For the next week, Jason Swavely’s focus will be centered on a trip down the isle, as the “Rocket Man from Fleetwood” prepares for his wedding on September 26. Last Saturday, though, Swavely was locked into a different zone, one that carried him to his fourth 600cc triumph of the season at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
It was the Clyde’s Salute to Veterans Season Finale, sponsored by American Legion Post 56 of Lititz, Pa., and Swavely gave the Vets in the crowd something to remember as he blasted to a dominating victory over Jared Esh.
Nick Sweigart picked up his first career win in Lanco’s 270cc Micro-Sprint Class in Saturday’s curtain-closing event, while Curtis R. Miller (Sportsman), Chase Gutshall (125cc), and Zack Hollinger (250cc Four-Stroke) also ended the 2015 campaign as feature winners.
Swavely started eighth in the final 600cc main of the year and used a daring, rim-riding strategy on the opening lap to charge all the way up to second position. “Everyone went to the bottom on the start,” he explained afterward, “so I went to the top. It was nice and tacky up there and the car stuck like I was hoping it would.”
On the third trip around the clay, Swavely passed Will Urkuski for the top spot, then raced away into his own zip code, with just a single caution flag (with eight laps scored) interrupting his romp to victory. His Heffner Construction, Timmy’s Shock Lab, RTS Chassis No. 14 flew under the checkered flag with a margin of 2.558-seconds over 12th starter Jared Esh.
Heath Hehnly, who entered the finale trailing Mike Rutherford by 35 points in the battle for the 600cc championship, finished third but only gained ten points on Rutherford, who wound up fifth and secured his fourth point title in the process. He and Hehnly are now tied for the most 600cc point championships since Lanco made the class a weekly participant in 2005.
Kenny Miller III finished fourth in the race, sandwiched between Hehnly and Rutherford at the end of the 25-lapper.
Heat race victories went to Kyle Spence, Dan Souder, and Shaun Brandel while Amber Oraschin won the consolation race.
There were 25 entries in the 600cc division for Saturday’s season ending event.
Myerstown’s Nick Sweigart started on the pole of the 270cc main and proceeded to lead every one of the 25 revolutions around the progressively banked oval, winning his first Clyde Martin feature after a few years of 125cc and 270cc competition.
Sweigart, admitting to some butterflies before and during the race, credited a gear change prior to the feature as his key to victory. His C&L Roofing, Siding, & Treated Decks, Lebanon Levi No. 18s was on a rail throughout the race, helping to ease those nervous butterflies in Sweigart’s stomach.
Cameron Bellinger battled with Ken Miller, Mike Rutherford, and Nick Skias for much of the event as the foursome tussled for the runner-up position. Bellinger shook off the horrible luck that has plagued him all season long to finish a well deserved second, almost a full second behind Sweigart as the checkered flag waved.
Miller wound up third and Rutherford, who had already clinched his fourth consecutive 270cc point crown (and the fifth of his career), went home with fourth place money. Skias completed the top five.
Richie Hartman collected three straight point titles in the 270cc Class from 2008 – 2010, but Rutherford is the first driver to win four consecutive championships in that division.
Heats for the 22 car field of 270cc racers went to Tyler Ulrich and Ken Miller.
In the 25 lap Sportsman finale, Curtis R. Miller of Mertztown jumped into the early lead from his outside front row starting spot. Miller, the 2014 Sportsman point champ, led all the way for his second triumph of the season. It wasn’t an easy drive to victory for Miller, though, as newly crowned Sportsman point king Toby Blumenshine threaded his way from seventh on the starting grid to run a close second to Miller by the halfway point of the feature.
With both drivers running the same line – pinning their cars to the bottom at both ends of the speedway – Miller was able to keep his No. 7c in front, although Blumenshine stuck the nose of his No. 21t under the leader on a couple of occasions. Miller pulled his foe off the corner each time to maintain the top spot.
At the finish, it was Miller by a few car lengths over Blumenshine, with Ava Bellinger, John Davis, and Dave Ravel rounding out the top five.
The Sportsman point title is the first of Blumenshine’s Micro-Sprint career.
With 33 Sportsman on hand for Saturday’s season finale, Brandon Mundis, Ava Bellinger, and Mike Rutherford captured qualifying heat victories. John Davis won the consolation race.
Austin Graby thought he had an early birthday present all wrapped up in the 125cc feature, but mechanical gremlins infiltrated his No. 87 with just five circuits remaining and forcing him to the sidelines.
Graby’s misfortune handed the lead to Chase Gutshall, who was celebrating his 15th birthday on Saturday. Gutshall, who started 11th, had moved into the runner-up position with ten to go. The Middletown, Pa. driver took advantage of his golden opportunity when Graby dropped out, going on to win his second of the year in the Clyde’s 125cc division.
Another driver whose birthday was Saturday – and it was her sweet 16th – finished a career best second to Gutshall. Alexis Sheely steered her Worley & Obetz No. 19a to the runner-up posting, while Tajae Adams recorded a hard earned finish of third. Bradley Brown and Corey Schmuck Jr. completed the top five.
When the September 12 program was rained out, Dave Grube clinched his first 125cc point championship at the Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. Grube started strong, winning the first three features of the year and finished with a total of six victories on his way to the title.
Heat race winners on Saturday included Mike Boyer and Gutshall as 22 of the 125cc Micros took part in the curtain closer.
The 250cc Four-Stroke feature had a plot much like the 125cc main event; the driver who set the pace for much of the race and looked like a sure winner was not around at the conclusion of the 25-lapper.
Brian Kramer, bidding for his second triumph of the campaign, led laps two through 22, but suddenly slowed with mechanical issues and headed for the infield. His demise put Zack Hollinger in the lead, and Hollinger was more than happy to cruise the rest of the distance to score his fourth victory of 2015.
Chasing Hollinger to the stripe was Donna Geib, while Kassidy Michael rushed to the track from her high school soccer game and finished third. Jarrett Imler and Eddie Nocera finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
By taking the green flag in Saturday’s feature, Nocera clinched the Four-Stroke championship. It is the Mohnton driver’s first point title in 21 years of competition at the Clyde.
Hollinger, from Lititz, captured the lone heat race victory for the 11 Four-Strokes who entered Saturday’s program.
The annual awards banquet is scheduled for Saturday, November 21st, at the Lancaster Host Resort & Conference Center. Tickets are priced at $38 for adults and $15 for children. Ticket orders are due by November 9 and addtional details can be found on the track’s website at www.lancomicrosprint.com.
The 2016 season opener is slated for Saturday, April 9, with a practice night scheduled to take place one week prior to the opener.
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Jason Swavely, 2.Jared Esh, 3.Heath Hehnly, 4.Kenny Miller III, 5.Mike Rutherford, 6.Jarid Kunkle, 7.Brittany Brown, 8.Zach Light, 9.Brent Ely, 10.Justin Whittall, 11.Shaun Brandel, 12.Rebecca LaMothe, 13.Will Urkuski, 14.Kyle Spence, 15.Dan Souder, 16.Josh Conover, 17.Brooklyn Gable, 18.Ryan Groff, 19.Chris Oraschin, 20.Jenna Heagy, 21.Patrick Ely, 22.Troy Musselman, 23.Amber Oraschin, 24.Dylan Binkley.
DNQ: Jacob Starr.
2015 Point Champion: Mike Rutherford.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Nick Sweigart, 2.Cameron Bellinger, 3.Ken Miller, 4.Mike Rutherford, 5.Nick Skias, 6.Dave Grube, 7.Kyle Spence, 8.Toby Blumenshine, 9.Dave Williams, 10.Bradley Brown, 11.Daryl Davis, 12.Chris Heagy, 13.Christi Sweigart, 14.Brian Sholley, 15.Tyler Ulrich, 16.Billy Logeman, 17.Dan Lane Jr., 18.Kenny Miller III, 19.Mike Uhrich, 20.Brock Whisler, 21.Nicole Whisler, 22.Nate Weidman.
2015 Point Champion: Mike Rutherford.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Curtis R. Miller, 2.Toby Blumenshine, 3.Ava Bellinger, 4.John Davis, 5.Dave Ravel, 6.Jas Hehnly, 7.Sami Schenck, 8.Adam Harnish, 9.Patrick Kirn, 10.Russell Pannebecker, 11.Ricky Sechrist, 12.Brandon Mundis, 13.Robert Shanaman, 14.Dave Schroeder, 15.Brian Becker, 16.Angelo Mercado, 17.Steve Smith Sr., 18.Dennis Fenstermacher, 19.Anthony Yerger, 20.Jason Swavely, 21.Mike Rutherford, 22.Kerry Lengle, 23.Devin Adams, 24.Sheena Schaefer.
DNQ: Austin Graby, Cody Sechrist, Jeff Boyer, Darren Schott, Zach Young, Ken Miller, Adam Minzer, Megan Mercado, Michael Kreiser.
2015 Point Champion: Toby Blumenshine.
125cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Chase Gutshall, 2.Alexis Sheely, 3.Tajae Adams, 4.Bradley Brown, 5.Corey Schmuck Jr., 6.Brandon Gibble, 7.Kyler Heiney, 8.Jarrett Imler, 9.Bobby Braxton, 10.Jason Hehnly, 11.William Manotti, 12.Mike Boyer, 13.Austin Graby, 14.Jimmy Wampole, 15.Kody Hibshman, 16.Justin Harrington, 17.Kelsey Heiney, 18.Zack Hollinger, 19.Jas Hehnly, 20.Dustin Adams, 21.Dave Grube, 22.Walt Wampole.
2015 Point Champion: Dave Grube.
250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Zack Hollinger, 2.Donna Geib, 3.Kassidy Michael, 4.Jarrett Imler, 5.Eddie Nocera, 6.Scott Renninger, 7.Zak Vickers, 8.Ron Wechter, 9.Aidan Jones, 10.Brian Kramer. DNS: Lewis Kepple.
2015 Point Champion: Eddie Nocera.
By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts&ref=br_tf