The 25th Anniversary of the National Open at Linda’s Speedway had a little bit of everything…lots and lots of racing, huge car counts, mysterious rainfall, a first year driver adding his name to the event’s prestigious list of winners, and redemption for another after a heart breaking loss in the 2013 edition of the Open.
Logan Diehl ran 600cc Modifieds until he switched to 270cc Micro-Sprints near the end of the ’13 campaign. This year, in his first full season of 270cc activity, the 20-year-old improved immensely throughout the summer and into the fall before putting together a fantastic couple of nights that culminated in a National Open victory.
Jay Hartman, from Flagtown, NJ, figured this race owed him after a gut-wrenching defeat last October, and he gained his revenge on Saturday with a pulsating triumph in the 600cc portion of the National Open at the Jonestown, Pa. quarter-mile.
Diehl scored the win in Thursday’s National Open prelim, parlaying his victory into a third-place starting spot for Saturday’s 50-lap A-Main. The pole sitter, Randy West, declined to take the Front Row Challenge that would have paid a whopping $10,000 if he gave up his starting position, then won the race after starting from the rear of the field. His front row mate, Steve Dunmire, also refused the opportunity, as did Diehl and Nick Skias, the drivers who would line up in row two.
When West and Dunmire got into one another and a bit out of shape on the original start, Diehl shot between them and into the lead as the trio exited turn two for the first time. West and Dunmire battled one another for the runner-up spot as Pat Bealer rumbled from fifth to make it a three car fight for second.
A fairly heavy rain shower (that appeared from out of nowhere, as none of the local forecasts predicted any precipitation for the entire weekend) moved in and doused the speedway right after the conclusion of the 600cc A-Main – and right before the 270cc A-Main was pushed onto the track. A long delay – after the rain finally subsided – to get the track back into shape had everyone scratching their heads over set up and tire choice because the moisture from above turned the quarter mile oval from black and slick to heavy and tacky.
With softer tires bolted on, rather than the hardest rubber they could find, the groove moved up and the 270cc wheel-twisters were flying as the A-Main proceded toward a mandatory stoppage at the halfway point. Diehl was sailing off into the corners, his No. 94d hooked up in the higher line as he negotiated lapped traffic. Some timely yellow flags provided clear race track in front of him, and on each restart, he simply powered away from his pursuers.
The racing for the remainder of the top five positions was fiercely entertaining, with West, Bealer, Dunmire, Jesse Maurer, and Nick Skias battling in separate little groups. After the fuel stop at the midway point of the 50-lapper, Bealer and West ran three laps in side-by-side fashion as they tussled for the runner-up position. Bealer eventually won out over West, but the No. 23R of West came roaring back, zipping around the outside of Bealer to reclaim second in the final few trips around the clay.
Diehl blasted to the big victory, with West celebrating his runner-up finish and the fact that, through his business (West Fabrications), he’d built the motors that powered the top three finishers in the National Open. Bealer, Maurer, and N. Skias rounded out the top five with 17th-starting Ross Perchak slicing his way to sixth.
Kenny Miller III, Mike Rutherford, Jarid Kunkle, and Pete Skias finished seventh through tenth.
Jay Hartman pretty much had a perfect weekend at the National Open, setting quick time and winning his heat race on Friday night, then leading from start to finish in the 40-lap A-Main on Saturday. His victory was part redemption, too, as the Flagtown, NJ driver had last year’s race in the bag, only to tangle with a lapped car with two to go.
A timely caution flag aided his effort on Saturday, getting him out of heavy lapped traffic that allowed Tyler Walton to close in and set up the leader for what would have been a race-winning pass. Just as Walton was ready to pounce, though, the yellow flew with just five circuits remaining.
On the restart, third place Brian Carber ducked under Walton, and that permitted Hartman to get away. He crossed the stripe 0.836-seconds in front of Walton, who repelled Carber’s challenge to finish as the runner-up over Carber, Mike Dicely, and 18th-starting Heath Hehnly.
Eddie Strada, who started 17th, earned sixth-place money, while Jason Sechrist wound up seventh. Jason Swavely, using a provisional to take the green in 30th position, threaded his way to an eighth-place payday. Tim Buckwalter, who won the B-Main, finished ninth and Travis Scott completed the top ten.
National Open Notebook:
Tough to get a total car count for the event, since the 270’s actually started racing on Thursday and Friday night and using Saturday to try and race their way into the big dance if they weren’t able to lock themselves in through the preliminary nights’ main events.
There were 71 cars on hand on Thursday, while 75 took part in Friday’s program. With 16 drivers locked in heading into the final day (Saturday), another 60 competitors attempted to race their way to the A-Main through time trials, heat races, and the alphabet mains.
A total of 59 entries signed in for 600cc competition.
Jason Swavely, Douglassville Pa., had the distinction of using provisionals to start both A-Mains – in each one, he started way back in 30th position after suffering misfortune during Saturday qualifying for the 270’s and 600’s.
Swavely avoided a couple of multi-car tangles in the early stages of the 600cc feature, then deftly navigated his way into the top ten. He finished eighth and was easily the hard charger of the event.
In the 270cc headliner, Swavely was not as fortunate, finishing 21st as the first driver one lap down.
On Friday night, Swavely did score an impressive triumph in the Race of Champions, driving a second Ken Miller No. 23mx machine to the win over a field of point champions from various tracks across Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
The 16 drivers who locked themselves into Saturday’s 270cc A-Main (by virtue of finishing in the top eight positions in Thursday and Friday’s preliminary features) competed in a series of one-on-one match races on the final night to determine their starting spots for the 50-lapper. Randy West marched through the bracket to earn the pole, defeating Steve Dunmire in the final round. West had to beat Jacob Hendershot, Sean McAndrew, Logan Diehl, then Dunmire to win the pole. There were several close finishes along with some upsets in the match races, and the entire Front Row Challenge was well received by the competitors and fans.
Drivers from North Carolina, Ohio, New York, and Connecticut took part in the 25th Anniversary edition of the National Open.
270cc Sprint Feature, 50 laps: 1.Logan Diehl, 2.Randy West, 3.Pat Bealer, 4.Jesse Maurer, 5.Nick Skias, 6.Ross Perchak, 7.Kenny Miller III, 8.Mike Rutherford, 9.Jarid Kunkle, 10.Pete Skias, 11.Steve Dunmire, 12.Sean McAndrew, 13.Mason Peters, 14.Zach Bealer, 15.Greg Robinson, 16.Devin Harron, 17.Mike Boyer, 18.Jacob Hendershot, 19.Brayden Winters, 20.Kyle Weiss, 21.Jason Swavely, 22.Greg Miller, 23.Lee Reinhardt, 24.Kyle Spence, 25.Richie Hartman, 26.Bradley Brown, 27.Josh Stoyer, 28.Mike Skias, 29.Jeff Haefke, 30.Devin Adams.
DNQ: Brent Shearer, Tommy Kunsman Jr., DJ Furney, Brandon Fredricks, Chase Gutshall, Ken Andreas, Nunzi Allegrucci, Brian Marriott, Toby Blumenshine, Cory Myers, Heath Hehnly, Dave Hawkins, Scott Gingrich, Brandon Firestine, Tyler Ulrich, Ken Miller, Ryan Fredricks, Tim Eakin, Kyle Colwell, Dylan Adams, Jody McCall, Cale Mutter, Dave Williams, Brandon Heist, Tyler Reinhardt, Tim Smith, Christi Sweigart, Shawn Freeland, Dan Lane Jr., Rick Francis, Marco Michetti, Matt Jones, Kurt Conklin, Brett Brunkenhoeffer, Alex Schaffer, Brenden Koehler, Kendall Segar, Brandon Gibble, Scott Hawkins, Mark Jones, Jesse Snyder, Adam Giovanetti, Rich Johnson, Brittany Trogdon, Brandon Hawkins, Matt Carr, Barry Shearer, Dale Arnold, Todd Bertrand.
600cc Sprint Feature, 40 laps: 1.Jay Hartman, 2.Tyler Walton, 3.Brian Carber, 4.Mike Dicely, 5.Heath Hehnly, 6.Eddie Strada, 7.Jason Sechrist, 8.Jason Swavely, 9.Tim Buckwalter, 10.Travis Scott, 11.Jim Young, 12.Dan Souder, 13.Dale Arnold, 14.Randy West, 15.Tom Wickham, 16.Kenny Murray, 17.Ben Houtz, 18.Brett Michalski, 19.Brittany Brown, 20.Anthony Macri, 21.Paulie Colagiovanni, 22.Mike Rutherford, 23.Dwayne Gutshall, 24.Kameron Morral, 25.PJ Williams, 26.Robbie Kendall, 27.AJ Bast, 28.Steve Whary, 29.Megan Allen, 30.Kyle Lick.
DNQ: Jerry Schott, Tanner Hunsicker, Eric Bodine, Matt Smith, Brandon Noel, Justin Schraden, Sammy LaMothe, Jesse Snyder, Alex Swift, Luke Thomas, Zach Light, Bill Thomas, Jermain Godshall, Bill Coffey, Lowbed Johnson, Chad Sandt, Scott Scholl, Ben Kysor, Mike Austin, David Holbrook, Kayla Stoltzfus, Robbie Hocker, Bret Cronrath, Chris Panczner, Rich Crooker, Mark Sheriff, Drew Richmond, Hannah Riser, Kyle Coffey.
By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts&ref=br_tf