Brickerville, PA - With four of the seven feature races completed, and the fifth one under a yellow flag with seven laps recorded, Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway went completely dark on Saturday night.
A lightning strike near the track caused a momentary power interruption, but the 270cc Micro-Sprint chauffeurs did a fantastic job in the ensuing darkness. There was no contact between any of the 24-cars slowly circling the banked oval, and they were carefully removed from the racing surface as rain began to pelt the facility.
As the precipitation intensified, the track quickly became a muddy mess, forcing officials to postpone the remainder of the program.
Prior to the bizarre conclusion, however, three of the five weekly divisions were able to compete in 25-lap main events on Lias Tire/American Racer Night at the speedway.
Mike Rutherford (270cc) and Richie Hartman (250cc Four-Stroke) registered victories in features that had been rained out on May 16. In the first two regularly scheduled main events, Peter Michael (250cc Four-Stroke) and Jesse Maurer (125cc) were triumphant.
The remaining 18 laps of the 270cc feature will lead off the June 20 racing program. That race will be followed by the rained out 600cc and Sportsman features from Saturday night. After those races have been completed, an entire menu of qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap features will be presented.
Nathan Weidman paced the first 16 circuits of the 270cc make-up race on Saturday. Rutherford, who started 12th, navigated his way into the runner-up spot with ten to go, then ducked under Weidman in turns one and two to grab the lead on lap 17.
The 270cc victory was Rutherford's second of the season, with his first coming on opening night in mid-April.
Steve Drevicki chased Rutherford to the stripe, with defending track champion Richie Hartman finishing third. Weidman and Nick Skias completed the top five.
In the 250cc Four-Stroke make-up, Hartman zoomed from 11th to third in just three trips around the one-eighth-mile of clay. His Little Nicky's Pizza/RTS No. 88 zipped into second on lap five, then asserted pressure on race leader and polesitter Jason Johnson.
Hartman and Johnson waged a terrific, side-by-side duel for one complete lap before Hartman slid in front as they charged off corner number four on the ninth revolution. The race belonged to Hartman from that point on, as Johnson had to fight off the challenges of Peter Michael and Ryan Gabers to hold on to the runner-up position.
Hartman flew under the checkered for his fifth victory of the season in the Four-Stroke class. Johnson held on for second, with Michael spinning out of third place with only three laps left to run.
Ryan Gabers, Chad Rhoads, and Lewis Kepple Jr. made up the top five when the race ended.
Michael, the teenager from Lititz, Pa., erased his disappointment in the regularly scheduled event for the Four-Stroke micros by capturing the first victory of his Micro-Sprint career. And he had to hold off one of the best in the business in order to achieve the win, making it even sweeter.
Sweeping past Jason Johnson and Jake Booth on the opening circuit, Michael snatched the top spot and immediately put some distance between himself and the rest of the field. Several caution periods, however, prevented the younger brother of A.J. Michael, the Sprint Car and 600cc jockey, from turning this one into a rout.
Richie Hartman slipped under Johnson for second at the halfway mark, then began his assault on the leader. A couple of late restarts aided Hartman's cause, but Michael kept his composure, held his line, and snuffed out all of Hartman's attacks.
Hartman shoved the nose of his No. 88 under Michael on the final lap, but the Hollinger's Sports & Turf, Schwarr Concrete No. 9 was up to the task, as Michael won the drag race to the finish line.
Chad Rhoads, J. Johnson, and Lewis Kepple Jr. rounded out the top five.
Heats for the 250cc Four-Strokes went to Craig DeSantis and J. Johnson.
With car owner Gary Gorski sporting a big smile - his son, Ryan, was drafted by the New York Mets earlier in the week - his drivers provided the proverbial icing on the cake in the 125cc headliner.
Defending and two-time champion Jesse Maurer notched his second triumph of '09, with teammate Heath Hehnly racing home in the runner-up position, producing a one-two finish for Team Gorski.
Starting on the outside of row one, Maurer rocketed into the lead at the drop of the green flag. Hehnly catapaulted from ninth to third in the first five trips around the oval, then grabbed second place on lap seven. Try as he might, though, Hehnly could not catch his teammate, the Mt. Joy Outlaw.
Maurer raced under Tim Gehret's checkered flag as the winner, with Hehnly trailing by almost 1.5 seconds. Bret Habecker wound up third, with Mark Yoder and Cody Drace finishing fourth and fifth.
Nathan Weidman and Maurer were heat race winners.
Prior to the power outage and downpour, the 270cc race was a good one. Tyler Pannebecker led from the pole, but Steve Drevicki applied some heavy pressure as the pair of young lions diced for the top spot.
Nick Skias rumbled from sixth to third in the early laps, but a yellow with seven complete led to the eventual postponement of the event until it picks up again this Saturday.
When the green waves to begin lap eight, Pannebecker will be in front. Drevicki, N. Skias, Josh Stoyer, and Brian Sholley will restart in positions three through five.
With 33 of the 270cc micros signing in, heat races were captured by Drevicki, Scott Fick, and Richie Hartman. Dave Grube won the consolation race.
More than 7 1/2 feature events will be contested on Saturday, June 20, plus qualifying action for all five of the weekly classes. The entire evening will be sponsored by Grace Truth and Fellowship of Elverson, Pa.
Close to eight big main events and a host of qualifying races...all for the price of a normal, weekly show! That only means one thing...you've gotta come out and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature (postponed from May 16): 1.Mike Rutherford 2.Steve Drevicki 3.Richie Hartman 4.Nate Weidman 5.Nick Skias 6.Dave Falini 7.Billy Logeman 8.Heath Hehnly 9.Steve Whary 10.Dave Grube 11.Scott Fick 12.Jay Batdorf 13.Christi Sweigart 14.Greg Miller 15.Jim Skias 16.Josh Stoyer 17.Roger Graham 18.Todd Steffy 19.Zack Fouse 20.Pete Skias 21.Mike Uhrich 22.Devin Harron. DNS: Charles Young; Lester Dice III.
250cc Four-Stroke Feature (postponed from May 16): 1.Richie Hartman 2.Jason Johnson 3.Ryan Gabers 4.Chad Rhoads 5.Lewis Kepple Jr. 6.Jake Booth 7.Jessica Enck 8.Dick Huzzard 9.Jared Gabers 10.Kim Enck 11.Greg Schmuck 12.Peter Michael 13.Phil Johnson 14.Kayla Fetter 15.Eddie Nocera 16.Craig DeSantis. DNS: Chris Lee; Julie Wenger.
250cc Four-Stroke Feature (25 laps): 1.Peter Michael 2.Richie Hartman 3.Chad Rhoads 4.Jason Johnson 5.Lewis Kepple Jr. 6.Chris Lee 7.Craig DeSantis 8.Jessica Enck 9.Eddie Nocera 10.Dick Huzzard 11.Kim Enck 12.Kayla Fetter 13.Phil Johnson 14.Jake Booth 15.Ryan Gabers 16.Jared Gabers 17.Greg Schmuck.
125cc Feature (25 laps): 1.Jesse Maurer 2.Heath Hehnly 3.Bret Habecker 4.Mark Yoder 5.Cody Drace 6.Dave Grube 7.Bradley Brown 8.Brianna Gerhart 9.Scott Gantert 10.Derek Ecenrode 11.Kaylan Petrecz 12.Chrissy Ochs 13.Melvin Bainbridge 14.Corey Schmuck Jr. 15.Nate Weidman 16.Kyle Henninger. DNS: Dave Falini; Sonny Sweitzer; James Wampole.