Newmanstown, PA - Perhaps it was the extreme heat, or maybe it was the phase of the moon, but Saturday night was not a good night to be leading the race at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway...unless your name was Heath Hehnly.
Hehnly, from Manheim, Pa., broke through for not just one, but his first two victories of the season on Mongoose Chassis Night at the Clyde. Four of the evening's five features saw apparent race winners suffer misfortune prior to the checkered flag, and Hehnly benefitted from one of those untimely ills.
In the 600cc main event, Hehnly ducked under Jarid Kunkle on the final lap as Kunkle's engine began to sour and finally went up in smoke on the backstretch. Hehnly, the current point leader and four-time 600cc track champion, went on to record his first triumph of the year and Kunkle somehow coaxed his blown-up No. 75 across the line to finish second.
Hehnly also captured the 270cc victory on Saturday, putting a Mongoose Chassis in the winner's circle on the night that Jim Skias and his Mongoose Chassis business sponsored the event.
Mike Miller, a former Lanco regular who now makes occasional starts "just for fun", returned to Clyde Martin's victory lane with a win in the Sportsman feature. Jarrett Imler (Sports n' Turf 250cc Four-Stroke) and William Manotti (125cc) also registered wins on Saturday.
Saturday's Mongoose Chassis event was the final tune-up for this week's Clyde Martin Memorial Race presented by Gold Rush Trailer Sales, the prestigious and possibly championship-altering program that features 35-lap mains and double-points for all five weekly divisions. The Clyde Martin Memorial is for Lanco members only, and drivers must have entered a minimum of five point-paying races in 2016 to be eligible to compete in the event. A list of the eligible competitors will be posted during the week on the track's website, www.clydemartinspeedway.com.
Gates open at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, with warm-ups slated to begin at 6:00. The first heat race goes green at 7:00.
The first 11 tours of the 600cc feature went clean and green on Saturday, with Kunkle, who was riding a two race win streak at the Clyde, rumbling from ninth to fourth as Ryan Groff set the pace. On the race's first double-file restart, Kunkle shot from the top side to the bottom on the homestretch, slicing from fourth to second while 11th starter Heath Hehnly moved from sixth to fourth.
Another restart with 12 complete saw a three-wide tussle for the top spot as Brent Ely went low, Groff held the middle lane, and Kunkle blasted around the top, with Kunkle shooting into the lead at the exit of turn two. Hehnly soon grabbed the runner-up position from Ely and set sail after Kunkle.
Kunkle and Hehnly raced side by side for the lead during the final five circuits until Kunkle pulled ahead once again as they charged for the white flag. Heading into the first turn, however, Hehnly made a dive for the bottom as Kunkle's power plant began to lay down. Hehnly launched off of two with the lead and heavy smoke erupted from Kunkle's machine.
Hehnly flew to the checkered and Kunkle limped across the line in second. Ely recorded his first top-three finish of the season with a third-place effort, while Kyle Spence and Austin Bishop ended up fourth and fifth.
Mike Rutherford and Ely were heat race winners for the 21-car field of 600's.
The 270cc feature was the only main event of the evening where horrible luck and circumstances did not strike a driver who seemed headed for certain victory. And Heath Hehnly drove to his second triumph of the night in Jim Skias' Mongoose Chassis No. 25s.
Hehnly started on the pole and led all the way, but had to hold off the challenges of four-time winner and multi-time 270cc point champion Mike Rutherford in order to claim the win. Rutherford started 12th and passed Dan Lane Jr. for the runner-up slot on a restart with nine revolutions in the books.
Rutherford rolled the top, trying to get a big run down the straightaways and swing to the inside of Hehnly entering the corners. But Hehnly was up to the challenge, sticking to the inside groove at both ends of the speedway and maintaining a slim advantage on the straights.
Hehnly held on to win by slightly more than a quarter-second over Rutherford, who took over the 270cc point lead from Bradley Brown with his second-place finish. Billy Logeman, Lane, and Brown comprised the rest of the top five when the checkered flag waved to end the 25-lapper.
With 20 of the 270cc racers in the pit area on Saturday, heat race victories went to Mike Skias and Hehnly.
The 25-lap Sportsman feature was a tale of two veterans with one of them tasting victory for the first time in several years and the other became an innocent victim of terrible misfortune while headed for an almost certain triumph.
Angelo Mercado took the green in fifth with Mike Miller right behind him in seventh. Mercado wasted no time in getting to the front, motoring into the runner-up position on lap two, then snatching the top spot from rookie Kane Rogers on a restart with five circuits complete.
Miller, from Birdsboro Pa., threaded his way into second on the same lap, but Mercado was flying out front, building a sizeable lead over Miller and a strong running Sami Schenck, who had just returned from studying abroad for several weeks in New Zealand.
One lap prior to the halfway mark, disaster struck the leader as Mercado was closing in to lap Brandon Mundis. The No. 23 of Mundis suddenly snapped around in turn four, leaving Mercado with nowhere to go. The leader pounded Mundis' car and bicycled toward the outside guardrail with heavy damage to his No. 3m. Mercado was forced to retire, handing the top spot to Miller.
Miller took advantage of the gift and raced to the win, beating Sportsman point leader Dan Lane Jr. to the stripe by 0.416-seconds. Anthony Yerger wound up third with Kerry Lengle placing fourth and Tyler Reinhardt rounding out the top five.
Sportsman heat race wins fell to Sheena Schaefer, Tyler Ulrich, and Lengle. Robert Shanaman won the consolation as 25 Sportsman competitors signed in for action on Saturday.
Dave Ravel, winner of two Sports n' Turf 250cc Four-Stroke mains this season, followed the theme of apparent race winners who were punched by bad luck on Saturday night.
Ravel was in control of the Four-Stroke main after passing Cliff Brian Jr. for the lead on lap seven. With ten trips remaining, though, Ravel tapped the back bumper of a car he was trying to put a lap down, and the contact was just enough to send his No. 69 into a spin in turn four.
Jarrett Imler was the lucky beneficiary of Ravel's misery, and the driver from Leola seized the opportunity to steer his Tom Rumsey Contracting/ Lancaster Archery No. 17 to his first win of 2016.
Point leader Kassidy Michael was chasing Imler, but a deflating right-rear tire allowed Donna Geib to pass Michael for the runner-up finish. At the checkered, it was Imler scoring the victory over Geib, who posted her best effort since returning from broken ribs. Michael settled for third with Ravel charging back through the field to finish fourth. Lew Kepple notched fifth-place money.
With 15 of the Four-Strokes entered on Saturday, Zak Vickers and Eddie Nocera triumphed in heat races.
Austin Graby appeared headed for his very first Lanco victory in the 125cc main event, taking the top spot from Matthew Donley as the duo accelerated off turn four on the third trip around the clay.
Graby zipped away to a big lead, but it wasn't long before William Manotti, the previous week's winner, ran him down as the leaders dealt with lapped traffic.
On a restart at the halfway point, Graby gassed his Deagle Welding Supply/ The Summit Company No. 87 to a four car length lead over Manotti and it looked very much like Graby was driving to his first career Micro-Sprint victory. Lady Luck had other plans, however, as Graby's mount slowed dramatically on the home stretch with just three tours left to run.
Manotti roared past and into the lead as Graby turned to the infield. Manotti, from Lancaster, throttled his Kelly Cadillac No. 77 to a second consecutive win and his fourth of the season, with Austin Bishop steering Kyler Heiney's No. 22 to the runner-up finish. Jas Hehnly raced home in third with Tajae Adams and Justin Harrington completing the top five.
Manotti, Jason Hehnly, and Bishop won heat races for the 23 entries in the 125cc division.
This week, July 30, it's the annual Clyde Martin Memorial Race presented by Gold Rush Trailer Sales...one of Lanco's biggest events of the season. The longest feature races of the year (35 laps), double-points, and the tradition of the winner's trophies being handed down from the previous year's winners all add to the prestige of the Clyde Martin Memorial. It's an event designed to reward the loyalty of Lanco's club members, and it's a race all of the speedway's regulars desperately want to win.
You've gotta come out and LIVE the excitement that is the Gold Rush Trailer Sales Clyde Martin Memorial Race!
For more information and all the Lanco news, log on to the track's new website, www.clydemartinspeedway.com. Information is also available at Facebook.com/ ClydeMartinMemorialSpeedway and on Twitter (@LancoCMMS).
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Heath Hehnly, 2.Jarid Kunkle, 3.Brent Ely, 4.Kyle Spence, 5.Austin Bishop, 6.Bradley Brown, 7.Mike Rutherford, 8.Ryan Groff, 9.Shaun Brandel, 10.Zach Light, 11.Cameron Bellinger, 12.James Morris, 13.Kassidy Michael, 14.Chris Gerhart, 15.Will Urkuski, 16.Kelby Stauffer, 17.Chris Oraschin, 18.Jack Conover, 19.Rebecca LaMothe, 20.Amber Oraschin, 21.TJ Greve.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Heath Hehnly, 2.Mike Rutherford, 3.Billy Logeman, 4.Dan Lane Jr., 5.Bradley Brown, 6.Richie Hartman, 7.Mike Miller, 8.Mike Skias, 9.Kyle Spence, 10.Nick Skias, 11.Brian Sholley, 12.Tyler Ulrich, 13.Nick Sweigart, 14.Christi Sweigart, 15.Daryl Davis, 16.Dustin Fox, 17.Scott Fick, 18.Brock Whisler, 19.Toby Blumenshine. DNS: Christopher Steigerwalt.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Mike Miller, 2.Dan Lane Jr., 3.Anthony Yerger, 4.Kerry Lengle, 5.Tyler Reinhardt, 6.Tyler Ulrich, 7.Kane Rogers, 8.Sheena Schaefer, 9.Patrick Kirn, 10.Devin Adams, 11.Dave Schroeder, 12.Alan Durham, 13.Dave Ravel, 14.Toby Blumenshine, 15.Michael Kreiser, 16.Robert Shanaman, 17.Sami Schenck, 18.Ava Bellinger, 19.Dennis Fenstermacher, 20.Angelo Mercado, 21.Austin Graby, 22.Cody Sechrist, 23.Brandon Mundis, 24.Katelin Vragovich.
DNQ: Ricky Sechrist.
Sports n' Turf 250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Jarrett Imler, 2.Donna Geib, 3.Kassidy Michael, 4.Dave Ravel, 5.Lewis Kepple Jr., 6.Zak Vickers, 7.Cliff Brian Jr., 8.Dave Williams, 9.Ron Wechter, 10.Andrew Potts, 11.Ron Zimmerman, 12.Dick Huzzard, 13.Eddie Nocera, 14.Brandon Yoder.
DQ: Zachary Young.
125cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.William Manotti, 2.Austin Bishop, 3.Jas Hehnly, 4.Tajae Adams, 5.Justin Harrington, 6.Corey Schmuck Jr., 7.Matthew Donley, 8.Brandon Gibble, 9.Alexis Sheely, 10.Kyle Hehnly, 11.Noah Merkey, 12.Jason Hehnly, 13.Shane Davis, 14.Walt Wampole, 15.Austin Graby, 16.Tyler Hershey, 17.Matt Peachy, 18.Nate Gibble, 19.Gary Ellex, 20.Brandon Stuck, 21.Jayson Conover, 22.Jimmy Wampole.