by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher

Cale’s Night: After two potential wins were derailed by steering issues, Cale Thomas and the Jay Kiser Racing #23 car got into victory lane Saturday Night at Fremont Speedway. Thomas, who started fourth, got to second on the opening lap, and then passed Larry Kingseed Jr. on lap four or five, and never looked back. Thomas navigated the slick Fremont surface, picking through heavy lapped traffic in the AFCS Opener. Cap Henry was second most of the race, but couldn’t get close enough to Thomas to make a move. Henry may have had a chance inside ten laps to go, but Thomas was able to split two lapped cars and that sealed the deal. It was Thomas’ first win of the 2024 season, and he now holds the AFCS 410 points lead. Cap Henry, Zeth Sabo, Craig Mintz, and Zane DeVault rounded out the top five. 

Peterson Sweeps Wayne County: In addition to the trophy, they should’ve given Ricky Peterson a broom at the end of the night in Orrville. Minus the first two laps in the feature, Peterson was on top of the competition in Wayne County’s opener. Peterson was fastest in qualifying, led all the laps enroute to his heat win and took the lead on lap three of the feature and cruised to the win from there. This was also Peterson’s first win of the season. Brandon Spithaler, Lee Jacobs, Bobby Elliott and Leyton Wagner rounded out the top five. 

Attica Roundup: Rain. Again. That’s five out of seven shows lost this season due to rain. The weather through the week has been gorgeous, until we get to Thursday night into Friday. A brutal start to the season in Attica. 

A Scary Moment: During hotlaps at Fremont, Chris Andrews pulled his car into the infield off the backstretch, immediately hopped out and started patting his legs. He was on fire. Once fire personnel made it to Andrews, they sprayed him down and moved on to the car, but Andrews wasn’t fully extinguished yet. Andrews had to get the attention of the fire personnel again and get extinguished completely before they turned their attention back to the car. Andrews was treated and released from the hospital with minor burns on his legs. 

AFCS 305’s put on a Banger: Zack Kramer, who has spent years away from racing, made his third start of the season Saturday at Fremont, and would lead the field to the green flag. It didn’t take long before Kramer and Dustin Stroup were battling for the lead. As Kramer and Stroup battled, Jamie Miller and Tyler Shullick were able to catch up to the front two and turn it into a four car battle for the lead. Kramer and Stroup got shuffled back to third and fourth. Miller took the lead on lap seven, and I thought he might check out, but Shullick was able to not only keep Miller honest, but Shullick then passed Miller and gapped him on lap 14. Miller didn’t give up, though. Miller tracked Shullick back down and made the race-winning pass on lap 21. This was Miller’s 45th career win at Fremont, and he would go on to get win #46 in the dirt truck feature just a little while later. Shullick, Kramer, Paul Weaver, and Stroup rounded out the top five. 

Swanson Owns Toledo: Ok, I know it’s not dirt-related, but this is my notebook and I can do what I want. But just like peaches and cream, glitter and rainbows, Kody Swanson and victory lane at Toledo just go together. Swanson claimed the pole of the USAC Silver Crown opener on Saturday by .231 seconds. Swanson would go on to lead all 100 laps of the Rollie Beale Classic, his eighth win in a Silver Crown car at Toledo, a USAC record, and it was his sixth win in a row at the event, also a USAC record. CJ Leary, Tyler Roahrig, Justin Grant and Bobby Santos III rounded out the top five in Toledo. 

Kudos: Kudos to both Fremont and Wayne County for getting their respective shows in on Saturday. The temperatures were chilly and the wind wasn’t anyone’s friend. Both tracks bumped up their start times to get the fans home earlier. It would’ve been easy to pull the plug on racing, and it’s totally understandable for the tracks that did, but they persevered and got their seasons underway. 

Quick Hits: 

  • The top three at Fremont, Cale Thomas, Cap Henry, and Zeth Sabo, could very well be your top three in AFCS points by the end of the season. It’s going to be fun to watch these guys battle it out through the year. 
  • Kalib Henry has been pretty solid to start his year in Ohio. He’s shown some good speed early in the nights. His best result of the early season came Saturday at Fremont with a P7 in the Running Boxer 101 car. The Californian seems to be adapting to these Ohio tracks quickly, and once he gets fully comfortable, he could be a nightly contender. 
  • Jamie Miller wasn’t the only Ohio driver to win two features in one night; Doug Drown claimed both the Super Late Model and Super Stock features at Wayne County
  • IMCA Racesaver 305 competitor Caleb Erwin made what I believe was his 410 debut at Fremont Saturday night. He battled motor gremlins most of the night, but it looks like he has a few more 410 races on his schedule this season, in addition to a heavy slate of 305 racing in southern Ohio.