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2016 All HammerDown! Team –December 30, 2016 Rocklin, CA.HammerDownUSA.com, today, named the 2016 All-HammerDown! Team. Led by Racer’s Racing Series Champion, Daryn Pittman, the 40 driver “team” includes those who performed best at the highest paying and most prestigious American, grass roots, open-wheel events. Five drivers continued their streak of making the All-HammerDown! Team in each of the 14 years since the honor was created in 2003. The legendary five are: Dave Darland, Danny Lasoski, Daryn Pittman, Joey Saldana, and Donny Schatz. One driver made the team in 2016 for the first time in his career; Jamie Veal of Australia. Among the 40 drivers to receive this badge of honor is the late, Bryan Clauson.
“Bryan was the epitome of a racer’s racer,” said Bobby Gerould, editor of HammerDownUSA.com. “Bryan really helped further the philosophy that the best drivers are not limited to one discipline within open-wheel racing. He succeeded wildly in non-wing but he wanted to challenge himself to become great with a wing too.”
The All-HammerDown! Team acknowledges the drivers that performed well at big-race national events where the car count was over 30. You have to finish in the top 15 in an A-Feature to secure points. This year there were 255 drivers that earned points but only the top 40 receive the All-HammerDown! status.
The 14th annual All-HammerDown! Team, in alphabetical order:
- Rico Abreu – St. Helena, CA. – Age 24. Abreu’s tremendous 2016 season included huge wins at the Chili Bowl (Tulsa Expo, Tulsa, OK.), the Ironman 55 (I-55 Raceway, Pevely, MO.), and a wildly poplar W at the Gold Cup Race of Champions (Silver Dollar Speedway, Chico, CA.). Abreu also scored podium finishes on each night of the Kings Royal weekend at Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH.). He won 16 feature events on the year.
- Brady Bacon – Broken Arrow, OK. – Age 26. Among the busiest pilots in racing, Bacon won seven feature events in 105 starts in 2016. He won the USAC Indiana Sprint Week points championship and was runner-up at the Turkey Night Grand Prix (Ventura Raceway, Ventura, CA.).
- Dale Blaney – Fowler, OH. – Age 52. Blaney won eight A-Mains in 2016 including the very first race of the year. Blaney captured the January 2nd Winter Heat feature at Cocopah Speedway (Somerton, AZ.). He was runner-up in the 2016 All-Star Circuit of Champions points, and also finished second at the Brad Doty Classic (Attica Raceway Park, Attica, OH.).
- Brian Brown – Grain Valley, MO. – Age 38. Brown won seven features in 2016 to run his career total to 152 W’s. His best in Racer’s Racing Series points earning events was a $15,000 victory at the High Roller (Sedalia, MO.). Brown finished third in the 2016 Jackson Nationals (Jackson, MN.), and was fourth with the World of Outlaws in Las Vegas, NV. in March.
- Bryan Clauson – Noblesville, IN. – Prior to being fatally injured during the Belleville Midget Nationals, Clauson accumulated enough points to earn his eighth straight All-HammerDown! selection. Clauson finished second at the Chili Bowl in a midget, and then showcased his versatility by running fifth at the World of Outlaws (winged sprint car) season opener at Volusia, FL.
- Jerry Coons Jr. - Tucson, AZ. – Age 44. Coons finished on the podium at both the Little 500 (Anderson Speedway, Anderson, IN.), and the Belleville Midget Nationals (Belleville, KS.). He was fourth at the 2016 Chili Bowl, and also captured a feature win at Kokomo Speedway (Kokomo, IN.).
- Dave Darland – Atlanta, IN. – Age 50. The man with the most wins in USAC National Sprint Car history made the All-HammerDown! Team for the 14th time in his illustrious career. Darland finished in the top five at both the Kokomo Smackdown, and at the Four Crown Nationals at Eldora. He scored wins at Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN.), and at Perris Auto Speedway (Perris, CA.).
- Lance Dewease – Fayetteville, PA. – Age 51. Dewease won ten feature events in Maryland and Pennsylvania, driving for Donnie Kreitz Jr. in 2016. Three of the wins were particularly impressive: the Williams Grove Summer Nationals (Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, PA.), the Dream Race at Port Royal (Port Royal Speedway, Port Royal, PA.), and the Tuscarora 50 at Port Royal.
- Danny Dietrich – Gettysburg, PA. – Age 27. Dietrich earned All-HammerDown! status for the fourth year in a row. His eight 2016 victories were highlighted by a mid-October triumph in the prestigious Williams Grove National Open.
- David Gravel – Watertown, CT. – Age 24. Gravel made the All-HammerDown! Team for the fifth consecutive year on the strength of his best season yet. He found the winner’s circle nine times on the year, including BIG wins at the Joker’s Wild (Eldora), the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup (Lernerville Speedway, Sarver, PA.), and the World of Outlaws spring visit to the Thunderbowl Raceway (Tulare, CA.).
- Sheldon Haudenschild – Wooster, OH. – Age 23. Haudenschild won three Racer’s Racing Series points earning events in 2016. He was first to the checkered flag at the Dirt Classic at Attica, the Pete Jacobs Memorial (Wayne County Speedway, Orrville, OH.), and in the All-Star Circuit of Champions finale at Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH.)
- Greg Hodnett – Thomasville, PA. – Age 47. Hodnett earned his tenth career All-HammerDown! Team nod after another superb season. Hodnett won an astounding 23 feature events across Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Included in his victories was a $10,000 RRS triumph in the Bob Weikert Memorial at Port Royal.
- Danny Holtgraver – Pittsburgh, PA. – Age 27. Holtgraver won three feature events on the All-Star tour, including the Lou Blaney Memorial (Sharon Speedway, Hartford, OH.), worth ten grand. He finished fifth in the Brad Doty Classic.
- Jason Johnson – Eunice, LA. – Age 40. Johnson shocked the sprint car world with a win in the 2016 Knoxville Nationals! He won four A-mains on the season including the opening night of the World Finals at the Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC.).
- Wayne Johnson – Oklahoma City, OK. – Age 45. Johnson last made the All-HammerDown! Team in 2008. He returns to the list this year based on a strong campaign that included a win in the Hockett/McMillin Memorial (Lucas Oil Speedway, Wheatland, MO.). Johnson won feature events in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. His Texas win was the Devil’s Bowl Spring Nationals (Devil’s Bowl Speedway, Mesquite, TX.).
- Tim Kaeding – San Jose, CA. – Age 38. Tim won ten feature events in three states in 2016, including a victory on his preliminary night at the Knoxville Nationals (Knoxville Raceway, Knoxville, IA.). He was the champion of the 360 division at Badlands Motor Speedway (Brandon, SD.). This is Kaeding’s 13th All-HammerDown! selection.
- Chad Kemenah – Findlay, OH. – Age 45. In a resurgent year, Kemenah won the 2016 points championship with the All-Star Circuit of Champions. He defeated the World of Outlaws at Fremont, OH. In June, and finished seventh at the Knoxville Nationals, earning $19,000.
- Kraig Kinser – Bloomington, IN. – Age 32. Returning after back surgery in 2015, Kraig Kinser earned enough points to secure his eleventh All-HammerDown! Team honor. Kinser scored two All-Star wins, and had a pair of fourth place finishes at both the Knight Before the Kings Royal (Eldora), and the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup (Lernerville). He finished 15th at the Knoxville Nationals.
- Kyle Larson – Elk Grove, CA. Age 24. Now firmly established in NASCAR, Larson was free to do more sprint car and midget racing in 2016. He won the January 3rd, Winter Heat A-Main at Cocopah, finished fifth at the Chili Bowl, and the Knoxville Nationals, and he won the prestigious Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura.
- Danny Lasoski – Dover, MO. – Age 56. “The Dude” won a Winter Heat A-Main at Cocopah, and finished second to the World of Outlaws at their June Knoxville stop. He was runner-up in the Knoxville 360 Nationals. He captured nine A-Main wins on the season en route to his 14th consecutive All-HammerDown! honor.
- Ian Madsen – Saint Mary’s, New South Wales, Australia. – Age 32. Ian is one of three Australian drivers to crack the 2016 All-HammerDown! Team. The younger of the Madsen boys biggest score of the year was a ninth place finish in the Knoxville Nationals (worth $17,000). Ian won eight A-Mains across Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Ohio in 2016.
- Kerry Madsen – Saint Mary’s, New South Wales, Australia. – Age 45. Madsen finished as the highest ranked international driver in the Racer’s Racing Series in 2016. A weekend sweep at Eldora in WoO action and a pair of big wins in Jackson, MN, including the Jackson Nationals highlighted Kerry’s 2016 USA tour. “The Madman” has made the All-HammerDown! Team ten times, more than any other international driver.
- Brent Marks – Myerstown, PA. – Age 26. Marks earned All-HammerDown! status for the third year in a row. He won four A-Mains on the season. Marks best in RRS points earning events was a pair of fourth place runs in the Dirt Classic at Attica, and in the All-Stars season finale at Atomic Speedway.
- Terry McCarl – Altoona, IA. – Age 52. McCarl earned his tenth All-HammerDown! selection in 2016. He won ten A-Mains on the season including defeating the World of Outlaws at Knoxville. McCarl won the King of the 360’s ten grand (East Bay Raceway, Gibsonton, FL.), and both the Kasey Kahne Dirt Classic, and Fall Brawl worth $10,000 each at I-80 Speedway (Greenwood, NE.). He surpassed 300 career A-Main wins as well!
- Paul McMahan – Hendersonville, TN. – Age 46. McMahan had a hard luck season but still accumulated enough points to easily secure his 13th career All-HammerDown! selection. He finished eighth in the Iron Man 55, ninth at the Brad Doty Classic, and ninth in the WoO season opener.
- Daryn Pittman – Owasso, OK. – Age 38. Pittman was the high points earner in the Racer’s Racing Series for the first time in his career. He scored eight World of Outlaws wins, including the Knight Before the Kings Royal (Eldora). He won the $22,500 top-prize at the Front Row Challenge (Southern Iowa Speedway, Oskaloosa, IA.). Pittman was second at the Gold Cup (Chico, CA.), as well as runner-up at the Williams Grove Summer Nationals. He finished fourth at the Knoxville Nationals.
- Aaron Reutzel – Clute, TX. – Age 26. Reutzel won eight features in a healthy 99 starts in 2016. His best finishes in RRS races included a pair of second place runs at the ASCS Dirt Cup (Skagit Speedway, Alger, WA.), and at the NSL’s Jackson, MN. stop in July. This is Reutzel’s second All-HammerDown! Team honor.
- Joey Saldana – Brownsburg, IN. – Age 44. …Saldana captured five World of Outlaws wins to run his career total to 99 victories. He finished second in the National Open (Williams Grove), and was runner up on the opening night of the Gold Cup at Chico. His biggest points grab in RRS competition was a tenth place finish in the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.
- Donny Schatz – Fargo, ND. - Age 39. Schatz won his eighth World of Outlaws championship in 2016. He scored a whopping 25 wins on the season including: the Kings Royal (Eldora), the Brad Doty Classic (Attica, OH.), and the second night of the World Finals (Concord, NC.). Schatz was second in the 2016 Knoxville Nationals.
- Logan Schuchart – Hanover, PA. – Age 24. Schuchart is ‘paying his dues’ and becoming a factor on the National stage. He won two World of Outlaws A-Mains, and scored twenty top-five finishes on the tour in 2016. His biggest victory was a WoO win at Port Royal in October.
- Tim Shaffer – Aliquippa, PA. – Age 49. Shaffer earned his 12th career All-HammerDown! selection in 2016. Shaffer’s best RRS runs were a second at the All-Star Speedweek finale at Eldora, and a second at the Short Track Nationals (I-30 Speedway, Little Rock, AR.).
- Jason Sides – Bartlett, TN. – Age 43. Sides earned his 13th All-HammerDown! Team selection in 2016. He won two feature events, including the World of Outlaws return to I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, AR. His best in RRS point earning races was a fifth in the WoO July stop at Badlands Motor Speedway.
- Stevie Smith – Broken Arrow, OK. / New Oxford, PA. – Age 50. Stevie earned his tenth All-HammerDown! selection in 2016. He won the Dirt Classic at Lincoln Speedway, worth $20,000. Other top finishes included runner-up runs at both the Dream Race and Tuscarora 50 at Port Royal.
- Shane Stewart – Bixby, OK. – Age 40. Stewart found the winner’s circle in eight World of Outlaws A-Mains during the 2016 season. He won the opening night of the Gold Cup Race of Champions, and he won his preliminary night at the Knoxville Nationals. Stewart’s third place finish on Saturday night at the Nationals paid $37,500. He also won a Winter Heat A-Main at Cocopah in January.
- Brad Sweet – Grass Valley, CA. – Age 31. Sweet won the World of Outlaws season opener among his eight 2016 WoO victories. He was on the podium at both the Kings Royal and the Williams Grove National Open. Sweet finished eleventh in the 2016 Knoxville Nationals.
- Sammy Swindell – Germantown, TN. – Age 61. Sammy is still winning. He was especially good in a winged 360 sprint car in 2016. Swindell won both the Knoxville 360 Nationals, and the Short Track Nationals. He won seven A-Mains in 67 starts on the season.
- Kevin Thomas Jr. – Cullman, AL. – Age 25. “KTJ” earned his second All-HammerDown! Team selection. He won one of the modern-day crown jewel races on the USAC National schedule; the Smackdown at Kokomo. Thomas captured 13 feature wins in 2016.
- Jamie Veal – Warnambool, Vicotria, Australia. – Age 28. Veal earned his first All-HammerDown! selection on the strength of his success at Knoxville Raceway. Veal finished sixth in the Knoxville Nationals, and fifth on his preliminary night. He ran fourth vs. World of Outlaws competition during their June stop at the sprint car capital of the world.
- Chris Windom – Canton, IL. – Age 25. Windom made the All-HammerDown! Team for the seventh consecutive season. Windom won the USAC Silver Crown championship. He finished second in both the Four Crown Nationals (sprint car portion at Eldora), and in the Perris Oval Nationals.
- Lucas Wolfe – Mechanicsburg, PA. - Age 30. Wolfe won five feature events across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York in 2016. His fourth place finish in World of Outlaws action at Port Royal was his best RRS point earning score.
Sources: Dick Jordan, Bill Klingbeil, Shawn Miller, Richie Murray, National Speed Sport News, Petersen Media, SprintCarStats.com, SprintSource.com, USACRacing.com, Brad Vores, Bill W., Lonnie Wheatley, WoOSprint.com.
Average age of 2016 All-HammerDown! drivers: 37 years old.