Hehnly & Rutherford Begin Title Defense With Wins On RTS Night At Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway
Hartman, Coen, & Heiney Also Victorious In April 8 Point Opener
by Barry Angstadt
Newmanstown, PA - In 2016, Heath Hehnly waited until July before he picked up his first 600cc Sprint triumph at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. This year, the Manheim, Pa. racer needed just 25 laps of the first point-paying event of the season before parking his No. 83 in victory lane.
Hehnly and Mike Rutherford (270cc) began the defense of their 2016 point championships with victories in Saturday night's RTS Chassis sponsored main events.
Joining this dynamic duo in the winner's circle on Saturday were: Richie Hartman (Sportsman); Mike Coen (Hammerdown Engines 250cc Four-Stroke); and Kyler Heiney (125cc).
The Hyper Racing 600 feature had William Manotti and Hehnly on the front row, with Hehnly out-gunning Manotti on the start to grab the lead in the 25 lapper.
Hehnly led all the way in his Hyper Racing/ Spar Racing Engines/ Bud's Spring & Suspension No. 83, while the action behind him was fast and furious.
Mike Rutherford wrestled the runner-up position from Chris Panczner on the tenth trip around the smooth, racy oval. Panczner then fell into the clutches of 14th starter Jason Swavely, who worked his way to fourth by lap 10 and appeared to be the fastest car on the track.
Swavely and Panczner began a duel that lasted six laps - and it was a dandy. The pair traded slide jobs at each end of the speedway from lap 11 through 16 before Panczner reclaimed the spot.
A yellow flag with one to go set up a final restart, and Swavely had one last slider in him as he pulled off a pass of Panczner in turns one and two. Panczner could not return the favor with a crossover move, enabling Swavely to take the checkered flag in third behind Hehnly and Rutherford. Panczner and Jim Radney completed the top five finishers.
With 28 of the 600's signed in for competition, heat race victories went to Swavely, Jarid Kunkle, and Panczner. Kassidy Michael claimed the consolation triumph.
Mike Rutherford, from Lititz Pa., is now two-for-two in Viper Chassis 270cc competition in 2017. He notched a wingless win on April 1st, then followed it up with a winged victory in the season's first point race on April 8.
Rutherford took advantage of other drivers' misfortune to record the win on Saturday night. Dan Lane Jr. set the pace and looked strong for the first seven circuits before mechanical gremlins forced him out. Josh Stoyer, in the Viper Chassis House Car, inherited the top spot when Lane stopped in the fourth turn and it appeared that Stoyer's return to the Newmanstown oval would result in a big win. But he headed for the infield during a caution period with 19 complete, handing the lead to Rutherford, who had just slipped under the No. 99 of Devin Adams for second position before the yellow lights flashed on. That move turned out to be the winning pass for Rutherford, who paced the final six tours to register the win.
Toby Blumenshine was a man on a mission during the late stages of the 25-lap affair. Blumenshine was sailing around the top side of the banked speedway, picking off one car at a time and moving into the top five with four revolutions remaining. Nick Skias dashed back under Blumenshine on the last lap to reclaim fifth.
At the finish, it was Rutherford winning handily over Devin Adams, with Devin's brother Dylan crossing the stripe in third. Billy Logeman wound up fourth with Nick Skias holding off Blumenshine for fifth.
Rutherford and Kyle Spence won heat races for the 270's.
A few months ago, Cameron and Ava Bellinger revealed that they are expecting their first child in September, so Ava would be giving up her seat in the Sportsman Class at the Clyde. The Mercado-Bellinger Racing team decided to offer the ride to Richie Hartman for the 2017 season, and Hartman quickly obliged. Based on Saturday night's results, all involved made a good decision.
Hartman shot past his new teammate, Cameron Bellinger, to take the top spot on the eighth trip around the speedway when Bellinger entered turn one a bit higher than he wanted. Even with four restarts slowing his jaunt to victory, Hartman persevered and pulled away from the field each time to record his first Clyde Martin feature win in several seasons.
Bellinger trailed Hartman to the checkered, with Justin Harrington, Kane Rogers, and defending Sportsman point champ Dan Lane Jr. rounding out the top five.
Bellinger and Mike Rutherford picked up heat race wins in the Sportsman Class.
Shamokin's Mike Coen continues to ride the wave of momentum that he generated with three feature wins in 2016. Coen, who started sixth in the Hammerdown Engines 250cc Four-Stroke main, blasted to the lead on lap four when he passed Ronnie Rhoads. The driver of the Legacy Transportation/ Starlite Campgrounds/ Randy's Lawn & Maintenance No. 26 then cruised to the triumph over a strong running Aidan Jones, Eddie Nocera, Donna Geib, and Cliff Brian Jr.
Coen and Jones were heat race winners in the Four-Stroke division on Saturday.
The 125cc feature took on a similar pattern to that of the 270 main, as two drivers apparently had the win in their respective pockets, only to have mechanical issues pop up and knock them out of the 25-lap event.
William Manotti, the divison's big winner and point champion from one year ago, grabbed the early lead and, for the first 19 circuits, looked like a sure winner. But Manotti's No. 77 suddenly slowed as he exited turn four with six to go, and he pulled to the infield. Austin Graby took over the top spot, but just a half-lap after Minotti's demise, Graby's mount also came up lame, slowing suddenly in turn two.
Kyler Heiney, from Strasburg Pa., was now the leader and the young charger motored to his first career victory at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
Corey Schmuck Jr., who was involved in a tangle on the initial start, came from the rear to score a runner-up finish, with rookie Holden Eckman finishing third. Nate Gibble and Brandon Stuck completed the top five.
Heat winners in the 125cc Class included Kody Hibshman and Manotti.
Coming up this Saturday, April 15, is the "egg-citing" Easter Eve Five 25's, as the Clyde's five weekly divisions compete once again in 25-lap feature races that will follow qualifying heats and consolation races. The Hyper Racing 600's, the Viper Chassis 270's, Sportsman, 125cc, and the HammerDown Engines 250cc Four-Strokes will all be in action again this week.
Gates open at 4 p.m. with warm-ups beginning 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 six are admitted free, and parking is always free at the Clyde!
Come on out for some fantastic Easter Eve racing and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
Hyper Racing 600cc Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Heath Hehnly, 2.Mike Rutherford, 3.Jason Swavely, 4.Chris Panczner, 5.Jim Radney, 6.TJ Greve, 7.Jarid Kunkle, 8.Ryan Groff, 9.Brent Ely, 10.Shaun Brandel, 11.Zach Light, 12.Bruce Ginther Jr., 13.Nash Ely, 14.Hunter James, 15.Kassidy Michael, 16.Donald Hess, 17.William Manotti, 18.Logan Spahr, 19.Amber Oraschin, 20.Kelby Stauffer, 21.Patrick Ely, 22.Bret Cronrath, 23.Will Urkuski, 24.Kyle Spence.
DNQ: Jason Sechrist, Rebecca LaMothe, Chris Oraschin, Bradley Brown.
Viper Chassis 270cc Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Devin Adams, 3.Dylan Adams, 4.Billy Logeman, 5.Nick Skias, 6.Toby Blumenshine, 7.Richie Hartman, 8.Justin Harrington, 9.Andrew Dietrich, 10.Christi Sweigart, 11.Jarrett Imler, 12.Dallas Schott, 13.Kyle Spence, 14.Anthony Yerger, 15.Josh Stoyer, 16.Dan Lane Jr., 17.AJ Gerhart, 18.Tajae Adams.
DNS: Sami Schenck, Curtis R. Miller.
Sportsman Feature, 25 laps: 1.Richie Hartman, 2.Cameron Bellinger, 3.Justin Harrington, 4.Kane Rogers, 5.Dan Lane Jr., 6.Alan Durham, 7.Sheena Schaefer, 8.Brian Kramer, 9.Robert Shanaman, 10.Ricky Sechrist, 11.Charles Hellinger, 12.Steve Smith, 13.Clinton Hauser, 14.Mike Kreiser, 15.Curtis R. Miller, 16.Mike Rutherford, 17.Andrew Dietrich, 18.Austin Graby, 19.Sami Schenck, 20.Cody Sechrist, 21.Nick Skias.
DNS: Dylan Yeingst.
Hammerdown Engines Four-Stroke Feature, 25 laps: 1.Mike Coen, 2.Aidan Jones, 3.Eddie Nocera, 4.Donna Geib, 5.Cliff Brian Jr., 6.Lewis Kepple Jr., 7.Tom Phipps, 8.Ronnie Rhoads, 9.Zachary Young, 10.Ron Zimmerman, 11.Zak Vickers, 12.Riley Simmons.
DNS: Brandon Yoder, Sami Schenck, Ron Wechter.
125cc Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Kyler Heiney, 2.Corey Schmuck Jr., 3.Holden Eckman, 4.Nate Gibble, 5.Brandon Stuck, 6.Austin Graby, 7.Brandon Gibble, 8.William Manotti, 9.Richard Stuck, 10.Cody Hibshman, 11.Noah Merkey, 12.Jimmy Wampole, 13.Kalani Adams, 14.Thomas Kelley, 15.Walt Wampole.
DNS: Matthew Donley, Tyler Hershey, Shane Davis.