Rutherford Snares 270 Point Title By One Over Greve; Loses By Four To Hehnly In 600’s
Newmanstown, PA (September 15) - Hollywood could not have scripted it any better. On Saturday night at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, a pair of point championships (600cc and 270cc) were decided exactly as they should have been - on the track, with the combatants involved in each point chase duking it out with each other, along with the rest of the field, in some scintillating season finales at the Newmanstown, PA oval.
When the final checkered flag waved, the feature winners included Jarid Kunkle (Hyper Racing 600cc), TJ Greve (Viper Chassis 270cc), Kory Merkey (Sportsman), Cliff Brian Jr. (250cc Four-Stroke), and Kyler Heiney (125cc). While Greve did everything he could possibly do in winning the 270 feature, he ended up losing the season-long championship to Mike Rutherford by just one point! It was a different story for Rutherford in the 600 curtain-closer, as he and Heath Hehnly battled all race long before Hehnly secured the runner-up position in the 25-lap main and beat Rutherford for the title by only four points.
Other drivers securing 2018 track championships (with no drama on the final night) included Toby Blumenshine (Sportsman), Cliff Brian Jr. (250cc Four-Stroke), and Kyler Heiney (125cc).
The Hyper Racing 600 Sprint main began with Rutherford leading Hehnly by one point, so the driver earning the best finish in the 25-lapper would be the 2018 champion. Zach Light set the pace as the race went green with Hehnly quickly moving up from fifth starting spot to challenge Jarid Kunkle for second. Tenth-starting Mike Rutherford zipped through traffic in a hurry to run third by the time the first yellow flag appeared with four laps complete.
Light continued to show the way, but a fantastic three-car battle ensued for the runner-up spot between Kunkle, Hehnly, and Rutherford. To the fans' delight, the threesome traded slide jobs and ran three-wide on a continuous basis as the laps clicked off. At times, the fight between Hehnly and Rutherford got a bit physical, but it was just good hard racing between a couple of veteran wheel-twisters who were dueling for a championship.
"We've raced against each other for years, but I don't think we've ever raced that hard against one another," related Rutherford afterward. Hehnly, a Manheim, PA resident, made a similar assessment when he was interviewed after the race.
Near the end of the feature, Rutherford seemingly had the runner-up slot locked up, but a lapped car caused him to check up just a bit and Hehnly pounced on the opportunity, passing Rutherford as Kunkle closed in on the race leader. On the final circuit, Kunkle went high and Light tapped his left-rear wheel in turn three, causing Light to twitch sideways and stop in the middle of three and four. The caution lights flashed on, setting up a one lap shootout for the win and the championship.
Kunkle, from Kutztown, got away on the single-file restart and rumbled to his third win of the season by 0.819-seconds over Hehnly, who held off Rutherford for runner-up pay and, in the process, captured his seventh championship in Lanco's 600cc Class (and third in a row) by the slim margin of four points. Rutherford had to repel a last-lap attack from Kyle Spence to finish third, with Spence and Ryan Hook rounding out the top five.
The "Hartly Hurricane", TJ Greve, trailed Rutherford by 16 points as the duo headed into Saturday's season-ender. The Delaware driver knew, given Rutherford's pedigree in Lanco's Viper Chassis 270cc division, that he probably needed to go out and win the final race and let the chips fall where they may.
Greve, who started tenth in the 25-lap finale, passed Danny Lane Jr. for second on the sixth trip around the clay as Bradley Brown cruised out front. Rutherford, who began the race in 12th, was up to fifth when a caution flag waved with eight tours in the books. Brown and Greve went side by side for the top spot for several laps while Andrew Dietrich snookered Rutherford, Toby Blumenshine, and Lane to snare the third position on a lap nine restart.
With four to go and Brown holding a slim lead over Greve, a lapped car wiggled in turns three and four, forcing Brown to stab the brake pedal. Greve seized his chance, blasting by Brown to take command. Greve went on to win by just over one-second, with Brown settling for second-place money. Dietrich finished a strong third and Rutherford was able to work his way up to fourth, with Heath Hehnly rounding out the top five. Greve gained 15 points, enough to fall one point short of overtaking Rutherford for the 270cc title. It's the seventh consecutive championship - and eighth overall - in the Viper Chassis 270 class for the Lititz, PA driver.
Jeremy Eisenhour passed Robert Shanaman to grab the lead in the Sportsman feature as the first 14 revolutions went clean and green. With Eisenhour out front, a tremendous battle took place for second through sixth positions, as Mike Kreiser, Nick Skias, Toby Blumenshine, Sami Schenck, and Kory Merkey scuffled fiercely during the first half of the 25-lapper. After the only caution period of the race, with 11 to go, Kory Merkey began to pressure Eisenhour for the top spot. Merkey ran the high line at both ends of the race track with Eisenhour on the bottom. Merkey nosed ahead with ten to go, but Eisenhour hung tough as the two ran in side by side fashion for the remainder of the race. Behind them, Blumenshine, Kreiser, Schenck, and N. Skias waged war for third place.
Merkey, from Manheim, would pull Eisenhour on the straights, then Eisenhour pulled back under him in the corners. Merkey kept the nose of his No. 13 in front to the finish, winning by just 0.233-seconds. Blumenshine, who hails from Reinholds, clinched his second Sportsman point title by finishing third ahead of Kreiser and Schenck.
Riley Simmons led the first five circuits of the 250cc Four-Stroke main until Ephrata's Cliff Brian Jr., who started 11th, darted past her to take command on lap six. It was all Cliff after that, as Brian survived one restart (with 11 tours in the books) and drove to his fifth victory of the season. Even before the final feature of the season went green, Brian had secured his first Four-Stroke point championship, so his triumph in the finale was simply icing on the cake. Last year's champ, Mike Coen, finished second in his final race as a weekly Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway competitor. Kassidy Michael, Tommy Phipps Jr., and Marty Brian made up the rest of the top five. Donna Geib, who finished eighth, also announced that she will be hanging up her helmet and this was her final race.
Strasburg's Kyler Heiney capped a sensational season with a victory in the curtain-closing 125cc feature, his eighth triumph of the campaign. He came into the finale with the 125cc point title already wrapped up, and he put a bow on the championship prize with his win on Saturday.
Heiney started 12th, was up to third by lap three, then snatched the runner-up spot on the fourth trip around the racy oval. Heiney passed AJ Gerhart for the lead as they charged off turn four on the sixth revolution and was never headed after that point.
Mike Miller passed Gerhart for second with ten to go and three tours later Lengle and Corey Schmuck Jr. got by Gerhart to run third and fourth. Lengle ducked under Miller on a late restart to snare the runner-up spot, and that is where he finished with Miller third, Schmuck in fourth, and Jas Hehnly rounding out the top five.
Nick Skias bested his brother Mike and six others to win the first-ever Wheelie Contest at intermission. Skias carried the front donuts of his No. 88 Sportsman car almost the entire length of the homestretch in both rounds of the contest. Joe Kepple, Ken and Janet Boyce, and Mike Knappenberger Photos posted cash prizes for the top three; Nick Skias took home $200 for his first place effort.
Saturday, September 22 is the track’s annual Flea Market/ Test n’ Tune from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The speedway will be open for practice for any cars that compete in the Clyde’s five weekly divisions.
The annual Awards Banquet, scheduled for January 12, 2019, at the Four Seasons Golf Course Banquet Room in Landisville, PA. The form to order banquet tickets will be posted on the track's website, www.clydemartinspeedway.com, in the near future. Ticket orders are due by December 27, 2018.
Hyper Racing 600 Sprints, 25 Laps: 1.Jarid Kunkle, 2.Heath Hehnly, 3.Mike Rutherford, 4.Kyle Spence, 5.Ryan Hook, 6.Holden Eckman, 7.Aaron Bollinger, 8.Dan Souder, 9.Ryan Groff, 10.Austin Quick, 11.Andrew Layser, 12.Jesse Maurer, 13.Brian Kramer, 14.Nash Ely, 15.Shaun Brandel, 16.Zach Light, 17.John Moore, 18.Donald Hess, 19.Kaiden Rhoads, 20.Chris Panczner, 21.Kassidy Michael, 22.Bradley Brown, 23.Jered Hook. DNS: Logan Spahr.
Viper Chassis 270 Sprints, 25 Laps: 1.TJ Greve, 2.Bradley Brown, 3.Andrew Dietrich, 4.Mike Rutherford, 5.Heath Hehnly, 6.Dan Lane Jr., 7.Toby Blumenshine, 8.Mike Skias, 9.Billy Logeman, 10.Eric Falini, 11.Adam Harnish, 12.Brandon Gibble, 13.Greg Miller, 14.Nick Skias, 15.Christi Sweigart, 16.Zack Hollinger, 17.Mike Uhrich, 18.Dylan Adams, 19.Corey Schmuck Jr., 20.Kyle Spence, 21.Devin Adams, 22.Jarid Kunkle, 23.Nate Gibble, 24.Mike Miller.
DNQ: Austin Yingst, Matthew Kreider, Steve Smith Sr., Trent Eberhart, Zak Vickers.
Sportsman Feature, 25 Laps: 1.Kory Merkey, 2.Jeremy Eisenhauer, 3.Toby Blumenshine, 4.Mike Kreiser, 5.Sami Schenck, 6.Nick Skias, 7.Clinton Hauser, 8.Robert Shanaman, 9.Kane Rogers, 10.Alan Durham, 11.Sam Borger, 12.Dennis Fenstermacher, 13.Brittany Zeller, 14.Noah Merkey.
250cc Four-Stroke Feature, 25 Laps: 1.Cliff Brian Jr., 2.Mike Coen, 3.Kassidy Michael, 4.Tommy Phipps Jr., 5.Marty Brian, 6.Jessica Moore, 7.Eddie Nocera, 8.Donna Geib, 9.Riley Simmons, 10.Ron Wechter, 11.Zachary Young, 12.Dylan Yeingst, 13.Katelin Vragovich.
125cc Feature, 25 Laps: 1.Kyler Heiney, 2.Kerry Lengle, 3.Mike Miller, 4.Corey Schmuck Jr., 5.Jas Hehnly, 6.AJ Gerhart, 7.Shane Davis, 8.Terry Ellex, 9.Mike Glass, 10.Kenny Bushey, 11.Chase Layser, 12.Kayla Fetter, 13.RJ Rossi, 14.Thomas Kelley, 15.Tyler Martin, 16.Dalton Eckman, 17.Jimmy Wampole.