Anytime Mike Rutherford buckles into a Micro-Sprint at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, he's a threat to win. Throw in the added incentive of a big race that boasts a nice payout, such as last weekend's Labor Day Shootout, and it's a sure bet that Rutherford will bring his A-game to the eighth-mile, high banked oval.
The Newmanstown, Pa. wheel-twister really enjoyed the holiday weekend, padding his bank account by $2,000 by winning the 600cc and 270cc main events during Lanco's annual two-day Shootout. The 600cc victory was Rutherford's fifth in the past six years in this lucrative and prestigious event, while his triumph in the 270cc A-Main was produced by a late race pass for the lead.
Joining Rutherford in the Giorgio Foods/ Hyper Racing winner's circle on Sunday were Jesse Maurer (125cc); Jason Swavely (Sportsman); Richie Hartman (250cc Four-Stroke); and Jake Allen (250cc Stock).
The six Micro-Sprint classes overflowed the Clyde's pit area with 183 cars when practice and qualifying began on Saturday. The 270cc class led the way with 53 cars, while 48 of the 600's entered the Shootout.
Chris Gerhart, driving Mike Dicely's No. 44 for the weekend, tallied more qualifying points than anyone else in the dual heat race format on Saturday, thereby earning the right to start the Giorgio Foods/Hyper Racing 600cc A-Main from the pole position.
The drama began with the initial green, as a three-wide gamble turned into contact and a spin by Gerhart, with the rest of the field scrambling to avoid him. The incident put Shane Braxton on the pole, and Braxton immediately jumped into the race lead over Rutherford and fourth-starting Robbie Kendall.
With one lap scored, Rutherford nudged his PACE Chassis No. 6 alongside Braxton. For the next nine tours, the duo ran side-by-side and wheel-to-wheel, until a yellow flag interrupted the terrific duel for the top spot. As the green reappeared, Rutherford finally coaxed his car by Braxton and into the lead, with Kendall initiating an assault on Braxton for the runner-up position.
Kendall wrestled the spot from Braxton in turns one and two, and Braxton tried to return the favor in three and four. Diving under Kendall as they entered the corner, Braxton and the Catonsville, MD chauffeur got together, resulting in a snap-roll by Braxton and a 360-degree spin by Kendall, who somehow managed to grab a lower gear and continue without stopping.
Rutherford continued to set the pace as Kendall fought with Jeff Halligan for second. Halligan snared the position from Kendall with six to go, then closed on Rutherford but could not offer a serious challenge before he ran out of time.
At the checkered, it was Rutherford, Halligan, Kendall, Mark Ludwig, and A.J. Michael who comprised the top five.
"On Friday night, I spent about an hour on the phone with Scott from PACE Chassis. He gave me a lot of suggestions to try on the car, and it really made a big difference this weekend," explained Rutherford in his victory lane interview.
Rutherford's other 600cc Shootout victories occurred in 2005, '06, '07, and '08.
Richie Hartman forced Rutherford to work even harder to get the 270cc triumph. Starting from the inside of row one, Hartman set the pace for 28 of the 30 laps.
With Hartman holding Rutherford at bay, a ferocious battle ensued for third between Jesse Maurer, Angleo Mercado, Nick Skias, and Jason Swavely. Skias eventually secured the spot and went after Rutherford, while Maurer, Mercado, Swavely, and Dave Grube continued the battle royale for third position. Grube steadily maneuvered his way past his competitors, including Skias, to run third behind Hartman and Rutherford.
With six laps remaining, Mercado's No. 3 slowed suddenly on the homestretch, the victim of mechanical problems. Devin Harron, running in the middle of the pack, found himself pinched against the outside guardrail with Mercado's ailing Micro directly in front of him. Harron went up and over Mercado's wheels, launching into a scary series of end-over-end tumbles, then barrel-rolling across the track. Harron suffered two cuts to his legs and an assortment of bumps and bruises, but was otherwise okay.
The race was red flagged at that point, and the stoppage provided an opportunity for Rutherford to make some adjustments to the Kaylor Distributing/ Hyper Racing No. 5k. Those adjustments ultimately altered the outcome of the race, as Rutherford was able to stick down low on the restart.
"Richie got into the infield tires a little bit in three and four, and that shot him up the track just enough so I could get under him in one and two. That red flag allowed me to make the adjustments we needed; I probably wouldn't have gotten him without the red," noted Rutherford.
The winning pass - as described above - took place on lap 29. Rutherford flew under the checkered flag by almost a half-second over Hartman, with Grube chasing them to the stripe. Maurer and Pete Skias completed the top five.
Jesse Maurer won his third Shootout in the last four years in the 125cc class, and a perfectly timed caution aided him in his drive to victory.
Maurer hounded race leader Shane Braxton for several circuits, finally shoving the nose of his No. 21 a few feet in front of Braxton as they crossed the line to complete lap 12. As the pair charged into turn one, the yellow was displayed, and Maurer was scored as the race leader. He cruised to a big advantage after that, as Braxton, Phil Durham, Evan Krautwald, Tim Colbert, and Bret Habecker engaged in an entertaining battle behind him. But the race wasn't over yet...
Braxton's solid run ended as he broke on the final trip around the clay. The yellow flag had to be thrown, setting up a one lap dash between Maurer and Durham. "When I saw the yellow and the number 32 in second, I thought 'oh no' because I know how good Durham is," said a relieved Maurer afterward.
No worries for the Mount Joy Outlaw, though, as Maurer held his ground on the restart and beat Durham to the finish line by eight-tenths of a second.
Habecker, Colbert, and Krautwald finished third through fifth.
Jason Swavely started on the pole of the Sportsman A-Main, and he remained in front for all 30 laps. During the early stages of the race, Swavely had teammate Ken Miller nipping at his heels, but Miller spun out of second spot with nine complete. Swavely was on cruise control after that, although he did endure a couple of heart-stopping moments when lapped cars got out of shape in front of him.
With Swavely blasting into the next area code and Bret Habecker trying futilely to catch him, Jamie Fetterolf and Brett Wanner waged a fan-pleasing battle for third. With six to go, they were joined by Miller, who rebounded from the spin to re-enter the top five late in the race.
Swavely waltzed to his fifth consecutive victory in Lanco's Sportsman class, and his eighth of the season. Habecker, who's had a run of bad luck in Sportsman competition, was a satisfied runner-up on Sunday. Wanner won the battle for third, with Miller slipping past Fetterolf to finish fourth.
A non-stop, clean and green 30-lapper produced a 250cc Four-Stroke triumph for Richie Hartman.
Hartman rocketed from the pole position to absolute domination of the Four-Stroke feature. He lapped everyone except runner-up Craig DeSantis, completing the 30 revolutions in six minutes, 10.929 seconds.
DeSantis finished a distant second, with Jared Esh, Peter Michael, and Matthew Swift rounding out the top five.
Jake Allen survived a few anxious moments on late race restarts, but held on to win the A-Main for the 250cc Stock class.
Allen led all the way, but Justin Layton was sitting in second when the yellow waved with six laps remaining. Layton ducked to the inside of Allen on the restart, but Allen repelled Layton's attacks at both ends of the speedway.
One final restart, with just a single lap left to run, allowed Layton to stick the nose of his No. 28L under the leader once again. Allen's No. 48 had just enough left to thwart Layton's final bid, though, and the checkered finally permitted Allen to breathe again.
"I didn't have any brakes over the last two laps, so I was worried about that last restart," reported Allen.
No brakes, no matter for Allen as he raced under Tim Gehret's checkered flag over Layton, Brett Estep, Barry Pollard, and Craig Martin.
With the Giorgio Foods/Hyper Racing Labor Day Shootout now in the rearview mirror, the Lanco club now turns its focus to the final two events of the 2010 racing season at the Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. This Saturday, it's A.J. Blosenski Night at the speedway, and the point chases in most of the five weekly classes are extremely close.
Gates open at 3:30 on Saturday, September 11, with warm-ups slated for 5:00. The first heat race goes green at 6:00, and 25-lap features will highlight the program for the 600cc; 270cc; 125cc; Sportsman; and 250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprints. In addition, the Young Guns 390 Junior Sprint Series will make their only 2010 visit to the Clyde.
General admission for adults is just $8.00, with discounts for Senior Citizens and Students. Youth between the ages of six and twelve are admitted for only $2.00, and children under the age of six are free. Parking is always free at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
You've only got two more chances this year to come out and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
Labor Day Shootout Results:
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature Finish: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Jeff Halligan, 3.Robbie Kendall, 4.Mark Ludwig, 5.A.J. Michael, 6.Tyler Ross, 7.Luke Thomas, 8.Jamie Kostic, 9.Ryan Greth, 10.Shane Lewis, 11.Heath Hehnly, 12.Nick Sapp, 13.Tom Kohler, 14.Tim Buckwalter, 15.Shaun Brandel, 16.Mark Yoder, 17.Bryan Radcliff, 18.Jason Morrison, 19.Tyler Walker, 20.Jered Hook, 21.Randy Oswald, 22.Chris Gerhart, 23.Nick Cooper, 24.Shane Braxton, 25.Mike Dicely, 26.Jon Holmquist.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature Finish: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Richie Hartman, 3.Dave Grube, 4.Jesse Maurer, 5.Pete Skias, 6.Nick Skias, 7.Billy Logeman, 8.Ryan Wilson, 9.Rick Francis, 10.Heath Hehnly, 11.Tim Buckwalter, 12.Nick Walton, 13.Brian Marriott, 14.Jared Kunkle, 15.Marty Gorr, 16.Mike Skias, 17.Jason Swavely, 18.Devin Harron, 19.Angelo Mercado, 20.Andrew Locuson, 21.Steve Drevicki, 22.Eric Falini, 23.Tyler Reinhardt, 24.Bill Sorey, 25.Kerry Lengle, 26.Christi Sweigart.
125cc Micro-Sprint Feature Finish: 1.Jesse Maurer, 2.Phil Durham, 3.Bret Habecker, 4.Tim Colbert, 5.Evan Krautwald, 6.Mark Yoder, 7.Barry Pollard, 8.Ryan Wilson, 9.Sonny Sweitzer, 10.Cody Drace, 11.Ray Miller, 12.Dana Watkins, 13.Lee Reinhardt, 14.Heather Colbert, 15.Angelo Bianco, 16.Shane Braxton, 17.Bradley Brown, 18.Derek Ecenrode, 19.Devin Harron, 20.Curtis R. Miller, 21.Daniel Braun, 22.Erin DeLong, 23.Dave Grube, 24.Zoe Ford.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature Finish: 1.Jason Swavely, 2.Bret Habecker, 3.Brett Wanner, 4.Ken Miller, 5.Jamie Fetterolf, 6.Tyler Pannebecker, 7.Dwayne Mathias, 8.Jason Hehnly, 9.Jeff Hughes, 10.Dennis Ziegler, 11.Joel Tolley, 12.Mike Heiser, 13.Brad Kemp, 14.Dennis Fenstermacher, 15.Paul May III, 16.Paul Moore, 17.Dave Kemp, 18.Scott Garman, 19.Kerry Gilbert, 20.Kelby Stauffer, 21.Robert Shanaman, 22.Jonathan Swift, 23.Heath Hehnly, 24.Corey Schmuck Jr., 25.Jenna Keppley. DNS: Tim Ziegler.
250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprint Feature Finish: 1.Richie Hartman, 2.Craig DeSantis, 3.Jared Esh, 4.Peter Michael, 5.Matthew Swift, 6.Jessica Mohler, 7.Kim Enck, 8.Travis Esh, 9.Lewis Kepple Jr., 10.Justin Zelek, 11.Ronald Wechter, 12.Brenda Shepherd, 13.Kim Trout. DNS: Jason Morrison.
250cc Stock Micro-Sprint Feature Finish: 1.Jake Allen, 2.Justin Layton, 3.Brian Estep, 4.Barry Pollard, 5.Craig Martin, 6.Ryan Wozunk, 7.Mike Lukas, 8.Nick Skias, 9.Lew Schwander, 10.Phil Durham, 11.Marco Michetti, 12.Ava Mercado.