By Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher

The 42nd edition of Ohio Speedweek will look a little different, but in many ways will stay the same. With the sale and eventual disbanding of the All Star Circuit of Champions, the famed Ohio Speedweek has a new home in Aaron Fry and the FAST Series. The sale of the All Stars and fate of Speedweek has been talked about plenty, it’s done and dusted. We’re here to give a preview of the most grueling, and one of the most famous weeks in all of motorsports. Nine races, nine straight nights, nine different tracks.

The Tracks:

Attica Raceway Park: The Bert and Brigitte Emick Classic kicks off Speedweek Friday night, June 7th. Attica has seen six winners in seven 410 races, with Cale Thomas being the only driver with multiple wins at the ⅓ mile oval. It is worth noting that Thomas has won back-to-back shows at Attica, and is coming into Speedweek with a full head of steam. Zeb Wise won last year’s Speedweek show, but he is racing with High Limit, so there won’t be a back-to-back Attica Speedweek winner. Thomas leads the Attica points over Trey Jacobs and Zeth Sabo.

Fremont Speedway: Fremont hosts night two, boasting a $10k payday to the winner. Like Attica, Fremont has seen six winners in seven 410 races, with Zane DeVault sweeping the features on Doubledown Throwdown night. Kalib Henry is the most recent winner at Fremont coming into Speedweek, and he is also the points leader over Cap Henry and Cale Thomas. Kalib, Cap, and Sabo all should be up front, but invaders like Cole Duncan and Danny Dietrich tend to do well at Fremont, Dietrich being the most recent Fremont Speedweek winner.

Waynesfield Raceway Park: Back on the Speedweek schedule, the fan and driver favorite Waynesfield usually delivers on an exciting show. You have to go back to 2022 to find the last time 410’s raced on the high banked bullring. Tyler Courtney won 2022’s Speedweek show at ‘The Field’ and Nate Dussel is the most recent 410 winner, claiming a FAST victory. Randy Hannagan, Mike Keegan, Harli White, and Phil Gressman were all 360 winners at Waynesfield in 2023.

Wayne County Speedway: “Give me an hour, and I’ll give you a racetrack” was a defining moment of the 2023 Ohio Speedweek. Rain put the All Stars and Wayne County owner Jason Flory in a tough spot, but that quote turned into a rallying point and sure enough, Jason gave them a racetrack. Tyler Courtney won that night, with Cap Henry and Ricky Peterson following. I’d keep an eye on Peterson. He’s swept the night at Wayne County twice this year already, and seems to have the place figured out. Four drivers, Peterson, Lee Jacobs, Jordan Ryan and Tyler Gunn have made it to victory lane at Wayne Co. this season so far. Leyton Wagner leads the points over Brayton Phillips and Jonah Aumend. I’m always down for Monday night cheeseburgers and racecars.

Hilltop Speedway: I can honestly say I don’t know much about Hilltop Speedway. I know they’ve tried a few 410 shows in 2023, but that’s about it. Lee Jacobs won an unsanctioned show, Danny Sams won a FAST sanctioned show, and Danny Smith and Wayne McPeek scored OVSCA wins there. Jacobs finished second in that FAST show, and may be one to watch if he shows up on Tuesday night. It’s definitely a wildcard in this year’s Speedweek schedule.

Sharon Speedway: Fresh off of Western PA Speedweek, Sharon dives headfirst into Ohio Speedweek on Wednesday night. No stranger to Wednesday night 410 racing, Sharon could have the biggest car count of the week. David Gravel and Ryan Smith have won the two 410 shows at Sharon so far this season. Not only with the Speedweek competitors have to race against themselves, but they’ll also have the Western PA region drivers, who have been stout as of late. This event was unfortunately rained out in 2023, but look for drivers like Smith, AJ Flick, the Blaney’s, and a driver like Cole Duncan to be mixing it up front with the FAST and Speedweek regulars.

Muskingum County Speedway: After a couple years off Muskingum is back on the Speedweek schedule. Speedweek is usually MCS’s biggest Sprint Car show of the year. They’ve held one 410 show in 2024, a FAST show won by Nate Dussel. Zane DeVault and Emerson Axsom rounded out the podium. Justin Peck was the last Speedweek winner at Musky in 2021. Cole Duncan won the lone 410 race at Muskingum in 2023.

Millstream Speedway: Man, who thought we’d be watching a Speedweek show at Millstream in 2024?? The track has sat dormant since 2016. Kraig Kinser won the final 410 show of 2016 at Millstream, and Dale Blaney won the 2016 Speedweek race at Millstream. Drivers that raced in the final 2016 show that we could see at Millstream include Travis Philo, Stuart Brubaker, DJ Foos, Cole Duncan and TJ Michael. I’m hoping for a good, clean return to racing for Millstream and new owners, Matt and Beth Cogley.

Atomic Speedway: The fun ends on June 15 down in the hills of Atomic Speedway, where another $10k payday will be on the line. Unfortunately for Atomic, no local 410 shows have been completed in 2024 thanks to mother nature. David Gravel and Sheldon Haudenschild scored the two Outlaw wins. Cole Duncan was the highest finishing local both nights, finishing fourth. Atomic usually attracts some different cars we normally don’t see too often in Ohio, and with big money on the line Saturday should be no exception. Tim Shaffer won last year’s Speedweek show with JJ Hickle and Justin Peck following. Atomic should be an entertaining finish to this long, grueling week.

Drivers to Watch: There are quite a few drivers who are throwing their names into the mix for the entirety of Speedweek this year, here are five drivers who I think could make a lot of noise this year and come home with the Speedweek title.

Cale Thomas: Cale and the Jay Kiser Racing 23 machine have been on a tear this season, and it should come as no surprise. Thomas is tied for the lead in Ohio wins (3), top fives (7) and leads the state in top tens (13). He’s been outside the top ten just three times this season. Thomas has wins at Attica, Fremont, and Wayne County in the last couple of years. This team is on a tear, and Thomas has the experience, talent, and the crew to be able to excel at most any track he takes to. If the team can keep the bad luck away, and keep the consistency, they’re serious contenders for the Speedweek title.

Kalib Henry: The Californian is really starting to shine here in Ohio. He’s been fast in the Running Boxer 101 car, and he finally knocked off his first win here last Saturday night at Fremont. Henry has been running in the top five and top ten with the World of Outlaws and High Limit all season, in addition to his good runs within the Ohio local racing scene. Henry’s quick adaptability to tracks he’s never seen before, and Crew Chief Kevin Osmolski’s knowledge are going to make this car a force to be reckoned with all week.

Cole Duncan: There aren’t many tracks in Ohio that Cole Duncan hasn’t won at. Duncan rises to the occasion when there’s stiff competition in town. We all know he can run Atomic with his eyes closed, but he’s also very good at Fremont, Sharon, Waynesfield, Muskingum, and Wayne County. I’m not sure if he’s running the full week, but if mother nature wreaks some havoc, and the cards fall the right way, Duncan could find himself near the top of the standings going into the finale at Atomic.

Zane DeVault: Zane and Lane Racing could be a wildcard thrown into this Speedweek mix. They’re running the FAST Series, so they’ll be at all nine nights, fresh off a shortened (thanks to mother nature) Western PA Speedweek stint. They’re also coming off of a two-wins-in-one-night evening at Fremont a couple of weeks ago. The only downfall here is the team has had to rebuild a few cars this season already. If Zane can keep the car on all four wheels, and build on his momentum, they could be a darkhorse for the Speedweek title.

Danny Dietrich: So Dietrich has almost won Speedweek already. There aren’t too many drivers that have won shows during both Ohio Speedweek and PA Speedweek (Cole Duncan is also on that list). Dietrich owns wins at Attica and Fremont already, and tends to find himself at the front of the field at the end of the night. In my opinion, Dietrich gets better with each Ohio trip, and his 2024 season is off to a phenomenal start. It’s a recipe for a Speedweek title.

There you have it. Ohio Speedweek is upon it, and I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out this year.