Craig Murto: Local racing ready to roar

The Opening Day Special at Maryland’s Hagerstown Speedway is set for this Sunday and marks the beginning of the local racing season.

The only afternoon program at the track this year is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. (practice at 12:30) and features Late Models competing for $3,000, Late Model Sportsman running for $800 and $350 for the Pure Stock winner. It not only ushers in the local racing season, but a very busy month of March at Hagerstown Speedway.

The weekly Saturday evening programs begin on March 14 at Hagerstown with a five-division program featuring Late Models, Late Model Sportsman, Pure Stocks, Hobby Stocks and Rookie Cars. The battle for the track championship begins with the first points race on March 21.

March programs get the checkered flag on the 28th with the Hagerstown/Williams Grove Shootout, in which Late Models will have competed at Williams Grove the previous evening and finish up the two-night Shootout on Saturday at Hagerstown. Late Model Sportsman, Pure Stocks and Hobby Stocks are also included on the program.

Due to expected cooler temperatures, March programs begin at 5 p.m. with practice beginning a half hour earlier.

New at Hagerstown this season will be the voice of the speedway. Clifford Dove, known to the local racing community as one of the best regional motorsports photographers, will put his enthusiasm and knowledge of the sport to the test as Hagerstown’s track announcer in 2015. Dove follows in the footsteps of other talented and well-known people who have held the mic at Hagerstown, including (but not limited to) Buddy Long, Glenn Presgraves, and the legendary Frank Sagi.

The latest Hagerstown Speedway news, results, photos, schedule or rule changes can found be on-line at www.hagerstownspeedway.com.

If the weather prevents you from supporting local racing this weekend, you can always keep abreast of the NASCAR reality TV show as it heads into Las Vegas.

I referred to it as a reality TV show, because the storylines are almost too outrageous to be true. First, a number of top teams can’t get their cars through tech to qualify. No matter what you’ve read on social media, that’s the teams’ fault, not NASCAR’s.

Of course, Travis Kvapil didn’t get a chance to qualify because the dually pickup hauling his primary car to the track was stolen from a Motel 6 parking lot. A day later the Cup car itself was found dumped alongside the road, but the dually and trailer were gone. The Supercross motorcycles also were in Atlanta, and a number of Supercross teams had their motorcycles stolen from motel parking lots. I can picture a thief believing he hit the jackpot of motorcycles opening the trailer and realizing he’d best be getting rid of that merchandise.

Some suspected that the theft was meant to draw attention to the fact that Kvapil actually pleaded guilty to a domestic charge, whereas Kurt Busch has yet to be charged and is suspended. Just more reality TV controversy.

When the trucks went to qualify, only one truck got on the track in the final round with enough left on the clock to post a time. NASCAR has got to find a way to stop the teams from playing games like this; it makes the sport look bad. But again, it wasn’t NASCAR’s fault; NASCAR didn’t tell the teams to play those games, the teams simply tried to game the system that was in place. A tweaking of the rules is in order here.

And how about that Joey Logano? He grabbed the pole for both the Xfinity and Cup races, Harvick finishing second to him in Cup qualifying. He finished second to Harvick in the Xfinity race and led the early stages of the Cup event.

Kevin Harvick continued his streak of finishing first or second in Cup races that goes back to last year by finishing second to Jimmie Johnson at Atlanta. But the most impressive run was by Brett Moffitt, who finished eighth while filling in for Brian Vickers. Moffitt, 21, got the top-10 finish in only his eighth start in the Cup series, and first start in a competitive ride. Vickers returns to the seat at Las Vegas.

Only time will tell what reality TV storylines emerge from Las Vegas, so be sure to set your DVR so you can watch it Sunday evening after you get home from Hagerstown.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.