Story By: CHRIS GRAHAM / LANCO’S CLYDE MARTIN MEMORIAL SPEEDWAY – NEWMANSTOWN, PA – A mix of track regulars and outlaw schedule runners invaded Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway for the opening night of the 2020 season.
After an off-season rules change combined the 125 and Four Stroke divisions, four classes took to the high banks after a delay of eight weeks due to the Pandemic. With 140 cars in the pit area, and more than 25 cars in each class, all four features were run with a $500 top prize.
The new 125/4 Stroke class kicked off the night’s running. With defending 4 Stroke champion Marty Brian and back-to-back 2020 race winner at Greenwood Valley, Alex Lukacs, in the field, a youth movement was predicted. Experience held the night however, as Austin Graby claimed the win over Holden Eckman and AJ Gerhart. Early on, nobody was catching up to pole-sitter Eckman, who had a lead of over two seconds at the second caution on lap seven. On the restart, Eckman checked out again, but this time Graby was hot on his heels for two quick laps before caution again fell on the racetrack. At the halfway point, the gap was just a couple of car lengths. A long green flag run was ended by the flipped car of Marty Brian in turn two. Quick work by the track safety crew got Brian checked out as ok, turned right side up, and he was able to continue on. The restart with nine laps to go saw the best battle for the lead. Graby crossed over Eckman for the lead off turn four and Graby won the drag race to turn one with the inside line covered. It was all Graby from there in a fantastic run to the finish, claiming the win by a second and a half over Eckman. Behind Gerhart, Tyler Martin and Lukacs rounded out the top five.
In the 270 class, TJ Greve and Matt Fernsler lead the field to the green, but it took three attempts to get just a handful of laps in. On the third restart, occurring on lap three, Pete Skias charged from third inside of Fernsler to claim second. Tommy Kunsman showed his power early, going two for one inside of turn three to claim the third position. Caution for Aidan Svanda attempting the Logan Seavey line in turn four setup a restart with Greve and Pete Skias on row one, with Kunsman and 2019 class runner-up Nick Skias in row two. Pete Skias and Greve put on a fantastic battle for the lead for several laps before caution flew again. Greve lead every lap until a mechanical issue put him into a lapped car and ended his bid for his first Lanco checkered flag this season with three laps remaining. Kunsman checked out on the restart to claim the victory by 1.6 seconds over Pete Skias. Bradley Brown, Toby Blumenshine, and Corey Schmuck, Jr. completed the top five. Several hard chargers were notable in this one, as Jason Swavely came from 24th to finish sixth, while Blumenshine, Brown, and Schmuck started in positions 11-13.
Easily the quickest feature of the night was up next, as the Hyper Racing 600’s went flag-to-flag and completed their race in four minutes and 58 seconds. TJ Greve went wire to wire from the pole, but the racing was outstanding throughout the field. A pair of proven race winners and champions paced the field with Greve and Airport Speedway champion Jimmy Glenn on the front row. A solid mix of track regulars and outlaws made up the field. As the leaders caught lap traffic only eight laps in, the battle was on throughout the field. Glenn was under attack almost from the drop of the green flag, as Brent Ely worked the bottom to perfection to claim second. Defending class champion Heath Hehnly charged from his seventh starting position to claim third, and immediately went to work on Ely. After his win in the 270’s Tommy Kunsman earned hard charger honors battling up to fight in the top five. Just a few short minutes later, the checkered flag fell for Greve, who claimed a 1.3 second win over Hehnly. The battle for second raged for most of the race, and Hehnly pipped Ely by a half second at the stripe. Nick Skias and Kunsman rounded out the top five.
The final feature of the night was in the Sportsman category, where defending class champion Michael Kreiser had to qualify for the feature out of the consolation race, setting up a wide-open field for top honors. After suffering a family loss just a week ago, Patrick Kirn was a standout, earning the outside pole position next to Jeremy Eisenhouer. Eisenhour was fantastic on the start and restarts throughout the race, and dueled with Jesse Maurer who was piloting the same quick car Nick Skias normally runs. David Ravel was also quick in his machine, starting fourth and pressuring Kirn for third early. Ava Bellinger was outstanding on the restarts; challenging Ravel for third, before another caution halted her progress. This feature was a start-and-stop affair, but Maurer made the move for the race lead as the first long green flag run occurred at the halfway point. Bellinger made a move on Kirn and Ravel for a top three spot but made contact and spun in turn three. At the finish, Maurer claimed a nearly three second win over Kirn and Ravel, with Anthony Yerger and Eisenhouer completing the top five.
Next up for the Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway is race number two on the season, with all four divisions in action next Saturday, June 6. It is expected that no general admission tickets will be sold for spectators, due to the ongoing government mandates. Updates on event schedules, times, and tickets and pit pass availability will be posted at the track’s website.