Newmanstown, PA - The final feature of the night proved to be worth the wait as Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway hosted the RTS Chassis "Spring Has Sprung" regular season opener on Saturday, April 16.
While a few drivers admitted to being out of "racing shape" and "whipped" after their main events, others already appeared to be in mid-season form during the 25-lap feature races.
One of those who showed no signs of rust was 600cc victor Kyle Spence, who prevailed after a terrific, lead-swapping duel with Jason Swavely in the evening's nightcap. Joining Spence as RTS Chassis Night winners were Nick Skias (270cc); Phil Durham (Sportsman); William Manotti (125cc); and Donna Geib (Sports n' Turf 250cc Four-Strokes).
Spence, from Bear, Delaware, bolted from his outside front row starting spot to take the lead as the green flag waved to begin the 600cc main event. It wasn't long before eighth-starting Jason Swavely motored into the runner-up position and closed in on the race leader. A few early race restarts - now double-file during the feature races - provided opportunities for Swavely to challenge Spence for the top spot.
The front running duo traded slide jobs on laps four and five before Spence pulled ahead by several car lengths until another caution flag slowed the action with nine laps complete.
On the restart, Swavely stayed with Spence as the pair of throttle-jockeys blasted around the oval in side-by-side fashion. Firing off turn four on the 11th circuit, Swavely finally edged in front of Spence to grab the lead. But it wasn't over yet...
With six to go, Spence threw a nice big slider on Swavely in turns three and four, charging off the corner with the lead once again. Spence then zipped away as Swavely was left to defend second place from Heath Hehnly and 17th-starting James Morris.
Spence flashed across the finish line to win by more than two-seconds over Swavely, with Hehnly, Morris, and Chris Gerhart rounding out the top five.
Hehnly, TJ Greve, and Taylor Troxel were victorious in the qualifying heats, with Kenny Miller III winning the consolation. A total of 30 cars entered the 600cc point-paying season opener.
As the 270cc field formed up for the start of their RTS Chassis main event, pole sitter Kenny Miller III suddenly pulled off the track and headed for the work area. Miller made it back out prior to the green flag, but gave up his prime starting spot to Nick Skias.
Skias, who was making his first start of the season (anywhere) due to some lingering issues with his back during the winter months, made the most of his golden opportunity, leading all the way to record the victory.
"I almost regretted my decision to race tonight; I was hurting a little bit earlier. But this (winning) makes all the pain go away...I feel fine now," smiled Skias in victory lane.
Ken Miller made things interesting after he moved into the runner-up slot on a lap four restart. Miller repeatedly attempted to dive under the leader, but Skias, from Wernersville, repelled each attack and held on to win in Randy Schaeffer's V&S Sandwich Shop No. 3s.
Miller held off his uncle, Mike Miller, for second with Richie Hartman and Tyler Ulrich completing the top five.
With 23 of the 270's on hand, heat race victories went to Kenny Miller III, Skias, and Ulrich.
After sitting out a few seasons to pursue other interests, the itch returned late in 2015 for Newfield, NJ driver Phil Durham. He and his dad, Alan, decided that both would compete in the Clyde's Sportsman division in 2016. And the younger Durham did not have to shake off any rust from his layoff, leading every lap of the Sportsman headliner on Saturday night in a triumphant return to the cockpit.
After a mishap in his heat race, then barely qualifying in the consolation, Ken Miller roared from 23rd starting position to run third by the halfway mark. Miller wrestled the runner-up spot from Ava Bellinger with two to go, then made a bonsai run at the leader on the final revolution.
As they flew down the homestretch with the checkered flag in sight, Miller almost turned Durham sideways in his attempt to overtake the leader. But Durham hung on to score the triumph, with Miller a scant 0.112-seconds behind as they crossed the stripe.
In addition to his first place payout, Durham also received a gift certificate from Lias Tire/ American Racer Tires as part of a new marketing partnership that will, on a rotating basis, reward one feature winner each week throughout the 2016 season.
Bellinger finished a strong third with Sami Schenck and Dave Ravel ending up fourth and fifth.
Tyler Ulrich, Zak Vickers, and Angelo Mercado won heats for the 30 Sportsman competitors. The consolation victory went to Robert Shanaman.
Lancaster's William Manotti shot from the pole to lead all the way in the 25-lap feature for the 125cc racers. A five-time winner last season, Manotti gassed his Kelly Cadillac No. 77 to a dominating triumph over Justin Harrington.
"This thing absolutely drove like a Cadillac tonight," grinned Manotti in the winner's circle.
Harrington settled for second with Austin Graby authoring a career best third place finish. Corey Schmuck Jr. and Zach Hollinger made up the rest of the top five at the finish.
Manotti and Harrington claimed victory in the 125cc heat races. There were 17 of the 125cc Micros in competiton on Saturday.
With new sponsorship from Leisure Sports n' Turf and associate backing from Hammerdown Racing Engines, the 250cc Four-Stroke field swelled to 17 for the regular season opener.
Manheim's Donna Geib utilized a pole position starting spot to score the opening night victory. Unlike last year, when she did not record her first win until June 20, Geib has started the new season in strong fashion, leading every lap of Saturday's main.
She survived a shaky start in which she almost spun in turn two on the opening tour, losing the lead to Zak Vickers. The yellow flew before one lap could be completed, however, which handed the top spot back to Geib.
"I told myself to calm down and just run my race, and it worked," said Geib afterward.
Dave Ravel finished second, a half-second behind the winner. Jarrett Imler, who was involved in that opening lap incident, came from the back to finish a solid third. Kassidy Michael wound up fourth and defending point champ Eddie Nocera rebounded from a mid-race spin to claim fifth-place money.
A pair of Four-Stroke heat races were won by Geib and Vickers.
This Saturday, April 23, will find the five weekly divisions on an action packed menu once again, with the entire program sponsored by J.S. Weld Rite.
The 600cc, 270cc, Sportsman, 125cc, and Sports n' Turf 250cc Four-Stroke Micro Sprints will compete in qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap feature races.
Gates open at 4 p.m. Warm-ups get underway at 5:30 and the first heat race goes green at 6:30.
Adult General Admission tickets are just $8.00, with discounts for Senior Citizens and youth between the ages of six and 12. Children under the age of six are free, and parking is always free at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
Come on out and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
600cc Micro Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Kyle Spence, 2.Jason Swavely, 3.Heath Hehnly, 4.James Morris, 5.Chris Gerhart, 6.Austin Bishop, 7.TJ Greve Jr., 8.Steve Whary, 9.Bradley Brown, 10.Chris Panczner, 11.Rebecca LaMothe, 12.Brent Ely, 13.Will Urkuski, 14.Chris Oraschin, 15.Ryan Groff, 16.Patrick Ely, 17.Kassidy Michael, 18.Shaun Brandel, 19.Kenny Miller III, 20.Amber Oraschin, 21.Cameron Bellinger, 22.Jarid Kunkle, 23.Zach Light, 24.Taylor Troxel.
DNQ: Jeff Boyer, Jenna Heagy, Kelby Stauffer, Jack Conover, Dan Souder, Walt Wampole.
270cc Micro Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Nick Skias, 2.Ken Miller, 3.Mike Miller, 4.Richie Hartman, 5.Tyler Ulrich, 6.Bradley Brown, 7.Billy Logeman, 8.Kyle Spence, 9.Mike Rutherford, 10.Mike Skias, 11.Toby Blumenshine, 12.Christi Sweigart, 13.Jason Rhoads, 14.Nick Sweigart, 15.Daryl Davis, 16.Jarrett Imler, 17.Dan Lane Jr., 18.Andrew Dietrich, 19.Alex Funari, 20.Dustin Fox, 21.Kenny Miller III.
DNS: Brian Sholley, Mike Uhrich.
Sportsman Micro Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Phil Durham, 2.Ken Miller, 3.Ava Bellinger, 4.Sami Schenck, 5.Dave Ravel, 6.Angelo Mercado, 7.Dave Schroeder, 8.Zak Vickers, 9.Alan Durham, 10.Nick Skias, 11.Kane Rogers, 12.Austin Graby, 13.Mike Miller, 14.Kerry Lengle, 15.Patrick Kirn, 16.Tyler Ulrich, 17.Sheena Schaeffer, 18.Robert Shanaman, 19.Ken Davis, 20.Jeff Harnish, 21.Dan Lane Jr., 22.Toby Blumenshine, 23.Michael Keiser, 24.Curtis R. Miller.
DNQ: Katelin Vragovich, Cody Sechrist, Anthony Yerger, Ricky Sechrist, Dennis Fenstermacher, Steve Smith Sr.
125cc Micro Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.William Manotti, 2.Justin Harrington, 3.Austin Graby, 4.Corey Schmuck Jr., 5.Zach Hollinger, 6.Thomas Kelly, 7.Walt Wampole, 8.Jimmy Wampole, 9.Jas Hehnly, 10.Brandon Stuck, 11.Tajae Adams, 12.Brandon Gibble, 13.Kyler Heiney, 14.Alexis Sheely, 15.Shane Davis.
DNS: Dustin Adams, Brandon Yoder.
Sports n' Turf 250cc Four-Stroke Micro Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Donna Geib, 2.Dave Ravel, 3.Jarrett Imler, 4.Kassidy Michael, 5.Eddie Nocera, 6.Zak Vickers, 7.Lester Dise, 8.Jim Harrington, 9.Aiden Jones, 10.Mike Coen, 11.Andrew Potts, 12.Ron Wechter, 13.Brian Kramer, 14.Cliff Brian Jr., 15.Dick Huzzard, 16.Lewis Kepple Jr., 17.Zachary Young