ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. – Brian Montieth cruised to his 66th victory at Lincoln Speedway on Monday night, but his latest celebration played out much different than the previous 65.
Outside a small group of photographers and the track’s camera operator, Montieth stood alone in the newly configured victory lane and fielded questions from announcer John Krall, who remained in the tower, over a microphone on a stand.
Throughout the night – the first night central Pennsylvania savored live 410 sprint cars since March 14 due to COVID-19 forcing a statewide shutdown – all seemed right again, until these safety precautions reminded Montieth of the ongoing economical hurt throughout the commonwealth and beyond.
“I have to say, everyone, please support your small businesses,” Montieth said in victory lane Monday night. “I am one. I know the struggle. These times suck.”
For more than 20 years, Montieth has headed BME Inc., a construction business out of Phoenixville, Pa.
And immediately after expressing gratitude toward his crew, which he hadn’t worked with in nearly three months, Montieth made sure to highlight the lifeblood of local racing.
“Small businesses are what make racing go around, you know what I mean?” Montieth said. “They’re the names on the side of the car. They are putting their money to showcase for other people that [they] are out there. They’re trying to run their business. To have somebody to tell you that you can’t do what you want to do and put your livelihood into, that’s just the wrong way to go about it.”
On March 16, just two days after Lincoln’s last race before Monday, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf issued a statewide shutdown, sending small businesses and its owners into the most anxious and restless time in recent memory.
The central Pennsylvania racing community, Montieth included, didn’t mince words on the matter.
“There are better ways to go about it,” Montieth said. “If one person doesn’t get a paycheck, nobody should get a paycheck and then everybody can be on a level playing field. Then stuff happens a lot faster.”
Perhaps Montieth was alluding to those governmental decisions, but he didn’t provide any additional detail. Either way, though, it doesn’t alter what Montieth’s triumph on Monday stood for: a win for small businesses.
“We know the ups and downs,” Montieth said. “It’s just good to be back.”
– Often teased for being a “porch sitter,” a jab started by Kyle Larson last summer directed toward Pennsylvania-based drivers that mainly race within the state, Danny Dietrich will run with the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All-Star Circuit of Champions – for now, at least.
Dietrich broke the news on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.
“To answer a lot of questions. Yes we are an [ASCOC] team now as it makes the most sense right now, economically,” Dietrich noted in his tweet.
“Excited? Absolutely. Could things change? Yes.”
Dietrich later explained his decision Tuesday on Winged Nation, saying this stemmed from his trip to Pevely, Mo., to run with the World of Outlaws over the weekend.
He and his team didn’t want to drive back to Pennsylvania yet because of the uncertainty surrounding the racing area. So, with plenty of equipment already packed, he figured why not extend his national-touring efforts?
“We were in a situation where we didn’t know what Pennsylvania was going to do after this upcoming weekend or this past weekend,” Dietrich said on Winged Nation. “It’s kind of hard to say what’s going to happen, what our Governor will do now having raced [Monday at Lincoln]. I think [Lincoln] did a good job [Monday] by watching. But there’s definitely a lot of racing going on out here over the next 10 days.”
Dietrich’s car owner, Gary Kauffman, owns a house in Missouri and it has quickly become the headquarters for No. 48’s newest endeavor, which is more circumstantial than intentional.
“We’ll know better here by the end of the week on where we’re going to be,” Dietrich said. “We like to have options. We’re not saying we’re going to stay out here for the long haul. It’s just we have the option to stay out here for the long haul. We’re going to see where our best racing is going to be.
“We could go home. We could run with the All-Stars. We have a lot of options right now,” Dietrich added.
Dietrich said he has “a couple cars” and “a few motors” with him in the Midwest, to go along with crew members Jake Sgrignoli and Seth Dietrich, his nephew.
“We’re pretty set,” Dietrich said. “We kind of loaded up and didn’t know when we were going to be home. When we left work, my dad and brother were kind of like, ‘Well, we’ll see you when we see you.’ We have plenty of equipment, I think. As long as we don’t go into a spree of tearing stuff up.”
Dietrich, the 2019 Central Pennsylvania sprint car champion, has 25 wins between 2018 and 2019. Two of those wins came with the All-Stars in New York last year at Weedsport Speedway and Orange County Fair Speedway.
This year, Dietrich has one win, coming on Lincoln Speedway’s opening day.
“I think we’ve had good speed,” Dietrich said. “Wherever we go, you have to adapt well.”
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