Newmanstown, PA - Two drivers who have endured a string of bad luck may have shaken the gorilla off their backs, and that could spell trouble for their competitors.
Mike Rutherford (600cc) and Jason Swavely (270cc) struggled through recent streaks of rotten luck, but turned things around with victories on Saturday night at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
Joining the duo in victory lane on Nouse Signs & Graphics Night at the speedway were: Richie Hartman (125cc), Bret Habecker (Sportsman), and Ryan Morris (250cc Four-Stroke).
Just how bad has Rutherford's luck been in the 600cc Micro-Sprint division? Bad enough to put him on the pole when officials used the three-week point average handicapping system to determine the starting line-up for Saturday's 25-lap main event. And also bad enough to leave him bruised and sore after a heat race flip the week prior...
But the frowns were turned around for Rutherford and Gary Hunter's CARSTAR team on Saturday. The Lititz, Pa. wheel-twister led all the way, although a strong run by C.J. Tracy kept Rutherford in sight for most of the race. Tracy, in fact, closed in on the leader and appeared ready to strike when the pair caught the back of the pack and began lapping cars. The top was the fast way around the banked oval, but Rutherford's No. 7h was so good on the bottom that he was able to pick off the backmarkers and put some distance between himself and Tracy.
"That's kind of been our 'modus operandi' over the past few years," stated Rutherford in the winner's circle. "When everyone is running the top, we want to be able to sneak around the bottom...kind of go where the others aren't...and that worked well for us tonight."
A well deserved runner-up finish went to C.J. Tracy, with A.J. Michael recording a season-best effort of third. Mark Millwright & Rigging point leader Tyler Esh crossed the line in fourth, and Chris Panczner was fifth at the finish.
With 28 of the 600's signed in for competition, heat race victories went to Travis Esh, Panczner, and Mark Yoder. Mike Freed won the consolation race.
Brittany Brown was the 600Scene.com Hard Charger of the race, gaining ten positions (23rd to 13th) during the feature.
Jason Swavely's luck in the 270cc Class was not much better than Rutherford's, putting the Douglassville, Pa. charger on the outside of row one for Saturday's 25-lap main event.
Swavely bolted into the top spot at the drop of the green, beating polesitter Nick Sweigart into turn one.
Ken Miller slipped past Sweigart for second on the eighth trip around the clay, but he was no match for the high flying Swavely on this night. Miller eventually had to deal with Rutherford, who moved the Kaylor Petro No. 5k into third position on lap eleven. Miller and Rutherford waged a terrific, side by side duel for the runner-up spot over the next 12 circuits, allowing Swavely to maintain a healthy lead.
Rutherford finally claimed second place, and a yellow with one to go gave him one last shot at the race leader. Swavely, however, motored away on that final restart, and won his first 270cc feature at the Clyde in more than a year. In the process, Jason also turned the fastest lap of the race, earning the Weld Racing Fast Lap of the Feature Award.
Rutherford finished second, with Miller placing third in the final rundown. Richie Hartman, the previous week's winner, and Heath Hehnly completed the top five.
Zack Fouse, Swavely, and Rutherford registered heat race triumphs. The consolation was won by Joe Dopke.
There were 26 of the 270cc Micros on hand for Saturday's action.
Richie Hartman, the defending point champ in the 125cc division, earned some redemption with his victory in the Nouse Signs & Graphics 25-lap main event.
Hartman ran well in the first few events of the 2013 season, but mechanical gremlins knocked him out well before the checkered flag waved. On April 27, he led most of the feature, but teammate Jesse Maurer trapped him behind a lapped car late in the race and made the pass to record the triumph.
Last Saturday was a different story, though. Hartman started second and snatched the lead from pole man Brent Shearer on the opening lap. He was never threatened, even when Maurer drove into the runner-up slot just before the halfway mark of the 25-lapper.
At the finish, it was Hartman over Maurer, with Kory Merkey chasing them to the stripe. Derek Ecenrode and Nick Sweigart finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Because he wears a K1 Race Gear custom race suit, Hartman earned a $50 bonus from Nouse Signs & Graphics.
With 18 of the 125cc racers in the pit area, Maurer and Hartman were victorious in the two heat races.
The beginning of the Sportsman feature saw a mad scramble for the top spot between four cars, as drivers used every inch of the homestretch to dice for the position.
Polesitter Kerry Lengle, Robert Shanaman, Bret Habecker, and Jason Swavely fanned out across the track, going almost four-wide for the lead before Shanaman took control and paced the first couple of circuits.
On a restart with two complete, Habecker blasted by Shanaman to grab the point, with Swavely gunning his No. 7c into second.
During the next ten tours, the fight for the lead was fantastic, as Habecker and Swavely traded lanes and not only wrestled with one another, but with some heavy lapped traffic, too.
A caution period with 12 revolutions complete put clear race track in front of the leaders, and Habecker was able to keep Swavely a relatively safe distance behind him. The Leesport, Pa. driver notched his second feature win of the season, with Swavely settling for runner-up honors.
Ken Miller, Curtis R. Miller, and Shanaman made up the rest of the top five.
Ken Miller and Swavely won heat races for the 18-car field of Sportsman Micro-Sprints.
The final race of the night was contested by the 250cc Four-Stroke Micros, and Ryan Morris recorded his second victory of the year in that 25-lap affair.
Morris, from Honeybrook, darted to the inside of Donna Geib on the backchute on lap four, taking a lead that he would not give up over the remainder of the event. Geib had rocketed from her eighth place starting spot to become the leader in less than two laps before Morris chased her down and made the winning pass.
Two-time winner Chip Geib finished second, with Eddie Nocera, rookie Devin Adams, and Kim Enck rounding out the top five.
Chip Geib and Morris were heat winners for the 11 cars that made up the Four-Stroke field on Saturday.
Nouse Signs & Graphics paid a $50 bonus to Ryan Morris because he was wearing a K1 Race Gear custom racing suit when he won the Four-Stroke feature on Saturday.
All of the feature winners received gift certificates as part of the K1 Race Gear Proven Performance Program presented by Nouse Signs & Graphics. The season-long program provides every winner with the gift certificate that can be used when purchasing a custom two or three-layer K1 Race Gear driver's uniform from Nouse Signs & Graphics.
This Saturday, May 11, celebrate Mother's Day weekend with a visit to Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. It's MJF Trucking Night, when qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap feature races will be contested by the 600cc, 270cc, 125cc, Sportsman, and 250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprints.
Gates open at 3:30 and warm-ups get underway at 5 p.m. The first heat race goes green at 6:00.
It'll be the fifth event of the 2013 season at the Clyde, and the Mark Millwright & Rigging point chases are heating up just like the weather. Catch all the action for just $8.00 (Adult General Admission), with discounts for Senior Citizens and Students. Youth between the ages of six and twelve are admitted for only $2.00, and children under the age of six are free. And parking is always free at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway!
Bring mom to the Clyde this Saturday, so she can LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
600cc Micro-Sprint Finish, 25 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.C.J. Tracy, 3.AJ Michael, 4.Tyler Esh, 5.Chris Panczner, 6.Brent Ely, 7.Jack Conover, 8.Ryan Morris, 9.Chris Gerhart, 10.James Morris, 11.Jered Hook, 12.Shane Lewis, 13.Brittany Brown, 14.Brian Carber, 15.Mark Yoder, 16.Taylor Troxel, 17.Cody Kreger, 18.Kory Merkey, 19.Will Urkuski, 20.Dan Souder, 21.Travis Esh, 22.Ryan Hook, 23.Heath Hehnly, 24.Mike Freed.
DNQ: Jason Morrison, Rebecca LaMothe, Mike Coen, Jon Stewart.
270cc Micro-Sprint Finish, 25 laps: 1.Jason Swavely, 2.Mike Rutherford, 3.Ken Miller, 4.Richie Hartman, 5.Heath Hehnly, 6.Brian Sholley, 7.Jesse Maurer, 8.Dave Grube, 9.Nick Sweigart, 10.Nate Weidman, 11.Mike Uhrich, 12.Devin Harron, 13.Zack Fouse, 14.Billy Logeman, 15.Barry Shearer, 16.Kyle Spence, 17.Joe Dopke, 18.Christi Sweigart, 19.Kory Shissler, 20.Corey Schmuck Jr., 21.Michael Binkley, 22.Ricky Sechrist Jr., 23.Toby Blumenshine, 24.Tony Echternacht.
DNQ: Mark Ewer, Kevin Kopp.
125cc Micro-Sprint Finish, 25 laps: 1.Richie Hartman, 2.Jesse Maurer, 3.Kory Merkey, 4.Derek Ecenrode, 5.Nick Sweigart, 6.Brent Shearer, 7.Dylan Adams, 8.Dave Grube, 9.Adam Minzer, 10.Dylan Binkley, 11.Zack Hollinger, 12.Chase Gutshall, 13.Kyle Hehnly, 14.Matthew Donley, 15.Brie Weiler, 16.Alexis Sheely, 17.James Wampole, 18.Walt Wampole.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Finish, 25 laps: 1.Bret Habecker, 2.Jason Swavely, 3.Ken Miller, 4.Curtis R. Miller, 5.Robert Shanaman, 6.Anthony Yerger, 7.Dave Kemp, 8.Jenna Heagy, 9.Brian Becker, 10.Jas Hehnly, 11.Taylor Shissler, 12.Charles Hellinger, 13.Matt Peachey, 14.Matt Abers, 15.Wesley Fasnacht, 16.Sheena Logeman, 17.Kerry Lengle, 18.Tim Ziegler.
250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprint Finish, 25 laps: 1.Ryan Morris, 2.Chip Geib, 3.Eddie Nocera, 4.Devin Adams, 5.Kim Enck, 6.Lewis Kepple Jr., 7.Donna Geib, 8.Steve Smith Sr., 9.Kenny Miller III, 10.Brandon Morrison, 11.Scott Renninger.