It took two whole days to finally get underway, but once it did, the 2016 “Pennsylvania Midget Week” opener was well worth the wait.
Minden, Nevada’s Tanner Thorson recovered from a lap four spin, carved his way from the tail-end of the field, setting him up for a last lap, last corner slide job on teammate Spencer Bayston to take an improbable USAC Midget National Championship/ARDC feature win Tuesday night at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
A heavy shower in the late afternoon hours doused the Lanco surface with moisture, creating a lightning quick and gnarly racing surface for USAC’s debut at the 1/8-mile dirt bullring.
Thorson got the jump from his outside front row starting position at the start of the 30-lap main event, using the topside to glide around Pennsylvania Midget star Alex Bright for the top spot who, along with Brady Bacon, formed a three-car breakaway in the opening laps.
However, on lap four, Thorson entered the first turn and promptly looped it all by his lonesome, bringing about a yellow flag and relegating him to the back of the pack where he would restart 19th with 27 laps to go.
Alex Bright would inherit the lead from Thorson and, throughout the middle portion of the race, would firmly establish himself as the man to beat as a hornet’s nest of cars developed behind him in a battle for the lead as he resisted a challenge from the winner of three of the last four series races, Chad Boat.
Nearing the halfway mark, leading series rookie Carson Macedo threw a big slider for the second position on Boat, but Boat was able to slide him back to retain the spot as the two drag raced into turn one.
Yet, Boat’s magnificent run of seven-straight top-five finishes would take a severe blow on lap 17 when he slid sideways through the middle of turns three and four while battling Macedo, coming to rest in the middle of the racetrack without making contact. Boat would restart.
On the lap 17 restart, Bright snaked the field down low to the green as Macedo jumped to the top, but just as quickly as it began, the red flag was displayed for an upside down Gage Walker who tipped it over against the guardrail between turns one and two.
On the ensuing restart, Bright chose the middle route into turns one and two while Macedo rode the cushion, but as Macedo began to line up a slider on Bright for the lead in the third turn, action slowed yet again as the yellow flag dropped for a backwards Holly Shelton between turns one and two.
Fourth-running Brady Bacon was involved in a tangle in the fourth turn on lap 18 that also collected top-10 runners Steve Buckwalter and Kenney Johnson. Johnson would be the only driver unable to restart.
Macedo was getting better and better as the race wore on, but yellow after yellow halted his procession to the front, keeping him at bay in the second position with just 13 laps to go.
But, on the following restart, Macedo hounded Bright for the top spot. Two accomplished racers – Bright, a Chili Bowl prelim winner and Macedo, a World of Outlaws feature winner – each duked it out for their first career USAC win with less than ten to go.
On lap 21, Macedo made his move, diamonding off turn two and rocketing down the banking to grab the lead from Bright as the two sprinted down the back straight. Bright counter-punched, slipping back by Macedo briefly in turn one before Macedo shot back by Bright to secure the point.
Heartbreak ensued for Bright shortly after losing the lead when his right rear tire deflated, forcing him into the infield with just a handful of circuits left after leading all drivers with 17 laps led during the feature.
With just four laps to go, Macedo, Bayston and now Thorson, who had charged his way back to the front from the tail, led the field to the restart. Macdeo maintained his high-side presence into turn one while Bayston dove to the bottom to slide up in front of Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate Macedo for the lead.
As soon as Bayston cleared Macedo between turns one and two, Macedo hit the brakes with the intention of changing direction on a dime, dipping underneath Bayston and driving away on the back straight as Bayston’s momentum carried him to the outside turn two wall.
However, Macedo’s car stalled before he could put the notion into action, coming to a stop in the middle of turn two to bring out the yellow once again and, thus, moved Thorson to second, directly behind his teammate and race leader Bayston with just four laps remaining.
Bayston exploded off the starting blocks for a solid restart on lap 27 as he gapped himself from Thorson, but that proved to be short-lived as Thorson quickly reeled Bayston back in, putting him in prime position to pounce in a moment’s notice.
As Thorson shadowed Bayston’s every move, coming to the white flag, Bayston got a big bite coming off of turn two, pulling a wheelstand half the length of the back straight away, yet still maintaining his ever-dwindling lead over Thorson as the two entered the final lap.
Bayston and Thorson held court on the topside of turns one and two after receiving flagman Warren Alston’s white flag, but Thorson, who proved to have the fastest car throughout the main event, appeared to be waiting for just the right moment to make the move, leaving no chance for Bayston to return the favor.
As Bayston entered turn three through the middle, Thorson aimed his machine like a dart from the mid-point of the back straight toward the bottom of turns three and four at full throttle, pitching the car sideways and sliding up in front of Bayston at the exit of turn four. That slowed Bayston’s momentum and pulled his front wheels off the ground as he got back on the gas, allowing Thorson to nail the bullseye and finish out the last 30 feet to the flagstand in front to record the astonishing spin and win victory by .296 seconds over Bayston, Tyler Thomas, Jim Radney and Ryan Robinson.
Incidentally, it was the first time a last corner pass for the lead was made on the final lap in a USAC National Midget feature since Thorson lost the lead to teammate Rico Abreu at Sun Prairie, Wisconsin’s Angell Park Speedway in July of 2015.
Thorson’s last lap heroics led to his third win of the season after June victories at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind. and Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Ark., tying him with Boat for the most series victories during the 2016 season in his Keith Kunz – Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/TRD – JBL Audio/Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“I didn’t think there’d be any way we could get back to the front after the spin,” Thorson admitted. “I just misjudged my angle into the corner and got a little too sideways and spun it out. I’m just so happy we could do this for Bryan (Clauson). The track smoothed out a lot throughout the night and there were a lot of guys up top, but I never felt like we needed to get up there because we were strong enough running middle to bottom. We’ve all been itching to race this week, but it was worth the wait for this. We parked it for Bryan.”
Despite Bayston’s final lap heartbreak, the Lebanon, Indiana driver was able to extend his series point lead to 55 over Boat and 65 over Bacon after both encountered misfortune at Lanco, recording a second-place run in his Keith Kunz – Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/TRD – Mobil 1/Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“I never felt like I was good enough to really be in the lead; it just fell into our hands,” Bayston acknowledged. “But, I still hate to let it slip away at the end. Tanner was really good, but this was elbows up tonight. I just feel bad. Second is okay, but I want to win and when it’s right there in front of you and you don’t deliver, it’s pretty frustrating. Regardless, we’re glad to put on a show for Bryan. We know he’s cheering us on from heaven.”
Collinsville, Oklahoma’s Tyler Thomas could finally breathe a sigh of relief after his long, strange trip to “Pennsylvania Midget Week” had him stuck in Dayton, Ohio for the previous two days with mechanical issues on their motorhome, making it just in time to Lanco to take third after starting 11th in his Tyler Thomas Motorsports/BT Machine – AirGroup/Spike/Esslinger.
“It’s been a rough start to our week with motorhome problems getting out here, but we had a great car tonight,” said a relieved Thomas. “The track was awesome and gave us a multi-groove surface we could race on. Tanner (Thorson) went by me like I was standing still, so it was impressive. One of these days, it’ll be us in victory lane, but we’re putting together some good runs here lately, and the more we’re up there, the better chance we’ll have to grab one.”
Contingency award winners at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway included Carson Macedo (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Chad Boat (Simpson Race Products First Heat Race winner), Gage Walker (Competition Suspension, Inc. (CSI) Second Heat Race winner), Brady Bacon (Benic Enterprises Third Heat Race winner & Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Holly Shelton (Indy Race Parts Semi-Feature winner) and Brenden Bright (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger).
USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: August 16, 2016 – Newmanstown, Pennsylvania – Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway – “Pennsylvania Midget Week” (co-sanctioned by ARDC)
PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Carson Macedo, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-10.208; 2. Spencer Bayston, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-10.406; 3. Brady Bacon, 76m, FMR-10.578; 4. Ryan Robinson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-10.579; 5. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-10.604; 6. Alex Bright, 77, Hemler-10.615; 7. Chad Boat, 84, Tucker/Boat-10.642; 8. Ryan Greth, 4, Lesher-10.644; 9. Jim Radney, 95, Radney-10.648; 10. Steve Buckwalter, 27, Heffner-10.738; 11. Holly Shelton, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-10.765; 12. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-10.799; 13. Brett Wanner, 44, Fisher-10.811; 14. Nick Wean, 78, Wean-10.889; 15. Tony DiMattia, 50, DiMattia-10.904; 16. Trevor Kobylarz, 14, RT-10.926; 17. Gage Walker, 7, Walker-10.973; 18. Kenney Johnson, 46x, Johnson-11.018; 19. Kyle Spence, 25K, Spence-11.032; 20. Tommy Kunsman, 21, Kunsman-11.205; 21. Jamie Speers, 74, Speers-11.277; 22. Brenden Bright, 92, Bright-11.319; 23. Josh Heckman, 12, Heckman-11.332; 24. Justin Grosz, 99G, Grosz-11.595; 25. Eric Heydenreich, 11, Heydenreich-11.732; 26. Brett Arndt, 46, Arndt-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Boat, 2. Macedo, 3. Buckwalter, 4. Robinson, 5. Kobylarz, 6. B. Bright, 7. Wanner, 8. Spence, 9. Heydenreich. 1:50.63
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Walker, 2. Bayston, 3. Thorson, 4. Wean, 5. Heckman, 6. Greth, 7. Shelton, 8. Kunsman, 9. Arndt. NT
BENIC ENTERPRISES THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Bacon, 2. Thomas, 3. A. Bright, 4. DiMattia, 5. Radney, 6. Grosz, 7. Johnson, 8. Speers. NT
INDY RACE PARTS SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Shelton, 2. Wanner, 3. Kunsman, 4. B. Bright, 5. Heydenreich, 6. Arndt, 7. Johnson, 8. Spence, 9. Grosz, 10. Speers. 2:15.80
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Tanner Thorson, 2. Spencer Bayston, 3. Tyler Thomas, 4. Jim Radney, 5. Ryan Robinson, 6. Chad Boat, 7. Brenden Bright, 8. Tommy Kunsman, 9. Holly Shelton, 10. Carson Macedo, 11. Steve Buckwalter, 12. Tony DiMattia, 13. Brady Bacon, 14. Brett Arndt, 15. Alex Bright, 16. Josh Heckman, 17. Kenney Johnson, 18. Gage Walker, 19. Justin Grosz, 20. Eric Heydenreich, 21. Nick Wean, 22. Brett Wanner, 23. Trevor Kobylarz. NT
**Arndt flipped during hot laps. Walker flipped on lap 17 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-3 Thorson, Laps 4-20 A. Bright, Laps 21-26 Macedo, Laps 27-29 Bayston, Lap 30 Thorson.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: B. Bright (19th to 7th)
NEW USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Bayston-879, 2-Boat-824, 3-Bacon-814, 4-Thorson-804, 5-Bryan Clauson-720, 6-Macedo-718, 7-Robinson-612, 8-Thomas-561, 9-Shelton-550, 10-Greth-442.
NEW USAC PENNSYLVANIA MIDGET WEEK POINTS: 1-Bayston-89, 2-Thorson-88, 3-Robinson-76, 4-Radney-75, 5-Boat-73, 6-T.Thomas-71, 7-Macedo-66, 8-B.Bright-63, 9-Shelton-60, 10-Bacon-59.
NEXT USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: August 17 – Abbottstown, Pennsylvania – Lincoln Speedway – “Pennsylvania Midget Week” (co-sanctioned by ARDC)
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Article by : USAC Racing