Newmanstown, PA - When race drivers travel halfway across the country, then have to sit around as the first two events of a four race series get washed out, well, they're going to be (understandably) quite anxious to strap in to their methanol snorting mounts and mash the throttle.
That was certainly the case on Tuesday, August 16, at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, as the stars of the USAC National Midget Championship series presented a memorable show in their first-ever appearance at the Newmanstown, Pa. oval.
The drivers were even more "itchy to race" after a late afternoon - and very heavy - thunderstorm drenched the Clyde Martin facility. But, thanks to the tremendous efforts of the track prep crew, Battleground: Lanco was completed and the USAC racers, along with a nice compliment of ARDC Midget teams, left the large crowd wanting more when the final checkered flag was thrown.
Minden, Nevada's Tanner Thorson pulled off a last-lap, final corner pass on Spencer Bayston, one of his Keith Kunz Racing teammates, to snare the jaw-dropping victory and immediately dedicated his win to the late Bryan Clauson.
Jason Swavely, Fleetwood, Pa., survived a lead-swapping battle with Heath Hehnly to win the Chop Designs Wingless 600 Sprint Assault.
The USAC National Midgets utilized every inch of the ultra-tacky, very racy Clyde Martin clay that provided so much "bite" that straightaway-long wheelies were commonplace on Tuesday night.
When the green flag waved to begin the 30-lap A-Main, Thorson gassed his JBL Speakers/Kunz No. 67 to the early lead over polesitter Alex Bright. Thorson set the pace for three laps before spinning in turn two. "I just misjudged my entry into the corner," he admitted afterward.
With Thorson now in 19th, it was A. Bright's turn to shine, and the Collegeville, Pa. chauffeur vaulted out to a big lead while Brady Bacon, Chad Boat, and Carson Macedo battled for the runner up position.
After Boat and Bacon suffered spins that relegated them to the back of the pack, Macedo closed in on Bright and began a series of slide jobs that saw the yellow flag fly just as the California native took the lead. His passes were negated due to the cautions, but he would not give up.
Macedo powered to the inside of Bright on the backstretch with nine to go, pulling ahead before trading sliders with Bright over the next couple of tours. Macedo finally cleared Bright's No. 77, and just a few circuits later Bright pulled to the infield with a flat right-rear tire.
Thorson was back into the top four with six laps remaining, and he watched as Bayston, the current USAC National Midget point leader, slid up in front of Macedo in turn one on a restart with four to go. Macedo, bidding for his first National Midget triumph, attempted to stab the brakes and dart left to get back under Bayston, but stalled his car in turn two, bringing about another yellow flag period.
The final laps were well worth the price of admission, as Thorson now ran second behind Bayston, with Boat, recovering from his spin, in third. With the white flag waving, Thorson ducked under Bayston in one and two, but Bayston charged back in front as they blasted down the backstretch. Thorson had just enough room to slide under the leader in three and four, then launched off the final corner ahead of his teammate. Thorson won the drag race to the checkered flag, with Bayston a close runner up and Tyler Thomas making a late race charge to finish third.
ARDC competitor Jim Radney turned in an impressive effort with a fourth place run, and Ryan Robinson made it three KKR cars in the top five.
Macedo was the Pro Source Fast Qualifier, establishing a Clyde Martin Speedway track record for the USAC National Midgets with quick lap of 10.208 seconds. Bayston was second fastest in time trials, with Brady Bacon setting third quickest time.
Boat, Gage Walker, and Bacon were heat race winners while Holly Shelton captured the B-Main victory.
Tim Buckwalter flew to the lead on lap one of the Chop Designs Wingless 600 Sprint Assault main event. Buckwalter led the opening two circuits before current Clyde Martin 600cc point leader and four-time champion Heath Hehnly zipped past him for the top spot on lap three.
Driving Dave Bodine's No. 99, Jason Swavely threaded his way from tenth on the starting grid to run third by the time four laps were scored. The first yellow of the race waved with five complete. On the restart, Swavely blasted by Buckwalter for second position and set his sights on the race leader.
Another restart with eight revolutions in the books provided the opportunity Swavely was looking for, as Hehnly chose the inside lane and Swavely powered around him to snatch the lead.
Swavely's mount twitched in turn two with 14 circuits complete, and Hehnly was quick to reclaim the top spot. His time back in front was short lived, however, as Swavely wrestled the lead away once more - just before a caution flag appeared with ten to go.
The ensuing restart saw Swavely rocket away as the cars behind him scrambled when contact from behind caused Hehnly to veer right and shoot up the banking as they exited turn four. Hehnly somehow regained control, but lost many positions as the race stayed green.
Swavely went on to register the $1,000 payday, with Kyle Spence earning second place money after an entertaining, late race battle with Alex Bright, who wound up third. Buckwalter and Jack Conover completed the top five.
Wingless 600 heat race winners included Spence, Swavely, Tommy Kunsman, and Bright. The two B-Mains went to Greg Stevens and Robbie Hocker.
USAC National Midgets A-Main, 30 laps: 1.Tanner Thorson, 2.Spencer Bayston, 3.Tyler Thomas, 4.Jim Radney, 5.Ryan Robinson, 6.Chad Boat, 7.Brenden Bright, 8.Tommy Kunsman, 9.Holly Shelton, 10.Carson Macedo, 11.Steve Buckwalter, 12.Tony DiMattia, 13.Brady Bacon, 14.Brett Arndt, 15.Alex Bright, 16.Josh Heckman, 17.Kenny Johnson, 18.Gage Walker, 19.Justin Grosz, 20.Erich Heydenreich, 21.Nick Wean, 22.Brett Wanner, 23.Trevor Kobylarz.
DNQ: Kyle Spence, Jamie Spears, Ryan Greth.
Chop Designs Wingless 600 Sprint Assault, 25 laps: 1.Jason Swavely, 2.Kyle Spence, 3.Alex Bright, 4.Tim Buckwalter, 5.Jack Conover, 6.Tommy Kunsman, 7.Austin Bishop, 8.Scotty Smith, 9.Bobby Butler, 10.Heath Hehnly, 11.Greg Stevens, 12.Robbie Hocker, 13.Mike Myers, 14.Steve Bull, 15.Ryan Groff, 16.Josh Conover, 17.Jimmy Tippin, 18.Jesse Maurer, 19.Mike Rutherford, 20.Bruce Buckwalter Jr., 21.Bradley Brown, 22.Kyle Lick, 23.Cale Mutter, 24.PJ Williams.
DNQ: Nate Brinker, James Morris, Joey Jarowicz, Kameron Morral, Rebecca LaMothe, Jon Keller, Patrick Ely, Sammy LaMothe, Michael Fauci, Brandon Heist, Buddy Hines, Will Urkuski, Eric Heydenreich.