Newmanstown, Pa. - When the purse is bigger and the race is a special one, expect Mike Rutherford to follow Emeril's advice and "kick it up a notch."
Rutherford has been a member of the Lanco club for several seasons now, so he understands and appreciates the tradition and meaning of the organization's annual Clyde Martin Memorial Race. Given the increased incentive, he's won a bunch of the extra-distance, double-point events...and he added a couple more to his total on Saturday.
The 600cc and 270cc main event trophies went home with Rutherford, as he came from deep in the pack to register the Clyde Martin Memorial Race - presented by Gold Rush Trailer Sales - victories in both of those divisions.
Shane Braxton won his second straight Clyde Martin Memorial victory in the 125cc feature, while Craig DeSantis notched, by his recollection, the sixth Memorial Race victory (in all classes) during his long and storied career with a narrow win in the 270cc Four-Stroke race. Jason Swavely was triumphant in the main event for the Sportsman division.
In the Gold Rush Trailer Sales 600cc Sprint headliner, Rutherford started twelfth, but manueuvered his way into fifth as lap nine was scored. He stalked the four cars in front of him for the next nine trips around the ultra-fast clay oval and watched as Travis Esh set the pace and Mark Yoder, Jeff Stelter, and Mike Dicely battled for second, third, and fourth.
Rutherford seized an opportunity on lap 18, jumping up top in turns one and two, then sweeping around Dicely and Stelter in one swoop to grab the third position. Without pausing to catch his breath, the Lititz, Pa. throttle-jockey switched lanes and used the low groove to dispose of Yoder, securing the runner-up spot with eleven circuits remaining.
Three tours later, Rutherford gassed Gary and Rose Hunter's CARSTAR No. 7H under Esh in turns three and four, blasting into the lead as they charged down the homestretch to complete lap 22.
Rutherford quickly pulled away and opened a comfortable advantage, but the racing behind him was tremendous as Dicely, Stelter, and Esh raced three-wide at times and traded positions for a few laps until Dicely claimed second with four to go. That left Esh, Stelter, Yoder, and Eric Bodine to battle furiously for third, fourth, and fifth.
At the finish, Rutherford cruised to his third, 600cc triumph of the season, beating Dicely to the line by 1.3-seconds. Dicely was five seconds in front of Travis Esh, who finally won the war for third place. Stelter and 14th-starter Bodine completed the top five.
"I was just hanging on in the beginning," noted Rutherford in victory lane, "but it didn't take very long for the car to come in and when it did, it was awesome. These 35-lappers are tough, too, and I was definitely lifting and taking it a bit easy near the end of this one because I was tired!"
There were 28 of the 600cc machines in action on Saturday, with heat races going to Stelter, Jermain Godshall, and Shane Lewis. Shaun Brandel won the consolation race.
Maybe starting position number twelve was a lucky one for Rutherford in the Clyde Martin Memorial Races, because both of his victories began by taking the green flag from the outside of row six.
Zach Fouse put his Kaylor Petro No. 24 out front in the 270cc main, with Rutherford gaining eight positions in the first four revolutions. He threw a slider on Heath Hehnly to grab third on lap seven, then made a similar move to steal the runner-up slot from Nate Weidman on the eleventh tour.
Nick Skias, who started tenth, was slicing his way forward, moving into third by lap thirteen. A yellow on the next circuit provided the chance that Rutherford was waiting for, and the stoppage that Fouse did not want to see.
On the restart, Rutherford ducked low, shoving the nose of his Ken and Tony Kaylor No. 5k under Fouse as they roared into turn one. The duo ran side-by-side for a lap before Rutherford forged ahead and took a lead that he would not relinquish.
With twenty laps remaining, Nick Skias passed Fouse for second. A few subsequent caution periods saw Skias attempt to dive under Rutherford in turns one and two, but Rutherford fought off the attacks and went on to win his seventh of the year in 270cc competition at the Clyde.
Nick Skias, Jesse Maurer, Pete Skias (started fourteenth), and Fouse finished second through fifth, respectively.
Billy Logeman, Nick Skias, and Rutherford won heat races for the 26-car field of 270's. The consolation was won by Mike Uhrich, who raced his way from 19th to sixth in the feature.
The 270cc point standings were jumbled by the final race results, as Richie Hartman was forced to drop out of the feature, finishing 21st. Hartman fell from first to third in the standings as a result, with Maurer leaping into the point lead and Rutherford moving into second.
The 125cc racers presented an entertaining 35-lap feature, with Dave Grube launching into the top spot from his outside, front row starting position. Grube would lead 27 laps, fending off persistent challenges from Jesse Maurer until Maurer's mount broke after some contact with Shane Braxton while they dueled for second place on the thirteenth trip around the banked oval.
Braxton and point leader Richie Hartman then traded the runner-up spot for the next five laps in a back-and-forth tussle until Braxton secured the position and set his sights on race leader Grube.
As Grube skated up the banking a bit in turn four, Braxton darted for the bottom, moving past Grube's No. 3d to assume command on lap 28. Just one circuit later, Grube's car quit on him, ending his good run six laps early.
Braxton, from West Grove, Pa., crossed the stripe by almost a full second in front of Hartman, with Darren Miller, Felisha Kirlin, and Derek Ecenrode rounding out the top five.
Heat winners were Bradley Brown and Grube.
It took 7-minutes, 12.135-seconds for Craig DeSantis to win the 270cc Four-Stroke feature. The veteran from Lititz, who says this is his final year behind the wheel, rocketed from seventh to the lead in just two laps, then dashed away to a huge lead in the early stages of the 35-lapper.
Honeybrook's Ryan Morris weaved his way from tenth on the starting grid to claim second on the seventh circuit, then slowly but steadily reeled in the leader as DeSantis dealt with lapped traffic in the non-stop run to the checkered.
By lap nineteen, Morris was on the tail tank of DeSantis' No. 39. They went three-wide on the frontstretch with the lapped car of Sheila Fetter, but DeSantis drew ahead in turn one. Morris repeatedly showed his nose to the leader as they weaved in and out of slower traffic, but DeSantis was able to thwart each assault and remained in front.
Morris gave it one last shot on the final lap, drawing even with DeSantis entering turn three. Morris got a little sideways in four, however, and DeSantis accelerated off the corner and took the checkered flag almost one-quarter of a second ahead of Morris.
Chip Geib finished third, with Donna Geib earning fourth-place money. Steve Smith, Sr. wound up fifth, and he was the last car on the lead lap in the race that ran green to checkered without any interruptions.
Morris and Kim Enck captured the two heat races for the 270cc Four-Stroke competitors.
Mertztown's Curtis R. Miller, a Sportsman Class feature winner on May 12, set the pace in that division's main event for 30 laps - but fate was not kind to the teenager in this running of the Clyde Martin Memorial.
Miller was able to stay in front of teammate Jason Swavely throughout the race, even pulling away from the defending Sportsman Class point champion on the first restart that occurred with fifteen laps complete.
Swavely attempted to wrestle the lead from Miller in turns one and two with nine laps left to run, but Miller repelled the challenge to remain in front.
With four to go, however, Miller had a decision to make. He chose the high line as he came up to lap Wesley Fasnacht, while Swavely went to the bottom in three and four. As the trio ran out of real estate, Fasnacht's No. 19 became the pinball, bouncing off Miller's machine, then glancing off Swavely's mount. Miller and Swavely maintained control, but it was Swavely's No. 7c in front (by inches) as they crossed the scoring line to complete lap 31.
The yellow then appeared for a car that stopped on the track, and it was during the ensuing caution period that Miller's car broke, ending his outstanding effort.
Swavely easily led the final tours to win his fifth Sportsman feature of the season over Sheena Logeman, Bret Habecker, Mark Ludwig, and Matt Abers.
Swavely and Ken Miller won the two heat races for the Sportsman entries. Ken Miller was the point leader when the evening began, but he fell out of the main event with just three laps remaining and finished eleventh. Bret Habecker's third-place finish, with double-points awarded on Saturday, pushes Habecker into the point lead with four point-paying events remaining on the 2012 schedule.
A bake sale was held at the track on Saturday, with proceeds benefitting the upcoming Mark Geib Memorial Race on September 8. Organized by track photographer Bonnie Goshert and Nikki Swavely, the bake sale raised an incredible $745 that will be given back to the racers during the Geib Memorial. Goshert and Swavely wish to thank everyone who donated delicious cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and Rice Krispie treats and also those who purchased the items.
The speedway swings back into action this Saturday, August 18, with a program that features its five weekly divisions (600cc, 270cc, 125cc, Sportsman, and 270cc Four-Strokes) in qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap main events.
Gates open at 3:30 with warm-ups scheduled for 5 p.m. The first heat race goes green at 6:00.
Just over the horizon, but coming into focus very quickly, is the annual Labor Day Shootout at the Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. The two-day extravaganza of speed and competition is slated for Saturday, September 1st and Sunday, September 2nd.
The Shootout has a little different look to it this year, as the format has been tweaked for 2012. On Saturday, a complete program of dual heats (with passing points), last chance qualifiers, and 30-lap features will be contested by the winged 600cc, Sportsman, 270cc Four-Strokes, and the 250cc Stock Class from Airport Speedway.
On Sunday, September 2nd, the menu will consist of dual heats (with passing points), last chance qualifiers, and 30-lap features for the Wingless 600cc Sprints and winged 270cc and 125cc racers.
Monday, September 3rd, will be utilized if needed as a rain date. Complete information and entry forms are available at the track's website: www.lancomicrosprint.com.
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 35 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Mike Dicely, 3.Travis Esh, 4.Jeff Stelter, 5.Eric Bodine, 6.Mark Yoder, 7.Danny Wykes, 8.Brittany Brown, 9.Brent Ely, 10.Shane Lewis, 11.Heath Hehnly, 12.Shaun Brandel, 13.Tony DiMattia, 14.Ryan Hook, 15.Kory Merkey, 16.A.J. Michael, 17.Jermain Godshall, 18.Chris Gerhart, 19.Jeff Halligan, 20.Devin Gundrum, 21.Jimmy Brookens, 22.Tyler Esh, 23.Bruce Ginther Jr., 24.Peter Michael.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 35 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Nick Skias, 3.Jesse Maurer, 4.Pete Skias, 5.Zach Fouse, 6.Mike Uhrich, 7.Justin Harrington, 8.Billy Logeman, 9.Nate Weidman, 10.Brian Sholley, 11.Danny Lane Jr., 12.Jason Swavely, 13.Rebecca LaMothe, 14.Chip Geib, 15.Toby Blumenshine, 16.Brad Kemp, 17.Ryan Morris, 18.Scott Renninger, 19.Kevin Kopp, 20.Heath Hehnly, 21.Richie Hartman, 22.Ricky Sechrist Jr., 23.Christi Sweigart, 24.Mike Skias.
125cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 35 laps: 1.Shane Braxton, 2.Richie Hartman, 3.Darren Miller, 4.Felisha Kirlin, 5.Derek Ecenrode, 6.Ken Miller, 7.Danny Braun Jr., 8.Nick Sweigart, 9.Brianna Gerhart, 10.Brent Shearer, 11.Dave Grube, 12.Dylan Adams, 13.James Wampole, 14.Walt Wampole, 15.Jesse Maurer, 16.Kory Merkey, 17.Zack Hollinger, 18.Brie Weiler, 19.Bradley Brown.
270cc Four-Stroke Feature, 35 laps: 1.Craig DeSantis, 2.Ryan Morris, 3.Chip Geib, 4.Donna Geib, 5.Steve Smith Sr., 6.Ed Nocera, 7.Kory Shissler, 8.Kenny Miller III, 9.Kim Enck, 10.Ronnie Good, 11.Lewis Kepple Jr., 12.Sheila Fetter, 13.Earl Eveland.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature, 35 laps: 1.Jason Swavely, 2.Sheena Logeman, 3.Bret Habecker, 4.Mark Ludwig, 5.Matt Abers, 6.Wesley Fasnacht, 7.Tim Ziegler, 8.Jenna Heagy, 9.Dennis Fenstermacher, 10.Robert Shanaman, 11.Ken Miller, 12.Curtis R. Miller, 13.Corey Schmuck Jr., 14.Kerry Lengle, 15.Brian Becker, 16.Dave Kemp.