First Win for Jones in Four-Strokes; Manotti Gets Another "W" in 125cc
by Barry Angstadt
Newmanstown, PA - Mike Rutherford has racked up many memorable nights at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, but there's a good chance that Saturday, July 29, 2017 will rank right up there as one of his very best.
The Lititz, Pa. wheel-twister entered three of the five classes that were on Saturday's menu as the Lanco club presented its annual Clyde Martin Memorial Race - one of the biggest, and definitely the most prestigious event of each season at the Newmanstown oval. As it's been for the past several seasons, the event was once again sponsored by Gold Rush Trailer Sales.
When the night's activities concluded, Rutherford had chalked up wins in all three classes in which he competed...the 600cc, 270cc, and Sportsman divisions. The driver known as the "Master of the Micros" has now accumulated a total of five Memorial Race victories in the 600cc Class, another four in the 270cc division, and Saturday's Sportsman triumph marked his first Memorial Race win in that class. He also has five victories in the 125cc portion of the Clyde Martin Memorial Race.
Saturday's other winners included Aidan Jones, who notched his first career Lanco victory in the Hammer Down Engines 250cc Four-Stroke Class, and William Manotti, who scored his second straight Memorial Race triumph in the 125cc Class.
After Saturday's event, which is highlighted by the longest features of the season (at 35 laps), double points, and the tradition of the trophy being handed down from the previous year's winner in each class, the Clyde will take a two-week break. There will not be any racing this Saturday, August 5; the speedway swings back into action on Saturday, August 12, with another five division card of winged 600cc, 270cc, Sportsman, 125cc, and 250cc Four-Stroke competition beginning with warm-ups at 6 p.m. and racing at 7:00.
Rutherford's third win of the night came in the fourth feature, as the Hyper Racing 600's competed in their 35-lap main event.
Logan Spahr paced the early laps before Rutherford, who started sixth, dashed past him to take command on the seventh trip around the lightning-quick clay oval. Some tremendous racing took place behind him as Rutherford immediately separated himself from the pack. Jason Swavely, Spahr, Chris Panczner, Zach Light, Jarid Kunkle, Kyle Spence, Ryan Groff, and Bradley Brown were mixing it up and trading positions in the early going. Swavely got into the turn one fence with eight circuits in the books, tearing loose some of the chain link material and bringing out the red flag. Miraculously, Swavely was able to restart after the fence repair was completed.
When the race resumed, Rutherford again zipped away and built a huge lead. Kyle Spence took second from Panczner around the midpoint of the feature, then set sail in an attempt to run down the high flying Rutherford. Spence closed the gap rather quickly as Rutherford got caught up in some heavy lapped traffic. Spence, who has five wins in Lanco's 600cc division this year, not only caught up to the leader but actually pulled under Rutherford's mount as they negotiated traffic. Just as it appeared that Spence might use the traffic to his advantage and take the lead, the yellow flag waved with Rutherford still barely in front and just seven laps remaining to be run.
Rutherford held serve on the restart and led the final seven tours to record the victory by nearly a half-second over Spence. Ryan Groff came from 11th to finish third, with Panczner fourth and point leader Heath Hehnly earning fifth-place cash. Swavely, who was in a second mishap during the race, charged from the rear to record an incredible (given the circumstances) sixth place finish.
With 22 of the 600's in attendance, heat race wins went to Bradley Brown and Chris Gerhart. NOTE: the Memorial Race is limited to Lanco club members who have entered at least half of the current season's point paying events. The policy has been in effect for many years and it's designed to reward those drivers who have been loyal and dedicated members of the Lanco organization.
Rutherford's first triumph of the evening occurred in the Viper Chassis 270 feature, and it took a timely caution period to give him a shot at passing the leader.
With Curtis R. Miller setting the pace and zooming out to a big lead, Rutherford tussled with Kyle Spence and Nick Skias for the runner-up slot. Rutherford finally secured that position with six to go, and it seemed as though that is where he would end up until the yellow lights flashed on with just four laps remaining.
The yellow flag wiped out Miller's big lead, but he held off Rutherford on the restart and kept his No. 7R out front until, with the white flag waving, Rutherford was able to slip by him as they accelerated off turn four.
Rutherford led the final circuit to register the victory, his eighth of the year in the 270 division at the Clyde (that total includes a pair of wingless 270 triumphs and one non-point winged victory to go along with five point-paying wins). Miller was disappointed but still pleased to finish as the runner-up in such a big race. Skias raced home in third ahead of Danny Lane Jr. and Spence.
With 20 of the 270's in the pit area, Heath Hehnly and Justin Harrington split the heat race victories.
The Clyde Martin Memorial Race for the Sportsman Class just might have produced the most intense competition of the night, with the battle for the lead literally highlighted by flying sparks in the waning laps.
Austin Graby led early, but all eyes were on point leader Cameron Bellinger (went from 12th to sixth on the first lap), 11th starter Jason Swavely (who was up to second by lap four), and ninth-starting Mike Rutherford (who followed Swavely through the pack). Bellinger, Swavely, and Rutherford went three-wide at times and threw countless slide jobs on one another as they swapped second, third, and fourth positions.
Swavely eventually took hold of the runner-up spot, then passed Graby for the lead. Bellinger went to second a few trips later, but Rutherford passed him on the 18th revolution. As Rutherford and Bellinger diced for second, Swavely ran away from them and appeared headed for victory. A yellow with three to go, however, changed everything.
On the restart, Rutherford went low and challenged Swavely in turns one and two. He squeezed up in front of Swavely as they rumbled down the backstretch, and, as Swavely attempted to shove the nose of his No. 5s between the leader and the outside guardrail, Rutherford drifted up slightly, pinching Swavely's car into the steel and causing sparks to fly (literally). Swavely held on but had to back out of the throttle as Rutherford drove away to the victory.
"I have to apologize to Jason," said Rutherford in the winner's circle. "I had no idea he would come back on the outside like that, so I let my car drift up on the backstretch. I just had no idea that he was out there."
At the end it was Rutherford, Swavely, and Bellinger in the top three. Nick Skias, who started 19th, sliced his way to a fourth-place effort, and Kane Rogers ran an impressive fifth.
Sheena Schaefer and Rutherford won heat races as the Sportsman pulled a 21-car field.
Aidan Jones, from Thornton, Pa., made his first Clyde Martin Speedway victory a big one, as he took the lead from rookie Riley Simmons on lap 21, then held off Cliff Brian Jr. to record the Memorial Race win in the Hammer Down Engines 250cc Four-Stroke Class.
Brian closed in near the end of the 35-lapper as Jones dealt with lapped traffic. But a caution period with nine to go cleared the track in front of the race leaders, and Jones kept Brian at bay over the final tours to claim the victory.
Point leader and three-time winner Mike Coen chased Jones and Brian to the checkered, with Zak Vickers and Lew Kepple rounding out the top five.
Jones made it a clean sweep by also winning his heat race. Brian won the other heat as a dozen Four-Strokes signed in for competition.
Lancaster's William Manotti captured his second consecutive Memorial Race win in the 125cc division and the victory is also his eighth straight this season!
Even his involvement in a three-car tangle early in the race could not deter Manotti from charging to another 125cc triumph. He methodically threaded his way from the back of the pack to snatch the top spot from Matthew Donley on the 22nd trip around the progressively banked oval. Manotti then cruised to the win over Kerry Lengle, impressive rookie Holden Eckman, Noah Merkey, and Donley.
With 17 of the 125cc competitors in the pit area on Saturday, Manotti and Eckman were victorious in heat races.
The final break of the 2017 season occurs this Saturday, as the speedway will be dark and no racing is scheduled. In two weeks, however, on August 12, the gates swing open at 4:30 p.m. and engines will once again fire in anger as the Hyper Racing 600's, the Viper Chassis 270's, Sportsman, 125cc, and Hammer Down Engines 250cc Four-Strokes compete in qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap features.
Warm-ups begin at 6 p.m. and the first heat race goes green at 7:00.
Upcoming events include the return of the USAC National Midget Championship on Tuesday, August 15 (wingless 600 Speedweek also kicks off that night at the Clyde) and the annual Labor Day Shootout takes place on September 2nd and 3rd. For information on all of the events at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, check the track's website at: www.clydemartinspeedway.com.
Come on out and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
Hyper Racing 600 Sprints, 35 Laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Kyle Spence, 3.Ryan Groff, 4.Chris Panczner, 5.Heath Hehnly, 6.Jason Swavely, 7.Shaun Brandel, 8.Logan Spahr, 9.Ryan Hook, 10.Zach Light, 11.Hunter James, 12.Will Urkuski, 13.Bret Cronrath, 14.Don Hess, 15.Rebecca LaMothe, 16.Kassidy Michael, 17.Bradley Brown, 18.Jarid Kunkle, 19.Chris Gerhart, 20.Brent Ely, 21.Nash Ely.
DNS: Chris Oraschin.
Viper Chassis 270 Sprints, 35 Laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Curtis R. Miller, 3.Nick Skias, 4.Dan Lane Jr., 5.Kyle Spence, 6.Heath Hehnly, 7.Andrew Dietrich, 8.Toby Blumenshine, 9.Devin Adams, 10.Billy Logeman, 11.Jarrett Imler, 12.Anthony Yerger, 13.Brian Sholley, 14.Sami Schenck, 15.Christi Sweigart, 16.Tajae Adams, 17.Justin Harrington, 18.Josh Stoyer, 19.Dylan Adams, 20.Adam Harnish.
Sportsman Micro-Sprints, 35 Laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Jason Swavely, 3.Cameron Bellinger, 4.Nick Skias, 5.Kane Rogers, 6.Brian Kramer, 7.Sami Schenck, 8.Sheena Schaefer, 9.Dave Schroeder, 10.Dan Lane Jr., 11.Charles Hellinger, 12.Michael Kreiser, 13.Ricky Sechrist, 14.Robert Shanaman, 15.Alan Durham, 16.Steve Smith, 17.Clinton Hauser, 18.Cody Sechrist, 19.Patrick Kirn, 20.Curtis R. Miller.
DQ: Austin Graby.
HammerDown Engines 250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprints, 35 Laps: 1.Aidan Jones, 2.Cliff Brian Jr., 3.Mike Coen, 4.Zak Vickers, 5.Lewis Kepple Jr., 6.Eddie Nocera, 7.Ron Zimmerman, 8.Tommy Phipps Jr., 9.Riley Simmons, 10.Ron Wechter, 11.Zachary Young.
DNS: Donna Geib.
125cc Micro-Sprints, 35 Laps: 1.William Manotti, 2.Kerry Lengle, 3.Holden Eckman, 4.Noah Merkey, 5.Matthew Donley, 6.Kalani Adams, 7.Nate Gibble, 8.Brandon Gibble, 9.Corey Schmuck Jr., 10.Kody Hibshman, 11.Brandon Stuck, 12.Tyler Hershey, 13.Jimmy Wampole, 14.Ryan Swavely, 15.Richard Stuck, 16.Shane Davis.
DQ: Austin Graby.