Swavely's Sportsman Triumph Is An Instant Classic; Coen & Schmuck Jr. Also Victorious
Kenny Groff Trucking sponsored a fantastic night of racing at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway on Saturday, August 25, with three of the five main events featuring two- and three-car tussles for the win while a pack of hungry wolves fought for positions throughout the top ten. And Mike Rutherford is still the man to beat in 600cc and 270cc competition at the Clyde.
Rutherford, from Lititz, captured his second consecutive (and third overall) triumph in the Hyper Racing 600 Sprint feature, then came back a short while later and won his third straight (and fifth of the year) Viper Chassis 270 Sprint main. The Sportsman feature became an instant classic, highlighted by some of the best racing of the season. When the checkered flag waved, it was Jason Swavely standing in victory lane for the second time in 2018. Mike Coen notched the 250cc Four-Stroke victory, and Corey Schmuck Jr. won his third of the year in the 125cc feature.
The point chases will take a week off now, as attention turns to the biggest party/racing weekend of the year at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, the annual Labor Day Shootout on Saturday, September 1st and Sunday, September 2nd. The Shootout does utilize a rain date of Monday, September 3rd, if needed. Gates will open at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with pill draw ending and a driver's meeting beginning at 3:30. Warm-ups commence at 3:45 and the first heat race goes green at 4:30 on both days of the Shootout. Saturday's "wing thing", featuring the five weekly divisions, is sponsored by Bud's Spring Service. On Sunday, Hyper Racing will sponsor the wingless 600's, wingless 270's, and combined 125cc/ 4-Stroke Challenge that will also be a wingless affair. The All Star Slingshots will also be in action on Sunday in the Slide at the Clyde National Tour event.
Both nights of the Shootout will offer a $1,000 paycheck to the winner of the 600cc and 270cc A-Mains, provided there are (at least) 40 cars signed in for competition. Full details on the Labor Day Shootout can be found at www.clydemartinspeedway.com or at Facebook.com/Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
The Hyper Racing 600 Sprints took the green flag on Saturday night with Brian Kramer bolting from second starting spot into the lead on lap one. Nash Ely slid Kramer to grab the top spot on the fourth revolution, and Mike Rutherford passed Kramer for the runner-up slot on the eighth trip around the oval. Rutherford threw some slide jobs on Ely with the young charger in the No. 22 blowing right back under Rutherford to re-assume command. Jarid Kunkle joined the slider-fest after a yellow with ten complete, and that is when things really got interesting.
Both Rutherford and Kunkle slid Ely in turns three and four on the 12th circuit, with Kunkle sliding up in front of Rutherford in turn one. Ely fought back on the bottom as the trio went three-wide through the corners. Exiting turn two, Rutherford blasted through the middle, between Kunkle and Ely, but he and Ely touched, sending the No. 22 spinning.
Ryan Groff worked past Kunkle to grab second on a restart with ten to go. Groff stalked Rutherford, then had to stave off the attacks of Dan Souder as they dueled for runner-up honors. At the checkered, it was Rutherford winning his second 600cc main in a row, with Groff finishing second and Souder placing third. Kyle Spence and Kameron Morral completed the top five after battling with Bradley Brown, Chris Panczner, Hayden Miller, and Jesse Maurer throughout the second half of the race.
The official point standings will be released by midweek, but unofficial calculations after Saturday's 25-lapper show Rutherford, with his victory, overtaking Heath Hehnly for the point lead. Hehnly fell out early due to a flat tire, forcing him to finish 21st. The quick math work after the feature has Rutherford now leading Hehnly by just one point with two more races (September 8 and 15) remaining in this season's championship battle.
The Viper Chassis 270 Sprints pulled a very nice field of 30 cars on Saturday. When their 25-lap feature went green, Christi Sweigart darted from the pole position and led the first five tours despite heavy pressure from Corey Schmuck Jr. With Schmuck on the high side and Sweigart on the bottom, the battle for the lead was a good one. Schmuck pulled ahead to lead lap six as seventh-starting Mike Rutherford tucked his No. 5k into third. Rutherford slipped past Sweigart for second, then set his sights on Schmuck as the race entered its middle stages.
Schmuck was up for the challenge, trading sliders with Rutherford and hanging tough as Rutherford, try as he might, could not wrestle the lead from Schmuck Jr. Finally, with ten laps remaining, Rutherford secured the top spot. A restart with eight trips left saw Schmuck fall to sixth. Jarid Kunkle and Bradley Brown diced for second and TJ Greve threaded his way into the top five after some torrid racing between those three and Nick Skias.
As Rutherford waltzed away to his third consecutive 270cc triumph, Brown claimed second in the final laps, with Greve passing Kunkle late in the fray to finish third. Kunkle and N. Skias wound up fourth and fifth. With his win, Rutherford increased his point lead over Greve to 16 with a pair of point-paying races left on the schedule.
The Sportsman feature was, in a word, incredible, and the words written here will simply not do justice to the terrific action produced by the five drivers who furiously contested the number one position.
Robert Shanaman led from the pole with Noah Merkey shadowing him for the initial four tours. Jason Swavely and Nick Skias both started at the back of the pack and they appeared to team up, rocketing through traffic in roller-derby style - minus the throwing of elbows to prevent passing.
Noah Merkey muscled past Shanaman to lead lap five and by the eighth revolution, Swavely and Skias were planted in third and fourth positions. Sami Schenck was now the runner-up, scooting past Shanaman soon after Merkey had taken the lead from him.
On a restart with eight circuits in the books, Merkey, Swavely, and Schenck waged war for the top spot. Schenck roared off the bottom of turn four to lead a lap, then Merkey charged back in front as the next tour was scored. Swavely pulled back in front on the 11th lap as Merkey clipped an infield tire marker and spun in the fourth corner.
Mike Rutherford entered the picture on the restart, nosing into the top spot before Swavely, from Fleetwood, PA, pushed back to lead at the halfway point. Another restart, this one with eight to go, enabled Skias to motor past Rutherford for the runner-up position. Skias then hounded Swavely to the checkered, but Swavely was able to hang on even though he felt his engine "laying down" over the final few laps. At the finish it was Swavely, N. Skias, Rutherford, Kory Merkey, and Schenck making up the top five.
Shamokin's Mike Coen registered his second win of the season in the 250cc Four-Stroke feature. Coen, the defending point champ in the Four-Stroke class, snatched the lead from Ron Wechter on lap two, then drove off to a 2.291-second victory over current point leader Cliff Brian Jr. Tommy Phipps Jr. used a rim-riding style to pass Marty Brian for third late in the race, and Eddie Nocera finished fifth.
Lititz, PA chauffeur Corey Schmuck Jr. led all the way in the 25-lap main for the 125cc racers. Kerry Lengle chased Schmuck for most of the race to finish second, and AJ Gerhart completed the podium by finishing third. Point leader Kyler Heiney had his three-race win streak ended but still managed a fourth-place effort. Mike Glass went home with a fifth-place finish.
Hyper Racing 600 Sprints, 25 Laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Ryan Groff, 3.Dan Souder, 4.Kyle Spence, 5.Kameron Morral, 6.Bradley Brown, 7.Chris Panczner, 8.Hayden Miller, 9.Jesse Maurer, 10.Brooklyn Gable, 11.Don Hess, 12.Dermot Thompson, 13.Chelsea Moore, 14.Jarid Kunkle, 15.Billy Koch, 16.Geoff Gill, 17.Shelby Rowles, 18.Nash Ely, 19.Shaun Brandel, 20.Brian Kramer, 21.Heath Hehnly, 22.Zach Light, 23.Kaiden Rhoads.
DNQ: Pete Skias, Holden Eckman, Randy Kunkle Jr.
Viper Chassis 270 Sprints, 25 Laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Bradley Brown, 3.TJ Greve, 4.Jarid Kunkle, 5.Nick Skias, 6.Corey Schmuck Jr., 7.Tajae Adams, 8.Mike Skias, 9.Kyle Spence, 10.Christi Sweigart, 11.Dan Lane Jr., 12.Billy Logeman, 13.Toby Blumenshine, 14.Jarrett Imler, 15.Zak Vickers, 16.Adam Harnish, 17.Joshua Ohlinger, 18.Brian Marriott, 19.Matthew Kreider, 20.Eric Falini, 21.Jason Swavely, 22.Heath Hehnly, 23.Nate Weidman, 24.Austin Graby.
DNQ: Charles Hellinger, Nate Gibble, Melvin Bainbridge, Dave Labe, Austin Yingst, Mike Uhrich.
Kenny Groff Trucking Sportsman Feature, 25 Laps: 1.Jason Swavely, 2.Nick Skias, 3.Mike Rutherford, 4.Kory Merkey, 5.Sami Schenck, 6.Toby Blumenshine, 7.Clinton Hauser, 8.Michael Kreiser, 9.Mike Rice, 10.Sam Borger, 11.Kane Rogers, 12.Noah Merkey, 13.Dennis Fenstermacher, 14.Robert Shanaman, 15.Anthony Yerger, 16.Jeremy Eisenhauer, 17.Brittany Zeller.
Kenny Groff Trucking 250cc Four-Stroke Feature, 25 Laps: 1.Mike Coen, 2.Cliff Brian Jr., 3.Tommy Phipps Jr., 4.Marty Brian, 5.Eddie Nocera, 6.Donna Geib, 7.Jessica Moore, 8.Katelin Vragovich, 9.Ron Wechter, 10.Riley Simmons, 11.Dylan Yeingst, 12.Zachary Young.
Kenny Groff Trucking 125cc Feature, 25 Laps: 1.Corey Schmuck Jr., 2.Kerry Lengle, 3.AJ Gerhart, 4.Kyler Heiney, 5.Mike Glass, 6.Chase Layser, 7.Tyler Martin, 8.Walt Wampole, 9.Dalton Eckman, 10.Austin Graby, 11.Brian Kramer, 12.Kenny Bushey, 13.Thomas Kelley, 14.Jimmy Wampole.