Nick Skias Wins Sportsman Feature; Brian & Hershey Are First Time Winners
By Barry Angstadt
Newmanstown, PA - While Easter is a time for bunnies, Bradley Brown was dealing with a rather large (and unwanted) monkey...on his back. On Saturday night at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, Brown kicked that monkey off his back with a big win in the Hyper Racing 600 Sprint feature.
The Easter Eve racing program, highlighted by five, 25-lap main events for the Clyde's weekly divisions, was run on a super-smooth, ultra-fast race track. Joining Brown in the winner's circle were Justin Harrington (Viper Chassis 270cc); Nick Skias (Sportsman); and a pair of first-time winners in Cliff Brian Jr. (HammerDown Engines 250cc Four-Stroke) and Tyler Hershey (125cc).
The first few weeks of the 2017 campaign have been a struggle for Bradley Brown and his team. He flipped his 270 Micro on April 1st, and his 600cc machine was plagued by an electrical problem that appeared to be somewhere in the wiring harness. After a couple of weeks of trying to pinpoint the cause, the Brown Motorsports No. 23 entered Friday night's program at Linda's Speedway to see if the issue had been corrected. A third place finish bolstered the team's confidence, and then Saturday evening's triumph shook the monkey off their collective backs.
Brown may have started from the pole in Saturday's Hyper Racing 600cc feature, but it was no cakewalk for the driver from New Providence, Pa. He set the pace over Kyle Spence and Brent Ely, and soon 11th starter and the previous week's winner, Heath Hehnly, zoomed into fourth.
As the leader approached and began dealing with lapped traffic, Spence closed in, applying some serious pressure to Brown's Vintage Signs, Reanimated Art Tattoo Studio's No. 23. A caution flag with two to go cleared the track in front of the leaders and permitted Brown to make some needed adjustments inside his car.
"The wing adjuster broke just before we went out for the feature," explained Brown afterward. "I was pretty much out of shock adjustment there at the end, so I needed that late yellow to make a manual wing adjustment. So yeah, I was pretty happy to see that yellow for several reasons."
On the restart, Brown got away from the runner-up by a few car lengths and flew to the checkered with just over a half-second advantage over Spence. Ely ran a strong race to finish third with Hehnly and Ryan Groff completing the top five.
600cc heat winners included Rebecca LaMothe, Hehnly, and Jim Radney. Logan Spahr won the consolation race. A total of 29 cars signed in for 600cc action on Saturday.
While it was certainly nice to see a new face in the Viper Chassis 270 victory lane, there was a look of surprise on the faces of many in attendance...including the race winner!
Justin Harrington is no stranger to Clyde Martin's winner's circle, but his triumphs have come in 125cc competition. Until Saturday, that is...
Harrington, from York, is now a regular in the 270cc division (and the Sportsman Class). And even he was amazed that he was able to pull off a victory so early in his 270cc career.
"I don't even know what to say," stated Harrington after his win. "This car was awesome; it was so fast and I could put it anywhere. To get a win so soon in this class, with the caliber of the competition here...I just can't believe it."
Harrington got past Kyle Spence for second on a lap three restart. He then stalked race leader Josh Stoyer for six tours before diving under Stoyer's No. 3 in turns three and four to grab the top spot on the ninth circuit.
On a subsequent restart with ten laps scored, Stoyer attempted to pin Harrington down to the inside as they went back to green in double-file formation. The leaders touched wheels and Stoyer's car went around in turn four.
A few additional yellows did not hinder Harrington's run to victory, as he expertly held off some of the best in the business in Spence, Nick Skias, and Dan Lane Jr., along with Mike Rutherford and Mike Miller.
On a restart with nine to go, Skias took second away from Spence and Rutherford went from fifth to third, but they had nothing for Harrington on this night.
At the finish, it was Justin Harrington scoring his first Clyde Martin, Viper Chassis 270 victory. Skias wound up second with Rutherford finishing third. Spence and Mike Miller made up the rest of the top five.
Spence, Skias, and Rutherford won 270 heat races. No consolation was necessary as exactly 24 cars entered the 270cc portion of the program.
Easter Eve 2017 turned out to be a very productive night for Nick Skias. The Wernersville, Pa. resident followed up his runner-up effort in the 270cc feature with a victory in the 25-lapper for the Sportsman Class.
Skias led all the way, but lapped traffic made things interesting near the finish. With the leader not wanting to give up the bottom lane, he followed a few slower cars over the final laps, allowing second place Mike Rutherford and Jason Swavely, who rebounded nicely after flipping in three and four with one lap complete, to close in dramatically during the final few trips around the progressively banked oval.
Driving his Beer Shak, Hirneisen Electric, Viper Chassis No. 88, Skias held on to record the win. "I knew they would close in," he said of Rutherford and Swavely, "but I decided that blocking was better than giving them the bottom. Glad it worked out and thanks to the fans for coming out on this Easter weekend."
Rutherford chased Skias to the checkered with Swavely earning the third place pay envelope. Cameron Bellinger and 14th starting Dan Lane Jr. finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
With 27 Sportsman in the pit area, heat races went to Justin Harrington, Bellinger, and Sami Schenck. The consolation winner was Dave Schroeder.
The Brian name has been around the central Pennsylvania racing scene, particularly in Sprint Cars, for many years. Now young Cliff Brian Jr. is carving out his own reputation in the Micro-Sprint ranks after a stellar Quarter-Midget career.
Brian, in his second full season in the HammerDown Engines 250cc Four-Stroke Class, registered his very first feature win on Saturday night. The Ephrata driver scooted past Ronnie Rhoads for second on the sixth tour, then began his assault on race leader Zak Vickers.
Mike Coen, the opening night victor in the Four-Stroke division, moved into third and the top three cars ran nose-to-tail until the halfway mark, when Brian's No. 99 powered around the high side of Vickers to snatch the lead in turns one and two.
Four caution flags within the final five circuits made Brian nervous on the inside, but outwardly, he kept his composure and beat Coen to the stripe by a quarter of a second (technically, it was 0.264-seconds) to notch the victory.
Coen, Vickers, Donna Geib, and Aidan Jones made up the top five finishers.
Brian made it a clean sweep on the night by winning his heat race and the feature. Vickers won the other heat race contested by the Four-Strokes, who pulled a field of 16 cars on Saturday.
In just his second race driving for Adam Minzer, Lebanon's Tyler Hershey captured the 125cc main on Saturday. Just like Cliff Brian Jr., it was Hershey's first career feature win and it occurred near the beginning of his second full season of Micro-Sprint competition.
Hershey passed Shane Davis for the lead on lap four, ducking under Davis in turns one and two. He never looked back, even though Corey Schmuck Jr., Kerry Lengle, and the previous week's winner, Kyler Heiney, all took turns attempting to attack the leader from the runner-up position.
Lengle, making his first start of the season in the 125cc Class, seemed to get quicker as the race progressed, and he secured second place with ten laps remaining. He could not find the opening he needed to get alongside Hershey, though, and had to settle for runner-up money when the checkered flag waved.
Hershey flashed across the line to get his first win in the Hershey Excavating, Fireline No. 13m, over Lengle, Heiney, Austin Graby, and Schmuck. Graby flipped his No. 87 on lap six, then charged from the back of the pack to get his fourth place finish.
Graby and William Manotti won heat races for the 19 car field of 125cc competitors.
This Saturday, April 22nd, the gates of Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway swing open once again, as the Hyper Racing 600's, the Viper Chassis 270's, Sportsman, 125cc, and the HammerDown Engines 250cc Four-Strokes do battle in qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap features.
Gates open at 4 p.m. with warm-ups getting underway at 5:30. The first heat race goes green at 6:30.
Adult general admission is just $8.00, with discounts for Senior Citizens and Students. Children under the age of 7 are admitted free, and parking is always free at the Clyde.
Come on out and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
Hyper Racing 600 Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Bradley Brown, 2.Kyle Spence, 3.Brent Ely, 4.Heath Hehnly, 5.Ryan Groff, 6.Jason Swavely, 7.Jarid Kunkle, 8.Taylor Troxel, 9.TJ Greve Jr., 10.Chris Gerhart, 11.Bruce Ginther Jr., 12.Nash Ely, 13.Zach Light, 14.Kassidy Michael, 15.Hunter James, 16.Bret Cronrath, 17.Shaun Brandel, 18.Mike Rutherford, 19.Amber Oraschin, 20.Rebecca LaMothe, 21.William Manotti, 22.Logan Spahr, 23.Chris Panczner, 24.Jim Radney. DNQ: Austin Graby, Kelby Stauffer, Don Hess, Will Urkuski, Jack Conover.
Viper Chassis 270 Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Justin Harrington, 2.Nick Skias, 3.Mike Rutherford, 4.Kyle Spence, 5.Mike Miller, 6.Toby Blumenshine, 7.Brian Sholley, 8.Billy Logeman, 9.Andrew Dietrich, 10.Heath Hehnly, 11.Tyler Ulrich, 12.Josh Stoyer, 13.Anthony Yerger, 14.AJ Gerhart, 15.Nick Sweigart, 16.Christi Sweigart, 17.Devin Adams, 18.Terry Ellex, 19.Dallas Schott, 20.Jarrett Imler, 21.Curtis R. Miller, 22.Sami Schenck, 23.Dan Lane Jr., 24.Mike Coen.
Sportsman Feature, 25 laps: 1.Nick Skias, 2.Mike Rutherford, 3.Jason Swavely, 4.Cameron Bellinger, 5.Dan Lane Jr., 6.Mike Miller, 7.Richie Hartman, 8.Sami Schenck, 9.Patrick Kirn, 10.Sheena Schaefer, 11.Andrew Dietrich, 12.Robert Shanaman, 13.Charles Hellinger, 14.Brian Kramer, 15.Dave Schroeder, 16.Mike Kreiser, 17.Bobby Johnson, 18.Dennis Fenstermacher, 19.Steve Smith, 20.Ricky Sechrist, 21.Kane Rogers, 22.Austin Graby, 23.Justin Harrington, 24.Alex Funari. DNQ: Clinton Hauser, Cody Sechrist, Curtis R. Milleofr.
HammerDown Engines 250cc Four Stroke Feature, 25 laps: 1.Cliff Brian Jr., 2.Mike Coen, 3.Zak Vickers, 4.Donna Geib, 5.Aidan Jones, 6.Andrew Potts, 7.Zachary Young, 8.Ron Zimmerman, 9.Ron Wechter, 10.Ronnie Rhoads, 11.Tom Phipps Jr., 12.Riley Simmons, 13.Kane Rogers, 14.Brandon Yoder, 15.Lewis Kepple Jr., 16.Eddie Nocera.
125cc Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Tyler Hershey, 2.Kerry Lengle, 3.Kyler Heiney, 4.Austin Graby, 5.Corey Schmuck Jr., 6.Matthew Donley, 7.Holden Eckman, 8.Noah Merkey, 9.Shane Davis, 10.Brandon Stuck, 11.Nate Gibble, 12.Ryan Swavely, 13.Thomas Kelley, 14.Cody Hibshman, 15.William Manotti, 16.Jimmy Wampole, 17.Brandon Gibble, 18.Richard Stuck. DNS: Walt Wampole.