Newmanstown, Pa. - April 23 - Sometimes, you've just gotta be in the right place at the right time. Just ask Tim Buckwalter.
Buckwalter, from Douglassville, Pa., was racing along in third place as the field of 600cc Micro-Sprints received the two-to-go signal during Saturday night's season opener at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. Then the caution lights flashed on for an incident in turn three, and, unbeknownst to everyone at the track, the complexion of the race was about to change dramatically.
On the restart, second-place Shane Lewis made a bonzai dive under race long leader Tyler Esh as they flew into the first turn. Lewis and Esh made contact, resulting in another yellow as Esh rolled to a stop in turn two and Lewis dropping from the event with a flat tire.
Buckwalter inherited the top spot at that point, then held off Heath Hehnly to record the triumph.
Saturday's Easter Eve Season Opener presented by RTS Chassis produced five different winners. Joining Buckwalter in the winner's circle were Jason Swavely (270cc); Craig DeSantis (250cc Four-Strokes); Bradley Brown (125cc); and Ken Miller (Sportsman).
The 25-lapper for the 600cc Micros was highly entertaining from the drop of the green. Esh darted to the lead from his pole position, but Brittany Brown staged an all-out assault for the number one spot during the early laps. Just as Brown slipped by Esh to grab the point, the first yellow of the race appeared with three circuits complete, negating the pass and returning Esh to the lead.
Mike Rutherford, wheeling Joe Wilson's No. 29 PMP machine, throttled into the runner-up position on the eighth revolution. Four trips later, Shane Lewis rocketed into third, and the trio of Esh, Rutherford, and Lewis ran nose-to-tail for five laps until Rutherford spun while attempting to duck under a lapped car in turn one.
The unfortunate incident advanced Lewis into second and set the table for that untimely tangle between the leaders on the green-white-checkered restart.
Trailing Buckwalter and Hehnly to the stripe were Tyler Ross, Ryan Wilson, and C.J. Tracy.
Heat winners for the 27 cars were Chris Gerhart, Lewis, and Brent Ely. The consolation fell to Ryan Greth.
Jason Swavely notched an emotional victory in the 25-lap RTS Chassis main event for the 270cc Micro-Sprints on Saturday. Approximately one month prior to Lanco's opener, Jason's father, Jay Swavely, passed away after an extended illness. Jay was a former 270cc competitor himself, and instilled the love of racing and will to win in his son. And last weekend, Jason Swavely copped the 270cc opener in honor of his dad.
For much of the race, it appeared that Kevin Garman would visit victory lane when the checkered flag waved - but Swavely, the 21-year-old from Douglassville, had other ideas.
Garman paced the field for 23 of the 25 circuits, at times building a lead of several seconds as the pack behind him jostled for position. Swavely was riding in third until he was passed by Tyler Reinhardt with eleven complete. Four laps later, Swavely's car seemed to come to life, as he returned the favor on Reinhardt, then muscled under Chip Geib to snare the runner-up position on lap 17. A caution period with seven to go allowed Swavely to restart on the back bumper of Garman.
With 22 complete, Swavely ducked under Garman at the end of the backstretch and into corner number three. Swavely roared out of turn four with the lead, then survived one final restart with two laps remaining to secure the triumph.
Garman, disappointed even though he ran a great race, finished second with Geib, Jesse Maurer, and Devin Harron completing the top five. Harron nosed out Brian Sholley at the finish line to earn fifth-place money.
Heat races for the 270's went to Hehnly, Garman, and Geib.
Craig DeSantis, the veteran from Lititz, Pa., wired the 250cc Four-Stroke field, winning by 1.298 seconds over last year's Four-Stroke point champion, Chip Geib.
Jessica Mohler, a four-time feature winner in 2010, climbed from seventh on the starting grid to finish third. Jared Esh, the son of 410 Sprint Car star Doug Esh, began his sophomore season with a fourth-place effort and George Potts Jr. drove a solid race to finish fifth.
DeSantis and Potts were victorious in Four-Stroke heat race action.
One of the night's most stirring drives came from 125cc victor Bradley Brown. The teenager from New Providence, Pa. charged from his eleventh starting spot to run third by the time ten laps were posted on the lap counter. A restart with fifteen to go was just what the doctor ordered for Brown, who took advantage of Shane Braxton's assault on race leader Cody Drace.
When Braxton went to the high side in an effort to get by Drace, he got squeezed into the guardrail. Brown gassed his No. 23 by Braxton's car, putting him on the leader's tail tank - but not for long.
Brown worked the low side to draw even with Drace before he nosed in front (for good) on lap 12. From that point on, it was all Bradley Brown, as no one else could stay with him. Even a late yellow (when Braxton's car broke, knocking him out of second with one to go) could not threaten Brown's dominance on this night.
Brown dashed to the checkered flag ahead of Jesse Maurer, Derek Ecenrode, impressive rookie Darren Miller, and Sonny Sweitzer.
The two heats for the 125cc Micros were won by Sweitzer and Brown.
Jason Swavely nearly pulled off a double victory during Saturday's season opener, but his Sportsman class teammate, Ken Miller, prevented the "Swavely Sweep".
In the first feature race of the night (and of the 2011 season), Miller and Swavely ran side-by-side for the first lap after the teammates started beside one another on the front row. Miller would gain the advantage using a higher line around the speedway, while Swavely utilized the low groove.
Lap after lap the nip-and-tuck battle for the lead ensued, until Miller got hung up behind a slower car on lap 14. Swavely shot by on the low side to take command, but his lead would be short-lived.
On a restart with eleven circuits remaining, Miller zipped under Swavely and went back to the front. Two late race cautions made things interesting, but Miller - the defending Sportsman point champion - had enough to hold off Swavely, who was last year's top winner in the Sportsman class.
Miller, from Birdsboro, flashed to the victory over Swavely, with a returning Matt Abers looking as though he hasn't lost his touch. Abers finished a strong third, with Donna Geib and Brett Wanner rounding out the top five.
This week, April 30, is race number two for the new season at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. Gates open at 3:30, with warm-ups at 5 p.m. The first heat race goes green at 6:00.
Adult General Admission tickets are just $8.00, with discounts for Senior Citizens and Students. Youth between the ages of six and twelve are only $2.00, while children under the age of six are admitted free. And parking is always free at the Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
*Final feature of the night, for the 600cc Micro-Sprints, was completed just as a steady rain began to fall.
**The first ever High School Night was held on Saturday, and no less than 15 different high schools were represented by students attending the races.
*On an "iffy" night, weather-wise, a total of 108 Micro-Sprints took part in the season opener at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
*The Weld Racing Fast Lap of the Feature was presented to a pair of drivers on Saturday. Due to last week's rain out, the first two features of the season opener (Sportsman and 125cc) were designated as races where the award was up for grabs. Ken Miller (Sportsman) and Bradley Brown (125cc) recorded the fastest laps of their respective features.
*Mark Yoder was the recipient of the Kelly Fuels Gas It Up Award for his 12th place finish in the 600cc main event.
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature Finish, 25 laps: 1.Tim Buckwalter, 2.Heath Hehnly, 3.Tyler Ross, 4.Ryan Wilson, 5.C.J. Tracy, 6.Mike Rutherford, 7.Chris Gerhart, 8.Ken Miller, 9.Shane Braxton, 10.Peter Michael, 11.Tyler Esh, 12.Mark Yoder, 13.Rick Stief, 14.Shane Lewis, 15.Ryan Greth, 16.David Beiler, 17.A.J. Michael, 18.Brittany Brown, 19.Robbie Kendall, 20.Mike Dicely, 21.Brent Ely, 22.Jon Stewart, 23.Kory Merkey, 24.Shaun Brandel.
DNQ: Jared Davis; Jeff Halligan; Bret Habecker.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature Finish, 25 laps: 1.Jason Swavely, 2.Kevin Garman, 3.Chip Geib, 4.Jesse Maurer, 5.Devin Harron, 6.Brian Sholley, 7.Dave Grube, 8.Mike Uhrich, 9.Jay Batdorf, 10.Christi Sweigart, 11.Cody Kreger, 12.Nate Weidman, 13.Pete Skias, 14.Tyler Reinhardt, 15.Zack Fouse, 16.Kerry Lengel Sr., 17.Mike Dicely, 18.Heath Hehnly, 19.Sheena Schaeffer, 20.Nick Skias, 21.Brett Wanner, 22.Charles Hellinger, 23.Brandon Bucher.
250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprint Feature Finish, 25 laps: 1.Craig DeSantis, 2.Chip Geib, 3.Jessica Mohler, 4.Jared Esh, 5.George Potts Jr., 6.Justin Harrington, 7.Travis Esh, 8.Earl Eveland, 9.Kim Enck, 10.Matthew Swift, 11.Greg Schmuck, 12.George Potts III, 13.Lewis Kepple Jr., 14.Jonathan Rutter, 15.Ed Nocera, 16.Sheila Fetter, 17.Tyler Armstrong.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature Finish, 25 laps: 1.Ken Miller, 2.Jason Swavely, 3.Matt Abers, 4.Donna Geib, 5.Brett Wanner, 6.Tim Ziegler, 7.Kelby Stauffer, 8.Corey Schmuck Jr., 9.Paul Moore, 10.Wesley Fasnacht, 11.Dave Kemp, 12.Rick Fisher, 13.Jenna Keppley, 14.Paul May III, 15.Bret Habecker, 16.Joel Tolley. DNS: Brad Kemp; Jonathan Swift; Dave Schroeder.
125cc Micro-Sprint Feature Finish, 25 laps: 1.Bradley Brown, 2.Jesse Maurer, 3.Derek Ecenrode, 4.Darren Miller, 5.Sonny Sweitzer, 6.Cody Drace, 7.Devin Harron, 8.Curtis R. Miller, 9.Shane Braxton, 10.Mark Yoder, 11.Dave Grube, 12.Brianna Gerhart, 13.Nick Sweigart, 14.Kyle Hehnly, 15.Brent Shearer, 16.Jake Miller, 17.Daniel Braun, 18.Ryan Wilson, 19.James Wampole, 20.Ashley Kase, 21.Walt Wampole.