Kevin Thomas Continues To Dominate Mini Stocks
Path Valley Speedway kicked off the Memorial Day weekend with a six-division program on Friday night. For two of the winners, it was there first trip to victory lane in 2009, while another continued a near perfect season.
In the 600cc Micro Sprint feature, Tyler Walton passed early leader Travis Saner on a lapthree restart. That proved to be the winning pass as Walton finished with a full straightaway lead over second place to claim his third feature win at Path Valley this year. Jimmy Brookens also took advantage of a restart on lap 11 to get by Saner and into second. Saner held on to third while Tim Barrick came from ninth to finish fourth, and Brad Cox rounded out the top five. In victory lane, Walton stated he was glad the race wasn't another five laps longer as his car was getting looser as the race wore on. Saner and Walton also collected heat race wins.
Kenny Hill drove underneath Jeremy Ott on a restart on lap two to take early command of the Mini Stock feature. Kevin Thomas started 12th in the 18- car field and using the low groove worked his way up to fourth on lap eight. On a restart one lap later, Gary Newell pulled inside Ott in turn one. As they were side-by-side, Thomas drove underneath Newell, making it three wide as they exited turn two. Thomas completed the double pass on the backstretch, and two laps later he passed Hill for the lead. From there, Thomas easily kept the field behind him to win his seventh feature in eight races in 2009. Hill held on to second, while Dave Friedrich had his best showing of the year with a strong third-place finish. Frankie Gordon ran near the top five all-night, finishing fourth, and Ott came home fifth. Heat winners were Thomas and Friedrich.
Steve Whary started on the pole of the 270cc Micro Sprint feature, and he led every lap to get his second win this season. On paper it looks like an easy win, but that is not the case. Ryan McAndrew moved from starting sixth to the runner-up spot on lap three. After that, he was never more than a car-length behind and at times almost beside Whary. But McAndrew could not find the speed he needed to make the pass and he settled for second. Tim Mertz finished third, Matt Nulph fourth and Bryan Hart fifth. Sean McAndrew and Whary won their heat races.
With the largest field of Late Models in two years on hand, and two exciting heat races earlier in the night, anticipation ran high for an exciting feature. Rance Garlock started on the pole and jumped into the lead with Jerry Bard not far behind. Tim Smith moved into third on lap three, while Scott Richwine and Andy Fries dueled for fourth right behind him. Just as Fries looked like he would take control of fourth using the high groove, Richwine found his rhythm on the bottom and he started his charge. On lap seven, he regained fourth, and a lap later he was by Smith for third. It took Richwine another six laps before he drove underneath Bard and into second. Then the excitement level began to rise. With Garlock controlling the high groove, Richwine closed in hugging the bottom. On lap 15 they made contact on the exit of turn two. With Garlock turning toward the infield, Richwine backed out and both drivers straightened up and continued on. A lap later, they caught the tail end of the field. Garlock tried for two laps to put Elwood Sord a lap down without success. As they took the two laps to go signal, Garlock got to the high side of Sord in turn two. But Richwine moved underneath Sord on the exit of turn two, making them three-wide on the backstretch. Garlock drove deep into turn three trying to keep the lead, but he got in just a bit too high and when he hit the loose clay, he spun out. Richwine held off Bard the remaining two laps to get his first win of 2009 at Path Valley. Smith finished third ahead of Fries and Brad Kling. Heat race wins went to Richwine and Tim Fedder.
The Super Stocks made their first appearance on Friday night in two years. Craig Imes put his Chevy Malibu in front, beating Terry Smith to turn one. On lap three, Steve Harlan worked inside Smith to take over second. Those three ran nearly the rest of the race nose-to-tail. On lap 14 Harlan made a bonsai dive to the inside of Imes in turn one. But Harlan slid up just a bit too high in turn two, and Imes was able to turn back underneath Harlan and regain the lead. After that, the top three stayed the same with Imes getting his second win this season, ahead of Harlan and Smith. Jan Powell and Adam Yetter had their own private battle for fourth the last half of the race, with Powell getting the spot by inches at the finish. Smith won the heat race.
It took three tries to get the 4- Cylinder Thunder Car feature started, and on the second restart John Rasp out-powered polesitter Randy Stull for the lead. On lap two, Jeremy Ott drove by Stull and into second. On lap seven, Ott drove deep into turn one in the low groove, so deep the car was completely sideways. But Ott was able to straighten back out, and he exited turn two with the lead. Rasp stayed within a few car lengths over the remaining laps, but he was not able to challenge for the lead. It was Ott's first win at Path Valley in 2009. John Rasp finished second, Stull held on to third, with Justin Rasp in fourth and Josh Walstrum in fifth. Stull and Justin Rasp were the heat winners.
Path Valley Speedway returns to action next Friday night with a special event. It is the Wee Bee Audio 600/1000 Challenge. All sprint cars will be running wingless with a special event between 600cc Micro Sprints and Sidwinders. The Late Models will also be on the card along with the Mini Stocks and 4-cylinder Thunder Cars.