“It’s not over till it’s over…I guess we proved that tonight,” smiled James Morris, after he notched his third victory of the season in the 600cc Micro-Sprint feature at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
Morris emerged victorious after an incredible three-way duel with Kameron Morral and Chris Panczner. Joining the Riegelsville, Pa. driver for winner’s circle photos on Saturday night were Jarid Kunkle (270cc), Dave Grube (125cc), Mike Rutherford (Sportsman), and Kenny Miller III (250cc Four-Stroke).
Shaun Brandel controlled the early stages of the 600cc main until Chris Panczner roared past him on an 11th lap restart. Panczner then set the pace for the next five circuits as tenth-starting Kameron Morral and Morris, who started 11th, were threading their way forward.
A caution period with 16 complete set the stage for a scintillating four-lap battle royale, with Morral throwing a slide job on Panczner in turns one and two as the green reappeared. The maneuver worked, but before Morral could settle into the top spot, Morris exploded onto the scene, blasting down the inside lane on the backstretch to sneak past Panczner and Morral.
The next four trips around the banked oval were filled with sliders as Morral and Morris swapped the lead at both ends of the speedway. Another yellow flag, with five to go, had Morral in front of the No. 75x as they lined up for what would be the final restart.
Morral held the top spot as the green waved, but he hopped the cushion in turn four and Morris quickly hopped on the opportunity to reclaim the lead. He began a defensive drive over the final tours, diving to the inside at the end of each straightaway to effectively thwart potential slide job attempts by Morral.
At the end of an extremely exciting 25-laps, Morris streaked across the stripe with an advantage of just 0.146-seconds over Morral, who earned a career best runner-up finish at the Clyde.
“I knew he’d come after me again; Kameron travels out to the midwest to race, so he knows how those guys race and they never give up. I knew I had to protect the bottom at the entry of the corners so he couldn’t slide me again,” explained Morris, who picked up his third consecutive point race triumph at Clyde Martin.
“I just can’t believe our success so far this year; I have to thank my dad and my sponsors…we couldn’t do this without them.”
Morral was disappointed over his “close-but-no-cigar” effort, but found consolation in losing to Morris, who is arguably the hottest driver in 600cc competition at the moment.
“I just hopped the cushion in four, and that let him get by me. I hate it because we were really good tonight; this is, by far, the best we’ve ever run here. If I had to get beat, though, I’m glad it was him (Morris) because he’s so good right now and he’s one of the nicest guys in the pits, too. We’ll take second to him anytime.”
Panczner was happy to finish third after a tough-luck start to the season, and he enjoyed battling with Morral and Morris. Brandel wound up fourth and Heath Hehnly, who endured a hard flip in his heat race, qualified through the consolation, then marched from 21st starting position, finished fifth.
Morral, Jared Esh, and Chris Gerhart won heat races for the 26-car field of winged 600cc Micros. Brittany Brown was the consolation victor.
Kutztown’s Jarid Kunkle, a former point champion at the Kutztown Fairgrounds and race winner at Kutztown and Linda’s Speedway, finally put an end to his 2014 struggles by scoring his first-ever 270cc victory at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
“We’ve crashed and flipped our 270 and 600 cars this year, and there’s been nights where we didn’t even qualify the 270,” Kunkle pointed out while enjoying victory lane on Saturday. “So this feels really good; we needed this (victory) so much.”
Kunkle, who is about to graduate from Kutztown High School and will attend Kutztown University in the fall ( he said he’s staying close to home so he and his dad can continue to race while he furthers his education), took the initial green from the outside of row two. He leaped into the runner-up position on the first trip around the clay, following leader Danny Braun Jr.
Kunkle powered to the high side of Braun, and for the next three circuits the youthful chargers went side by side all the way around the race track, taking turns sticking the nose of their cars in front of one another on numerous occasions.
Accelerating off turn four on the sixth revolution, Kunkle rocketed past Braun to take command for good. Brian Sholley slipped past Braun for second a few laps later, and ninth-starting Kyle Spence, winner of the Memorial Day Open Show the previous week, made his presence known as he entered the top three before the tenth tour was scored.
On lap ten, Spence wrestled the runner-up slot from Sholley, but Sholley returned the favor with nine to go when Spence got into a lapped car that turned sideways in corner number two. Spence regained second from Sholley as the race neared its conclusion, and, while he reeled in the leader, he was not able to offer a strong challenge to Kunkle before they flashed under Tim Gehret’s checkered flag on the 25th trip around the racey oval.
Trailing Kunkle, Spence, and Sholley across the line were Austin Bishop (started eighth) and Bradley Brown (started 11th).
A terrific field of 37 signed in for 270cc action on Saturday, with heat race victories going to Nick Skias, Spence, Heath Hehnly, and Dave Grube. Twin consi’s were won by Billy Logeman and Ken Miller.
Dave Grube, of Denver, Pa., captured his second consecutive 125cc triumph on Saturday night.
Grube began the 25-lapper from fifth position. He drove his Nolt Brothers/ Hornberger Auto Body/ Mongoose Chassis No. 3D into third place on the fourth lap, then inherited second place when Justion Harrington fell out of the race with eight tours complete.
Grube throttled past race long leader Sonny Sweitzer on a lap ten restart, then set sail, opening a big advantage over two-time winner Darren Miller, who took over second spot one lap prior to the halfway point.
Grube maintained his cushion for the duration of the event, winning by more than 1.5-seconds over Miller. Eleventh-starter Chase Gutshall steadily weaved his way forward during the race, ducking under Kyle Hehnly for third position with seven circuits remaining.
At the finish, it was Grube winning handily over D. Miller, with Gutshall, K. Hehnly, and Dylan Adams rounding out the top five.
“I found a nickel, heads up, earlier today and that usually brings me good luck,” stated Grube as he took the coin out of his pocket in victory lane.
Grube also earned the Weld Racing Fast Lap of the Feature award, turning the quickest lap of the race at 11.585-seconds.
Grube and D. Miller won heats for the 19-car field of 125cc racers.
The Sportsman feature was competitive throughout, but when all was said and done, it was Mike Rutherford, from Lititz, claiming his third victory of the year.
Kerry Lengle jumped into the early lead from his pole starting spot, and the Myerstown driver set the pace for the initial six trips around the clay oval.
Bret Habecker, Curtis R. Miller, and Rutherford were battling one another as they sliced a path toward the front of the pack, with Habecker getting there first. He gassed his No. 72 to the low side, passing both Lengle and Bobby Shanaman on lap seven, making his move right after Shanaman had passed Lengle to take command.
Habecker’s lead was short-lived, unfortunately, as his car gave up during a caution slow-down with eight laps in the books. Rutherford inherited the top spot at that point because he’d moved past Shanaman just before the yellow appeared.
With Rutherford’s No. 6 securely in front, the action behind him was entertaining, as impressive teen Sami Schenk, making just her second start at the Clyde, moved into the runner-up position on the 11th circuit after starting the race in 12th. On a restart with eight to go, Curtis R. Miller and Ken Miller muscled their way past Schenk.
Two laps remained when Curtis R. Miller tangled with a lapped car on the front stretch, knocking him out of second place. Ken Miller, who started 21st in the 22-car field, took up the chase of Rutherford, but there was no catching the No. 6 on this night.
Rutherford recorded Sportsman win number three, with Ken Miller and Schenk completing the top three. Anthony Yerger and Lengle completed the top five.
Curtis R. Miller and Yerger registered heat race victories.
Kenny Miller III tussled with early leader Donna Geib, then drove off to his second triumph of the season in the 250cc Four-Stroke Class.
Geib raced into the lead from the outside of the first row, but soon had to deal with Miller, who took the green from the inside of row three. Miller had his nose in front as they hit the stripe to complete lap three, but Geib motored back in front on the next revolution. She planted her Hosler’s Tire, Gold Rush Trailer Sales, Tents for You No. 82 at the head of the pack for the next 13 circuits with Miller looking for another opportunity to challenge.
The opportunity came with nine to go, and Miller, from Birdsboro, seized his chance to go back in front. He gunned his Habecker Excavating/ Ken’s Cycle Repair No. 23 to the inside of Geib’s mount as they charged into turn one, then accelerated off turn two with the lead.
Miller went on to win by a comfortable margin over Geib, with Dave Ravel, Eddie Nocera, and Ryan Shupp finishing third through fifth.
Miller and Shupp were the Four-Stroke heat race winners.
The first of two scheduled “nights off” will take place this Saturday, June 7th. There will not be any racing at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway on June 7, but the action resumes on June 14 as the point battles heat up in each of the five weekly divisions – 600cc, 270cc, 125cc, Sportsman, and 250cc Four-Stroke.
Gates open at 3:30, with warm-ups scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. The first heat race goes green at 6:00, and the running order will be as follows: 125cc, Four-Strokes, Sportsman, 600cc, and 270cc. That will be the rotation for warm-ups, qualifying heats, and features.
Adult General Admission tickets are priced at just $8.00, with discounts for Senior Citizens and Students. Tickets for youth between the ages of six and 12 are only $2.00, and children under the age of six are free. And parking is always free at the Clyde!
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.James Morris, 2.Kameron Morral, 3.Chris Panczner, 4.Shaun Brandel, 5.Heath Hehnly, 6.Brent Ely, 7.Chris Gerhart, 8.Zachary Light, 9.Dan Souder, 10.Brittany Brown, 11.Bret Cronrath, 12.Jered Hook, 13.Rebecca Lamothe, 14.Jared Esh, 15.Nate Prazenica, 16.Taylor Troxel, 17.Hannah Riser, 18.Troy Musselman, 19.Austin Bishop, 20.Jason Swavely, 21.Mike Freed, 22.Mike Coen, 23.Gregg Stevens, 24.Barry Pollard.
DNQ: Dylan Binkley; Mike Rutherford.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Jarid Kunkle, 2.Kyle Spence, 3.Brian Sholley, 4.Austin Bishop, 5.Bradley Brown, 6.Mike Uhrich, 7.Billy Logeman, 8.Nick Sweigert, 9.Christi Sweigart, 10.Brandon Heist, 11.Michael Binkley, 12.Tyler Ulrich, 13.Kenny Miller III, 14.Ron Helmick, 15.Mike Rutherford, 16.Dave Grube, 17.Cameron Bellinger, 18.Daniel Braun, 19.Nate Weidman, 20.Ken Miller, 21.Dan Lane Jr., 22.Heath Hehnly, 23.Derek Miller, 24.Nick Skias.
DNQ: Ray Miller, Damon Bomgardner, Charles Hellinger, Corey Schmuck Jr., Elizabeth Helmick, Dennis Fenstermacher, Toby Blumenshine, Ricky Sechrist, Scott Rupp, John Davis, Matt Peachy, Hunter James.
125cc Micro-Sprint Finish, 25 laps: 1.Dave Grube, 2.Darren Miller, 3.Chase Gutshall, 4.Kyle Hehnly, 5.Dylan Adams, 6.Nick Sweigert, 7.Zack Hollinger, 8.Jas Hehnly, 9.Matthew Donley, 10.Alexis Sheely, 11.Sonny Sweitzer, 12.Jimmy Wampole, 13.Tajae Adams, 14.Thomas Kelly, 15.Brie Weiler, 16.Brandon Gibble, 17.Dustin Adams, 18.William Manotti, 19.Justin Harrington.
250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprints, 25 laps: 1.Kenny Miller III, 2.Donna Geib, 3.Dave Ravel, 4.Eddie Nocera, 5.Ryan Shupp, 6.Devin Adams, 7.Kassidy Michaels, 8.Jarrett Imler, Ronald Wechter, Lewis Kepple Jr., Ron Good. DNS: Zachary Young. DQ: Brian Kramer.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Ken Miller, 3.Sami Schneck, 4.Anthony Yerger, 5.Kerry Lengle, 6.Bobby Shanaman, 7.Ava Bellinger, 8.Jason Rhoads, 9.Patrick Kirn, 10.Wesley Fasnacht, 11.Steve Smith Sr., 12.Dave Kemp, 13.Brian Becker, 14.Robert Simmerman, 15.Megan Mercado, 16.Curtis R. Miller, 17.Brandon Bucher, 18.Jenna Heagy, 19.Kim Minzer, 20.Bret Habecker, 21.Brandon Mundis, 22.Randy Landis.