Brickerville, PA - Last Saturday was American Cancer Society Night at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. The fans, along with the 135 Micro-Sprint teams who signed in for competition, raised $650 to fund research of the dreaded disease. In return for their generous donations, the fans were rewarded with scintillating action on the race track.
Three of the five feature races were decided by a last-lap pass for the win, and the final event of the evening was highlighted by a photo-finish for second place.
Heath Hehnly, Manheim, notched his first victory of the season in the 600cc class. Hehnly ducked low on several occasions during the last few frantic trips around the smooth, tacky oval, showing his nose to race-long leader A.J. Michael.
On the final circuit, in turns three and four, Hehnly utilized the high groove to pull even with Michael, then roared ahead as the duo blasted toward the checkered flag. Hehnly crossed the stripe about a half-car length in front of Michael's No. 45.
"During the 270 feature, I knew there would be an outside groove," noted the jubliant victor, who started the race in the eighth spot. "I signaled my crew during that race, so they'd know what to do with the gearing on the 600. And it worked."
Mike Dicely - Hehnly's boss at Hyper Racing - finished third. "It's okay; Heath was really dialed in tonight. He can have bragging rights at work this week," smiled Dicely.
Invader Luke Thomas drove from 12th to fourth during the 25-lapper, while Shane Lewis gained ten positions and finished fifth.
The main event for the 270cc micros was equally exciting, but had a little different look from its 600cc counterpart.
Seventh-starting Pete Skias, Wernersville, Pa., grabbed the top spot from a strong running Mike Uhrich on lap 12. Opening night winner Mike Rutherford wrestled the runner-up slot from Uhrich on a restart with ten to go, then set his sights on the leader.
A caution with three tours remaining put Rutherford on the tail tank of Skias' No. 8s. Rutherford, who maneuvered his way to the front after taking the green on the outside of row six, tried the high side in an attempt to overtake the leader. On the final lap, he shot to the bottom off turn four as the pair drag raced to the finish line. Skias held him off by a couple of feet to claim his first victory of 2009.
"Mike found something on the outside, and my car was getting real loose at the end. I had too much air in the right-rear tire," explained Skias afterward. "We were lucky to hold him off; he needed a couple more laps to get by me."
Rutherford agreed that he simply ran out of time. "We were coming; I just needed a few more laps. Ken and Tony Kaylor give me a great car, week after week...I can't thank them enough."
Uhrich earned third-place money, with Dave Falini and Mike Miller rounding out the top five.
Jessica Enck passed Dick Huzzard on lap seven, then set sail in the main event for the 250cc Four-Strokes. It appeared that Enck was all set to win her second consecutive feature in this division, but Chad Rhoads, the Lititz, Pa. hotshoe, had other ideas.
Rhoads, who has recorded more second-place finishes over the past few seasons than he cares to count, zipped by his stepfather, Craig DeSantis, into the runner-up position with five laps left to run. Enck had a sizable lead at that point, but Rhoads was on a mission.
With two to go, Rhoads was on the leader's rear bumper. The leaders came up on the lapped car of Greg Schmuck at the end of the backstretch, as Enck went low and Rhoads took the high road in an effort to get by Schmuck.
Enck came off turn four with the lead, but Rhoads slingshotted off the banking and barely beat Enck to the finish line. As they flew across the stripe, Rhoads had a tire in front to register his first victory of the campaign.
"I thought the lapped car (Schmuck) messed me up when he drifted high. But then he went low, and that gave me the lane I needed to shoot off the corner and gain momentum. Tonight, I wasn't gonna finish second...finally," stated the relieved winner.
Defending class champion Richie Hartman was third, ahead of DeSantis and Peter Michael (A.J.'s younger brother), who notched a career-best finish of fifth.
For the second week in a row, a female wheel-twister posed for victory lane photos after the Sportsman feature.
Manheim's Donna Geib slipped under Jason Hehnly after a restart on lap 11, taking the lead and then racing to the win.
Geib held on to the top spot, despite a bevy of restarts, scoring her first triumph of the '09 season.
J. Hehnly was forced to settle for runner-up honors in his first podium finish for his new team, Garman Racing.
Dennis Ziegler ran a spirited race to claim third, with the previous week's winner, Sheena Schaefer, finishing fourth. Mike Skias completed the top five.
Fourth-starting Dave Grube, the Penn State student, squeezed past early leader Derek Ecenrode on the second circuit, then charged to his first-ever Lanco victory in the headliner for the 125cc micros.
While Grube, who hails from Denver, Pa., opened a big lead and cruised to the triumph, some intense action took place behind him.
Point leader and opening night victor Bret Habecker moved into second just prior to the halfway point of the 25-lapper. As he chased Grube, Airport Speedway ace Phil Durham rocketed into contention.
Durham and Habecker began a hotly contested duel for the runner-up position during the event's final five tours. Durham eased by Habecker with four to go, but Habecker wouldn't go away. He nosed under Durham with two trips remaining, and the pair ran side-by-side for the duration of the race.
As Grube took the checkered by a healthy margin, Durham nipped Habecker for second by inches.
Airport regular Shane Braxton drove a steady race to finish fourth, with Scott Gantert right behind him in fifth. It was Gantert's second consecutive top-five, and his third straight top-six finish in the year's first three events.
This Saturday will be a very special night at the Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. For the first time, the track will host the students of Denver Elementary School. The staff and students will get a taste of Micro-Sprint racing on Wednesday, May 6, when five teams take their mounts to the school, where the kids will get an up-close look at the racecars and drivers. Then, on Saturday, students will be admitted free when they present a special Lanco flyer that will be handed out by the drivers during their appearance at the school on May 6.
Saturday's event will also be "Decorate Your Own Cookie Night" at Clyde Martin. This activity, a big hit for the past two years, is presented by 600cc racer Bruce Ginther, Jr. and his JesusRaceTeam.com crew.
This week also features a visit by the current Ms. Motorsports, Alyssa Sharman. Alyssa will greet the fans and sign her photocards, as well as grace the victory lane photographs with her presence.
Gates open at 3:30, with warm-ups commencing at 5 p.m. The first heat race goes green at 6:00.
With all of the off-track activities and the memory of last week's nail-biting features, you've gotta come out and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
600cc Feature (25 laps): 1.Heath Hehnly 2.A.J. Michael 3.Mike Dicely 4.Luke Thomas 5.Shane Lewis 6.Mike Rutherford 7.Jimmy Glenn 8.Kerry Gilbert 9.Brent Ely 10.Jamie Kostic 11.Tim Buckwalter 12.Alex Bright 13.Tyler Ross 14.Kyle Reinhardt 15.Shaun Brandel 16.Jeremy Lynch 17.Billy Ney 18.Chris Gerhart 19.Greg Fitzpatrick 20.Ryan Wilson 21.Jared Davis 22.Jeff Halligan 23.Ryan Greth 24.Mike Freed.
270cc Feature (25 laps): 1.Pete Skias 2.Mike Rutherford 3.Mike Uhrich 4.Dave Falini 5.Mike Miller 6.Heath Hehnly 7.Scott Fick 8.Todd Steffy 9.Steve Whary 10.Jason Swavely 11.Matt Budd 12.Brian Sholley 13.Christi Sweigart 14.Scott Gingrich 15.Tiffany Skias 16.Ryan Wozunk 17.Josh Stoyer 18.Lester Dice III 19.Dean Spangler, Jr. 20.Billy Logeman 21.Greg Miller 22.Richie Hartman 23.Tyler Pannebecker 24.Nick Skias.
250cc Four-Stroke Feature (25 laps): 1.Chad Rhoads 2.Jessica Enck 3.Richie Hartman 4.Craig DeSantis 5.Peter Michael 6.Ed Nocera 7.Jared Gabers 8.Dick Huzzard 9.Chris Lee 10.Ronnie Rhoads, Jr. 11.Greg Schmuck 12.Kim Enck 13.Kayla Fetter 14.Phil Johnson 15.Lewis Kepple, Jr. 16.Jason Johnson. DNS: Kevin Kopp.
Sportsman Feature (25 laps): 1.Donna Geib 2.Jason Hehnly 3.Dennis Ziegler 4.Sheena Schaefer 5.Mike Skias 6.Robert Shanaman 7.Steve Drevicki 8.Jamie Fetterolf 9.Dwayne Mathias 10.Mark Ludwig 11.Brett Wanner 12.Wesley Fasnacht 13.Paul May III 14.Kelby Stauffer 15.Glenn Moyer 16.Jeff Hughes 17.Mike Miller 18.Tyler Pannebecker 19.Robert Schaffner 20.Gene Murphy 21.Jenna Keppley 22.Dennis McKeon 23.Dennis Fenstermacher 24.Kenny Miller
125cc Feature (25 laps): 1.Dave Grube 2.Phil Durham 3.Bret Habecker 4.Shane Braxton 5.Scott Gantert 6.Jesse Maurer 7.Cody Drace 8.Sonny Sweitzer 9.Dave Falini 10.Brianna Gerhart 11.Kyle Henninger 12.Corey Schmuck, Jr. 13.Bradley Brown 14.Kaylan Petrecz 15.Chrissy Ochs 16.Nathan Weidman 17.Derek Ecenrode 18.Evan Krautwald 19.Mark Yoder 20.Heath Hehnly.