Newmanstown, PA (July 28) - An event that dates back to 1962, chock-full of tradition and prestige for members of the Lanco Micro Sprint Club, the 2018 edition of the Clyde Martin Memorial Race produced five first-time winners on Saturday night. Some had previously won the Memorial in other classes, while others tasted victory for the very first time in this very special race presented by Gold Rush Trailer Sales.
Heath Hehnly, a three-time Memorial Race winner in the 270's, finally secured a Clyde Martin Memorial trophy in the Hyper Racing 600cc Class, his fifth overall triumph of the season. Veteran Mike Miller, who's captured Memorial Race checkered flags on six occasions in the 125cc division, scored a win in the Viper Chassis 270 Sprint main. And David Ravel, a three-time winner of the 250cc Four-Stroke Memorial Race, claimed a dominating win in the Sportsman feature on Saturday.
First-time Clyde Martin Memorial Race winners included Tommy Phipps Jr. in the 250cc Four-Stroke main, and Kyler Heiney made his fourth win of the year a significant one by capturing the 125cc Memorial Race trophy.
The Clyde Martin Memorial Race offers double points, a large trophy that is handed down from the previous year's winner in each class, and the longest feature races of the season (35 laps). It is an event designed to reward the loyal and dedicated Lanco club members, as only those drivers who have entered (at least) half of the current season's point-paying events are eligible to compete in the Memorial Race. And those double points, combined with some issues for the division leaders, did indeed jumble the standings in most of the five weekly divisions. In three of the five classes, there is a new point leader following the Clyde Martin Memorial Race presented by Gold Rush Trailer Sales.
The Hyper Racing 600 Sprint feature began with Zach Light darting from his outside, front row starting spot to lead lap one. He and Nash Ely resumed the exciting battle they started in their heat race, while Heath Hehnly and Mike Rutherford tussled for third. The first caution period occurred with eight circuits in the books and, on the restart, Hehnly and Jarid Kunkle zipped past Ely to run second and third. The second restart of the 35-lapper produced a terrific duel for the top spot on lap 12, as Hehnly threw a slide job on Light in turns one and two. Light dashed back under Hehnly on the backstretch before they switched lanes once more in the third and fourth corners. Hehnly blasted off the bottom of four to move in front of Light, taking a lead that he would not relinquish.
Contact between Light and Kunkle ended with Kunkle taking over the runner-up spot on lap 21. Light recovered after losing four positions and he would eventually finish sixth. With five to go, TJ Greve completed his late race charge by passing Kunkle for second place, but he didn't have a chance to catch the high flying Hehnly, who had checked out by that time.
At the finish, it was Hehnly, from Manheim, winning his first Memorial Race in the 600 class and fifth of the season - and he took over the point lead from Mike Rutherford (who finished seventh) in the process. Greve wound up second with Kunkle, Ryan Groff, and Bradley Brown completing the top five.
"I'm not very good on the top, but we had the car working real well on the bottom tonight, and that was good enough to get the win," said Viper Chassis 270 winner Mike Miller from Exeter Township. In a long and storied career at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, Miller has six victories in the 125cc Memorial, but his name was not on the list of 270cc Memorial Race winners...until Saturday night.
Nick Skias dashed to the lead early, beating Corey Schmuck Jr. off turn two on the first trip around the ultra-quick, super smooth oval. Miller weaved his way from fifth on the grid to run second by the time lap one was scored. He and Skias then waged war for the top spot until Miller's slider in turns one and two netted him the lead on the tenth revolution. Schmuck and Danny Lane Jr. fought for third as the race went clean and green for the first 29 tours, and TJ Greve, who lined up 12th on the original start, sliced his way into the top five on lap 12.
In the midst of the long stretch of green flag racing, Miller encountered heavy traffic as he caught the back of the field and began lapping cars. The traffic allowed Skias to pull up to the leader's tail tank, and it appeared as though a lead change might be on the horizon. But the first yellow of the race, with 29 complete, changed all that. On the restart, with Skias' left-rear tire losing air, Schmuck fired into the runner-up position and Greve slid into third. A final yellow, with one lap remaining, set the stage for Greve to pass Schmuck for second while Miller danced away to the victory.
Greve, Schmuck, Mike Skias, and Bradley Brown chased Miller to the checkered flag as the longest race of the year, at 35-laps, lasted less than ten minutes, even with the two brief caution periods.
Greve's runner-up payday, combined with Mike Rutherford's eighth-place finish, enabled Greve to leap-frog over Rutherford and take over first place in the 270cc point standings.
Reading's David Ravel, who started 12th in the Sportsman Memorial Race, shot through the field quickly, moving into third by the fourth trip around the clay. Patrick Kirn was the early leader and Ricky Sechrist was running a strong second when Ravel made a bid for the runner-up position with six laps recorded. Sechrist didn't know Ravel was on his outside and they both went for the same spot in the high lane at the end of the backstretch. The ensuing contact turned Sechrist hard left and into traffic, causing a big pile up that resulted in a wicked flip by Noah Merkey. Shaken but able to walk away from the incident, Merkey's race was finished.
On the restart, Ravel flew past Kirn to take command, with Toby Blumenshine and Kory Merkey fighting for third. Merkey used a lapped car as a "pick", trapping Blumenshine behind the slower car while ducking under him and taking the third position on lap 19.
Ravel was in his own area code after he got the lead, zipping to the win by more than two-seconds over Kirn. An example of Ravel's dominance was the fact that only the top five finishers were on the lead lap at the end. Kory Merkey, Blumenshine, and Jeremy Eisenhauer rounded out the top five.
Sportsman point leader Nick Skias lost his left-front tire and wheel early in the race and finished 16th. Blumenshine's fourth-place effort in the double points event propelled him into the championship lead.
Lancaster's Tommy Phipps Jr. has been knocking on the door to victory lane in recent weeks, but he waited until Saturday's big race before kicking in that door and recording his first 250cc Four-Stroke victory of the season.
Phipps started seventh, slicing his way forward as Donna Geib set the pace in the early going. Phipps motored into second, then set his sights on the race leader. He slipped under Geib, who said afterward that this was most likely her final Memorial Race, in turns one and two on the seventh circuit. Phipps gassed his mount into the lead as they accelerated onto the back chute, then proceeded to lead the final 29 tours to register the impressive triumph.
Geib settled for second, and point leader Cliff Brian Jr. escaped a possible calamity in the standings by salvaging a third place finish after a rough start to his race. A jumble in turn one on the original start left Brian's No. 99 on its side. Fortunately, the damage was minimal, and Brian was able to restart from the rear.
Kassidy Michael, the five-time feature winner in this year's Four-Stroke competition, was also involved in that first turn melee. She, too, was able to make quick repairs and return to action. Michael, whose car still showed wing damage from the incident, struggled to a fourth place finish while Marty Brian, Cliff's younger brother, wound up fifth.
In the 125cc nightcap, Brian Kramer passed Chase Layser for the lead on the second trip around the oval. It wasn't long before Mike Miller and eighth-starter Kyler Heiney sliced their way into second and third positions. On a restart with nine laps scored, Miller was called for jumping and put back two spots (to fourth). That put Heiney on the front row, alongside Kramer, and the Strasburg, PA wheel-twister pushed his No. 76 past Kramer to lead lap ten.
Miller wrestled the runner-up spot from Kramer at the halfway point, but Heiney was long gone by that time. Kyler drove to his first Clyde Martin Memorial Race victory with a five-second margin over Miller. Kramer soldiered to a third-place effort, with Mike Glass rebounding from an early race lay-over to salvage fourth and Layser wound up fifth.
Saturday, August 4, is another biggie on the Lanco calendar as the P1 Insurance USAC National Midget Championship Series invades the Clyde for Battleground Lanco: Part III. The cars and stars of the USAC National Midget Tour will battle the Eastern Midgets (formerly ARDC) in an old-fashioned shootout on the bullring for the third consecutive season. Joining the mighty Midgets will be the Hyper Racing (wingless) 600 Sprints, in round four of 600 Speedweek. Gates for advanced ticket holders will open at 4 p.m. Those needing tickets will be able to purchase them and enter the gates beginning at 5:00. Warm-ups get underway at 6:15 and USAC time trials begin at 7:00. Full details of the event can be found at www.clydemartinspeedway.com.
Hyper Racing 600 Sprints, 35 Laps: 1.Heath Hehnly, 2.TJ Greve, 3.Jarid Kunkle, 4.Ryan Groff, 5.Bradley Brown, 6.Zach Light, 7.Mike Rutherford, 8.Nash Ely, 9.Chris Gerhart, 10.Brent Ely, 11.Chris Panczner, 12.Holden Eckman, 13.Brian Kramer, 14.Will Urkuski, 15.Don Hess, 16.Shaun Brandel, 17.Kassidy Michael, 18.Bruce Ginther Jr.
Viper Chassis 270 Sprints, 35 Laps: 1.Mike Miller, 2.TJ Greve, 3.Corey Schmuck Jr., 4.Mike Skias, 5.Bradley Brown, 6.Nick Skias, 7.Dan Lane Jr., 8.Mike Rutherford, 9.Toby Blumenshine, 10.Jarid Kunkle, 11.Andrew Dietrich, 12.Jarrett Imler, 13.Brian Sholley, 14.Heath Hehnly, 15.Christi Sweigart, 16.Matthew Kreider.
Sportsman Feature, 35 Laps: 1.David Ravel, 2.Patrick Kirn, 3.Kory Merkey, 4.Toby Blumenshine, 5.Jeremy Eisenhauer, 6.Michael Kreiser, 7.Clinton Hauser, 8.Sami Schenck, 9.Sam Borger, 10.Kane Rogers, 11.Robert Shanaman, 12.Ricky Sechrist, 13.Noah Merkey, 14.Louie Kirn, 15.Alan Durham, 16.Nick Skias.
250cc Four-Stroke Feature, 35 Laps: 1.Tommy Phipps Jr., 2.Donna Geib, 3.Cliff Brian Jr., 4.Kassidy Michael, 5.Marty Brian, 6.Mike Coen, 7.Eddie Nocera, 8.Ron Zimmerman, 9.Aidan Jones, 10.Dylan Yeingst, 11.Zachary Young, 12.Riley Simmons, 13.Jessica Moore, 14.Ron Wechter.
125cc Feature, 35 Laps: 1.Kyler Heiney, 2.Mike Miller, 3.Brian Kramer, 4.Mike Glass, 5.Chase Layser, 6.Randall Kreider, 7.Shane Davis, 8.Corey Schmuck Jr., 9.Jas Hehnly, 10.Kerry Lengle, 11.Jimmy Wampole.
Submitted by Barry Angstadt