Newmanstown, PA - One of the most incredible, position-swapping, heart-pounding battles for the lead ever witnessed at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memoriall Speedway took place on Saturday night. And the epic struggle didn't even involve the eventual winner of the opening event of this year's Kioti Tractors PA 600 Speedweek.
"I kind of hate to win 'em that way, but I'll take it," grinned Malvern, Pa. driver Tony DiMattia from the winner's circle. "We were really good tonight, but we still didn't have anything for Tyler (Walton) and Shane (Lewis). But we were the best of the rest, and we were able to take advantage of it when they got together."
The 40-lap, Hollinger's Sports 'n Turf main event for the 600cc Micro-Sprints began with Tyler Walton bolting from the pole position to lead the early stages of the race. Shane Lewis, who started third, wrangled the runner-up spot from DiMattia when the No. 5D slid high in turn two with eight circuits complete and Lewis dashed past him as they exited the corner.
Lewis, the Honeybrook, Pa. native who now lives and works in Connecticut, chased down Walton as the leader negotiated heavy lapped traffic during a long stretch (from laps 2 through 28) of green flag action.
Over eleven consecutive trips around the banked oval, Walton - from Mifflintown, Pa. - and Lewis traded slide jobs at both ends of the speedway as they navigated in and around lapped cars. In jaw-dropping fashion, the duo raced side-by-side, inches apart, on the straightaways before the driver in the bottom lane threw yet another slider on his foe as they blasted through the corners.
At one point, Lewis used a slower car as a pick to trap Walton and snare the lead. It seemed, for just a few seconds, that it might be the move that would win the race for the driver of the Lewis Automotive, RAMM Trailers No. 55L. But Walton rallied once more, making his Rich Glosser Racing/ Hyper No. 70 scream into turns one and two, diving under then sliding up in front of Lewis to reclaim the top spot. Lewis would counter - again - in three and four.
As the lead pair completed the 28th tour and rocketed back into turn one, calamity struck as both drivers went for the same piece of real estate and collided. The second caution of the event was a nightmare for the front-running duo, as both Walton and Lewis were parked near the top of the banking, their cars knotted together after such a sensational fight for the lead. Both drivers were able to restart, but Walton dropped out after he was involved in another incident with five to go and Lewis wound up 14th, one lap down, after he spun in what became a three-car crash in turn four on the final tour.
With Walton and Lewis relegated to the rear after their tangle, Tony DiMattia inherited the lead and he made the most of his golden opportunity. Five additional restarts over the last 12 circuits, with 600 Speedweek rules dictating double-file restarts during the A-Mains, did not deter the young charger as he held off a determined Chris Panczner and Mike Dicely to record the $2,500 victory.
As the leader, DiMattia was allowed to choose which line, inside or outside, he wanted on each restart. He consistently picked the bottom, and he was never seriously challenged as Panczner and Dicely wrestled for runner-up honors.
"We were very good on the bottom," explained the winner, "the car had real good drive off the bottom and that's why I decided to stay down there for the restarts."
Panczner passed Jared Esh for second on a lap 33 restart, opening the door for Dicely to follow, then the two of them diced for second-place money with Panczner, from Elverson, Pa., winning that battle.
At the finish, it was DiMattia scoring his first career Clyde Martin victory and his very first PA 600 Speedweek triumph. He was almost a full second in front of Panczner, who held off Dicely for second.
Mike Rutherford, who needed to use a Speedweek provisional (highest driver in Lanco points who did not qualify) in order to start the A-Main after engine issues sidelined him in his first heat race, weaved his way from 25th to fourth in the 40-lapper.
Ryan Greth, subbing for Brian Carber in the Greth Racing/ Carber Lawncare No. 71, ran a solid race to finish fifth. Jared Esh, A.J. Michael, Jay Hartman, Ryan Hook, and Tim Iulg completed the top ten.
Heat races for the 54-car field went to Dicely, C.J. Tracy, Chris Gerhart, Ryan Morris, Bill Thomas, Kameron Morral, Greth, A.J. Michael, Walton, and Lewis. Steve Whary won the last-chance B-Main.
Per Speedweek rules, the 600's utilized a dual heat race, passing points system for qualifying. The top six drivers in qualifying points were eligible for a Cash Dash, with time trials determining the starting order for the Dash.
Tyler Walton accumulated the most points in the two sets of heat races, then set quick time to earn the pole for the Dash. He and DiMattia actually tied for quick time in the trials, but Walton's second lap was a tick faster than DiMattia's, so he was given the pole for the eight-lap Dash.
Walton led all the way to pick up the $300 for winning the Dash and thereby putting himself on the pole for the A-Main. DiMattia ($200) and Lewis ($100) chased him to the line in the Dash.
Walton also picked up the Weld Racing Fast Lap of the Feature Award by recording the single quickest lap in the A-Main. His quick time in the race was 11.034-seconds.
Jason Swavely, Douglassville Pa., has suffered through a rash of bad luck in the first half of the 2013 season. He managed to find Clyde Martin's victory lane one time in a 270cc feature, but also has a shelf full of ruined pistons to show for his efforts so far this season. "Lots of engine problems and we have no idea why; can't figure out why we keep blowing up," said Swavely prior to the Hyper Racing 270 Clash at the Clyde on Saturday.
Understandably frustrated, he decided to put all of his 270cc equipment up for sale and move to the 600cc division. While he's in the process of selling existing equipment and purchasing new stuff, Swavely picked up a temporary 270cc ride from good friend Mike Rice.
That deal with his buddy paid big dividends on Saturday, as Swavely (courtesy of his girlfriend, who picked the number for him) started on the pole of the 30-lap Clash, then dominated the affair, winning $1,050 and possibly turning his luck from bad to good for the remainder of the season.
With Swavely cruising out front, Ross Perchak was trying to fend off attacks from Richie Hartman as they tussled for the runner-up position. Hartman eventually secured that spot, executing a slide job on Perchak in turns one and two, then using the high line to repel Perchak's comeback attempt.
Mike Rutherford slipped past Perchak for third at the halfway point. While Rutherford occasionally challenged Hartman for second during the final one-third of the race, he could not overtake the No. 39 and eventually fell back, settling for third.
A furious four-car tango erupted for the fourth position between Perchak, Heath Hehnly, Bradley Brown, and 17th-starting Brandon Edgar. That skirmish went right down to the wire, with Hehnly nipping Perchak for fourth and Brown besting Edgar for the sixth spot.
Swavely flew to a half-second victory over Hartman, with Rutherford a distant third when the checkered flag waved.
The biggest movers in the 30-lap, 270cc A-Main were Kyle Spence (24th to ninth); Brian Sholley (20th to eighth); Edgar (17th to seventh); and Zack Fouse (22nd to 11th).
Perchak was the recipient of the Weld Racing Fast Lap of the Feature gift certificate. The Hazleton driver registered a quick lap of 11.533-seconds during the Clash at the Clyde.
A fantastic field of 48 cars signed in for 270cc competition on Saturday. The five heat races were won by Perchak, Hehnly, Todd Bertrand, Swavely, and Richie Hartman. Billy Logeman was victorious in the C-Main, and Nate Weidman captured the B-Main.
Hyper Racing, Dayton Parts of Harrisburg, and Scott Ertter/ L5SI Tactical combined to sponsor the 270 Clash at the Clyde. They provided a hefty purse that included paydays for non-qualifiers in the B-Main.
Both of the triumphant A-Main drivers (DiMattia and Swavely) received gift certificates, in addition to the lucrative cash payout, as part of Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway's K1 Race Gear Proven Performance Program presented by Nouse Signs & Graphics. The gift certificates can be used in the purchase of a new two or three-layer custom racing suit manufactured by K1 Race Gear.
Chris Panczner was unable to start the Cash Dash, due to a faulty fuel pump switch. His crew made repairs prior to the A-Main, however, where he started sixth and worked his way forward to finish second.
Kioti Tractors PA 600 Speedweek moves to the Greenwood Valley Action Track on Sunday, July 7, with warm-ups scheduled for 5:45 and heat races beginning immediately after hot laps. On Wednesday, July 10, the Speedweek series goes wingless for the first time ever at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA at the Kutztown Fairgrounds. The non-wing racing activity continues on Friday, July 12 at Linda's Speedway, and the five-race tour culminates with another wingless race on Saturday, July 13, at the Hamlin Speedway in the Poconos.
Kioti Tractors - Hollinger's Sports 'n Turf PA 600 Speedweek Finish, 40 laps: 1.Tony DiMattia, 2.Chris Panczner, 3.Mike Dicely, 4.Mike Rutherford, 5.Ryan Greth, 6.Jared Esh, 7.A.J. Michael, 8.Jay Hartman, 9.Ryan Hook, 10.Tim Iulg, 11.Heath Hehnly, 12.Travis Esh, 13.Jeff Hartman, 14.Shane Lewis, 15.Kyle Lick, 16.Chris Gerhart, 17.Steve Whary, 18.Kameron Morral, 19.James Morris, 20.Joe Kay, 21.Dave Carlber, 22.Tyler Esh, 23.Tyler Walton, 24.James Radney, 25.Ryan Morris, 26.Robbie Kendall.
DNQ: Chad VanHorn, Dan Souder, C.J. Tracy, Steve Kemery, Bill Thomas, Tyler DeVault, Cale Reigle, Mike Freed, Sammy LaMothe, Jermain Godshall, Chad Sandt, Rick Perone, Brittany Brown, Tom Shearer, Steven Bracall, Paul Graham, Shaun Brandel, Gunnar Layton, Molly Chambers, Austin Bishop, Kelby Stauffer, Matthew Symons, Rebecca LaMothe, Taylor Troxel, Wayne Dadetto, Dan Cogdill, Shelby Harper, Brandon Noel.
Hyper Racing 270cc Clash at the Clyde Finish, 30 laps: 1.Jason Swavely, 2.Richie Hartman, 3.Mike Rutherford, 4.Heath Hehnly, 5.Ross Perchak, 6.Bradley Brown, 7.Brandon Edgar, 8.Brian Sholley, 9.Kyle Spence, 10.Eric Falini, 11.Zack Fouse, 12.Toby Blumenshine, 13.Todd Bertrand, 14.Joe Dopke, 15.Dan Lane Jr., 16.Christi Sweigart, 17.Brian Marriott, 18.Nate Weidman, 19.Shaun Brandel, 20.Derek Miller, 21.Steven Cox, 22.Misti Kopp, 23.Justin Harrington, 24.Austin Bishop, 25.Chad Myers, 26.Charles Hellinger.
DNQ: Adam Warner, Damon Bomgardner, Kory Shissler, Tyler Snook, Nick Sweigart, Jake Smith, Robert Simmerman, Taylor Shissler, Mike Binkley, Billy Logeman, Danny Braun Jr., Dave Williams, Mark Landwher, Dana LaMothe, Joe Fanelli, Hunter James, Ronald Helmick, Ricky Sechrist, Dylan Binkley, Dean Spangler Jr., Cody Hauck, Hannah Schrom.