Newmanstown, Pa. - Racing at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway is turning into a "hate/love" relationship for Tyler Walton.
"I used to hate this place," grinned Walton after his winged 600cc triumph on Saturday night, "but now I love it! Stan (Fleming) put an awesome set-up on this car tonight, and it was flawless."
The driver from Mifflintown, Pa. was joined by Chip Geib (270cc Four-Strokes) and Jason Swavely (Sportsman) in victory lane on Saturday, which was Night One of the Lanco club's annual Labor Day Shootout presented by Hyper Racing.
The huge weekend of high speed adventure was scheduled to culminate on Sunday, September 2nd, with a full program for the 270cc Two-Strokes, 125cc, and Wingless 600cc Sprints.
A dual heat race format, utilizing a passing points system, set the top twenty qualifiers for each of the divisions competing in the Labor Day Shootout. By virtue of earning the most qualifying points, Walton started on the pole of the winged 600cc A-Main. Although he maintained a fairly secure advantage for most of the 30-lap headliner, there were a few close calls.
Walton led all the way, but on a few occasions, lapped traffic allowed runner-up Heath Hehnly to close in and even pull alongside the leader once or twice. Each time, however, Walton powered his Juniata Beverage No. 14T back in front of Hehnly. A couple of timely yellows also helped his cause when they slowed the pace of the event and cleared the track in front of the leaders.
Adding to his nervousness over the lapped traffic was the fact that Walton's right-rear shock mount broke, leaving the shock absorber dangling and making the driver believe he had a tire going down.
And, with ten laps showing on the scoreboard, three cars tangled and spun right in front of the leaders in turns one and two. Walton jammed on the brakes and slowed (but never came to a complete stop) to avoid contact, enabling him to hold on to the top spot.
Mike Rutherford started thirteenth and methodically worked his way forward, eventually battling Tyler Tank for the fourth position with ten tours remaining. Rutherford claimed that spot, then went after third place Shane Lewis in a crowd pleasing, slide job swapping tussle that lasted about five laps before Rutherford secured the position.
A caution period with two to go gave Rutherford the opportunity to challenge Hehnly for second, and their duel permitted Walton to dance away to the $1,000 victory.
Rutherford slipped past Hehnly but had no chance to mount an assault on the leader, as Walton cruised under the checkered by a margin of 0.742-seconds over Rutherford. Lewis went to the top on the final lap and edged Hehnly for third at the stripe in a dazzling, wheel-rubbing finish.
Mike Dicely, who had to muster a frantic late-race charge in the B-Main just to qualify, navigated his way from 25th on the starting grid to claim fifth-place money when the checkered flag waved to end the 30-lap A-Main.
With 45 cars signed in to compete, the field was split into five heat races in each round of qualifying. Winning the ten lap heats were Lewis, Walton, Danny Wykes, Travis Esh, Jared Esh, Hehnly, Peter Michael, Mark Yoder, Tyler Walker, and Jered Hook. Walker also won the hotly contested B-Main.
Manheim's Chip Geib started fifth in the 30-lap A-Main for the 270cc Four-Stroke Sprints. As polesitter Craig DeSantis paced the early trips around the banked oval, a furious four-car tango developed behind him as Ryan Morris, Ryan Shupp, Geib, and Richie Hartman bounced off one another and weaved in and around each other before Geib finally grabbed second and went after DeSantis.
Using the high groove, Geib motored by DeSantis to take the lead on the sixth revolution, with Hartman and Morris also passing DeSantis on the next lap to run second and third. Morris ducked under Hartman to steal the runner-up spot, then quickly ran down Geib and began to pressure him for the race lead.
One circuit past the halfway point, Geib and Morris got together in turn four, with Morris spinning and Geib continuing on and holding on to first place. That put Hartman (who was driving a car owned by Geib) into second for the restart, and Richie offered up a challenge to his car owner, but Chip repelled the attack and steadily put some distance between himself and Hartman.
Morris roared back from his mishap to pass Hartman for second with four to go, but Geib had checked out by that time. Geib flashed across the finish line to win his seventh Four-Stroke feature of the season, and his second consecutive Labor Day Shootout.
Second went Morris, with Hartman, DeSantis, and Shupp rounding out the top five.
DeSantis won both of his heat races, while Morris and Hartman also won Four-Stroke preliminaries.
Jason Swavely, the defending Sportsman Class point champion, won both of his heat races on Saturday, giving him the pole position for the 30-lap A-Main.
Swavely, from Douglassville, Pa., then romped to victory - his sixth of the year in the Sportsman division - beating Bret Habecker to the finish line by 1.744-seconds.
Swavely's only close calls came with seven to go when Jordan Stites spun in front of the leader in turn two, then on the final tour when Stites bounced off the wall at the exit of turn four, flipping across the track as Swavely came blasting throught the corner. The race leader was able to dive to the bottom and avoid the No. 23s, and Stites was okay after his wild ride.
Late race yellows forced runner-up Bret Habecker to hold on to his wing under caution, as a couple of the mounting brackets broke during the race, causing the back of the wing to, at times, bounce up and down. As the field was about to restart, though, Habecker put both hands back on the steering wheel and held on to finish second with Ken Miller (rebounding after a disasterous second round heat race) placing third. Billy Logeman and David Ravel completed the top five when the race concluded.
Swavely won both his heat races, with Habecker and Ravel winning the other two preliminary events.
RESULTS: Lanco's Labor Day Shootout, Night One...
Winged 600cc Sprint Feature, 30 laps: 1.Tyler Walton, 2.Mike Rutherford, 3.Shane Lewis, 4.Heath Hehnly, 5.Mike Dicely, 6.Jeff Halligan, 7.Jim Radney, 8.Tyler Tank, 9.Chris Panczner, 10.Tyler DeVault, 11.Danny Wykes, 12.Tony DiMattia, 13.Brent Ely, 14.Tyler Esh, 15.Phil Durham, 16.Shaun Brandel, 17.Jeff Stelter, 18.Jared Esh, 19.Travis Esh, 20.Tyler Walker, 21.Peter Michael, 22.Jered Hook, 23.Jon Stewart, 24.Mike Coen, 25.Luke Thomas, 26.Mark Yoder.
270cc Four-Stroke Sprint Feature, 30 laps: 1.Chip Geib, 2.Ryan Morris, 3.Richie Hartman, 4.Craig DeSantis, 5.Ryan Shupp, 6.Kenny Miller III, 7.Donna Geib, 8.Kory Shissler, 9.Julie Wenger, 10.Ron Wechter, 11.Steve Smith Sr., 12.Kim Enck, 13.Ronnie Good.
Sportsman Sprint Feature, 30 laps: 1.Jason Swavely, 2.Bret Habecker, 3.Ken Miller, 4.Billy Logeman, 5.David Ravel, 6.Matt Abers, 7.Curtis R. Miller, 8.Sheena Logeman, 9.Wesley Fasnacht, 10.Brad Kemp, 11.Corey Schmuck, 12.Robert Shanaman, 13.Dennis Ziegler, 14.Dean Spangler, 15.Jordan Stites, 16.Dennis Fenstermacher, 17.Jenna Heagy, 18.Mark Ludwig, 19.Chris Heagy. DNS: Kerry Lengle.
*A total of 45 cars entered the winged 600cc portion of the show, and that was the magic number as far as the purse was concerned...because 45 or more entries meant the A-Main paid $1,000 to win - making it a very lucrative triumph for Tyler Walton.
*It was Walton's first Clyde Martin victory. In his winner's circle interview, Walton admitted he "used to hate this place, but no more. Now I love it!"
*Night number 2 of the Labor Day Shootout takes place on Sunday, September 2nd, with warm-ups at 5 p.m. and the first heat race at 6:00. The slate of events will include dual heat races (with a passing points system to determine who moves on), last chance qualifiers, and 30-lap A-Mains for the 270cc Two-Strokes, 125cc, and Wingless 600cc. Should the 270cc Two-Strokes and/or the wingless 600cc divisions attract 45 or more cars in their respective portions of the program, then the feature(s) will pay $1,000 to the winner.