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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lancaster’s U.S. Open by the numbers

credit: Lancaster National Speedway
Western New York’s racing finale, the 28th annual U.S. Open at Lancaster National Speedway, is coming up on September 23-25. The region’s biggest names in asphalt short track racing will convene at the Buffalo-area ½-mile oval for three days of intense competition. Lancaster Speedway has offered these important numbers heading into the biggest race weekend in the region.
  • 28: This is the 28th annual U.S. Open event. It was started in 1989 by the late Alex Friesen to create a major end-of-season event at the facility. It was his vision that made the Open into what it is today.
  • 345: There will be 345 laps of feature racing action among the seven divisions of competition.
  • 25: That was the car number of the first U.S. Open Modified feature winner, Jan Leaty. Leaty is one of the greatest Modified drivers to come out of Western and Central New York. The Williamson, N.Y. native won the U.S. Open 125 for a second time in 2008. He retired from driving a few years ago, while his son, Mike, has followed in his footsteps. He also is the crew chief for Patrick Emerling, who has won all three Modified races held at Lancaster in 2016.
  • 7: The number of wins this season at Lancaster for Patrick Emerling. The Orchard Park, N.Y. driver has been the hottest thing in open-wheeled racing in 2016, including wins in the Queen City Clash 75 on May 21, the Ol’ Boy Cup 60 on June 30 and the Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial 110 on August 20, plus four Sunoco Sportsman feature wins. He also has Race of Champions Modified Series wins at Oswego, Holland and Chemung, and he won the George Decker Memorial Sportsman race at Holland this year.
  • 6: The record for most career U.S. Open feature wins is six, which is held by three drivers. Kirk Rutherford was the first to reach the number with six wins in the Sportsman division (1996, 97, 99, 2002, 06 & 07). Andy Jankowiak also has six wins, with one in the 2006 Street Stock race and then five-straight wins in the Sportsman U.S. Open feature from 2010 to 2014. Jeremy Haudricourt has six wins in the Legends division at the U.S. Open. Chuck Hossfeld and Bobby Weber both have another shot at joining this club in 2016. Hossfeld is in search of his sixth win in the U.S. Open Modified 125. Weber will try once again for his sixth career Xpress Signs Late Model win that weekend. Both drivers have won the most U.S. Open features in their respective divisions.
  • 3: Karl Hehr is the only driver with U.S. Open wins in three different divisions. Hehr won the inaugural Late Model (then Super Stock) feature in 1989, he won the Sportsman race in 1995 and then scored what might be the most popular win in the event’s history when he captured the 2002 Modified feature.Three different drivers have also won multiple U.S. Open features in the same year. The first was Andy Mackereth in 1997 when the TQ Midgets ran features on both days. John Julicher Sr. won both Late Model features in 1999, back when there were still separate features for the stock frame built and tube chassis designed (Late Model Pro Stocks) cars. Current Sunoco Sportsman driver Mike Ramos swept both the New York Super Stock and Big 10 Super Stock Series races in 2013.
  • 14: A total of 14 drivers have U.S. Open wins in multiple divisions. The list includes: Vern Bliss, Tony Hanbury, Karl Hehr, Todd Hoddick, Bobby Holmes, Andy Jankowiak, Dave Johnson, John Julicher Jr., John Julicher Sr., Danny Knoll Jr., Erick Rudolph, Kyle Sharpe, Terry Weldy and Scott Wylie.
  • 5: There have been five different father/son combinations to win at the U.S. Open. The first was the Skora family in 2001 when Rich Skora won the Street Stock feature 10 years after his father, Bob, won in the Late Models. Ten years after that, Rich’s brother, Scott, won the Late Model feature in 2011.The Hirschman family has been synonymous with Modified racing and they have combined to win five U.S. Open Modified features. Tony Hirschman won the second ever U.S. Open Modified race in 1990, while Matt Hirschman is the four-time defending champion of the event.John Julicher Sr. is the greatest Late Model driver in Lancaster Speedway history, including three U.S. Open titles. His son, John Jr., has won in both the Street Stocks and 4-Cylinders.The Wylie family has been to U.S. Open victory lane seven times, including three times with Late Model great Rick Wylie and four times with his sons Scott and Jake.The first son to win before his father was Jared Turnbull in the TQ Midgets in 1999 six years before his dad, Wayne, won in 2005.
  • $59,845: That is the total purse to be paid out among the seven divisions. The total does not include any lap money or other bonuses to be paid out.

The 28th annual U.S. Open at Lancaster National Speedway opens Friday, September 23 with practice for all divisions plus the U.S. Open Kickoff Party featuring live music from 1980 Something. The Sunoco Sportsman headline Saturday night’s action with a 75-lap feature, plus the Roaming Buffalo 4-Cylinders, Super Stocks and NYPA TQ Midgets. Sunday’s main event is the U.S. Open 125 for the Race of Champions Modified Series. The Advance Auto Parts Street Stocks and the X-Press Signs Late Models presented by Abbott Rd. Pizza will also be in action on Sunday. The full schedule of events is available at www.thelancasterusopen.com.

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