All of the symptoms were evident…a large field of talented Micro-Sprint competitors, all starving for victory and willing to do whatever it took to visit the winner’s circle; some bizarre circumstances and situations that developed throughout the evening, and the visibly perfect circular sphere in the night sky all led up to a case of full moon fever on Saturday at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
The track’s catchphrase is “ya gotta come out and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!”, and excitement abounded on Saturday as Brent Ely (600cc), Nick Skias (270cc), Toby Blumenshine (Sportsman), Jas Hehnly (125cc), and Dave Ravel (250cc Four-Stroke) were victorious in the wild, action packed 25-lap main events.
There was so much drama and incredible, outcome-changing action in the 600cc feature that it is difficult to describe in a few short paragraphs. The final, frantic laps contained several unfortunate and bizarre situations that robbed four drivers of a realistic chance for victory. It is easier and more appropriate to simply list those situations, in chronological order, to provide a recap of this unbelievable 25-lap event…
Kenny Miller III jumped to the lead from the outside of the front row, beating polesitter Brent Ely to the first turn as the race went green.
Laps seven through 11 featured a terrific four-car battle royale for the runner-up spot between James Morris, Jared Esh, Kameron Morral, and Heath Hehnly.
On a restart with 11 complete, Morris slid up in front of Miller to grab the lead. Esh slipped past Miller for second at the halfway mark, then Hehnly moved up to challenge Esh as the race entered its final stages. A yellow flag, with just two laps remaining, would serve as the catalyst for some exciting full moon theatrics among the front runners.
As the race went back to green, Esh threw a slide job on Morris in turns three and four, taking the lead as the duo rocketed onto the homestretch. Morris attempted to dive under the leader at the entry to the first turn, Esh tried to shut the door on him, and they rubbed. Morris got out of shape as a result and Hehnly took advantage, zipping past Morris and pulling alongside Esh at the exit of turn two.
Drag racing down the backchute, Esh and Hehnly got together as they set their mounts for corner number three, with Hehnly spinning from the contact. Lanco officials put Esh to the rear as well for his role in the incident. That put Morris back in front and there were still two laps to be run, but the fireworks were far from finished.
With Morris at the point, the white flag was displayed and now Dan Souder’s No. 11 was the car on the move. Souder charged to second and quickly closed on Morris. Heading into three and four for the final time (or so they thought), Souder tried to execute a slider on the leader. He drifted up and into Morris at the exit of four, resulting in a spin by Morris and Souder’s car lying on its side as the rest of the field scrambled to avoid the tangle. Yellow, rather than checkered, was the flag that was shown to the drivers.
Ely, the polesitter who never led through the first 24 circuits, inherited the top spot for the one-lap shootout. Saying afterward that his car was “way too tight” for most of the race, Ely, from Sassamansville, PA, managed to stay in front of Miller and 24th-starting Mike Rutherford to score a much needed triumph. After flipping in his heat race two weeks ago, a faulty ground wire connection relegated Ely to a 24th place finish on April 25. “After the past two weeks, this is great,” said a relieved victor. “I hate it for those other guys, they were really fast, but we’ll take a win any way we can get it. That’s racing, and here we are.”
Miller, Rutherford, Jason Swavely (who went to the back after being shaken up in a second lap crash), and Chris Gerhart made up the top five.
There were 25 of the 600’s on hand for competition on Saturday, and heat race victories went to Hehnly, Chris Panczner, and Esh with Zach Light claiming the consolation win.
The 270cc feature came down to a single bizarre circumstance, and Wernersville’s Nick Skias was happy to benefit from it.
After he rolled off the starting grid in the 12th position, Mike Rutherford blasted into the runner-up spot on lap 11, then ducked under polesitter and early leader Toby Blumenshine to snatch the top spot on a restart at the halfway point. With ten to go, Nick Skias and Kyle Spence moved into the second and third positions.
Just as it appeared that Rutherford, the four-time champion of Lanco’s 270cc Class (including the past three seasons), was headed to his first victory of the year, his Kaylor Petro No. 5k inexplicably skated up the turn four banking with 23 complete, pounding the side of the entrance gate and rolling over – ending his bid for the win. Rutherford was okay and, amazingly, was able to restart at the back of the pack. He wound up 12th, the last car on the lead lap.
With Rutherford’s demise, Nick Skias found himself at the head of the field, and he paced the final two tours to snag his first Clyde Martin victory in more than two years. Spence, who was bidding for a third consecutive triumph, settled for second while opening night winner Bradley Brown placed third. Kenny Miller III and Dan Lane Jr. finished fourth and fifth.
Skias, Rutherford, and Nick Sweigart won qualifying heats for the 29-car field of 270cc racers. William Manotti snared the consolation victory.
Full moon fever plagued the Sportsman feature as well, with the race ending eight laps short of its intended 25-lap distance. The 30-minute time limit expired after the field was given the “Final Restart” sign with 17 revolutions scored. When Ava Bellinger’s No. 3 gave up on the ensuing restart, the event was checkered and Toby Blumenshine, Reinholds, recorded his second Sportsman triumph of the season.
Blumenshine, who started sixth, raced by Ken Miller to snatch the lead on the ninth trip around the oval. He went on to win by 1.752-seconds over Patrick Kirn, with Bret Habecker, John Davis, and Angelo Mercado completing the top five.
Curtis R. Miller, Mercado, and Miller notched heat race victories over the 26-car Sportsman field. Megan Mercado was the consolation victor.
Jas Hehnly won the final 125cc feature of 2014, and it didn’t take long for the driver from Stevens, PA, to record another win, as he drove his Wise Snack Foods No. 77m to Saturday’s triumph over Dave Grube.
Hehnly lined up on the outside of row one, then chased early leader Brandon Gibble for the first five circuits. Hehnly finally wrestled the top spot from Gibble on lap six and set the pace for the remainder of the event.
Grube, who’d captured the first three features contested by the 125cc Micros in 2015 (and was coming off a Friday night victory at Linda’s Speedway), rumbled from 12th starting position to second when he passed Chase Gutshall with 22 complete. Feeling like one more restart might have resulted in a fourth straight triumph, Grube had to be satisfied with runner-up honors as that elusive caution flag did not appear and he crossed the stripe almost two seconds behind Jas Hehnly.
Gutshall wound up third, Justin Harrington finished fourth, and Corey Schmuck Jr. went home with fifth place money.
125cc heat race victories were claimed by Grube and Jason Hehnly. There were 18 cars entered in 125cc activity on Saturday.
Reading’s Dave Ravel has a pretty good batting average in 250cc Four-Stroke competition so far in 2015. Ravel, in the Harry’s Subway of Denver, PA/ Al’s Service Center/ Denver NAPA/ Ken’s Cycle Repair No. 69k has registered three feature wins in the first four events, and he finished third on April 25.
On Saturday, Ravel took his time getting to the front, gradually moving forward and finally working to the low side of Donna Geib in turn four, then pulling ahead as they accelerated down the front stretch with four laps remaining.
Ravel charged to the checkered with a margin of nearly 1.5-seconds over Geib. Young Zackery Vickers, in his first year of Micro-Sprint competition, finished third ahead of Eddie Nocera and Kassidy Michael. A caution flag with two to go was the only interruption during the 25-lap race.
A dozen Four-Strokes participated in Saturday’s program, with Nocera and Michael scoring heat race wins.
A total of 110 Micro-Sprints took part in the fourth racing event on Lanco’s 2015 schedule.
With full moon fever now out of the way, attention turns to this Saturday’s Fan Appreciation Night. May 9, Mother’s Day Eve, will find a $1.00 general admission price for everyone over the age of 12, with youth aged 12 and under admitted free. All spectators, as well as the race teams, are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items that will be donated to the Lebanon Rescue Mission.
AJ Blosenski Trash Hauling & Recycling will co-sponsor the event along with Grace & Truth Fellowship Church of Morgantown, PA. The Wounded Heroes Fund will be spotlighted as well, and Ivan Stoltzfus, who traveled across the United States last summer aboard his 1948 “Johnabilt” tractor will be on hand to talk about his trip and show off the vehicle that transported him from North Jersey to the California coast.
The five weekly Micro-Sprint divisions – 600cc, 270cc, 125cc, Sportsman, and 250cc Four-Stroke – will compete in qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap main events on Fan Appreciation Night.
Gates open at 3:30 with warm-ups at 5 p.m. The first heat race goes green at 6:00.
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Brent Ely, 2.Kenny Miller III, 3.Mike Rutherford, 4.Jason Swavely, 5.Chris Gerhart, 6.Jarid Kunkle, 7.Shaun Brandel, 8.Brittany Brown, 9.Corry Roth, 10.Zach Light, 11.Heath Hehnly, 12.Jared Esh, 13.Chris Panczner, 14.James Morris, 15.Dan Souder, 16.Kameron Morral, 17.Justin Whittall, 18.Ryan Groff, 19.Rebecca LaMothe, 20.Brooklynn Gable, 21.Steve Whary, 22.Jason Sechrist, 23.Jenna Heagy, 24.Will Urkuski.
DNQ: Jack Conover.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Nick Skias, 2.Kyle Spence, 3.Bradley Brown, 4.Kenny Miller III, 5.Dan Lane Jr., 6.Billy Logeman, 7.Heath Hehnly, 8.Ken Miller, 9.Christi Sweigart, 10.Tyler Ulrich, 11.Brian Sholley, 12.Mike Rutherford, 13.Toby Blumenshine, 14.Nate Weidman, 15.Dustin Fox, 16.Brock Whisler, 17.Elizabeth Helmick, 18.Dylan Adams, 19.Nick Sweigart, 20.Daryl Davis, 21.Dave Grube, 22.Cameron Bellinger, 23.Mark Yoder. DNS: William Manotti.
DNQ: Brent Shearer, Kyle Hehnly, Nicole Whisler, Ricky Sechrist, Mike Uhrich.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Toby Blumenshine, 2.Patrick Kirn, 3.Bret Habecker, 4.John Davis, 5.Angelo Mercado, 6.Kerry Lengle, 7.Curtis R. Miller, 8.Megan Mercado, 9.Steve Smith Sr., 10.Mike Rutherford, 11.Ken Miller, 12.Ava Bellinger, 13.Brian Becker, 14.Robert Shanaman, 15.Devin Adams, 16.Joe Ilg, 17.Randy Landis, 18.Jeff Boyer, 19.Adam Minzer, 20.Dave Ravel, 21.Brandon Bucher, 22.Joshua Sears, 23.Sami Schenck, 24.Jas Hehnly.
DNQ: Cody Sechrist, Dennis Fenstermacher.
125cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Jas Hehnly, 2.Dave Grube, 3.Chase Gutshall, 4.Justin Harrington, 5.Corey Schmuck Jr., 6.Brandon Gibble, 7.Alexis Sheely, 8.Nick Sweigart, 9.Tajae Adams, 10.Jarrett Imler, 11.Kelsey Heiney, 12.Jimmy Wampole, 13.Brooklyn Shearer, 14.Austin Graby, 15.Kody Hibshman, 16.Brie Weiler, 17.William Manotti, 18.Jason Hehnly.
250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Dave Ravel, 2.Donna Geib, 3.Zackery Vickers, 4.Eddie Nocera, 5.Kassidy Michael, 6.Dick Huzzard, 7.Mike Coen, 8.Jarrett Imler, 9.Ronald Wechter. DNS: Zach Hollinger, Brian Kramer, Aidan Jones.
By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts&ref=br_tf