NASCAR: On to Martinsville

From Release

Jimmie Johnson was ranked fourth this week by ESPN The Magazine on their list of sports’ “Dominant 20” athletes of the last two decades, which also included names like golf’s Tiger Woods, basketball’s Lebron James and the football’s Peyton Manning. And when it comes to this week’s Martinsville (Va.) Speedway NASCAR venue Johnson has shown himself to be as absolutely dominant as it comes.

 With nine previous wins – including five in a six-race stretch – NASCAR’s “paperclip” track, Johnson has led an amazing 20.6 percent of all laps run at the historic property. His 7.7 average finish and 115.8 driver rating are easily tops among his competition this weekend and he leads in six of the seven traditional statistical categories at the track.

 Rebounding from an uncharacteristically slow start to the season, Johnson had his first top-10 showing of the year last weekend at Auto Club Speedway – ninth place in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet – and no doubt has Martinsville circled on his calendar.

 A win this weekend would make Johnson only the third driver in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series history to have 10 or more wins at multiple tracks (he has 11 at Dover) – joining NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip. If Johnson can lead 138 laps of Sunday’s scheduled 500-lapper, he would top the 3,000 laps led mark at Martinsville – one of only five drivers to have led 3,000 laps or more at multiple tracks. He also has 3,000 laps out front at Dover International Speedway.

 Reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion and current points leader Martin Truex Jr. dominated the competition to collect his first trophy of the season Sunday in California, snapping an 18-race winless streak at the track. But he faces a similar winless barrier this weekend at tiny Martinsville Speedway (Sunday, March 25 at 2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 Truex is still looking for his first victory in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota after 24 races at Martinsville, where he has only three top-five and eight top-10 finishes. He started on the outside pole and finished runner-up in his last race there in November and has four total top-seven finishes in his last six starts there.

 Among the top 10 in the standings, only Kyle Larson (73.4) and Aric Almirola (66.1) have lower driver ratings than Truex (76.6) at Martinsville.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch has been oh-so-close to a win in 2018 – finishing runner-up in consecutive races at Las Vegas and ISM Raceway and finishing third last week at California’s Auto Club Speedway. This week’s season-opening short track race may well be just what the doctor ordered.

 The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has two wins and five consecutive top-five showings in the last five races at Martinsville Speedway, including a victory the last time the Monster Energy Series raced there in November, 2017.  He has top-10 finishes in seven of the last 10 races.

Denny Hamlin, who grew up in Chesterfield, Virginia, has certainly turned his good home state vibes into a success story in Martinsville. His driver rating of 105.8 is second only to the track’s winningest active driver, Jimmie Johnson. Five of Hamlin’s 31 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins have come there, including four in a seven-race span between 2008-2010. His mark of 18 top-10 finishes in second only to Johnson’s 24 top 10s.

 Hamlin, who drives the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, has had mixed success on the track since his last win in 2015, however. He has alternated between a top 10 and 30th-place or worse in the last fives races here – finishing 30th in the spring race in 2017 and seventh in the fall race.

 Hamlin arrives in his home state boasting one of the best overall 2018 season efforts – with four top-six finishes in five races.

Penske Racing hasn’t hoisted a trophy yet in 2018, but its three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers have certainly made strong cases that a win is imminent. They are ranked third (Joey Logano), fourth (Brad Keselowski) and fifth (Ryan Blaney) in the points standings coming to Martinsville, a venue that offers a lot of promise for the team.

 Keselowski is the defending winner of the STP 500 and boasts four consecutive top-five finishes at Martinsville – five in the last six races. He’s fourth in the points standings, despite crashing out of the Daytona 500, by virtue of three top-six runs through the season’s opening five races.

 Logano, who led the Monster Energy Series driver standings for two weeks following Atlanta and Las Vegas, is looking for his first Martinsville victory. His No. 22 Team Penske Ford has certainly shown speed at the track. He was on the pole for the Fall Martinsville race and has won the Busch Pole Award for four of the last six races at the half-miler.

 The team’s newest addition, popular 24-year old Blaney, is hoping to turn his strong season start into some Martinsville success. His 2018 season includes three top-10 finishes and he won the pole position at Las Vegas. His only top 10 (eighth-place) in four Martinsville races came in his last start there.

Stewart-Haas Racing celebrated its first ever placement of all four drivers in the top 10 two weeks ago in Phoenix and the organization also has a historic mark in the points standings heading to Martinsville Speedway this weekend (Sunday, March 25 at 2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 All four of its drivers are firmly ranked consecutively in the top-12 portion of the championship standings – a first for SHR at this point in the season. Three-time race winner and 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick leads his teammates in eighth place.

 Second-year SHR driver Clint Bowyer is ninth, followed by the team’s newest addition, Aric Almirola, and 2004 Monster Energy Series champ Kurt Busch.

Kyle Larson’s runner-up finish at Auto Club Speedway last week was a firm reminder that the 25-year old Chip Ganassi Racing driver is championship-caliber.

 He has three top-10 finishes since a rough Daytona 500 season opener, including a third-place at Las Vegas along with his second-place in California. And he sits seventh in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings, 42 behind the leader Martin Truex Jr.

 Larson is hoping to turn the early season success story into a Martinsville break-through. The popular Californian won the pole position for the STP 500 last year but has only one top-10 (third-place in 2016) in eight races here.

Daniel Hemric has earned the NASCAR start of his lifetime.

 Richard Childress Racing announced Tuesday that the 27-year-old will make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut, driving the No. 8 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet in the April 21 race at Richmond Raceway. He will then race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course on Sept. 30.

 Hemric, who drives for RCR fulltime in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, has put in time helping the organization’s Monster Energy Series teams from testing the cars to filling in during practice sessions.

 “You only get one chance to make your Cup Series debut, and it is pretty incredible to know that I am able to do it with Richard Childress Racing and with a partner such as Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff,” Hemric said. “RCR and Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff have been so influential in so many drivers’ careers – a lot of my heroes growing up. To know they will play a large role in the next step of my career and my initial Cup Series debut is very special.”

 “The 8 is coming back. Good luck with it @DanielHemric.’’ Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted, ending his message with a thumbs-up emoji. Earnhardt drove the No. 8 in the Monster Energy Series ranks from 2002-2007.

Martinsville Speedway Quick Stats: Kurt Busch has the best rating for Fastest Laps at Martinsville (179) – the only statistic that Johnson isn’t tops. …Ryan Newman has won here, has eight top-five finishes and three pole positions at Martinsville, making him a driver to watch Sunday. …Johnson is the last driver to win consecutive races (Fall, 2012- Spring, 2013) and both times it was from the pole position. …The last manufacturer to score back-to-back wins at Martinsville was Chevrolet. Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. swept the 2014 races. … Kurt Busch’s two wins at the track came from starting positions closer to the rear of the starting grid. He won in 2002 from the 36th position (a track record) and his win in 2014 was 22nd. Earnhardt won in 2014 from the 23rd starting spot on the grid. … Six drivers have won three races-in-a-row here: Richard Petty (1968-69), Cale Yarborough (1976-77), Darrell Waltrip (1988-89), Rusty Wallace (1994-95) and Jimmie Johnson (2006-07).  Fred Lorenzen won four straight Martinsville races between 1963-65.

Ninth Annual Red Rose Festival

Ninth Annual Red Rose Festival

From release:

 Everything will be coming up roses when the ninth annual Red Rose Festival sets the stage for a weekend of free family fun in the Cultural Arts District of the Red Rose City.  There is no admission fee for the popular two-day music festival, which also features children’s rides and activities, arts and crafts, food vendors, Red Rose Photography Contest, Red Rose Festival Pageant, and much more.  The festival opens 6pm Friday, May 19 with an official welcome from the Main Street stage.  After Red Rose Photography Contest winners are announced, live music begins at 6:15 pm and ends 10:30 pm.  Kicking off Friday’s music line-up will be Lancaster’s hometown favorite, Sugar Shine Band, ushering in the evening with their original Reggae style music, with a twist of rock and blues.  After enjoying the music, we will enjoy the 1st Annual Red Rose Festival Pageant.  Women ages from 3 to 25 are encouraged to compete for the titles of Miss Teacup Rose, Miss Little Rose, Red Rose Princess, and Red Rose Queen.  Tantrum, a rock group out of Charlotte, N.C., takes the stage at 9:15pm, delivering an adrenaline-fueled, nonstop combination of original and cover songs. Food vendors that will be on hand selling all the festival favorites include Allison Concessions, Jones Lee Concessions, Southern Fried Factory, Tastes Like Chicken, World’s Greatest Funnel Cakes, Izzy’s Ice.

 Those who enjoy running for a cause can take part in Lancaster Rotary Club’s 5K Race for Charity beginning at 7:45am on Saturday, May 19 at Lancaster High School and finish in time to arrive in the Cultural Arts District for day two of the Red Rose Festival.  The festival is pet-friendly and dog owners are encouraged to register man’s best friend between 9:15-10am to compete for prizes in the annual dog show.

 At 10am on Saturday, May 19, the festival opens with background music from the Main Street stage, as the Red Rose Dog Show takes place on the grounds of Lancaster County History Museum.  Prizes will be awarded for Most Adorable Puppy, Best Smile, Biggest, Smallest, Couch Potato, Terrific Pet Trick, Golden Oldie, Wiggliest Tail, and Red Rose Best in Show. Indigo Aerial Fitness takes the stage at 11am, with demonstrations and children will enjoy a great variety of free rides, games, and activities throughout the Cultural Arts District.  Kids not want to miss the historic Main Street Post Office, where Lancaster County School District will be hosting a book give-away for children of all ages.  Stop by Sue’s Face Painting to add a bit of festive design.

 Browse the arts and crafts area for handcrafted and unique items while enjoying your favorite festival foods or stop by one of the downtown restaurants and cafes to enjoy a leisurely lunch.  Locally owned bottle shop, The Craft Stand, will offer an outdoor beer garden at their 134 South Main Street location, with a great selection of craft brews.  In the market square, expect to find a variety of gifts, services, and non-profit information.

Browse the downtown businesses in the Cultural Arts District while getting from place to place is as easy as walking across the street!

 On the Main Street Stage at two, Lancaster’s hometown favorite, Triple Play Band, bringing the best of classic rock, beach music, and ‘70’s dance tunes to the stage.  At 4 pm, The Tonez bring their own style of classic beach/oldies band covers to the stage.  Roy Roberts Band, heads off at 6 PM with their Motown classics.  The two day music festival will close the evening entertainment with US Stones, a high performance celebration of the Rolling Stones, elaborate costumes, and awesome stage presence guarantee a show that is fun and exciting – a show that celebrates the life and music of one of the music world’s biggest legends.

 The evening will end with a bang, as fireworks illuminate the Cultural Arts District to signal the culmination of another year’s fun and entertainment. Always free admission, free parking, free rides, and fun for the whole family.

 Festival-goers should be sure to register at the See Lancaster tent for a 48” Sony Smart TV, to be given away just before Saturday night’s closing act, US Stones.

 The Red Rose Dog Show is sponsored by Nutramax and ArrowPointe Federal Credit Union.  5K Race for Charity is sponsored by Lancaster Rotary Club. Sponsors of the Red Rose Festival include Rapid Signs, The Lancaster News, Interstate 107FM, 104.1 the bridge, and City of Lancaster.

 Red Rose Festival applications are being accepted until April 20 for artists, craftsmen, food vendors, non-profit agencies, and commercial vendors. Apply online at www.lancastercitysc.com, email Events and Festivals Manager, Joe Timmons atevents@lancastercitysc.com or call (803) 289-1498.

Power pole down on bypass

A single car accident occurred about 8:15am this morning near the intersection of 601 and the bypass, No injuries reported. The car hit a power pole and it fell onto the power lines. The force snapped the pole cleanly. It also broke the arms on three other poles. The traffic lights at Hampton and Marion are out. The bypass near Bella Dentistry is blocked by emergency personnel. Duke power is on scene yet.

AJ Sports Updates From Twitter

Updates from AJ athletics Twitter posts

AJ Baseball….our JV Boys hosted Chesterfield tonight. It was a close game (1-1) through 5 innings before the Rams pulled away with multiple runs in the in the last two innings. We lost the game 6-1.

AJ Softball….our JV team hosted Chesterfield tonight. Our girls jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. We took down the Rams 7-4. Good win tonight girls!

AJ Boys Soccer….our Varsity boys hosted Cheraw tonight. We caught fire early and went on to defeat the Braves 4-1. Good job boys! Next game is Lewisville on Monday, April 26th.

JV Girls Soccer traveled to Lugoff-Elgin for the lone game tonight and came out on top. The one goal was scored with 12 minutes left in regulation to give our girls the 1-0 win! Great job girls!

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JV traveled to Lugoff-Elgin for the lone game tonight and came out on top. The one goal was scored with 12 minutes left in regulation to give our girls the 1-0 win! Great job girls!

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AJ Wrestling…our boys traveled to Liberty for the state individual qualifiers. Eight of our wrestlers are moving on to the state finals next weekend! Tyleik Elder, Kalab Haven, Hunter Haven, Dalton Mackey, Daniel Barfield, Matthew Kirk, Kyle Lesso and Luke Phillips. #GoVols

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JV traveled to Lugoff-Elgin for the lone game tonight and came out on top. The one goal was scored with 12 minutes left in regulation to give our girls the 1-0 win! Great job girls!

Community Bonds Are Strong According To Speakers At Annual Banquet

Kershaw is a thriving community with hometown appeal. The community was the theme of the Annual Kershaw Chamber of Commerce banquet that was held that the Kershaw Country Club on Tuesday evening.

Mitch Smith, the guest speaker, is a Kershaw native, a 1985 graduate of Andrew Jackson High School, and an owner of five technology companies. Smith works with executives who want to improve their personal and company performance.

Communities are made up of several parts, schools, churches, government, and businesses. “No community can be without businesses,” said Smith as he encouraged the packed banquet room crowd. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not important. You must have vision. We have to have a vision about how well we do.”

He praised the town in that he saw all but one storefront occupied with a business. “We engage one person at a time. He described five keys to being successful. 1. You must have a framework of character and competence, 2. You need habits to live by, 3 You need to make time for yourself. 4. You need to have a habit of repetition of doing the right thing, and 5. Goals.  He used dominoes to illustrate a point about always seeing and setting achievable goals. “When we know the why, the how is easy,” Smith said.

Smith used a quote by Winston Churchill.  “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at barking dogs.”   He encouraged the audience to ask themselves ‘What is the one thing that if you did well would make everything right.”

The Chamber awards outstanding individuals and community members during the banquet and this years’ recipients are as follows. Community Impact award goes to Frontline Biker Church for their regular efforts to help the community. Community Pride award was given to Kershaw Area Resource Exchange. A second Community Pride award was given to the Wreaths Across America program for being just one of 13 communities in South Carolina to host this program.

The Business of the Year award was given to Tommy Northern Allstate Insurance. “I have learned that if you are on a board, don’t miss any meeting because this is what you will get. We came here and did not know a soul except Tammy Reynolds. I told my wife I want to come in here and do the very best I can. It is difficult to come in and replace a legend like Mr. Catoe. He built a good business with hard work. To come behind that is always difficult. My father taught me that the first thing you do for people is to show them you really do care, and whatever happens after that is the Lord’s will. This has been the best decision we have ever made. I love my job and I love this town.”

The John T. Stevens award was given to Beverly Timmons for her years of dedicated work to improve the community and the lives of Kershaw residents. The President’s award was given to Wade Hunter.

The Citizen of the year award was given to Craigan Blankenship. “I am honestly blindsided by this. I feel like the older I get in my faith, I figure out more of what I don’t know than what I do know. The few things I do know are powerful. One of the things I figured out a few years ago was that you can’t ever mess up serving people. You can mess up a lot in life, but you can’t mess up serving people.” He acknowledged that he could not have done this without those around him. The award should have about 200 names on it according to Blankenship. “It is awesome to be part of a community of communities.” Said Blankenship.