Newmanstown, PA - The 600cc Micro-Sprints provided a thrilling climax to the opening night's program at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway on Saturday night.
A restart with two laps remaining allowed Tyler Esh to build some momentum, then dive under race leader Chris Gerhart in turns three and four on the final circuit. Esh blasted off turn four, squeezing up and in front of Gerhart to record the victory.
RTS Chassis sponsored the season opener, and one of their former employees, Randy West, captured the 270cc victory. Jesse Maurer notched the 125cc triumph, while Ryan Morris (250cc Four-Stroke) and Ken Miller, Jr. (Sportsman) also visited the winner's circle on Saturday. In addition to the normal payout, each of the five feature winners received a K1 Race Gear Proven Performance Program gift certificate. The gift certificates, provided by Nouse Signs & Graphics, can be used in the purchase of a new two or three-layer custom K1 Race Gear driver's uniform.
The 600cc defeat was a bitter pill for Gerhart, who led 24 of the 25 laps in the RTS Chassis main event.
"Driver error," was his explanation of the winning pass by Esh. "I just missed my mark getting into the corner, and Tyler was really good...he was right there to capitalize on my mistake."
Esh, while realizing that Gerhart slipped just a bit on that final lap, felt that he might have gotten by the leader anyway. "I was goin' for it," said the driver from New Providence, Pa., while he and his family celebrated in victory lane. "The car was awesome, and I think we might have gotten him, even without his mistake. Either way, I've gotta thank my dad and everyone else who supports us; this is a great way to start the season."
Gerhart was a disappointed runner-up, with Heath Hehnly finishing third. Brent Ely (started 11th) and Brittany Brown completed the top five.
With 24 of the 600's signed in for battle, James Morris, Gerhart, and Peter Michael were victorious in the qualifying heats.
In the 270cc feature, Ken Miller Jr. was the hard luck driver, while Randy West became a "super sub" in Fred Falini's No. 74F.
West, from Barto, Pa., started fifth but moved up quickly, snatching the runner-up spot away from Dave Grube on the third trip around the oval.
Miller started on the pole and led the first 19 laps, fending off occasional attempts by West to duck underneath him and grab the lead. With six to go, however, Miller's night turned sour, as Brad Kemp's car gave up exiting turn two. Kemp turned left to head for the infield, but Miller was closing on him so fast that the two cars made contact, with Miller's right-front wheel ending up lodged in between Kemp's engine and rubrail. The incident ended the night for Miller, who believed he had a strong enough car to keep West behind him and win the 25-lapper.
West inherited the lead and kept Falini's A-Main Motors No. 74F in front, beating Jesse Maurer to the checkered flag. Maurer, Bradley Brown, Brian Sholley, and Heath Hehnly rounded out the top five.
Afterward, the winner's thoughts were with Shaun Brandel, who was supposed to be driving the Falini mount this season. Brandel was recently diagnosed with some serious health issues, so West is filling the seat until those issues are resolved.
There were 28 of the 270's in the pit area for the season opener. Heat race victories went to Mike Rutherford, Richie Hartman, and Christi Sweigart. Zack Fouse won the consolation race.
It appeared as though Richie Hartman had the car to beat in the main event for the 125cc Micros. The defending champion of this division, Hartman started sixth and zipped through traffic in a hurry to claim the top spot as lap one was scored.
With ten revolutions complete, Hartman's No. 29 suddenly slowed on the backstretch, handing the lead to Derek Ecenrode. Ninth-starting Jesse Maurer, after an entertaining duel with Dave Grube over several laps, moved into second and set his sights on Ecenrode.
With eight tours remaining, Maurer used a lapped car as a pick, trapping Ecenrode behind the slower car as they roared off turn two. Maurer accelerated onto the backstretch as the new leader, then went on to register the win.
The Mount Joy, Pa. resident charged to the stripe with a margin of almost three-seconds over Ecenrode, who turned in a solid runner-up effort.
Grube, Nick Sweigart, and Brent Shearer finished third, fourth, and fifth.
Maurer and Grube triumphed in the two heat races, as 16 drivers entered the 125cc portion of the program.
Honeybrook, Pa. driver Ryan Morris darted from sixth to second on the first lap of the 250cc Four-Stroke feature. He stalked polesitter and race leader Donna Geib for the next ten circuits before making his move on the frontstretch as lap 11 was scored. Morris steered to the inside of Geib, edging in front as they set their cars for entry into turn one.
The only caution period of the 25-lap event occurred with three laps left to run, and it didn't matter to Morris. He cruised to the victory, with Donna Geib chasing him to the checkered. Kenny Miller III wrestled third from David Ravel near the end, and Eddie Nocera finished fifth.
D. Geib and Ravel won the two heats for the 13-car field of 250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprints.
Bret Habecker set the pace for most of the Sportsman feature, going from third to first on the opening lap, then maintaining the point for 17 trips around the banked oval.
Unfortunately for Habecker, his No. 72 broke while riding around under yellow with eight to go, giving the top spot to two-time and defending Sportsman point champ Jason Swavely.
Swavely then led until mechanical gremlins popped up in his car, making it feel as though it was jumping into neutral at times. Tenth-starting Ken Miller Jr. took advantage of his teammate's problem, dashing past Swavely to snare the lead on lap 22.
Miller went on to win, with Swavely hanging on for second place money. Wesley Fasnacht ended up third, ahead of Matt Abers and rookie Anthony Yerger.
Sportsman heats were won by Miller and Swavely, as 19 cars made up the field in this class on Saturday.
Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway swings back into action this Saturday, April 20, with another five-division card of action packed Micro-Sprint racing.
Gates open at 3:30, with warm-ups at 5 p.m. The first heat race goes green at 6:00.
Adult general admission is $8.00, with discounts for Senior Citizens and Students. Youth between the ages of six and 12 are admitted for just $2.00, and children under the age of six are free. And parking is always free at the Clyde!
Coming up on Saturday, April 27, is Fan Appreciation Night. With Animal Resorts sponsoring the program, all spectators will be admitted FREE as the Lanco club displays its appreciation to the dedicated fan base that supports each event at the Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
Spectators, as well as the participants, are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item on April 27. The food that is collected will be donated to the Christ Home for disadvantaged youths. Christ Home is located in Paradise, Pa. and many of its residents will be in attendance on the 27th.
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature Finish: 1.Tyler Esh, 2.Chris Gerhart, 3.Heath Hehnly, 4.Brent Ely, 5.Brittany Brown, 6.Ryan Hook, 7.Jared Esh, 8.Chris Panczner, 9.Mike Coen, 10.Ryan Morris, 11.Jered Hook, 12.Will Urkuski, 13.C.J. Tracy, 14.Kelby Stauffer, 15.Rebecca LaMothe, 16.James Morris, 17.Peter Michael, 18.Mike Rutherford, 19.Mark Yoder, 20.Mike Freed, 21.Kory Merkey, 22.Jon Stewart, 23.Travis Esh, 24.Cody Kreger.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature Finish: 1.Randy West, 2.Jesse Maurer, 3.Bradley Brown, 4.Brian Sholley, 5.Heath Hehnly, 6.Mike Rutherford, 7.Chip Geib, 8.Dave Grube, 9.Billy Logeman, 10.Richie Hartman, 11.Zack Fouse, 12.Dan Lane Jr., 13.Eric Falini, 14.Mike Uhrich, 15.Ken Miller, 16.Toby Blumenshine, 17.Nate Weidman, 18.Brad Kemp, 19.Ricky Sechrist Jr., 20.Danny Braun, 21.Corey Schmuck Jr., 22.Kory Shissler, 23.Christi Sweigart. DQ: Michael Binkley.
125cc Micro-Sprint Feature Finish: 1.Jesse Maurer, 2.Derek Ecenrode, 3.Dave Grube, 4.Nick Sweigart, 5.Brent Shearer, 6.Chase Gutshall, 7.Brie Weiler, 8.Kyle Hehnly, 9.Richie Hartman, 10.Matthew Donley, 11.Adam Minzer, 12.Walt Wampole, 13.James Wampole, 14.Dylan Adams, 15.Dylan Binkley. DNS: Alexis Sheely.
250cc Four-Stroke Finish: 1.Ryan Morris, 2.Donna Geib, 3.Kenny Miller III, 4.David Ravel, 5.Eddie Nocera, 6.Devin Adams, 7.Scott Renninger, 8.Lewis Kepple Jr., 9.Kim Enck, 10.Steve Smith Sr., 11.Chip Geib, 12.Sheila Fetter, 13.Ronald Good.
Sportsman Feature Finish: 1.Ken Miller, 2.Jason Swavely, 3.Wesley Fasnacht, 4.Matt Abers, 5.Anthony Yerger, 6.Charles Hellinger, 7.Tim Ziegler, 8.Robert Shanaman, 9.Jenna Heagy, 10.Kerry Lengel, 11.Jas Hehnly, 12.Dean Spangler, 13.Bret Habecker, 14.Sheena Logeman, 15.Matt Peachey, 16.Caleb Keller, 17.Curtis R. Miller, 18.Brian Becker, 19.Dave Kemp.