Newmanstown, PA - In the end, Heath Hehnly got the result he wanted...it just didn't play out the way he intended.
On a wild and crazy last lap of the West Fabrication winged 600cc A-Main on Saturday night, Hehnly stuffed his no. 83 into an opening between leader Kyle Spence and the outside guardrail as they charged toward the checkered flag. Hehnly nipped Spence at the finish line, and then things went haywire...
Night One of the Labor Day Shootout at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway left the fans in shocked silence for a few minutes, as Hehnly and Spence made contact just as they flashed across the stripe. Spence turned into the guardrail and flipped wildly on the homestretch and Hehnly went spinning across the straightaway and into the infield. Spence's No. 25k laid upside down and prone on the front stretch as the rest of the pack came blasting off turn four. Luckily, no one else made contact with Spence, and, after gathering himself for a short time, Kyle climbed from the car unhurt. Hehnly was one of the first to come running across the track to check on Spence.
"He actually apologized to me for causing it," said Hehnly in victory lane. "I told him it wasn't his fault, it was just hard racing because the two of us were going for the win. I really thought we'd both make it through there, but we just touched enough to wreck. I wanted to win, but I certainly didn't want him to crash like that."
Saturday night's other winners on Night One of the West Fabrication Labor Day Shootout included Mike Skias, who notched his first career 270cc triumph at Clyde Martin Speedway; Mike Rutherford (Sportsman); and Mike Coen (Sports n' Turf 250cc Four-Strokes).
Hehnly led from the pole in the 600cc A-Main, but Spence closed in as the leader got boxed in behind lapped traffic. On the final circuit, as Hehnly was slowed up behind a pair of lapped Micros, Spence shot around him in turn two to snatch the top spot. As Spence rode the low line in three and four, Hehnly rolled the top and came off turn four alongside the Spence machine. With just enough space to fit his car between Spence and the fence, Hehnly kept his foot to the floor and narrowly won the drag race to the checkered. As they touched, the mayhem ensued with Spence taking a nasty tumble.
Hehnly, from Manheim, scored his second win of the season and Spence did cross the line in second place before the crashing began. Kameron Morral emerged from a terrific battle with Chris Gerhart to finish third with Gerhart and Mike Rutherford rounding out the top five.
A tremendous field of 51 entered the winged 600cc portion of the Shootout, with heat race victories going to Hehnly, Gerhart, Rutherford, Jarid Kunkle, Kelby Stauffer, and TJ Greve. The top 40 in heat race points were divided into four A-Qualifier races, with Ryan Groff, Austin Bishop, Jason Swavely, and Zach Light winning those events.
Three B- Mains were needed to determine the final starters in the A-Main, and the B-Main winners included Bradley Brown, Alex Bright, and Brooklyn Gable.
Saturday was definitely a special night for the Skias family. For the first half of the West Fabrication 30-lapper, Mike Skias trailed race leader Robbie Watson. When Watson clipped an infield tire marker and pulled his front end off the ground, Skias pounced, grabbing the lead as the duo accelerated off turn two. Four tours later, Nick Skias and Mike Rutherford moved into the second and third positions while a furious battle developed behind them. Watson, Bradley Brown, Nick Sweigart, Tyler Ulrich, Richie Hartman, and Billy Logeman tussled for positions four through nine before the first caution period of the race occurred with 21 laps complete.
Mike Skias now had his brother, Nick, and Rutherford surrounding him for the restart, but he simply drove away from them while the fierce battle from fourth on back continued. Two more yellows, though they made him very nervous, did not hamper M. Skias as he drove to his very first Lanco victory in one of the biggest races of the year at Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
Making the win even more meaningful for the Reading, PA driver was the fact that his brother chased him to the finish line. When the checkered flag waved, Mike Skias had a lead of more than one second over Nick, with Rutherford settling for third. Nick Sweigart survived that ferocious war for fourth, and Bradley Brown ended up fifth.
With 34 of the 270cc Micros in the pit area on Saturday, Nick Skias, Dan Lane Jr., Devin Adams, and Richie Hartman won qualifying heats. The A-Qualifiers went to Tyler Ulrich, Nick Sweigart, Robbie Watson, and Kyle Weiss. Andrew Dietrich captured the B-Main victory.
Angelo Mercado darted to the early lead in the West Fabrication A-Main for the Sportsman Class, but Mike Rutherford chased him down and made the winning pass when Mercado's No. 3m bounced in turn two, slowing him just enough to permit Rutherford to get by for the lead.
It was all Rutherford after that, as the wheel-twister from Lititz drove to his third Shootout Sportsman victory in the last ten years. Mercado finished three-quarters of a second behind Rutherford, with Nick Skias, Tyler Reinhardt, and Curtis R. Miller completing the top five.
Kerry Lengle, Mercado, Rutherford, and N. Skias were victorious in Sportsman heat race action as 35 drivers signed in for competition. The four A-Qualifier races went to Brandon Heist, Mike Skias, Sami Schenck, and Tyler Reinhardt. The two B-Mains were won by Austin Graby and Greg Miller.
Fifth-starter Mike Coen threaded his way to the runner-up position on the second trip around the clay in the Sports n' Turf 250cc Four-Stroke feature. Coen passed Cliff Brian Jr. for the lead as lap three was scored, then went on to record his second triumph of the season.
Kassidy Michael rebounded from a flip during the previous week's feature to finish a strong second to Coen. Michael closed the gap near the end of the race as Coen got hung up behind some lapped cars. But Kassidy just couldn't find the opening she needed to pull alongside the leader, and Coen held on to notch the win.
Jarrett Imler finished third, Zak Vickers was fourth, and Dave Williams, who fell back early, charged through the pack to finish fifth.
Coen and Williams won heat races for the dozen Four-Strokes who entered the Shootout on Saturday.
Ms. Motorsports 2016, Arynne Moody, made her first-ever visit to Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway on Saturday. As she does at every race track she attends, Moody sponsored a coloring contest for the younger fans before making her way to victory lane for photos after each main event.
Mike Stern of the Quality Shoppe in Kutztown offered bonus cash for the 600cc feature. Extra money went to the winner, the Hard Charger (Kyle Lick), the highest finishing female driver (Brooklyn Gable), along with the 10th, 15th, and 20th place finishers.
Race Chasing for Fans bonus money was donated by Shred Photos, Brown Motorsports, Harrington Racing, and the Race Chasing for Fans Facebook Page. The feature winners received the bonus cash, along with a "Long Tow Award" sponsored by Brown Motorsports. That recipient was still being determined as this was written.
Sunday, September 4th, is Night Two of the Labor Day Shootout. Sunday's program is sponsored by Hyper Racing and highlighted by Wingless 600cc and Wingless 270cc action, along with the second appearance of the season by the All Star Slingshots. The winged 125cc Micro-Sprints are also on the menu.
Warm-ups begin at 3:45 p.m. and the first heat race goes green at 4:30.
Winged 600cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 30 laps: 1.Heath Hehnly, 2.Kyle Spence, 3.Kameron Morral, 4.Chris Gerhart, 5.Mike Rutherford, 6.Austin Bishop, 7.Matt Carr, 8.Ryan Groff, 9.Bradley Brown, 10.Kyle Lick, 11.Bobby Butler, 12.Brooklyn Gable, 13.Chris Panczner, 14.Patrick Kelly, 15.Bret Cronrath, 16.Mike Dicely, 17.Jason Swavely, 18.Shaun Brandel, 19.Jack Conover, 20.TJ Greve, 21.Alex Bright, 22.Dan Souder, 23.Cameron Bellinger, 24.Zach Light, 25.Jarid Kunkle, 26.Taylor Troxel.
DNQ: Kelby Stauffer, Greg Stevens, James Morris, Patrick Ely, Kyle Melvin, Mike Austin, Josh Conover, Scott Rupp, Kyle Morrow, Bruce Ginther Jr., Aaron Bollinger, Rebecca LaMothe, Tyler Tank, Kassidy Michael, Joe Austin, Frank Jarkiewicz, William Manotti, Jim Radney, Robert Hocker, Hunter James, Ben Kysor, Cory Grenzy, Ben Martin, Charles Hunt, Brian Carber.
Winged 270cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 30 laps: 1.Mike Skias, 2.Nick Skias, 3.Mike Rutherford, 4.Nick Sweigart, 5.Bradley Brown, 6.Tyler Ulrich, 7.Billy Logeman, 8.Richie Hartman, 9.Austin Graby, 10.Dan Lane Jr., 11.Kyle Weiss, 12.Christi Sweigart, 13.Devin Adams, 14.Toby Blumenshine, 15.Adam Minzer, 16.Nick Walton, 17.Anthony Yerger, 18.Jenna Schostkewitz, 19.Brian Marriott, 20.Andrew Dietrich, 21.Jarrett Imler, 22.Robbie Watson, 23.Austin Bishop, 24.Kyle Spence.
DNQ: Adam Harnish, Dallas Schott, Mark Landwher, Dave Williams, Donald Bouchelle, Jonathan John, Brian Sholley, Ronald Ford, Angelo Mercado, Steve Svanda.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature, 30 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Angelo Mercado, 3.Nick Skias, 4.Tyler Reinhardt, 5.Curtis R. Miller, 6.Mike Skias, 7.Dave Ravel, 8.Toby Blumenshine, 9.Tyler Ulrich, 10.Austin Graby, 11.Lee Reinhardt, 12.Patrick Kirn, 13.Billy Logeman, 14.Sami Schenck, 15.Wayne Scott, 16.Alex Swift, 17.Kerry Lengle, 18.Alex Funari, 19.Dave Schroeder, 20.Alan Durham, 21.Brandon Heist, 22.Anthony Yerger, 23.Josh Stoyer, 24.Greg Miller, 25.Ava Bellinger, 26.Heath Hehnly.
DNQ: Dan Lane Jr., Ricky Sechrist, Donald Bouchelle, Matt Andrews, Matt Pfahler, Brian Kramer, Dennis Fenstermacher, Katelin Vragovich, Dustin Adams.
Sports n' Turf 250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprint Feature, 30 laps: 1.Mike Coen, 2.Kassidy Michael, 3.Jarrett Imler, 4.Zak Vickers, 5.Dave Williams, 6.Cliff Brian Jr., 7.Nick Sweigart, 8.Andrew Potts, 9.John Nocera, 10.Ron Zimmerman, 11.Zachary Young, 12.Ron Wechter.