run to the front in last year’s edition of the event, but was involved in a crash that took him out of contention. Jankowiak is currently second in the championship standings.
The race pays $12,500 to the winner, with 26 starting positions paying $1,000-to-start.
Several Guaranteed Starting positions for the 68th Annual Race of Champions 250 have been awarded throughout the 2017 and 2018 season. Matt Hirschman (Concord Motorsports Park – North/South Shootout); Jimmy Blewett (Wall Stadium – Turkey Derby); Ryan Preece (Concord Motorsports Park – North/South Shootout); Ron Silk (Seekonk Speedway – Open Wheel Wednesday) all have guaranteed starting positions for the event.
In addition the 68th Annual Race of Champions 250, the Race of Champions Asphalt Sportsman Modified Series, the Race of Champions Late Model Series and Race of Champions Super Stock Series will all conclude their seasons. Currently Connor Sellars of Owego, N.Y., leads the Sportsman Championship. Eldon King, III or Delavan, N.Y.., leads the Late Model title chase.
Tim Gullo of Elmira, N.Y., is out front over Joe Mancuso of Buffalo N.Y.by just 5-points in the Race of Champions Super Stock Series standings. The Super Stocks race on Friday night, September 28 at Lake Erie.
Travis Montgomery of Ontario, N.Y., is ahead in the inaugural Race of Champions Four Cylinder Dash Series standings by 30 over Austin Montgomery of Ontario, N.Y., and 32 over Jody London of Rochester, N.Y. The Dash Series races Saturday, September 29 at Lake Erie.
The Lancaster National Speedway Street Stocks also take part in the action on Saturday at Lake Erie Speedway where T.J. Cochrane is the defending event champion.