Twice Is Nice For Rutherford In Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway Opener
Darren Miller, Ken Miller, & Ryan Shupp Also Victorious
Newmanstown, Pa. - April 12 - It may have been quite a workout, but Mike Rutherford could still muster a smile at the end of the night.
And he had plenty of reasons to smile, because the Lititz ace had just annexed two feature wins, as well as a runner-up finish, on opening night at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
As the Lanco club celebrated the beginning of its 57th season with the running of the "Spring Has Sprung Season Opener" presented by RTS Chassis, Rutherford claimed victories in the 600cc and 270cc Micro-Sprint main events. He also finished second to Ken Miller in the Sportsman feature.
Darren Miller won the feature for the 125cc division, while former point champ Ryan Shupp made a successful return with a triumph in the 250cc Four-Stroke main.
"I was good for about three or four laps at a time, but anything more than that and my tongue was hanging out," explained Rutherford in victory lane after his 600cc victory. "I was lucky to start up front, and the yellows fell at just the right times to give me a break."
He did start up front - on the pole, to be exact - and the three-time 600cc point champion led all the way in a caution-plagued 25-lapper. Heath Hehnly, the defending champion of the division, jumped into second in the early going and stayed close, especially when Rutherford was forced to negotiate with lapped traffic. Due to the numerous caution periods, however, the leaders did not have to deal with that slower traffic very often.
"I could tell he was ready to fall out of the seat a couple times," laughed Hehnly afterward. "He'd have a big lead, then come back to me. I really thought I could get him in lapped traffic, but the yellows played out in his favor. Running three classes on opening night is tough, and it almost caught up with him."
"Oh, I'm really tired...that's true," noted Rutherford after the final feature of the night. "But we hung on and got the win. I'm really glad to win for Gary (Hunter, his 600cc car owner). We've had kind of a rough start to the season, so it's nice to get this one. He always gives me a great car."
Jason Swavely trailed Rutherford and Hehnly to the stripe, with James Morris and Jared Esh completing the top five.
There were 29 of the 600's in action at the opener, with qualifying heat wins going to Rutherford, Kameron Morral, and Hehnly. Chris Panczner won the consolation race.
Rutherford had to work even harder to register the 270cc triumph. He started that one on the outside of row one, alongside Bradley Brown.
Brown paced the first eight circuits, with Rutherford nipping at his heels and even sticking the nose of his Kaylor Petro No. 5k in front on a few occasions.
Rutherford finally ducked under Brown's sharp looking No. 23 on the ninth trip around the banked oval, taking command as the duo made contact in turns one and two, with both getting out of shape and slowing dramatically. Rutherford was back on the gas first, grabbing the top spot and forcing Brown to chase him for the remaining 16 tours.
Brown tried his best to reclaim the lead, running deep into the corners in an effort to pull a slide job on the leader. He couldn't quite clear the No. 5k, though, sliding up and behind Rutherford again and again.
Some terrific racing was taking place behind the lead battle, too, with Dave Grube, Brandon Heist, Kyle Spence, Nick Skias, and Billy Logeman swapping positions and waging war with one another for positions three through seven.
At the finish, it was Rutherford over Brown by 0.339-seconds, with Grube, Skias, and Heist rounding out the top five.
Heat race victories went to Brown, Rutherford, and Spence, with Ricky Sechrist, Jr. winning the consi. A total of 31 cars entered the 270cc portion of the season opening event.
Cars owned by Gary Gorski have captured the past four championships in the 125cc division and six of the past seven titles. Darren Miller, the young charger from Mount Joy, is the new driver of Gorski's No. 29, the car that won the point crown the past two seasons.
Miller made the most of his opportunity, dashing from sixth on the starting grid to snatching the lead from Sonny Sweitzer on a lap three restart, then romping to victory in the 25-lap main event.
Miller utilized some terrific restarts to propel himself away from his pursuers, eventually taking the win by 2.251-seconds over Dave Grube. Kyle Hehnly recorded the third-place finish by a whisker over Nick Sweigert. Justin Harrington earned fifth-place money.
With 18 of the 125cc racers in the pit area on Saturday, K. Hehnly and Grube notched heat race wins.
Former Sportsman Class point champ Ken Miller launched his No. 7R from third to first as the green flag waved, taking a lead he would not relinquish. The Sportsman field cranked out 19 consecutive green flag laps before the first caution period slowed the pace.
"Man, I needed that yellow," grinned Miller in the winner's circle. "I was so tired...just hangin' on until we could relax a bit because of the yellow."
While much needed rest was the big benefit of the caution period, the downside was that a guy named Rutherford was now lined up right behind Miller's tail tank.
Mike Rutherford's car did not fire when it was initially pushed off, so he started in the rear of the 20-car field. Once it started, though, his No. 6 really came to life, slicing its way through the pack like a hot knife through butter. He went three-wide on the homestretch to snag third, then passed sophomore wheel-twister Anthony Yerger for the runner-up spot with two to go. Rutherford closed the gap on Miller, but ran out of time before he could mount a serious challenge for the lead.
Miller, from Birdsboro, Pa., raced home the winner over Rutherford, with Yerger, Kerry Lengle, and Wesley Fasnacht making up the top five.
A 20-car field of Sportsman competitors signed in for competition on Saturday, with Bobby Shanaman and Yerger claiming heat race wins.
Mohnton's Ryan Shupp was the 2004 point champion of the 250cc Four-Stroke division. He's been out of the driver's seat, except for a few starts in Open Shows, for the past several seasons. About two weeks prior to the season opener, though, Shupp got the itch to once again gas his No. 15.
He shook off the rust very quickly, wrestling the runner-up position from Dave Ravel on the seventh trip around the clay, then zipping past race leader Lewis Kepple Jr. in turns one and two on the eighth circuit.
Shupp went on to win by 1.210-seconds over Kepple, with Devin Adams rebounding from an early skirmish to grab third-place cash. Eddie Nocera and rookie Kassidy Michaels finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Four-Stroke heats fell to D. Adams and Ravel. A total of 13 cars made the tow to Clyde Martin for the first race of 2014.
A very special night is planned for this Saturday, April 19, when the Lanco club salutes Ivan Stoltzfus, the man who plans to drive his John Deere tractor across the United States to raise money and awareness for veterans wounded in battle.
Across America For Wounded Heroes is a Wounded Warrior project and Stoltzfus, along with his John Deere and support team, will be on hand at the Clyde this Saturday as he prepares to kick off his journey.
A.J. Blosenski Trash Hauling Recycling, along with longtime Lanco competitor Dick Huzzard, are sponsoring AAFWH Night at the Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. Join us as we salute Mr. Stoltzfus and show the racing community's support of this most worthwhile cause.
Gates open at 3:30 on Saturday, with warm-ups beginning at 5 p.m. The first heat race will follow the opening ceremonies to honor AAFWH at 6:00.
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Heath Hehnly, 3.Jason Swavely, 4.James Morris, 5.Jared Esh, 6.Jered Hook, 7.Chris Gerhart, 8.Chris Panczner, 9.Mike Freed, 10.Brittany Brown, 11.Kameron Morral, 12.Mike Coen, 13.Devin Gundrum, 14.A.J. Michael, 15.Mike Dicely, 16.Bruce Ginther Jr., 17.Brent Ely, 18.Jason Sechrist, 19.Nathan Prazenica, 20.Rebecca LaMothe, 21.Will Urkuski, 22.Dan Souder, 23.Taylor Troxel, 24.Zachary Light.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Bradley Brown, 3.Dave Grube, 4.Nick Skias, 5.Brandon Heist, 6.Mike Uhrich, 7.Brian Sholley, 8.Christi Sweigart, 9.Dan Lane Jr., 10.Toby Blumenshine, 11.Ron Helmick, 12.Nate Weidman, 13.Keith Holiday, 14.Corey Schmuck Jr., 15.Dean Spangler Jr., 16.Ricky Sechrist Jr., 17.Damon Bomgardner, 18.Daniel Braun, 19.Charles Hellinger, 20.Billy Logeman, 21.Kyle Spence, 22.Tyler Ulrich, 23.Elizabeth Helmick, 24.Michael Binkley.
125cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Darren Miller, 2.Dave Grube, 3.Kyle Hehnly, 4.Nick Sweigert, 5.Justin Harrington, 6.Matthew Donley, 7.Alexis Sheely, 8.Sonny Sweitzer, 9.William Manotti, 10.Walt Wampole, 11.Brie Weiler, 12.Dylan Adams, 13.James Wampole, 14.Thomas Kelly, 15.Chase Gutshall, 16.Brandon Gibble, 17.Jas Hehnly, 18.Zack Hollinger.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Ken Miller, 2.Mike Rutherford, 3.Anthony Yerger, 4.Kerry Lengle, 5.Wesley Fasnacht, 6.Jeff Hughes, 7.Curtis R. Miller, 8.Dave Kemp, 9.Kelby Stauffer, 10.Bobby Shanaman, 11.Jenna Heagy, 12.Patrick Kirn, 13.Dennis Ziegler, 14.Kim Minzer, 15.Megan Mercado, 16.Bret Habecker, 17.Jason Swavely, 18.Brandon Mundis, 19.Brian Becker, 20.Steve Smith Sr.
250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Ryan Shupp, 2.Lewis Kepple Jr., 3.Devin Adams, 4.Eddie Nocera, 5.Kassidy Michaels, 6.Dave Ravel, 7.Brian Kramer, 8.Jarrett Imler, 9.Zachary Young, 10.Ronald Good, 11.Donna Geib, 12.Kenny Miller III, 13.Ronald Wechter.