A week that began with a thud ended with a resounding and positive blast for Mike Rutherford - not to mention a big, fat check that will help to pay for the new chassis that carried him to victory on Saturday night.
Rutherford destroyed his car in the PA 600 Speedweek opener at Trail-Way on June 28, then capped off a frantic week that saw him borrow another car so he could continue to compete in the Speedweek series, order and put together a new Hyper-chassied Micro-Sprint, and finally win the inaugural MicroMania event at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway in the car's maiden voyage.
The triumph was worth $5,000...cash that will certainly come in handy after a painful - both physically and mentally - eight days that Rutherford had to endure.
"Yeah, it's been quite a week," understated the modest chauffeur from Newmanstown, Pa. "I was pretty sore after the crash, so much of the credit for this win has to go to the crew and everyone who helped out this week. Mark Ludwig allowed me to borrow his car, and Mike Dicely and his gang at Hyper rushed the new chassis for me, and here we are. I was sitting around pretty much this week, healing up, while everybody else worked on the cars. I really appreciate all of their efforts."
Rutherford topped the qualifying at MicroMania, earning more points than anyone else in the dual heat, passing points format. That put him on the pole for the 50-lap A-Main, where he led every lap to win by a comfortable margin.
Teenager Keith McIntyre challenged Rutherford on a couple of early restarts, but eventually fell back into a crowd-pleasing battle with Tim Buckwalter for the runner-up spot. After a scintillating side-by-side duel, Buckwalter muscled his way past McIntyre on lap 18. Just one circuit later, McIntyre's fine run was finished, as he lost the left-rear wheel on his No. 19 Bullrider.
During the second half of the event, Buckwalter closed in on Rutherford as the leaders navigated their way through heavy lapped traffic. Rutherford cleared the traffic more easily than did Buckwalter, and pulled away once more as the race neared its conclusion.
Buckwalter settled for second and a $2,500 payday. Heath Hehnly passed Shane Lewis for third at the halfway mark, then survived a frantic last lap battle with Luke Thomas to secure the position. Hehnly nipped Thomas by .16 seconds at the stripe; and that close finish loomed large when the final Speedweek points were tabulated.
By finishing third in the race, Hehnly wound up tied with Shane Lewis for the overall Speedweek Championship. He and Lewis were delcared Co-Champions of the series, the first time in the three-year history of 600 Speedweek that two drivers tied for the title.
Indiana's Chris Smith finished sixth in the A-Main, with Jake Murphy taking the checkered in seventh. Andrew Peters, who won the B-Main and started 21st in the A, was eighth at the end. Robbie Kendall and Eric Bodine rounded out the top ten.
Two rounds of heat races were contested by the 73 entries. Winning the first round of twelve-lap qualifiers were McIntyre, Austin Farley, Duane Harbaugh, Rick Stief, Rutherford, Mike Dicely, and Jake Murphy.
The second round of heats went to Brock Zearfoss, Luke Thomas, Buckwalter, Kendall, Hehnly, Chad Rhoads, and Brad Cox.
Jack Conover captured the C-Main, while A. Peters defeated Oklahoma's Scott Sawyer in the B-Main.
Newfield, NJ's Phil Durham recorded the triumph in the first-ever 125cc/ 250cc Four-Stroke Challenge. Durham, who also emerged victorious in the 125cc event on Memorial Day weekend at Lanco, passed Jesse Maurer on the third trip around the lightning quick, high banked oval.
Durham survived a close call on the eighth lap, bouncing off a lapped car in turn two. He continued on, fighting off repeated attacks from Maurer on late race restarts, including one final attempt on the last lap. Durham bested Maurer in the drag race to the finish line, winning by .169 seconds.
Craig DeSantis was third, the first Four-Stroke micro to cross the stripe. The 125cc racers of Dave Grube and Evan Krautwald finished fourth and fifth.
Maurer, Durham, and Grube registered victories in the Challenge heats. Jim Garrison won the consi.
Another huge night of racing is planned for this Saturday, July 11, at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. The program will kick off with three features that were postponed by rain on June 13. Leading off will be the make-up races for the 270cc micros, followed by 25-lappers for the 600cc and Sportsman classes. A full program of qualifying heats, consolations, and main events for all five of the weekly divisions will be run after the postponed features. The 600's, 270's, Sportsman, 125's, and 250cc Four-Strokes will take part in the regularly scheduled slate of competition.
Gates open at 3:30 on Saturday, with warm-ups beginning at 5 p.m. The first heat race goes green at 6:00.
General admission for adults is just $8.00, with discounts for Senior Citizens, students, and children between the ages of six and twelve. There is no charge for children under the age of six, and parking is always free at Clyde Martin.
With eight main events for the price of five, you've just gotta come out and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
600cc A-Main (50 Laps): 1.Mike Rutherford 2.Tim Buckwalter 3.Heath Hehnly 4.Luke Thomas 5.Shane Lewis 6.Chris Smith 7.Jake Murphy 8.Andrew Peters 9.Robbie Kendall 10.Eric Bodine 11.Scott Sawyer 12.Tyson Hall 13.Bruce Ginther Jr. 14.Tyler Walton 15.Rick Stief 16.Ryan Wilson 17.Duane Harbaugh 18.Brock Bilger 19.Chris Gerhart 20.Richard Mellor 21.Chris Glenn 22.Mike Freed 23.Keith McIntyre 24.Brad Cox 25.Alex Bright 26.Mike Dicely.
125cc/ 250cc Four-Stroke Challenge (25 Laps): 1.Phil Durham 2.Jesse Maurer 3.Craig DeSantis 4.Dave Grube 5.Evan Krautwald 6.Bradley Brown 7.Shane Braxton 8.Ryan Gabers 9.Cody Drace 10.Chad Rhoads 11.Jared Gabers 12.Ernie Miles 13.Derek Ecenrode 14.Mark Yoder 15.Tim Nocera 16.A.J. Michael 17.Carl Myer 18.Corey Schmuck 19.Kim Enck 20.Peter Michael 21.Jim Garrison 22.Jessica Enck 23.Greg Miller 24.Kyle Newkirk.