May 12 - Yes, Virginia, you can still start deep in the pack and win the race in local, short track motorsports competition. A charger named Ryan Greth proved that on Saturday night at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
Greth, from New Cumberland, Pa., took the green flag from the outside of row six in the 600cc main event. When the checkered silk waved to end the 25-lap affair, Greth went to victory lane in an outstanding performance.
Mike Rutherford, Lititz, Pa., gained a measure of revenge by capturing the 270cc feature, while teenaged Curtis R. Miller notched his first career Lanco triumph in the main event for the Sportsman Micro-Sprints.
Richie Hartman won his first of the year in the 125cc headliner, and Chip Geib remained undefeated (after three events) in the 270cc Four-Stroke division.
"I love this place; I just love racing here," said Greth after his spectacular victory in the 600cc affair. "And, when the car works this good..."
At that point, the winner could not find the proper words to describe the joy he got from blasting around the high banked oval. And that was okay, because his performance spoke for itself.
While Greth may have taken the green in 12th, he actually fell back a few positions at the start. With polesitter Jermain Godshall showing the way, the first stoppage with laps completed came with four circuits in the record book. It was during the ensuing, albeit short, green flag run between laps four and seven that Greth began his assault on the field.
Rolling the high side at both ends of the speedway, Greth rocketed past one car after another. When the next caution flag appeared with seven tours completed, he sat in fourth.
Four laps later, Greth blew past Mark Yoder to snare the runner-up slot. Sticking with the high groove, Greth powered around the outside of Godshall to grab the lead at the halfway mark, then set sail. His only hiccups came when he jumped the cushion in turns one and two, and then again when a pair of late caution flags interrupted his run to victory.
"It is tempting to run harder and harder when your car is this good," admitted Greth afterward when asked about his near-miscue after he almost over-drove turns one and two. "There is a limit, and I just about found mine. I guess I learned from it because I didn't do it again."
The late yellows allowed Mike Rutherford to make a run at the leader, and Rutherford - victorious the prior week - made a valiant effort to pressure Greth on the restarts. But Greth was simply too strong in the outside lane, and he blazed to the stripe safely ahead of Rutherford, Shane Lewis, Mike Dicely, and Chris Gerhart.
A scary incident took place on the initial start as Heath Hehnly spun to the high side of turn one. As the field scrambled to avoid Hehnly, Devin Gundrum went up and over someone's right side wheels, launching into a violent series of snap-rolls that loosened the catch fence.
Gundrum climbed from his car unhurt, and the track crew, along with Lanco club officials, repaired the fence so the race could quickly resume.
With 30 cars entering the 600cc portion of the program, qualifying heats went to Tom Kohler, Jermain Godshall, and Greth. Kory Merkey won the consolation.
Greth also received the Weld Racing Fast Lap of the Feature Award for recording the single quickest trip around the clay at 10.965 seconds.
There's a saying that "you've got to lose (a close) one before you can win one." Mike Rutherford provided an example of that theory on Saturday night, and now it's Tyler Reinhardt's turn to prove the validity of that statement.
Rutherford had fuel problems while leading the 270cc Two-Stroke feature on May 5. The fuel pick-up issues forced him to fall out of the race after the victory was seemingly in the bag.
The pilot of Ken and Tony Kaylor's No. 5k returned with a vengance on May 12, wrestling the top spot away from Chip Geib with three to go, then racing to the win by six-tenths of a second over Geib.
"Yeah, I think this place owed us one after last week," Rutherford stated in victory lane. "But to tell you the truth, I really didn't think we were that good tonight. The car was set up to run the bottom, and it worked very well down there, but I thought were going to run out of time before we could get to the front."
So Rutherford lost one, then came back to win the following week. Now it's Reinhardt's turn to rebound after a heartbreaking loss.
The young lion from Elmer, NJ successfully managed a three-wide pass for the lead at the outset of the 25-lapper for the 270cc Two-Strokes. He went high to stack up with Mike Uhrich and Dave Grube as the green waved, then pulled in front to become the leader in corner number one.
Reinhardt continued to set the pace as the laps clicked off and the drivers behind him scuffled for position. He still had a healthy advantage as starter Tim Gehret showed five fingers to the field, but the advantage, the lead, and the victory all went away as Reinhardt spun in the fourth corner on lap 21.
That put Geib in front with Justin Harrington now the runner-up and Rutherford sitting in third for the restart. Rutherford quickly disposed of Harrington, then threw a little slide job on Geib as they set their cars for turn one with three laps remaining.
Rutherford crossed the line in front of Geib, with a fast-closing Billy Logeman claiming third at the finish. Harrington, impressive thus far in his first season of 270cc Two-Stroke action, held on for fourth and Richie Hartman wound up fifth.
Heat races for the 33-cars were won by Ryan Morris, Heath Hehnly, and Rutherford. Steve Drevicki captured the consolation victory.
The real feel-good story of the evening occurred in the main event for the Sportsman Class (250cc Air-cooled Micros), where Curtis R. Miller - barely a teenager and in just his second year of racing Micro-Sprints - fought off a case of nervousness and two of his teammates to score the first Lanco triumph of his career.
A high school student from Mertztown, Pa., he is the third Curtis Miller to win a Sportsman feature, following in the footsteps of his dad, Curtis T., and his grandfather.
"This win is definitely for my mom...especially since I forgot to get her something for Mother's Day," smiled Miller as he stood in the winner's circle. "Yeah, my nerves were bad as we got closer to the finish; I kept waiting for someone to challenge me or for something to go wrong with the car."
His fears almost came true, as the shift linkage on his No. 7R came apart during the 25-lapper, locking the car in third gear. Fortunately for Miller, the final 15 circuits went non-stop, so he could keep the car wound up and didn't have to worry about restarts.
Two of his Miller Racing teammates, Bret Habecker and defending point champ Jason Swavely, were forced to the rear of the field after Mark Ludwig lost a left-rear wheel with four laps scored and they ran over the discarded appendage.
Habecker and Swavely sliced and diced their way through traffic to finish second and third, but couldn't get quite close enough to muster a serious challenge to the victor.
Another teammate, Ken Miller, finished fourth and Robert Shanaman completed the top five.
Swavely and Ken Miller won heats for the 17 Sportsman who signed in for competition on Saturday.
Twelfth-starting Richie Hartman gassed his way to the fourth position by lap four, then worked past his Gorski Racing teammate, Jesse Maurer, for third before slipping by Darren Miller for second on the eleventh revolution.
Kory Merkey was cruising out front, leading every lap until mechanical gremlins popped up and forced him to the infield with 14 complete. Hartman inherited the top spot at that point, and he went on to win handily over Maurer despite a caution period with just one lap left to run.
Darren Miller held on for third, with Ken Miller and Kyle Hehnly rounding out the top five.
With 21 of the 125cc racers in the pit area, Hartman and Dave Grube captured the heat race victories.
Chip Geib is now three-for-three in feature races for the 270cc Four-Strokes, winning every one of the Four-Stroke main events presented so far this season.
Kimberly Enck gunned her No. 84 by Cody Kreger to claim the early lead. Enck maintained the point until lap seven, when eighth-starting Geib, from Manheim, accelerated past her to snatch the lead.
A few late race yellows had no effect on the outcome, as Geib motored to the easy win over Ryan Morris. This was the second consecutive race in which Morris chased Geib to the stripe. Enck, Eddie Nocera, and Donna Geib finished third through fifth.
Four-Stroke heat races went to Nocera and C. Geib. There were twelve cars entered in this class on Saturday.
This Saturday, May 19, it's Fan Appreciation Night at Clyde Martin. Spectators will be admitted FREE of charge, and the track has dozens of terrific prizes that will be handed out throughout the evening. In addition, it's Dollar Dog Night at the concession stand, and Johns Concessions has special giveaways and activities planned as well.
The five weekly divisions will provide the on-track entertainment, as the 600cc; 270cc Two-Strokes; 125cc; Sportsman; and 270cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprints do battle in qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap features.
Gates open at 3:30, with warm-ups at 5 p.m. The first heat race goes green at 6:00.
Coming up on May 26 is the annual Memorial Day Open Show - presented this year by Bud's Spring Service, Dallas Spring, and Eagle Suspensions. The five weekly classes will be on the menu, along with a complete program for Wingless 600cc micros.
The Memorial Day Open Show offers a minimum $500 to win for the winged and wingless 600's, along with the 270cc Two-Strokes.
Racing begins at 5:30 on May 26.
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Ryan Greth, 2.Mike Rutherford, 3.Shane Lewis, 4.Mike Dicely, 5.Chris Gerhart, 6.Jermain Godshall, 7.Mark Yoder, 8.Tom Kohler, 9.Jeff Stelter, 10.Tyler Esh, 11.Peter Michael, 12.Brent Ely, 13.Heath Hehnly, 14.Jimmy Brookens, 15.Shane Braxton, 16.Brittany Brown, 17.Kevin Steele, 18.Mike Coen, 19.Jeff Halligan, 20.Jim Radney, 21.Shaun Brandel, 22.Kory Merkey, 23.A.J. Michael, 24.Devin Gundrum.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Chip Geib, 3.Billy Logeman, 4.Justin Harrington, 5.Richie Hartman, 6.Zack Fouse, 7.Heath Hehnly, 8.Jesse Maurer, 9.Jason Swavely, 10.Pete Skias, 11.Christi Sweigart, 12.Brian Sholley, 13.Tyler Reinhardt, 14.Charles Hellinger, 15.Toby Blumenshine, 16.Dave Grube, 17.Kevin Garman, 18.Steve Drevicki, 19.Dan Lane Jr., 20.Scott Gantert, 21.Ryan Morris, 22.Mike Miller, 23.Mike Uhrich, 24.Nick Skias.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Curtis R. Miller, 2.Bret Habecker, 3.Jason Swavely, 4.Ken Miller, 5.Robert Shanaman, 6.Kerry Lengle, 7.Jeff Hughes, 8.Wesley Fasnacht, 9.Matt Abers, 10.Corey Schmuck Jr., 11.Dennis Ziegler, 12.Dennis Fenstermacher, 13.Jenna Heagy, 14.Mark Ludwig, 15.Sheena Logeman, 16.Paul May.
125cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Richie Hartman, 2.Jesse Maurer, 3.Darren Miller, 4.Ken Miller, 5.Kyle Hehnly, 6.Bradley Brown, 7.Derek Ecenrode, 8.Shane Braxton, 9.Felisha Kirlin, 10.Brianna Gerhart, 11.Dylan Adams, 12.James Wampole, 13.Curtis R. Miller, 14.Dave Grube, 15.Daniel Braun Jr., 16.Kory Merkey, 17.Brie Weiler, 18.Brent Shearer, 19.Nick Sweigart, 20.Walt Wampole. DNS: Zack Hollinger.
270cc Four-Stroke Feature, 25 laps: 1.Chip Geib, 2.Ryan Morris, 3.Kimberly Enck, 4.Eddie Nocera, 5.Donna Geib, 6.Cody Kreger, 7.Lewis Kepple Jr., 8.Steve Smith Sr., 9.Kory Shissler, 10.Sheila Fetter, 11.Ronald Good, 12.Craig DeSantis.