North East, Pa. – Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series fueled by Sunoco competitors are preparing for their biggest event of the season. This year Presque Isle Downs & Casino Race of Champions Weekend moves to Lake Erie Speedway in North East, Pennsylvania for the running of the 67th 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 67th Annual 250-lap “Granddaddy” Modified race.
Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Pennsylvania, won the race at Lake Erie Speedway in June and currently leads the Series in the victory column with four victories throughout the season.
Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, N.Y., is the defending Series champion and current point-leader this season. Emerling has scored two victories to date and came up one spot short in last season’s 250-lap race.
“We have our eyes on this one,” stated Emerling. “It’s our biggest race of the season and we are definitely looking forward to it.”
The series has had three new winners thus far in 2017 and the potential for another new winner is there.
Bryan Sherwood of Binghamton, N.Y., won his first career race at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway. Tyler Rypkema of Owego, N.Y., put his machine in victory lane back in June at Lancaster (N.Y.) National Speedway in June and most recently, George Skora, III of Eden, N.Y., captured the prestigious Tribute to Tommy Druar / Tony Jankowiak 110 at Lancaster (N.Y.) National Speedway in August.
Skora heads into the Lake Erie event with the most experience at the North East facility as well as Late Model track championship there in 2013.
“It’s going to be a great race,” explained Skora. “The experience at the track might come into play in the late going. It’s going to be different. The fans aren’t going to want to miss this. It’s a beautiful facility and we can race on every inch of it.”
The race, which was advertised to pay $12,500 to the winner, has been changed to pay $13,013.13-to-win in honor of Ted Christopher, who suddenly passed away recently, with 26 starting position paying $1,000-to-start. Racers like Jonathan Kievman (Jonny Kay) of Deerfield Beach, Florida and John Fortin, Jr. of Holtsville, N.Y., are making their plans to compete in the annual race.
Several Guaranteed Starting positions for the 67th Annual Race of Champions 250 have been awarded throughout the 2016 and 2017 season. Matt Hirschman (Myrtle Beach Speedway – Myrtle Beach 400); Eric Mauriello (Wall Stadium – Turkey Derby); Andy Seuss (Concord Motorsports Park – North/South Shootout); Ron Silk (New Smyrna Speedway – Richie Evans Memorial) all have guaranteed starting positions for the event.
In addition to all of these talented drivers, Chuck Hossfeld of Ransomville, N.Y. – 3 time Race of Champions winner; Zane Zeiner of Bath, Pa., who is a previous Race of Champions winner as well Andy Jankowiak of Buffalo, N.Y., Mike Leaty of Williamson, N.Y., will be competing in the 250-lap race.
There will be no shortage of young talent led by Tommy Catalano of Ontario, N.Y., who finished second at Lake Erie in June is poised to take his first Race of Champions Modified Series victory. Catalano is coming off a win with the Race of Champions Asphalt Sportsman Modified Series in Canada at Delaware (Ontario) Speedway.
“It’s going to take a lot of different things going your way to win that race,” offered Catalano. “You just have to work all day and put yourself in a place that gives you the opportunity to have a chance at the end. We were close in June and we will see how this goes. It’s going to be a great event.”
In addition, the 67th 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, Catalano leads the Sportsman Championship. Bob Weber of Clarence, N.Y., leads the Late Model title chase by just 3-points over Eldon King, III of Delevan, N.Y., and Catalano, who are tied for second. Tim Gullo of Elmira, N.Y., leads the Super Stock Series standings.
The Four Cylinders will take part in the Pennsylvania State Troopers Championship as well as the Lancaster National Speedway Street Stocks in Saturday action at Lake Erie. The Classic Asphalt Modified Series (CAMS) will be in action for vintage and modified racing fans to admire their classic machines.
If you are planning to attend the Presque Isle Downs & Casino Race of Champions Weekend and camp at the facility, spots are being sold at the track for the designated camping areas. Tickets and camping spots for the Presque Isle Downs & Casino Race of Champions Weekend are available at the Lake Erie Speedway ticket office 814.725.3303.