Alex Bright cut his racing teeth in a 600cc Micro-Sprint at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. On Saturday night, the Collegeville, Pa. wheel-twister made a victorious return to his old stomping grounds, but this time the triumph came at the controls of an ARDC Midget.
Bright, who made headlines in January by winning his preliminary night A-Main at the prestigious Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, survived a caution plagued season opener as the American Racing Drivers Club kicked off its 77th season of competition. The No Wing Spring Fling, presented by MJF Trucking, marked just the second-ever appearance by the mighty Midgets at the Clyde Martin oval located in Newmanstown, Pa.
“Oh, it’s definitely special (to win here),” said Bright. “A lot of effort went into bringing our car back out this year, and to win the opening race is really special.”
The ARDC touring series, presented by Autobahn Indoor Speedway and Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic, produced a season opening event that turned into a tale of tires, as in large tractor tires that line the inside of the corners at Clyde Martin. Most of the drivers were focused on running as low as possible at both ends of the speedway, resulting in a lot of contact with those infield tire markers.
Brenden Bright set the pace in the early going of the 30-lap feature, with his brother Alex quickly moving into the runner-up slot. The Bright brothers waged a nip-and-tuck battle in the first one-third of the race as Danny Stratton slipped into third position on the eighth circuit and closed in on the top two.
With eight tours complete, Alex Bright nipped one of those big infield tires in turn two, spinning but never coming to a complete stop. Fourth running Nick Wean bumped the spinning Bright and stalled, forcing another yellow flag slowdown.
On the restart, Alex ducked under Brenden as they charged down the front chute, taking the lead as the duo headed into turn one. On the next restart, just one trip later, Brenden returned the favor but now it was his turn to clip an infield tire in corner number two. The resulting spin produced another caution and sent the younger of the Bright brothers to the rear.
With Alex Bright now in command and 15 laps in the books, Danny Stratton sailed to the inside of the leader in turns three and four, making contact with Bright’s Lightcap Electric No. 77. Stratton blasted off turn four with the race lead as Alex gathered his mount and continued.
“That was just typical short track racing,” said Alex afterward. “I thought I gave him enough room and he probably thought he had enough room to make that move, but I guess there wasn’t as much space as we thought and we got together. It happens.”
Stratton led through lap 18 when – you guessed it – he tapped the infield tires in three and four and came to a stop. His misfortune put Alex Bright back in front as the field lined up nose to tail for yet another restart.
As A. Bright opened a fairly comfortable lead, an entertaining four-car battle developed right behind the second place car of Ryan Greth. Trevor Kobylarz, who started 17th, Nick Wean and Brenden Bright (who both came from the back of the pack after bringing out caution flags) fought furiously for the third spot on the bottom of the race track while Kyle Spence, making his ARDC debut, was rim-riding around the top as part of that fight. The third position was in constant state of flux as all four swapped the spot over the final ten revolutions.
A final yellow with one to go created the final bit of drama, as A. Bright grazed an infield tire coming to the green. He wheelied down the frontstretch but gathered up his unsteady mount and maintained control as Greth took a look at challenging in turn one. Bright held on, though, flashing under the checkered flag by a half-second over Greth, with Brenden Bright claiming the torrid battle for third. Spence, in his first ride in a Midget, earned a strong fourth place finish and Kobylarz raced home in fifth.
With 20 cars signed in for the season opener, Brenden Bright was quickest in timed warm ups at 10.804 seconds. The timed hot lap sessions set the heat race line ups, and those victories went to Stratton, Wean, and A. Bright.
ARDC Midgets Feature, 30 laps: 1.Alex Bright, 2.Ryan Greth, 3.Brenden Bright, 4.Kyle Spence, 5.Trevor Kobylarz, 6.Nick Wean, 7.Billy Pauch Jr., 8.Danny Stratton, 9.Justin Grosz, 10.Ryan Wilson, 11.Brett Wanner, 12.Troy Betts, 13.Brett Arndt, 14.Shawn Jackson, 15.Tyler Rivard, 16.Tommy Kunsman Jr., 17.Jimmy Glenn, 18.Jim Radney, 19.Kenny Johnson. DNS: Brandon Yarlett.
Jack Conover has parked his 600cc Micro-Sprint in Clyde Martin’s winner’s circle once before, but the car had a wing on it for his previous victory.
On Saturday night, the Sewell, NJ racer notched a wingless 600cc triumph, leading most of the way after some anxious moments in the early going. This one was worth more than his 2005 victory, too, as Conover took home a cool $1,000 for his efforts.
Pole sitter Eddie Strada moved up on the start and second-starting Conover slipped back, allowing Jarid Kunkle to charge from third to first and lead the opening tour of the 30-lap MJF Trucking A-Main.
On the fourth trip around the progressively banked oval, Conover took advantage of a slight bobble by the leader, diving under Kunkle to grab the top spot as they accelerated off the corner and onto the homestretch.
Kunkle wound up losing a total of three positions as he got freight trained, with Luke Thomas and Kyle Spence throttling into second and third, respectively.
Spence spun out with 12 laps scored, while running third, but he would not be the only driver in the top five to suffer problems.
Billy Pauch Jr., who ran from 19th to second in the B-Main, started 22nd in the feature. Pauch rumbled up to fourth by the halfway point, but tangled with some infield tires and had to restart from the rear. He soldiered on to an 11th place finish.
While Conover remained in control at the head of the pack, Thomas and Strada were joined by Greg Stevens, 20th starter Kyle Lick, Robbie Hocker, and Jay Hartman (who started 19th). Lick went to the top over the final eight or ten circuits while his competitors stayed committed to the low groove. Strada decided to try the high side with a few laps left to run, but could not unseat Thomas from the runner-up position.
Conover cruised to the checkered in his Sawyer Chassis No. 21, beating Thomas to the stripe by almost 1.5-seconds. Strada wound up third, with Stevens finishing a solid fourth and Lick going home with fifth place money.
A great field of 41 cars took part in the wingless 600cc action. Heat race victories fell to James Morris, Austin Quick, Kyle Spence, and Luke Thomas. The B-Main triumph was claimed by Steve Bull.
The RTS Chassis “Spring Has Sprung” regular season opener will be held this Saturday, April 9, at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. The point chases begin for the five winged weekly divisions: the 600cc, 270cc, 125cc, Sportsman, and the Sports n’ Turf 250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprints.
All five classes will compete in qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap features with warm ups at 5 p.m. and the first heat race goes green at 6:00.
Wingless 600cc Sprints Feature, 30 laps: 1.Jack Conover, 2.Luke Thomas, 3.Eddie Strada, 4.Greg Stevens, 5.Kyle Lick, 6.Robbie Hocker, 7.Jay Hartman, 8.Heath Hehnly, 9.Kyle Spence, 10.Austin Quick, 11.Billy Pauch Jr., 12.Austin Bishop, 13.Steve Bull, 14.Ryan Groff, 15.Jason Swavely, 16.Bobby Butler, 17.Cameron Bellinger, 18.Ben Earnst, 19.Eric Whitby, 20.Jarid Kunkle, 21.Will Urkuski, 22.Bradley Brown, 23.James Morris, 24.Tommy Kunsman Jr.
DNQ: Rebecca LaMothe, Bruce Ginther Jr., Shaun Brandel, Mike Linderman, Patrick Ely, Jon Keller, Jacob Fox, Ryan Quackenbush, Steve Whary, Josh Heckman, Amber Oraschin, Mike Freed, Donvan Felker, Ben McGowan, Matt Carr, Keith Skivinski, Cale Mutter.
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By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts
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