Newmanstown, Pa. - Racing is all about being first, and Saturday night's event at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway produced several "firsts", as three drivers scored their initial feature wins in 2012 (and two of those were career "firsts"), while another notched his first triumph since opening night in April.
Tyler Esh finally got that elusive 600cc victory, his first feature win at the Clyde, and Ryan Morris captured his first 270cc Two-Stroke main event. It took Ken Miller an unusually long time to register his first win of the year in Sportsman competition, but he was first under the checkered flag on Saturday. And Dave Grube won his second feature of the season in 125cc action, but it was his first triumph since the opener on April 14.
Chip Geib won the 270cc Four-Stroke headliner; his sixth of the year but the first victory since June 9 for the point leader in the Four-Stroke Class.
There have been numerous near-misses and oh-so-close moments for Tyler Esh over the past two or three seasons, but Saturday night that magical moment occurred when the wheel-twister from New Providence, Pa. put it all together - and Lady Luck was finally on his side - and recorded his first 600cc Sprint victory under the Lanco banner.
It was a terrific night for the Esh family, as Tyler and his younger brother, Travis, both scored dominating victories in their respective heat races. In the main event, Tyler blasted by Shaun Brandel to snare the top spot on the third trip around the banked oval. Sixth-starting Travis Esh was following in the tire tracks of Heath Hehnly, as the pair sliced their way toward the front of the pack.
With Tyler Esh quickly building a huge advantage, Hehnly grabbed the runner-up position from Brandel on the eighth circuit. Travis Esh stayed with Hehnly, sneaking past Brandel to assume third place on the same lap.
Mike Rutherford, who rolled off the starting grid in tenth, moved into fourth place as lap ten was completed. Rutherford took third away from Travis Esh on a restart with eleven tours remaining, then tried in vain to run down the lead duo of Tyler Esh and Hehnly.
Hehnly closed in on Tyler as the leader dealt with some lapped traffic, but a timely caution period with three to go gave Esh a clear track once more. The yellow also gave Rutherford a final shot at Hehnly, and he took advantage of the opportunity.
On the restart, Rutherford ducked to the inside of Hehnly's No. 2, and the pair raced wheel-to-wheel through turns one and two before Rutherford pulled ahead as they charged onto the backstretch. Their short-lived duel permitted Tyler Esh to get away, and Esh roared under the checkered flag with a margin of 0.881-seconds over Rutherford.
Hehnly settled for third, with Travis making it a "one-four" finish for the Esh brothers. Chris Gerhart wound up fifth.
Heats for the 25-car field went to the Esh brothers, along with Jason Swavely.
Honeybrook's Ryan Morris has three victories to his credit in 270cc Four-Stroke competition this year, and on Saturday night he added his name to the record books as a feature winner in the 270cc Two-Stroke division.
With polesitter Dave Grube showing the way, Morris improved from third to second on the opening lap. Jason Swavely was on the move, flying from eighth on the start to run third by the fifth trip around the clay.
Just as Morris made his move for the top spot with ten laps showing on the scoreboard, the yellow appeared, wiping out his pass of Grube. Morris then stalked Grube, looking high and low for the next eight circuits as Grube repelled each challenge. With seven revolutions left to run, Morris pushed his No. 96 to the inside of Grube's No. 3d as they raced into turns one and two. Suddenly, Grube's mount lost its right-front wheel (the result of a broken spindle) as it veered toward the guardrail at the top of the banking. His misfortune brought out the yellow and handed the lead to Morris.
At that point, Morris led Mike Rutherford. On the restart following Grube's unfortunate incident, Jason Swavely gassed his car to the inside of Rutherford's machine, claiming second as they hit the backstretch.
A final caution with three to go saw Rutherford forced to restart at the back of the pack, and Richie Hartman slipped past Jesse Maurer for third as the two-to-go signal was displayed to the field.
Morris beat Swavely to the stripe by a half-second, with Hartman, Maurer, and Chip Geib completing the top five.
Maurer, Rutherford, and Hartman were victorious in qualifying heats for the field of 27. Shaun Brandel won the consolation race.
Dave Grube and Jesse Maurer were two of the major players in the 270cc Two-Stroke main, and they were the prominent story of the 125cc feature, too.
Grube and Maurer started on the front row, and they finished one-two, also, when the 25-lapper reached its conclusion. And the final outcome was thisclose, as Maurer made a last-ditch effort to deny Grube the victory.
Grube, from Denver, Pa., maintained a fairly comfortable lead of three to four car lengths over Maurer for most of the fray. The attention-grabbing action was behind the lead duo, with point leader Richie Hartman swapping the fourth position with Ken Miller (who came from 18th to fourth in just four laps). Their battle occurred just past the halfway point and it lasted a few laps before Hartman claimed the spot.
Hartman then grappled with Bradley Brown for third, eventually edging in front of the prior week's feature winner with four trips remaining. And then things got really interesting at the head of the pack...
Grube, in his Mongoose chassied No. 3D, encountered a few slower cars at the back of the field, allowing Maurer pull up to his tail tank on the final tour. Maurer went for it in three and four, drawing alongside the leader as they exited the final corner, but Grube won the drag race to the finish line, beating Maurer by a scant 0.053-seconds.
Hartman earned third place money, while Brown and Darren Miller rounded out the top five.
With 21 of the 125cc racers entered for competition, the two heat race victories went to Grube and Hartman.
Ken Miller, driving his uncle Curt's No. 7P, won six times in the Sportsman Class in 2011. He's also a two-time point champion in this division so, given his record of success in the Sportsman, it was almost inconceivable that the Birdsboro, Pa. throttle-jockey had not visited victory lane in 2012.
Miller ended his drought on Saturday, winning the 25-lapper for the Sportsman in grand style.
Starting seventh, Miller swiftly navigated his way forward; he passed early leader Dave Kemp on the fourth circuit to take command as they accelerated off turn two.
Later in the race, Miller kept a relatively safe lead over one of his teammates, Jason Swavely, after Swavely dueled with another teammate, point leader Bret Habecker, for the runner-up spot. Habecker eventually fell out of the race with mechanical issues while running third.
K. Miller cruised to the triumph over Swavely, with yet another Miller Racing teammate, Curtis R. Miller, finishing third. Mark Ludwig placed fourth and Matt Abers claimed fifth-place cash.
When the points are tallied, Habecker's misfortune (and resulting twelfth place finish) should see Swavely in the point lead with only two point-paying events remaining on the 2012 docket.
Ludwig and Swavely won the two heat races for the seventeen Sportsman competitors.
Manheim's Chip Geib romped to his sixth victory of the season in the 270cc Four-Stroke feature, as the first four finishers were the only cars on the lead lap at the end.
Geib took the initial green in ninth, but he was already second when lap two was scored. Geib quickly tracked down and passed early leader Kenny Miller III, rocketing past Miller's No. 23 as they exited turn two on the fourth excursion around the eighth-mile of clay.
Two of Geib's chief rivals in the Four-Stroke division, Craig DeSantis and Ryan Morris, were negotiating their way through traffic and coming to the front until they got together on a lap nine restart. Both drivers headed to the pits, knocked out of the race, as a result of the incident.
As Chip Geib zoomed off into his own area code, Donna Geib wrestled second away from Kenny Miller III on lap eleven. But there was no hope of catching the current Four-Stroke point leader on this night, as Chip notched his division-leading sixth triumph of the campaign.
Donna Geib, K. Miller III, Steve Smith Sr., and Eddie Nocera made up the top five when the checkered flag waved.
DeSantis and Morris were heat winners as fourteen of the Four-Strokes signed in for competition on Saturday.
The point battles will take a vacation this weekend, as the focus turns to the Lanco club's annual Labor Day Shootout, the two-day extravaganza of clay throwing competition presented by Hyper Racing.
On Saturday, September 1st, a complete program consisting of dual heat races (utilizing a passing points system), last-chance qualifiers, and 30-lap A-Mains will be contested for the winged 600cc, Sportsman, 270cc Four-Strokes, and the 250cc Stock Class from Airport Speedway. The winged 600cc A-Main will pay $1,000 to the winner, provided there are at least 45 entries.
Sunday, September 2nd, will see a similar format for the racing program, but three different divisions will be in the spotlight. The 270cc Two-Strokes, 125cc, and WINGLESS 600cc Micro-Sprints will battle in dual heat races (with passing points utilized to determine those who qualify), last-chance qualifiers, and 30-lap A-Mains. With at least 45 entries in the 270cc Two-Stroke and wingless 600cc classes, both of those A-Mains will pay $1,000 to win.
Gates will open at 3 p.m. on both days. The driver's meeting begins at 4:45, with warm-ups slated to commence at 5:00. The first heat race goes green at 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday evening. Monday, September 3rd, will be used as a rain date if needed.
While the early entry deadline has passed, entries are welcome and will be accepted up until race time on Saturday and Sunday. Pit passes will cost $30 (good for both days), and the general admission cost for adults is $10 per day, with discounts for Senior Citizens, Students, and youth between the ages of six and twelve.
Kids Fun Day will be held on Saturday and Sunday, with games and other activities - along with prizes and lots of goodies - lined up for the youthful fans in attendance at the Labor Day Shootout.
Breakfast will be served at the track's concession stand beginning at 9 a.m. on Sunday.
Additional details regarding the Labor Day Shootout are available on the track's website: www.lancomicrosprint.com.
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Tyler Esh, 2.Mike Rutherford, 3.Heath Hehnly, 4.Travis Esh, 5.Chris Gerhart, 6.Mark Yoder, 7.Christopher Tracy, 8.Brent Ely, 9.Shaun Brandel, 10.Jason Swavely, 11.Shane Lewis, 12.Nathan Prazenica, 13.Jered Hook, 14.Jeff Stelter, 15.Ryan Hook, 16.Brittany Brown, 17.Jamie Speers, 18.Luke Thomas, 19.Peter Michael, 20.Kory Merkey, 21.Danny Wykes, 22.E.J. Holtz, 23.Kelby Stauffer, 24.Jeff Halligan.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Ryan Morris, 2.Jason Swavely, 3.Richie Hartman, 4.Jesse Maurer, 5.Chip Geib, 6.Shaun Brandel, 7.Justin Harrington, 8.Billy Logeman, 9.Christi Sweigart, 10.Mike Rutherford, 11.Nate Weidman, 12.Dan Lane Jr., 13.Mike Uhrich, 14.Charles Hellinger, 15.Toby Blumenshine, 16.Brian Sholley, 17.Devin Harron, 18.Ricky Sechrist Jr., 19.Dave Grube, 20.Mike Skias, 21.Ronald Helmick, 22.Heath Hehnly. DQ: Nick Skias; Pete Skias.
125cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Dave Grube, 2.Jesse Maurer, 3.Richie Hartman, 4.Bradley Brown, 5.Darren Miller, 6.Felisha Kirlin, 7.Ken Miller, 8.Dylan Adams, 9.Nick Sweigart, 10.Kyle Hehnly, 11.Derek Ecenrode, 12.Brianna Gerhart, 13.Danny Braun Jr., 14.Scott Gantert, 15.Brie Weiler, 16.James Wampole, 17.Zack Hollinger, 18.Shane Braxton. DNS: Kory Merkey, Dawson Guzik, Walt Wampole.
270cc Four-Stroke Feature, 25 laps: 1.Chip Geib, 2.Donna Geib, 3.Kenny Miller III, 4.Steve Smith Sr., 5.Ed Nocera, 6.Kory Shissler, 7.Kim Enck, 8.Lewis Kepple Jr., 9.Earl Eveland, 10.Sheila Fetter, 11.Phil Johnson, 12.Craig DeSantis, 13.Ryan Morris, 14.Ronald Good.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Ken Miller, 2.Jason Swavely, 3.Curtis R. Miller, 4.Mark Ludwig, 5.Mark Ludwig, 6.Wesley Fasnacht, 7. Tim Ziegler, 8. Corey Schmuck Jr., 9.Dennis Fenstermacher. 10.Robert Shanaman, 11.Sheena Logeman, 12.Bret Habecker, 13.Dave Kemp, 14.Kerry Lengle, 15.Brian Becker, 16.Jordan Stites, 17.Jenna Heagy.