Spence Wins Again - This Time In Wingless 600's; Rutherford Bags Another 270 Triumph
By Barry Angstadt
Perhaps Alex Bright just enjoys races that fall on the first of the month, or maybe he shines when the track is heavy and super-tacky. Or, quite possibly, he is just that darn good when the USAC Eastern Regional Midgets presented by ARDC compete at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
Bright, from Collegeville, Pa., stormed to victory in Saturday night's Star Spangled Havoc event at the Clyde. It was his second consecutive triumph in the event that is held annually on the Independence Day holiday weekend, and his fourth straight stand-alone USAC/ARDC win at the Newmanstown oval. With the victory, Bright also becomes this season's first two-time winner on the USAC/ARDC traveling circuit, adding to his April 1st triumph at Clyde Martin. And, to say that he scored a convincing win on Saturday is a serious understatement, as last year's point champion lapped up to the fourth place finisher in the 30-lap A-Main.
“I knew I had to get to the front before Ryan did," explained the winner, referring to runner-up Ryan Greth. "He's really good, as everybody saw, and I had to work hard early to beat him to the lead.”
On the initial green, Bright darted from fifth to third as the inside lane opened up on the homestretch. At the same time, Adam Pierson moved from fourth to second as pole sitter Kenny Miller III dashed into the top spot. With one lap in the books, Bright ducked under Pierson in turns one and two. They rubbed wheels and Pierson spun as they exited the corner, bringing out the yellow flag.
On the restart, Bright threw a huge slide job on Miller, taking the lead as they blasted off turn two. Greth, who started sixth, was soon in position to challenge Miller for the runner-up spot, and seventh-starting Kyle Spence made it a three-car tussle before the next caution period with seven tours complete.
The ensuing restart provided Greth with the opportunity to try and steal the lead from Bright. Greth threw a slider in one and two, only to have Bright cross him over and nearly pull alongside on the backstretch. Greth held him off momentarily, but Bright countered Greth's slider with one of his own in three and four to reclaim the lead. Greth tried to swing back under Bright on the front chute, but Alex shut the door on him as they entered turn one. Now securely back in front, Bright motored away from Greth and put on a fan pleasing, breath-taking show as he pounded the cushion (and sometimes hopped over it) in rim-riding style at both ends of the speedway.
The race went green from lap eight through the 27th circuit when Eric Heydenreich flipped in the fourth turn, causing a red flag situation. The tumble was not too serious and, once his car was put back on all four wheels, Heydenreich was pushed off and rejoined the field. Since he was one of only four cars on the lead lap at the time of his mishap, Heydenreich restarted and eventually finished in fourth place.
At the checkered, it was Alex Bright winning by more than three-seconds over Greth. "He's just awesome here, " said Greth afterward as he pointed towards the winner. "We had that one shot at him, but we'll take second tonight and count it as a good points night. I am taking these races one at a time, but it's hard not to think about the points thing when you are in our position." Greth recently took the USAC/ARDC point lead, leap-frogging over Bright after a pair of top-ten finishes at Williams Grove on June 15 and 16.
Kenny Miller III, a rookie on the tour this season, recorded his best-ever finish by placing third. "I'm definitely feeling more comfortable in these things (Midgets) and much more comfortable running with these guys. I know this track well so I thought we could have a real good race tonight, and it worked out pretty well."
Heydenreich rebounded after his flip to finish fourth, the last car on the lead lap. A wild three-car battle for fifth ended with Shawn Jackson narrowly beating Jimmy Glenn and Jay Hartman to the stripe.
USAC/ARDC heat race wins went to Greth and Bright.
This was the final tune-up for the mighty Midgets (at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway) before the Tuesday, August 15 event featuring the cars and stars of the USAC National Midget Championship. The second annual Battleground: Lanco event will pit Bright, Greth, and the rest of the local Midget competitors against the best of the midwest, including last year's Battleground victor Tanner Thorson, who will once again pilot one of the potent Keith Kunz Midgets during PA Midget Week.
Advance General Admission tickets for Battleground: Lanco are now on sale. They will be available at the track each Saturday, and mail order information is posted on the website:www.clydemartinspeedway.com.
Advance tickets will enable the holder to enter the facility one hour prior to walk-up ticket buyers so that blankets can be put down to save seats. Advance ticket holders will also be permitted to go into the pits for approximately two hours before the action begins.
The Hyper Racing Wingless 600 Sprints will join the USAC National Midgets on August 15.
Kyle Spence had a very busy night on Saturday, July 1st, at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. For a time, it appeared that Spence would enjoy a very profitable evening, too, but it didn't quite work out as he'd planned or hoped it would.
The driver from Bear, Delaware, did crank out his fourth straight 600 Sprint victory at the Clyde, steering Gary Hunter's No. 7h to the Hyper Racing Wingless 600 triumph in the 30-lap Firecracker Frenzy A-Main. He quickly buckled into his family owned No. 25 for battle in the USAC/ARDC Midget's Star Spangled Havoc feature, but fell out of that one while challenging for third position. And then came the Viper Chassis Wingless 270 Clash at the Clyde, where Spence led 29 of the 30 laps before mechanical gremlins sidelined him and handed the victory to Mike Rutherford.
The 270 win was Rutherford's fourth consecutive triumph in that division at the Clyde, and it was a very emotional victory for the Lititz, Pa. wheel-twister. His dad, Rich, passed away unexpectedly just six days earlier.
With a wing or without, in Gary Hunter's car or his dad's 600 Sprint, it really doesn't matter right now because Kyle Spence is locked in and incredibly fast, and he's made the Clyde his personal playground.
Spence started on the pole of the Firecracker Frenzy Wingless 600 A-Main by virtue of winning the first heat race. He had Jason Swavely alongside him on the front row, but it was Spence who bolted to the early lead - a lead he would not relinquish during the entire 30-lap affair.
Swavely had several opportunities to challenge the leader on restarts, but Spence simply charged out, each time, to a fairly comfortable advantage. As Swavely pedaled hard to keep pace with the leader, Jim Radney and ninth-starting Mike Rutherford waged an entertaining, almost race-long battle for third. With the laps winding down, Rutherford had to suddenly back out of the throttle in traffic, allowing Heath Hehnly to sneak by him and take over fourth position.
The wildest battle was a four-car slide-fest for sixth place between Ryan Groff, Jimmy Glenn, 21st starter Bradley Brown, and 19th starting Nash Ely. That four-car positon-swapping tango lasted for much of the second half of the 30-lapper, with Groff finally holding off Brown for sixth.
At the checkered, Spence charged past the flagstand by 0.347-seconds over Swavely, with Radney earning third-place money. Hehnly held off Rutherford for fourth.
Rutherford registered the quickest lap in group time trials, followed by Billy Koch and Hehnly.
Four heats were contested by the 35 Wingless 600 Sprints, and the winners included Spence, Swavely, Ryan Groff, and Jimmy Glenn. The B-Main winner was Bradley Brown.
The Viper Chassis Wingless 270 Clash at the Clyde belonged to Spence, too, before his untimely mechanical issues. He also started on the pole of this A-Main, like he did in the 600 headliner, and Swavely joined him on the front row for this one as well.
Spence blasted away from the field as Swavely fought with Nick Skias and Mike Rutherford for the runner-up position. A few early yellows prevented Spence from opening a huge lead, and Swavely - after he secured second place - began harrassing the leader at both ends of the speedway. On a restart with seven revolutions complete, Spence bobbled a bit in turn two and Swavely pounced on his opportunity to wrestle the top spot away from Spence.
Swavely had a nose in front as lap eight was scored, but Spence rallied back on the inside to reclaim the lead on the ninth trip around the clay. Spence then accelerated away from Swavely and the rest of the pack, looking like a sure winner as the laps clicked off.
With two to go, Rutherford slipped past Swavely for second on the homestretch...and that would turn into the winning pass as, just seconds later, Spence suddenly and dramatically slowed in turns one and two. He coasted to a stop on the back chute, bringing out the yellow and forcing a one-lap shootout.
Rutherford held off Swavely to record his fourth straight 270 triumph at the Clyde, his sixth of the year overall, and his second wingless victory of the season.
Josh Stoyer wound up third, with Pete Skias and Cameron Bellinger rounding out the top five.
With 28 of the Wingless 270's entered on Saturday, three qualifying heats were run and the winners were Spence, Swavely, and Rutherford. Starting spots in the heat races were determined by Group Time Trials, and Tyler Ulrich set quick time over Swavely and Rutherford.
The Wingless 270 B-Main victory went to Dallas Schott.
The point battles resume this Saturday, July 8, as the wings go back onto the roll cages of the Hyper Racing 600's and the Viper Chassis 270 Sprints. They will be joined by the Sportsman, 125cc, and the HammerDown Engines 250cc Four-Strokes in qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap features.
Gates open at 4:30 with warm-ups at 6 p.m. The first heat race goes green at 7:00.
Come on out and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
USAC Eastern Regional Midgets presented by ARDC: Star Spangeld Havoc A-Main, 30 Laps:1.Alex Bright, 2.Ryan Greth, 3.Kenny Miller III, 4.Eric Heydenreich, 5.Shawn Jackson, 6.Jimmy Glenn, 7.Jay Hartman, 8.Reed Saloney, 9.Mark Lowrey, 10.John Heydenreich, 11.Kyle Spence, 12.Rohan Beasley, 13.Adam Pierson, 14.Josh Heckman, 15.Brandon Yarlett, 16.AJ Bast.
Hyper Racing Wingless 600 Sprints: Firecracker Frenzy A-Main, 30 Laps:1.Kyle Spence, 2.Jason Swavely, 3.Jim Radney, 4.Heath Hehnly, 5.Mike Rutherford, 6.Ryan Groff, 7.Bradley Brown, 8.Jimmy Glenn, 9.Nash Ely, 10.Austin Quick, 11.Danny Stratton, 12.Brandon Heist, 13.Bruce Ginther Jr., 14.Brandon Pavel, 15.Shaun Brandel, 16.Kyle Lick, 17.Hunter James, 18.Billy Koch, 19.Jarid Kunkle, 20.Greg Stevens, 21.James Morris, 22.Mark Landwher, 23.Will Urkuski, 24.Will Butler.
DNQ:Mike Meyers, Nick Sweigart, Jeff Stelter, Hunter Metzger, Kassidy Michael, Logan Spahr, Don Hess, Nathan Smith, Holden Eckman, Mike Linderman, Steve Whary.
Viper Chassis Wingless 270 Sprints: Clash at the Clyde A-Main, 30 Laps:1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Jason Swavely, 3.Josh Stoyer, 4.Pete Skias, 5.Cameron Bellinger, 6.Tajae Adams, 7.Brent Shearer, 8.Dallas Schott, 9.Tyler Ulrich, 10.Adam Harnish, 11.Kyle Spence, 12.AJ Gerhart, 13.Corey Schmuck Jr., 14.Ricky Sechrist, 15.Kenny Miller III, 16.Jarrett Imler, 17.Brian Sholley, 18.Austin Graby, 19.Devin Adams, 20.Adam Minzer, 21.Zack Hollinger, 22.Nick Skias, 23.Toby Blumenshine, 24.Dan Lane Jr.
DNQ:Brian Boyer, Anthony Yerger, Alex Funari, Mike Skias.