Rutherford Strikes Twice in LANCO Season Opener - Brickerville, PA
Pulling off his second "double" of the young season, Mike Rutherford sped to victory in the 600cc and 270cc main events at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway on Saturday night.
While this was the 52nd season opener at Clyde Martin, Rutherford had already recorded a double-victory night on April 10 at Linda's Speedway in Jonestown, Pa.
The "Master of the Micros" from nearby Newmanstown, Rutherford was joined in Clyde Martin's victory lane by Bret Habecker (125cc); Steve Drevicki (Sportsman); and Richie Hartman (250cc Four-Stroke).
Ryan Wilson paced the field for the initial 12 circuits of the 600cc feature, with second-starting Rutherford in tow. On lap 13, Wilson's PMP Chassis slipped a bit in turn two, and that was all Rutherford needed. He darted under the No. 29 to assume command, but the race was far from over at that point.
Wilson hung tough, riding the leader's tail tank as the pair negotiated through some heavy lapped traffic. With nine tours left to run, Wilson ducked low in three and four, pulling even with Rutherford. But the leader, who utilized the high groove almost exclusively during the first half of the 25-lapper, used his momentum to blast back in front and thwart Wilson's attack.
Once in front, Rutherford went to the bottom for the duration of the event, and he took the checkered safely ahead of Wilson, Shane Lewis, Ryan Greth, and Kenny Miller.
600cc heat race victories went to Wilson, Rutherford, and Mike Dicely. Jimmy Glenn won the consolation.
Because this was the season opener, Lanco's traditional handicapping procedure was not yet available to determine starting positions. For the features, a "heads-up" method was used, based on the finish of the qualifying heats.
By virtue of his win in the first heat for the 270cc Two-Strokes, Mike Rutherford was awarded the pole position for the 25-lap main event. And he certainly took advantage of his opportune starting spot.
Rutherford led all the way, but Pete Skias made sure it wasn't an easy victory.
After the polesitter sprinted out to a comfortable margin, Skias tracked him down as the leaders caught the back of the pack and began the process of lapping cars. "I think he was losing his (right-rear) tire during that run," remarked Skias after the race, as Rutherford nodded in agreement. "We weren't very good near the end of that long green," he admitted.
Just as Skias made his bid to overake the leader, pulling alongside Rutherford on the homestretch with 14 laps in the books, the yellow flew for a Brandon Bucher spin in turn two.
The caution laps allowed Rutherford's right-rear to cool and retain some grip, and he darted away from Skias on the restart. Skias was not able to mount another challenge over the final ten circuits, as Rutherford zipped under the checkered with a margin of several car-lengths.
Scott Fick, Nick Skias, and Heath Hehnly made up the top five when the race ended.
With 36 of the 270's signed in for competition, heats fell to Rutherford, P. Skias, Hehnly, and Fick. Twin consi's were captured by Jason Swavely and Tiffany Skias.
Leesport, Pa.'s Bret Habecker notched the first triumph of his Micro-Sprint career on Saturday...and he was probably more surprised at his achievement than anyone else at the speedway.
"We didn't touch this car all winter long," he laughed in the winner's circle. "Honestly, it sat in Kenny Miller's trailer the whole winter. We pulled it out tonight, put fuel in it, and put some new tires on it. That's it."
Habecker stalked early leader Cody Drace for six laps, then throttled into the top spot when Drace hesitated for a split second behind a slower car in turns one and two.
Drace, from Elizabethtown, recovered to score the runner-up finish, with Mark Yoder racing home in third. Dave Grube and Heath Hehnly rounded out the first five.
Drace and Hehnly were victorious in the pair of heat races run for the 125cc micros.
The Sportsman feature turned into a "youth vs. experience" affair...and this time, the younger wheel-twister emerged with the victory.
Mike Miller, multi-time track champion of the 125cc and 270cc classes, took the green from the inside of row one as the Sportsman competed in the first feature of 2009 at the Clyde. Teenager Steve Drevicki, a four-time winner in the Sportsman class in '08, began the race in seventh.
As Miller set the pace, Drevicki quickly maneuvered his way toward the front. His Viper Chassis No. 91 sat third by the time five trips were completed, then charged into the runner-up slot in lap eight.
A caution with 15 to go had Drevicki salivating with anticipation, as the restart would provide a golden opportunity to challenge Miller.
But the savvy veteran motored away as the green reappeared, leaving Drevicki to think he might have to settle for second on this night.
Lapped traffic, however, would prove to be the difference in the race...along with Drevicki's skill and determination.
As Miller caught and began threading his way through backmarkers, the high school student from Reading closed in and prepared for his assault on the race leader.
On the 23rd revolution, Drevicki drew even with Miller at the end of the home chute, then wrestled the lead away from his foe in turns one and two. And that was all she wrote, as the teen rocketed away from his pursuers over the final two circuits to score the triumph.
"We weren't very good at the beginning of the night," offered the victor. "But we made some changes and the car really responded. Mike was strong, but traffic helped me to catch him."
Dwayne Mathias trailed Drevicki and Miller to the finish line, with Glenn Moyer and Ken Miller completing the top five.
Mike Miller, Jason Hehnly, and Donna Geib won heat races for the 30-car Sportsman field. Joe Kepple registered the victory in the consolation.
Just as he did on nine occasions in 2008, Richie Hartman made it look relatively easy in winning the 250cc Four-Stroke main event.
Hartman, the defending champion of this division, won the first qualifying heat, and that put him on the pole for the 25-lap feature. He went on to dominate the race, leading every lap to record his first victory - anywhere and in any class - of the '09 campaign.
With Hartman cruising out front, the action behind him was hot and heavy. Eighth-starting Ryan Gabers dueled with Craig DeSantis before claiming the fourth position, then duked it out (not literally) with his brother, Jared, for the third spot.
For most of the second half of the event, R. Gabers waged a nip-and-tuck battle with Chad Rhoads for the runner-up position, while Ed Nocera and Kevin Kopp diced for fourth with DeSantis.
At the finish, it was Hartman winning handily over Rhoads, R. Gabers, Nocera, and Kopp.
Four-Stroke heat wins were scored by Hartman and Rhoads.
Motorsports artist Clark Angstadt raffled off one of his paintings at the track on Saturday, with proceeds going to racing photographer Bill Hess. Hess is battling Crohn's disease and other health issues, and this fundraiser was held to assist him with mounting medical expenses. More than $300 was raised for Hess in the raffle of a mirror-painting of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. The painting was autographed by the Intimidator, and the winning ticket was purchased by Tom Halligan, the father of 600cc racer Jeff Halligan.
With the opening race of '09 now in the record books, Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway swings back into action this Saturday, April 25. Qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap features will be presented for the 125cc; 250cc Four-Stroke; 270 Two-Stroke; 600cc; and Sportsman Micro-Sprints.
Gates open at 3:30, with warm-ups beginning at 5:00. The first heat race goes green at 6 p.m.
Ticket prices are just $8 for adults, with discounts for Senior Citizens and Students. Kids between the ages of 6 and 12 are admitted for $2, while there is no charge for children under the age of 6.
600cc Finish (25 laps): 1.Mike Rutherford 2.Ryan Wilson 3.Shane Lewis 4.Ryan Greth 5.Ken Miller 6.Jamie Kostic 7.Heath Hehnly 8.Mike Freed 9.Shaun Brandel 10.Tim Buckwalter 11.Billy Ney 12.Joe Lord 13.Chris Gerhart 14.Tyler Ross 15.Mike Caropolo 16.Jeff Halligan 17.Jeremy Lynch 18.Kerry Gilbert 19.Jimmy Glenn 20.Mike Dicely 21.Kory Merkey 22.Jared Davis 23.Greg Fitzpatrick 24.Bruce Ginther, Jr.
270cc Finish (25 laps): 1.Mike Rutherford 2.Pete Skias 3.Scott Fick 4.Nick Skias 5.Heath Hehnly 6.Steve Whary 7.Dave Falini 8.Todd Steffy 9.Mark Ewer 10.Greg Miller 11.Mike Miller 12.Scott Gingrich 13.Dave Grube 14.Billy Logeman 15.Jason Swavely 16.Jim Skias 17.Brian Sholley 18.Steve Drevicki 19.Nate Weidman 20.Dean Spangler, Jr. 21.Christi Sweigart 22.Brandon Bucher 23.Tiffany Skias 24.Richie Hartman.
125cc Finish (25 laps): 1.Bret Habecker 2.Cody Drace 3.Mark Yoder 4.Dave Grube 5.Heath Hehnly 6.Scott Gantert 7.Sonny Sweitzer 8.Dave Falini 9.Kyle Henninger 10.Brianna Gerhart 11.Chrissy Ochs 12.Bradley Brown 13.James Wampole 14.Nathan Weidman. DNS: Derek Ecenrode; Jesse Maurer.
Sportsman Finish (25 laps): 1.Steve Drevicki 2.Mike Miller 3.Dwayne Mathias 4.Glenn Moyer 5.Ken Miller 6.Jamie Fetterolf 7.Sheena Schaefer 8.Jeff Hughes 9.Mark Ludwig 10.Brett Wanner 11.Wesley Fasnacht 12.Kelby Stauffer 13.Dave Graybill 14.Robert Shanaman 15.Dennis Fenstermacher 16.Joe Kepple 17.Dean Spangler, Jr. 18.Paul May III 19.Gene Murphy 20.Dennis Ziegler 21.Donna Geib 22.Earl Eveland 23.Jason Hehnly 24.Dennis McKeon.
250cc Four-Stroke Finish (25 laps): 1.Richie Hartman 2.Chad Rhoads 3.Ryan Gabers 4.Ed Nocera 5.Kevin Kopp 6.Craig DeSantis 7.Jared Gabers 8.Peter Michael 9.Lewis Kepple, Jr. 10.Dick Huzzard 11.Jake Booth 12.Kim Enck 13.Jason Johnson 14.Kayla Fetter 15.Phil Johnson 16.Chris Lee 17.Jessica Enck 18.Ronnie Rhoads. DNS: Greg Schmuck.