Elverson, Pa.’s Chris Panczner almost grabbed the brass ring a few years ago, but “I broke with a couple of laps to go while I was leading.”
On Saturday night, Panczner gained redemption for that heart-breaking loss when he won the prestigious Clyde Martin Memorial Race for 600cc Micro-Sprints at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. As they have for the past several seasons, Gold Rush Trailer Sales presented the Clyde Martin Memorial Race under the Lanco banner.
The track’s longest races of the year at 35 laps, the Memorial also offers double points and a large trophy that is handed down from winner to winner each year. If a driver is able to win three of the Memorials (in one class), he/she gets to keep the trophy and a new one is ordered for that division for the next season’s event. The Clyde Martin Memorial Race presented by Gold Rush Trailer Sales is only open to Lanco club members who have entered at least half of the current season’s point-paying races.
Saturday night was also the first time, in the seven years that Blue Ridge Cable Channel 11 has been broadcasting feature races from the Clyde, that an event was carried live on Cable 11, making the Memorial even bigger, especially to Panczner and the other four drivers who registered victories in their respective Classes.
Those triumphant wheel-twisters included Mike Rutherford (270cc), Ken Miller (Sportsman), Chase Gutshall (125cc), and Dave Ravel (250cc Four-Stroke).
The live television audience, along with those who attended in person, were treated to five memorable Memorial features, as three were absolute barn-burners (600cc, 270cc, and Sportsman), the 125cc had plenty of intrigue highlighted by a driver’s first career Lanco victory, and the Four-Stroke main saw several different leaders before the outcome was decided.
Panczner passed early leader Will Urkuski on the third trip around the progressively banked oval. While he kept his American National Facilities Management/ Dick Hogge/ Paramount Signs No. 15P at the head of the field for the duration of the Gold Rush Trailer Sales 35-lapper, it was far from easy for the driver who led this race a few years ago before mechanical issues knocked him out near the end.
There were no mechanical gremlins this time, but some hot and heavy racing right behind the leader, as well as some thick lapped traffic in front of him, kept Panczner on his toes throughout the race.
Shaun Brandel, Mike Rutherford, Chris Gerhart, and Jason Swavely fought tooth-and-nail for second place during the middle and latter stages of the event, swapping positions and going three-wide on numerous occasions on the multi-grooved racing surface. Late in the race, James Morris joined the group as Brandel fell back a bit.
With the laps winding down, Rutherford attempted to duck under Panczner as they set their cars for turn one. Panczner shut the door on him, forcing Rutherford to tap the brake pedal and when he did, Gerhart took advantage by zipping around the top to move into second. A couple of circuits later, Swavely also got past Rutherford, then slipped under Gerhart to take over the runner-up position.
Panczner seemed to get even stronger near the conclusion of the 35-lapper, maintaining several car lengths over Swavely (who started 11th) and going on to score the big win by a half-second over Swavely’s No. 14.
Rutherford got by Gerhart to finish third as Gerhart’s No. 51 began to overheat. The former 600cc track champion nursed his mount to a fourth place payout, while Morris (who started 12th) completed the top five.
The third place finish by Rutherford, combined with a seventh place effort by Heath Hehnly, enabled the throttle jockey from Lititz to leap over Hehnly and take the 600cc point lead. With double points awarded in the Memorial Race, Rutherford turned a 13 point deficit into a 23 point advantage.
With 23 of the eligible 600cc teams in the pits, heat race victories went to Jarid Kunkle, Morris, and Swavely.
The Gold Rush Trailer Sales 270cc feature was just as good, with several drivers in the mix throughout the entire 35-lap affair.
Kenny Miller III executed a nifty inside pass on Cameron Bellinger to snatch the lead on the second revolution while Dan Lane Jr., Nick Skias, and Rutherford diced for third.
Skias bolted past Bellinger for the runner-up spot on lap 13, then shot by Miller on the back chute. Miller turned under Skias as the No. 3s skated up the turn four banking to reclaim the top spot and Rutherford moved up to challenge Skias for second place.
Moving into second at the halfway point, Rutherford made one more lap before he blasted off the top of corner number four and drove under Miller to grab the lead on the 19th tour.
Bradley Brown found the high line and rumbled forward during the final ten circuits, sweeping past Skias for second spot with seven laps remaining. While Brown was strong at the end, he could not muster a serious challenge to the leader as the Kaylor Petro No. 5k carried Mike Rutherford to the 270cc Clyde Martin Memorial Race triumph.
Brown, last year’s Memorial Race winner, finished second with Skias, Bellinger, and Kyle Spence, who was sent to the rear early in the event, making up the top five finishers.
Rutherford, Toby Blumenshine, and Richie Hartman were victorious in qualifying heats as 25 cars signed in for 270cc competition. Dylan Adams took the win in the consolation race.
Even with the double point victory, Rutherford only gained 20 points on Skias in his quest for a fifth 270cc track title. He now leads Skias by 30 as the season heads into its final six point shows.
The Sportsman Class main event provided the evening’s nightcap, and it was well worth waiting for as a pair of Micro-Sprint veterans, Ken Miller and Rutherford, teamed with young chargers Devin Adams and John Davis to put on an incredible show.
Rutherford was supposed to start 12th, but had to pit prior to the original green flag to tighten a loose spark plug. That pit stop forced him to start in the rear of the 23-car field along with Angelo Mercado, who also pitted to repair an uncooperative chain tensioner.
Birdsboro’s Ken Miller started on the outside of row one and immediately jumped into the top spot as the race went green. Within the first ten laps, Jas Hehnly moved to second, only to lose the position to Devin Adams as Miller cruised at the head of the pack.
By lap 15, Rutherford had climbed to third. He wrestled the runner-up slot from Adams on a restart with 15 complete, and then things really got interesting.
For the next 15 circuits, Miller and Rutherford engaged in an extremely entertaining, slide job throwing, position swapping duel that had the fans, as well as the Cable 11 television announcers, howling with delight. The duo took turns diving under one another at both ends of the speedway, with one sliding up in front of the other and the recipient of the slider simply cutting left and driving back under and around his rival.
Third place Devin Adams, meanwhile, was lurking nearby, ready to pounce if the two leaders got into one another. On more than a few occasions, Adams dove for the bottom when either Miller or Rutherford executed the slide job, making it a three-wide tussle for the lead. He almost accelerated off the bottom of the corner with the lead a few times, but Miller and Rutherford had more momentum off the top side and went by Adams on the straightaways.
John Davis was also making his presence known, rocketing around the high groove and picking off the cars in front of him. Davis got to fourth and closed on the trio at the front of the field, taking third when Adams broke on the final lap.
Miller squeezed up in front of Rutherford one more time with a couple of tours left to run and Rutherford could not turn back under him, allowing Miller to open a cushion of a few car lengths on the final trip around the clay.
Miller’s fifth career win in the Sportsman portion of the Clyde Martin Memorial Race was (no doubt) his most exciting. Rutherford settled for a hard fought second place finish, with Davis happy over his third place effort. Angelo Mercado rebounded from his pre-race pit stop, weaving his way to a fourth place finish and point leader Toby Blumenshine wound up fifth.
With 23 Sportsman cars entering the Memorial, heat race victories fell to Jas Hehnly, Patrick Kirn, and Adams.
There was plenty of drama and intrigue in the 125cc feature, as the Young Gun, Chase Gutshall, paced the field in search of his first career win at the Clyde.
Gutshall passed Corey Schmuck Jr. for the top spot on lap 15 and three circuits later, five-time winner and point leader Dave Grube moved into the runner-up position.
Caution periods slowed Gutshall’s pace on laps 27 and 28, but the yellow flag with 27 complete may have been a blessing for the leader. Grube had run him down as Gutshall dealt with heavy lapped traffic, but the caution lights flashed on just as Grube prepared to make his move.
Gutshall pulled away on each restart, then had to endure one more yellow flag slowdown with just four revolutions remaining. He calmly held his line and motored away again, going on to win by slightly more than one second over Grube, with Jas Hehnly finishing third.
Justin Harrington, who is chasing Grube in the point standings, ended up fourth and Schmuck cashed in with a fifth place finish.
Heat race wins for the 19 cars went to Schmuck and Grube.
Dave Ravel hasn’t competed in the 250cc Four-Stroke division since car owner Earl Eveland sold his No. 69k a few months ago. But Ravel had enough starts in the Class, early in the season, to make him eligible for the Clyde Martin Memorial Race. He made the most of his opportunity and looked right at home in his former ride, winning the Memorial for the second consecutive year.
Had it been a standard 25-lap feature, Ravel would have pulled off the win on the last lap. Since it was the Memorial Race distance of 35 laps, however, the Reading driver took the lead with ten to go, then held on to score the victory.
Prior to last year’s Four-Stroke point champion taking the lead, there were three others who shared time at the head of the pack. Polesitter Brian Kramer set the pace for the first 11 tours before Devin Adams worked by him. Adams gave up the top spot to three-time winner Zack Hollinger on lap 15. When Hollinger’s No. 7 didn’t go on a restart with 15 circuits left to run, Adams and Ravel went by and Adams took his second stint at the point.
Ravel passed Adams for the lead with ten to go and Hollinger, who admitted he missed a shift on that fateful restart, recovered to take second from Adams with seven trips remaining.
The checkered flag fell on Ravel, with Hollinger a disappointed runner-up. Adams was third and point leader Eddie Nocera wound up fourth. Donna Geib rebounded from an early spin to finish fifth.
Hollinger and Zak Vickers won heat races for the 14 cars in the 250cc Four-Stroke division.
Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway takes its final break of the 2015 campaign this Saturday, August 1st. Racing returns to the Newmanstown oval on August 8 as Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic and Precise Racing Products sponsor the night of high speed adventure.
The five weekly divisions – 600cc, 270cc, Sportsman, 125cc, and 250cc Four-Stroke – will compete in qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap features.
It’s an unbelievable value for your entertainment dollar, as the adult general admission ticket price is just $8.00, with discounts for Senior Citizens and Students.
Tickets for youth between the ages of six and 12 are $2.00, while children under the age of six are admitted free.
Come on out and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 35 laps: 1.Chris Panczner, 2.Jason Swavely, 3.Mike Rutherford, 4.Chris Gerhart, 5.James Morris, 6.Shaun Brandel, 7.Heath Hehnly, 8.Brittany Brown, 9.Jarid Kunkle, 10.Justin Whittall, 11.Kenny Miller III, 12.Dan Souder, 13.Brent Ely, 14.Zach Light, 15.Brooklyn Gable, 16.Troy Musselman, 17.Ryan Groff, 18.Will Urkuski, 19.Jared Esh, 20.Rebecca LaMothe, 21.Jenna Heagy, 22.Taylor Troxel, 23.Patrick Ely.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 35 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Bradley Brown, 3.Nick Skias, 4.Cameron Bellinger, 5.Kyle Spence, 6.Dan Lane Jr., 7.Dave Grube, 8.Toby Blumenshine, 9.Kenny Miller III, 10.Ken Miller, 11.Brian Sholley, 12.Billy Logeman, 13.Nick Sweigart, 14.Dylan Adams, 15.Nate Weidman, 16.Christi Sweigart, 17.Ricky Sechrist, 18.Richie Hartman, 19.Mike Uhrich, 20.Heath Hehnly, 21.Dustin Fox, 22.Brock Whisler, 23.Tyler Ulrich, 24.Daryl Davis.
DNQ: Elizabeth Helmick.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature, 35 laps: 1.Ken Miller, 2.Mike Rutherford, 3.John Davis, 4.Angelo Mercado, 5.Toby Blumenshine, 6.Jas Hehnly, 7.Patrick Kirn, 8.Curtis R. Miller, 9.Dave Ravel, 10.Ava Bellinger, 11.Devin Adams, 12.Kerry Lengle, 13.Joe Ilg, 14.Brandon Bucher, 15.Adam Minzer, 16.Megan Mercado, 17.Brian Becker, 18.Robert Shanaman, 19.Steve Smith Sr., 20.Dennis Fenstermacher, 21.Katelin Vragovich, 22.Jeff Boyer, 23.Anthony Yerger.
125cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 35 laps: 1.Chase Gutshall, 2.Dave Grube, 3.Jas Hehnly, 4.Justin Harrington, 5.Corey Schmuck Jr., 6.Alexis Sheely, 7.Brie Weiler, 8.Jason Hehnly, 9.Jarrett Imler, 10.Jimmy Wampole, 11.Zack Hollinger, 12.Brandon Gibble, 13.Kelsey Heiney, 14.Walt Wampole, 15.Tajae Adams, 16.William Manotti, 17.Austin Graby, 18.Kody Hibshman. DNS: Dustin Adams.
250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprint Feature, 35 laps: 1.Dave Ravel, 2.Zack Hollinger, 3.Devin Adams, 4.Eddie Nocera, 5.Donna Geib, 6.Kassidy Michael, 7.Zak Vickers, 8.Lewis Kepple Jr., 9.Ronald Wechter, 10.Brian Kramer, 11.Jarrett Imler, 12.Dick Huzzard, 13.Lester Dise, 14.Scott Renninger.
By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts&ref=br_tf