For some drivers, winning the Williams Grove National Open will always be a dream. But for Danny Dietrich, that dream turned into a reality last Friday night. “Some people only dream of winning this race,” said Dietrich. “I did until tonight. Dreams do come true. This is pretty awesome to be standing here with all these people, my family and all my sponsors.”
Dietrich is hoping he’ll win the race again sometime during his career.
“Once you win it, you expect yourself to win it a couple more times,” he said. “You always dream of winning it until you do then it’s all business you go there and get the job done.”
Dietrich, 28, of Gettysburg was hoping for a track title, but instead, won the National Open.
“More than being the overall champion for the year,” said Dietrich. “I think I’d rather win that than win the point championship. To be able to win such a prestigious race against so many cars you’ve got to be good all night long. This means a lot to the whole team.”
The National Open’s 40-lap distance throws some different challenges to the teams, but Dietrich and mechanic Jake Hinkle did the right things to the racecar.
“You can’t set-up for the start of it,” said Dietrich. “I was actually a little worried because when they dropped the green we were pretty good the first couple laps then we got a little tight and then I thought we’d be alright and the track came to us. We adjusted under the red to get better. We were just lucky enough to be able to have the speed we needed to get by those guys.”
With leader Joey Saldana committed to the top, Dietrich knew he’d have to make the bottom work to win the race.
“I figured that before the race even started,” said Dietrich. “I was talking to Brian Brown and told him the only place you’d probably be able to pass cars would be the bottom of three and four. I kind of had that mentally before we rolled out for the feature.”
Dietrich’s ability to drive the bottom of three and four won him the race.
“There was a lot of moisture down there, but it’s tough to get to it,” said Dietrich. “You have to be able to get in hard and get slowed down enough to be able to power back off the corner. We had been pretty good the weeks prior to that. We had a night where we ran from 10th to second running the bottom down there the night Aaron Ott won. We needed to be able to do the same thing.”
And Dietrich didn’t have the luxury of a front row starting spot as he started the main event from sixth.
“You’ve got to go forward, but you never know because you can go backward so quick,” said Dietrich. “It takes one mistake at the start of the race and you could be going backward. Forty good laps is what you had to do, but that’s very hard. Each restart, each corner, I felt like I made one or two mistakes last night, but I was able to rebound from them, luckily, and they didn’t cost me too much.”
It was an emotional victory for Dietrich and everyone involved with his team.
“I had some people ask me why I didn’t stop at Beer Hill,” said Dietrich. “I just wanted to get back to the frontstretch where family, friends and the crew were at. I knew everybody was waiting for me to get there. I just wanted to get there and celebrate with them.”
Gary Kauffman put his team together and hired Dietrich in 2010 and they’ve enjoyed nearly 70 wins together, but none as big as this one.
“We have achieved a lot,” said Dietrich. “We’re going to keep on trucking and hopefully get some more.”
Dietrich has some big wins this season and was the Pennsylvania Speedweek Champion. He also has an Outlaw win in four of the last five seasons.
Dietrich has nine wins overall this year.
“We haven’t had many handicapped show wins,” said Dietrich. “I think we have two or three counting the Grove and Lincoln. Everything else has been big paying races or when we do run second it’s against the Outlaws or the Dirt Classic and they’re big paying races. The car has brought in a lot of money this year, we just don’t have the wins to back it up. We’ve got a dozen second place finishes.”
The race track was really fast all night long.
“A lot of the speed was due to the good air,” said Dietrich. “When the air is good like that the track stays nice and the motors really run. It’s surprising we didn’t burn more motors up. This motor that Don Ott built me just runs so good.”