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Penn Can Speedway Preparing For Season
Penn Can Speedway will take important steps in progress toward its April 18 season opener with consecutive Sunday practice sessions April 6 and 13.
Gates open for practice at noon and cars are allowed on the track beginning at 1 p.m. both days.
The upcoming season will again include five divisions of competition each Friday night. The divisions are modifieds, late models, super stocks, pure stocks and sportsman.
Brian Weaver of Windsor, NY is the defending modified champion at the track. Weaver got his championship season started with an opening-night win last season.
Jamie Shea of South Gibson, last season's super stock champion, is moving to the modified division.
Al Coy of Montrose will attempt to defend his late model title.
The Penn Can schedule includes a stop by the United Racing Club Sprint Car Series May 23 to kick off Memorial Day Weekend.
Other highlights of the schedule include: the North-South Series which will add sportsman to super stocks and pure stocks; the July 4 schedule will include The Firecracker 50, a qualifier for the King of the Can race in September; King of the Can will be part of the Sept. 18 Kings Royal Weekend of racing.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Binghamton Senators responded to a demanding stretch in their schedule by going 8-2-1-1 in their last 12 games to move back into the American Hockey League East Division lead.
The Senators won three in a row last week - 5-1 at St. John's Wednesday, 5-3 over Saint John Friday and 3-1 at Springfield Saturday - to clinch a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.
Binghamton is 39-25-8-2 in its return to the AHL this season.
In a long overdue move, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach Glenn Patrick has named Tom Kostopoulos as the team captain.
Kostopoulos is the leading scorer on the team this season and in the AHL franchise's four-year history. More importantly, Kostopoulos is a consistently hard worker in the corners and in front of the net. He is clearly willing to play rough and stand up for teammates without letting that approach get in the way of his other contributions.
Examples of what kind of leader and teammate Kostopoulos is were evident in past seasons and right from the start of this season.
Just 24, Kostopoulos already seems like a veteran on a team stocked with talented young prospects.
When Colby Armstrong scored two goals in his professional debut, it was Kostopoulos who sought out an official and retrieved the puck from Armstrong's first goal as a souvenir for the rookie.
A week later, Kostopoulos battled on the boards to set up Matt Hussey's first professional goal, and then did the same.
It was a lesson Kostopoulos said he learned from the Penguins' first captain, Tyler Wright, who had done the same for him three years earlier.
"Tyler Wright grabbed it for me," Kostopoulos said. "He was pretty pumped up for me just like I was happy for Matt.
"It's always nice to have that first one. Whoever is out there would get it."
Maybe so, but the fact is Kostopoulos was the one who made sure the pucks were saved each time.
"Everyone should learn how to play like Kostopoulos," Patrick said. "He plays with a passion for the game."
The First Union Arena's other professional sports tenant began preparation for its second season.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers of the arenafootball2 league opened training camp with a new coach, Dean Cokinos, a former head coach with Berlin in NFL Europe.
"Adding that blue-collar toughness is what we're looking to do," said Cokinos, who will try to help the team improve on a 6-10 record in its first season.
With the completion of the basketball tournament, high school sports around the state are in the gap between the end of the winter season and the start of league competition for spring teams.
Bishop Hoban of Wilkes-Barre was the only District 2 basketball team that made it to the final week of the season. The Lady Argents reached the Class AAA semifinals before being eliminated.
Courtney Parvin, a 5-10 freshman forward from Brackney and Montrose High School, appeared in the NCAA Division III women's basketball tournament in her first year of college basketball.
Parvin appeared in all but one game as Springfield College of Massachusetts went 20-9 and became the first team to ever win three straight New England Women's and Men's Conference titles.
Springfield's season ended in the first round of the NCAA tournament with a 61-50 loss to Salem State. The team was seeded sixth in the Northeast Region.
Parvin ranked ninth on the team in total points and minutes played. She was the most accurate 3-point shooter, going 7-for-15 (46.7 percent).
While averaging 12 minutes per game, Parvin shot 39-for-104 from the floor and 15-for-23 from the line. She averaged 3.6 points and 2.3 rebounds. She also had 14 assists, 10 steals and three blocked shots.
In the NCAA tournament game, Parvin played five minutes, grabbed a rebound and did not attempt a shot. She played 10 minutes in the 50-47 conference championship game victory over Coast Guard.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
BUSCH Repeats At Bristol, Bristol, TN Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 97 Rubbermaid Ford won the Food City 500 for the second year in a row. His teammate Matt Kenseth finished second in another Ford, and Bobby Labonte was third in a Chevrolet.
Busch gained the lead from Labonte on a restart during lap 404 and led the remainder of the race. His margin of victory was about six car-lengths.
He led 112 of the 500 laps for his fifth career win, and became the sixth different winner of 2003.
Kenseth's runner-up finish gives him a 138-point lead over Busch in the Winston Cup standings.
Jimmy Spencer and Jeff Gordon dominated the race, but the outcome was decided by a late caution that left several contenders on pit road.
Only six cars finished on the lead lap, and three of those belonged to Roush Racing. Greg Biffle, who ended up fifth, was the top rookie.
Four of the top-five cars were Fords.
The highest finishing Dodge driver was Sterling Marlin, who came in sixth.
Polesitter Ryan Newman was involved in an accident and finished 22nd, four laps down.
Kyle Petty was taken to a local hospital after hitting the wall late in the race.
He was awake and alert in the infield care center, and the trip to Bristol Regional Medical Center appeared to be precautionary.
Petty became involved in an accident with Ward Burton and Robby Gordon.
"He took a hard lick," said Petty's crew chief, Steven Lane. "I think that when he came to, he said he could get out on his own. He'll be OK.
"He just said that he hurt all over."
Top ten finishing order: 1. Kurt Busch, 2. Matt Kenseth, 3. Bobby Labonte, 4. Ricky Rudd, 5. Greg Biffle, 6. Sterling Marlin, 7. Kevin Harvick, 8. Jimmie Johnson, 9. Jeff Gordon, 10. Kenny Wallace.
KENSETH Is Points Leader Top-10 points leaders after 6 of 36 races: 1. Kenseth-935, 2. Busch-797, 3. Stewart-797, 4. Waltrip-783, 5. Earnhardt Jr.-749, 6. Johnson-743, 7. Craven-735, 8. B. Labonte-732, 9. Rudd-695, 10. J. Gordon-694.
Another Tire Coming To NASCAR NASCAR officials denied there would be another brand of tires on Winston Cup and Busch series cars after Michelin Tire Co., promoted their own brand during advertising last week at Darlington.
According to NASCAR, Goodyear's contract as the official tire of NASCAR runs through the 2007 season.
But could Goodyear be heading for the exit like R. J. Reynolds Tobacco is, who sponsors the Winston Cup series?
Less than a month ago, Reynolds, who has a contract through 2005, announced they were leaving NASCAR. They also hinted they would like to help NASCAR find another sponsor, so they could exit earlier than 2005.
Some analysts say Goodyear is having a tough time, financially. How long it will take them to break out of their downward earning's slump is another question.
But what all racing teams agree on is, they don't want another tire war, like the one that erupted between Goodyear and Hoosier in the 1980s.
During the years when both companies supplied tires, teams were free to use whichever manufacturer they wanted to. They could even switch a brand of tire during a single race.
"I don't think NASCAR should go back the way it was back then," said Darrell Waltrip. "I was driving back then and the thing like to have driven me crazy. You didn't know which tire to use, or which one was the best.
"If the Hoosier was softer, which would make it grip better, then Goodyear would use a harder compound, which would make it last longer, but not grip quite as well.
"And at each track, the brands might be different than the week before. It was confusing. I wouldn't want to see them go back."
According to John Darby, Winston Cup Director, talk of switching tire brands, or Goodyear dropping out is just gossip.
But what happens if the racing business is producing a strain on Goodyear? What, if like Winston, they want out?
"Well, I don't see that happening right away," continued Waltrip. "I'm sure NASCAR has a good grip on the tire situation. But I just don't see them letting anything like what happened in the past, pop up again."
HARVICK Wins Bristol Busch Race, Bristol, TN Kevin Harvick avoided much of the trouble that plagued many other drivers to win Saturday's Busch Series Channellock 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Harvick took the lead from Scott Wimmer with 97 laps remaining and then held off a hard-charging Tony Raines.
It was just one year ago at the same track that Harvick got into trouble with NASCAR. After being bumped out of the race by Greg Biffle, Harvick charged Biffle in the pit area.
For his actions, he was placed on probation.
For Harvick, the 2001 Busch Series champion, Saturday's win was his ninth career victory.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Kevin Harvick, 2. Tony Raines, 3. Jason Keller, 4. David Green, 5. Mike Bliss, 6. Bobby Hamilton Jr., 7. Shane Hmiel, 8. Randy LaJoie, 9. Todd Bodine, 10. Johnny Sauter.
TODD BODINE Is New Busch Leader Top-10 points leaders after 5 of 34 races: 1. T. Bodine-749, 2. Keller-701, 3. McMurray-686, 4. Harvick-669, 5. D. Green-6643, 6. Hornaday-650, 7. J. Sauter-640, 8. Kahne-623, 9. Hamilton Jr.-608, 10. Bliss-606.
The NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series are at Texas Motor Speedway. The Craftsman Trucks do not race again until April 12.
Saturday, March 29, Busch Series O'Reilly 300, race 6 of 34, 200 laps/300 miles, 2 p.m. TV: Fox.
Sunday, March 30, Winston Cup Samsung/RadioShack500, race 7 of 36, 334 laps/500 miles, 12:30 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: What foreign truck manufacturer plans to enter the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and eventually Winston Cup racing?
Answer To Last Week's Question: Tony Raines is running for Winston Cup rookie of the year.
Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter is a syndicated NASCAR columnist. If you have a racing question that you would like answered send it to The Racing Reporter, P.O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL, 36616, or e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even as most Susquehanna County residents are counting signs of spring, Hal Needham is continuing to enjoy winter as he prepares to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah to participate in the 2003 Nike ACG U.S. National Snowshoe Championships on March 29. The race will be run on a 10 k (6.2) mile course at an altitude of 8,500 feet.
Hal, a geographer with Penn State University, moved to Susquehanna County from State College in October, 2002. An avid winter sportsman, Hal turned to snow shoeing as a way to explore the countryside. "My wife, Kari, had done some snow shoeing, so we thought wed try it here. I had actually never seen a snow shoe until the first week of January."
"Most people who compete in snow shoeing races are also competitive runners in other seasons," Hal explains. "All of the new snow shoes are like track cleats."
Hals first race was the USSSA Northeast Regional competition held in Massachusetts on February 1. He placed 49th out of 84 competitors. The regional competition was 7.25 kilometers ( 4.35 miles). Part of the race was run on a groomed trail while about forty percent of the race was through rough, hilly terrain. Hal had trained for his regional race at Salt Springs Park, Franklin Township. "It was a great place to train because it had packed down roads for running and deep powder on the hillsides. These were the exact conditions I faced in the race.
"I was the only runner from Pennsylvania at that race," Hal remarks, adding that there are a number of clubs and teams from New York State. Hal would like to see the sport catch on in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania as well. "We have perfect conditions for this sport and its a great way to keep in shape over the winter," he says.
Hal is delighted that his first winter in Susquehanna County offered the opportunity to learn and compete in a new sport. "After several years of snow drought, this winters snowfall was closer to normal," Hal remarks, adding that he is looking forward to learning more about the sport at the races in Utah.
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