Nick Skias, Kerry Lengle, & Kassidy Michael Also Victorious in April 14 Lid Lifter
by Barry Angstadt
Newmanstown, PA - Mike Rutherford made only one mistake during Saturday night's Hyper Racing 600 feature at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, and that slight miscue occurred after he had taken the checkered flag as the winner.
"I must be getting old, or maybe it's because this is the first race of the year, but I forgot to stop in the fourth turn to do the rev check," said Rutherford as he conducted his victory lane interview from inside his No. 2s while tightening his belts and re-attaching the steering wheel. He then passed the rev limit test with flying colors.
Joining the Lititz, Pa. driver in the winner's circle during Saturday's RTS Chassis "Spring Has Sprung" Season Opener were Dan Lane Jr. (Viper Chassis 270cc), Nick Skias (Sportsman), Kerry Lengle (125cc), and Kassidy Michael (250cc Four-Stroke).
Because it was the initial outing of the 2018 campaign, the top qualifiers in heat race competition re-drew for their starting positions in the 25-lap RTS Chassis main events. Rutherford pulled the number one chip out of the bag, placing him on the pole of the 600cc headliner.
The four-time 600cc point champion at the Clyde proceeded to lead every lap, winning by three-quarters of a second over Ryan Groff, who held off the returning Chris Gerhart for almost the entire race to finish second. Gerhart settled for third while six-time and defending track champ Heath Hehnly emerged from a position-swapping tussle with TJ Greve to finish fourth, with Greve rounding out the top five.
Hehnly started way back in 17th, but his charge to fourth was not the most dramatic of the race, as Jimmy Glenn sliced and diced his way from 22nd on the starting grid to finish sixth.
A total of 28 entries made up the 600cc field, with heat race victories going to Groff, Bradley Brown, and Jim Radney. Brian Kramer won the consolation race.
A wild first lap of the Viper Chassis 270cc feature proved to be very instrumental in Danny Lane's drive to victory. Lane started fourth, got a big run on the high side in turns one and two that propelled him to the top spot on the backstretch of the opening circuit. Pole-sitter Andrew Dietrich raced back around Lane in three and four, but Lane charged back as they throttled down the front chute to re-claim the lead - by inches - over Dietrich as lap one was scored.
Lane then had to fend off a few challenges from Kyle Spence, and it wasn't long before tenth-starting Cameron Bellinger and eighth-starter Mike Rutherford weaved their way to third and fourth, respectively. Bellinger blasted into the runner-up position on the ninth tour, but the high-flying Lane, driving Damien Fulcher's No. 29J at Clyde Martin for the first time, had opened up a commanding lead by that point. With seven to go, Bellinger's car decided to call it quits, coming to a stop in the third turn.
Rutherford was now second and, while he remained within striking distance for the duration of the event, he never got quite close enough to Lane to mount a serious challenge. Lane, the West Chester college student from Elverson, Pa., went on to win the season opener by 0.382-seconds over Rutherford, who is a seven-time (and the defending) point champion in the Clyde's 270cc class.
TJ Greve authored an impressive third place effort, with Billy Logeman and Dietrich completing the top five.
Bellinger and Dietrich were heat race winners for the 20-car field of Viper Chassis 270's.
While Nick Skias eventually won the Sportsman 25-lapper, his race got off to a rocky start. A seven-car pile-up on the backstretch on lap one saw both Skias and David Ravel flip their mounts. Both were able to continue, but Skias had a heavily damaged wing and Ravel's crew had to remove his wing completely.
With Kane Rogers leading from the pole over Ava Bellinger, Skias and Ravel (minus his top wing) began picking their way back through the field. Ravel, who should have been at a distinct disadvantage running without a wing, was particularly entertaining and fast as he rim-rode his way against the outside guardrail and passed car after car on his way to the front.
Toby Blumenshine, who was also involved in the opening lap skirmish, zipped into the runner-up slot on lap 11. On the same revolution, Skias pulled into fourth and Ravel took over the sixth position. On the next trip around the progressively banked oval, Skias moved up two spots to run second, and just two circuits later, he made a power move on the top side of the speedway to snatch the lead from Rogers.
It was all Skias from there, as the Wernersville, Pa. resident waltzed to the win. "Guess I'll have to use my winner's purse to buy a new wing," he quipped in victory lane. Blumenshine came out on top of a terrific three-car duel between himself, Rogers, and Ravel to finish second, with Rogers just nipping Ravel for a career-best third place finish. Michele Stratton earned fifth-place money.
Rogers and Michael Kreiser won heat races for the 19 Sportsman entries.
Myerstown's Kerry Lengle made the move from the Sportsman class to the 125cc Micros in 2017, and on Saturday, he won his first 125cc feature. Lengle started seventh and moved up in rapid fashion, passing Kalani Adams for second on the fourth trip around the clay oval. On a lap five restart, Lengle outgunned Jas Hehnly to take command. He went on to win by several car lengths over Hehnly, with Corey Schmuck Jr. racing home in third. Kyler Heiney and Chase Layser completed the top five.
Mike Glass and Heiney were the 125cc heat race winners.
Kassidy Michael, from Manheim, started second in the 250cc Four-Stroke main, but grabbed the lead from pole sitter and defending Four-Stroke champ Mike Coen as they exited turn two on the first tour of the speedway. Michael, who teamed up with car owner Andy Potts at the end of last season (and won the final race of the year), led all the way, winning by more than 1.5-seconds over Cliff Brian Jr., Marty Brian, Zak Vickers, and Eddie Nocera.
Marty Brian, the younger brother of Cliff, was making his first start at Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. Moving up from Quarter-Midgets to run in the Four-Stroke class this season, Marty looked like a veteran driver as he climbed from the 11th starting spot to finish third behind his older brother.
Kassidy Michael and Eddie Nocera captured wins in the Four-Stroke heat races.
Race number two of the 2018 schedule will happen this Saturday, April 21. Gates open at 4 p.m. with warm-ups getting underway at 5:30. The first heat race goes green at 6:30 as the 600cc, 270cc, Sportsman, 125cc, and 250cc Four-Stroke Micro Sprints take part in qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap features.
Adult general admission tickets are priced at $8.00, with discounts for Senior Citizens and Students. Youth between the ages of six and 12 are admitted for just $2.00, and children under the age of six are free.
Come on out and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
Hyper Racing 600 Feature, 25 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Ryan Groff, 3.Chris Gerhart, 4.Heath Hehnly, 5.TJ Greve Jr., 6.Jimmy Glenn, 7.Chris Panczner, 8.Zach Light, 9.Danny Stratton, 10.Nash Ely, 11.Bruce Ginther Jr., 12.Kassidy Michael, 13.Chris Oraschin, 14.Holden Eckman, 15.Brian Kramer, 16.Logan Spahr, 17.Donald Hess, 18.Shaun Brandel, 19.Kyle Spence, 20.Jarid Kunkle, 21.Austin Quick, 22.Bradley Brown, 23.Jim Radney, 24.Will Urkuski.
DNQ: Chase Donley, John Moore, Ben Earnst, Aidan Borden
Viper Chassis 270 Feature, 25 laps: 1.Dan Lane Jr., 2.Mike Rutherford, 3.TJ Greve Jr., 4.Billy Logeman, 5.Andrew Dietrich, 6.Christi Sweigart, 7.Mike Skias, 8.Patrick Kirn, 9.Matthew Kreider, 10.Mike Uhrich, 11.Devin Adams, 12.Mike Miller, 13.Cameron Bellinger, 14.Kyle Spence, 15.Jarid Kunkle, 16.Corey Schmuck Jr., 17.Nick Skias, 18.Jimmy Wampole, 19.William Manotti. DNS: Jarrett Imler.
Sportsman Micro Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Nick Skias, 2.Toby Blumenshine, 3.Kane Rogers, 4.David Ravel, 5.Michele Stratton, 6.Alan Durham, 7.Clinton Hauser, 8.Patrick Kirn, 9.Robert Shanaman, 10.Steve Smith, 11.Samuel Borger, 12.Sam Barge, 13.Ava Bellinger, 14.Dave Schroeder, 15.Noah Merkey, 16.Kody Hibshman, 17.Michael Kreiser. DNS: Ricky Sechrist, Jeremy Eisenhauer.
125cc Micro Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Kerry Lengle, 2.Jas Hehnly, 3.Corey Schmuck Jr., 4.Kyler Heiney, 5.Chase Layser, 6.Mike Glass, 7.Shane Davis, 8.Mike Miller, 9.Dalton Eckman, 10.Frank Diffenderfer, 11.Rich Stuck, 12.Kalani Adams, 13.Adam Barge, 14.Jimmy Wampole.
250cc Four-Stroke Feature, 25 laps: 1.Kassidy Michael, 2.Cliff Brian Jr., 3.Marty Brian, 4.Zak Vickers, 5.Eddie Nocera, 6.Tom Phipps, 7.Donna Geib, 8.Ron Wechter, 9.Riley Simmons, 10.Jessica Moore, 11.Dylan Yeingst, 12.Ted Rollins, 13.Mike Coen, 14.Dick Huzzard. DNS: Zachary Young.