Few drivers of any ilk, (local stars, regional racers, travelling Outlaws or Crown Jewel specialists), have experienced the highs and lows of the Firecracker 100 like Russ King has over the past seven seasons. As a rising local star, King struggled to find his way into the A-Main in the early years, then returned to one of his home tracks as a travelling member of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series during his eventual Rookie of the Year campaign to run a solid race and now has become one of the defenders of the Action Track. King won last year’s $3,000-to-win Uncle Sam 30 non-qualifiers race, but through it all, he always finds a way to just enjoy the atmosphere and camaraderie more than anything else.
Since winning last summer’s Uncle Sam 30, King has won three more races at Lernerville Speedway during weekly Precise Racing Products DIRTcar Super Late Model competition including two already this season. Confidence is a huge part of the equation and when combined with the experience gained on the grueling World of Outlaws tour, King is hoping to make his mark on the $30,000-to-win Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com A-Main this year.
He doesn’t feel any pressure to do so however, “When I did the Outlaw tour, I was more worried about getting into the show and getting points, but now I could almost care less if we get in or not,” lamented King. “Don’t get me wrong, I definitely want to make it into the big show, but I don’t really get into what other people think. My cousin Mark and I just kind of race for ourselves and do our own thing. Anyone that knows me knows that my favorite part of the Firecracker is hanging out and having a couple of beers after the races no matter what the outcome is. We are pretty lucky to be doing what we like to do every week so you won’t see me crying in the truck if we don’t run well.”
One of the main reasons King doesn’t feel pressure to make the big show is because he knows firsthand that Plan B can be every bit as profitable as making the big race, “From a financial stand point I think I would rather win the Uncle Sam again and call it a night!”
Plus, with three complete shows, there is money to be had every night. “I love the Firecracker because its local and you get to race for money every night and not move the truck!”
But again, it’s not all about the money or winning or the notoriety that comes with it. According to King, “It seems like any event at Lernerville is pretty fun and a lot of it is because of the track. Chad, Dan and the track crew seem like they can do whatever they want to control the outcome of the track on a nightly basis. The first night it could be dead slick, and then the next night it can be wide open fast or they could mix it up with a 50/50 track sometimes. But it always seems like if your good enough, you can pass no matter what the condition is.”
The unique format presents an interesting challenge as your best finish from either Thursday or Friday Night sets the heat race lineups for Saturday. “At a show like this you can’t time trial bad or you’ll dig yourself a hole you’ll never get out of. Everyone’s cars are so equal; so time trials are key.” King went on to explain, “We had some glimmers of hope there last year making both Thursday and Friday nights’ A-mains, but on Saturday we had a good starting spot in the heat and just blew it!”
When asked how much research and development goes into Thursday & Friday nights’ programs to prepare for Saturday, King opined, “I don’t think anyone worries about that until they are in that night’s A-main. If you’re starting in the first three rows you probably are trying to win that night’s race. Now if you start 20th, you may try some stuff to get better for Saturday. But with the weather and how good the track is, you could see a different track every night and throw all that testing away.”
King and the rest of the Firecracker 100 hopefuls will take to the Action Track exactly three weeks from today on Thursday, June 26 for the first of three nights of World of Outlaws Late Model Series competition culminating in the $30,000-to-win 8th Annual Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com on Saturday, June 28. Thursday and Friday will be complete WoO LMS programs and, as mentioned above, the A-Main and B-Main results will determine heat race lineups for Saturday’s program.
Tickets for the biggest race weekend of the summer are available 24/7 on our website www.Lernerville.com by clicking the “Buy Tickets” icon or by calling our office during normal business hours at (724) 353-1511. As always, all advance reserved 3-Day ticket purchases include FREE fan pit pass upgrades for Thursday & Friday Night as well as priority access to the Driver Autograph session on Saturday Afternoon.
At just $69, it’s the best value in racing as you will see three amazing nights of racing and tons of off track entertainment options including post-race fireworks and concerts, driver-fan activities like the Kick It Charity Kickball game, Horseshoe & Cornhole Tournaments and the aforementioned autograph session with every driver in competition!
Kids 10 & under will still be admitted free into general admission with a paying adult, but that offer is not subject to the free fan pit pass. Where else can you take the kids for free for three nights?! Don’t delay, but your tickets today!
– Photo credit: Rick Rarer