Story By: SHAWN BROUSE / WILLIAMS GROVE SPEEDWAY – MECHANICSBURG, PA – The Champion Racing Oil Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway, coming up this Friday and Saturday, July 23 and 24, will celebrate its 20th running when the gates open up later this week.
The first edition of the current Summer Nationals was a three-day event back in 2002 with a pair of preliminary mains taken by Danny Lasoski and Joey Saldana while local driver Greg Hodentt upended the World of Outlaws for the big score on Saturday driving for the Apple Motorsports stables.
At the time, the three-day World of Outlaws show at Williams Grove was billed as the first of its kind since only one other previous three-day stand at the track in history, also billed as a Summer Nationals, in August 1984 when Sammy Swindell, Brad Doty and Steve Kinser took wins.
Current World of Outlaws kingpin Donny Schatz took two of three at the track in 2003 with Don Kreitz Jr. taking a preliminary night.
The 2004 version saw Lance Deweae and Lasoski split a pair of mains.
Another three-day format in 2005 saw Jason Johnson score a popular victory for local owners Jim and Sandy Kline while Paul McMahan scored another prelim with track powerhouse Fred Rahmer taking a raucous victory in the Saturday finale.
In 2006 outlaws invaders Terry McCarl, Craig Dollansky and Dary Pittman swept the three-day affair.
Donny Schatz bookended the three-day event with wins in 2007 while local Brian Leppo of Spring Grove was sandwiched in the middle with a win aboard the Swope No. 71 machine.
Becoming a two-day event in 2008, outlaws Donny Schatz and Daryn Pittman swept the shows but the following year belonged to local drivers Greg Hodnett in the Kline No. 22 and Cody Darrah with Darrah taking the win in a make-up feature held during National Open weekend in October.
The 2010 version was all Pennsylvania Posse as Lance Dewease took night one aboard the Don Owens No. 30C and Hodnett returning for another win for the Kline team.
Hodnett struck again in 2011, this time in the Trone Special No. 39, along with outlaw driver Jason Meyers.
Just one show was completed in 2012 with Darrah back for another win, this time aboard an outlaws mount owned by Kasey Kahne.
Again, one show was completed in 2013 with Schatz again a victor but the pendulum swung the other way again in 2014 when locals Hodnett and Dewease swept the two-day weekend show with Hodnett now driving for Michael Heffner and Dewease aboard the Conduit Connections No. 14.
The locals made it back-to-back sweeps of the event in 2015 when Danny Dietrich and Stevie Smith trounced the outlaws.
Pittman was back for a win in 2016 with Dewease, now aboard the Kreitz No. 69K, taking the Saturday finale.
Local driver Brock Zearfoss piloted the Long No. 58 to the win on night one in 2017 while Greg Hodnett ended up scoring the second feature aboard the Heffner mount albeit as a make up main in late September.
Only the first night was completed in 2018 with Dewease returning for a victory, still in the 69K.
The 2019 Summer Nationals saw Tim Shaffer pilot the Rudzik No. 49 to the opening night win while Schatz got back to Summer Nationals victory for the first time since 2013.
Shane Stewart and David Gravel are the defending winners of the two races.
Stewart fended off the challenges of Anthony Macri to score the Friday night main while Gravel dominated on Saturday to lead flag to flag in the Jason Johnson No. 41.
Adult general admission for July 23 is set at $30 with Saturday’s race priced at $35. Youth ages 13 – 20 are priced at $15 each night. Kids ages 12 and under are always admitted for FREE at Williams Grove Speedway.