2009-07-16 / Sports

Path Valley Beats The Rain

By Rob Keller

On a night when almost all the other local tracks had to cancel due to rain, Path Valley Speedway was able to get its Saturday Night Stock Car show in the books.

The 4-Cylinder Strictly Stock feature was a battle of attrition that became a two-car bumperto bumper shootout over the final six laps. T.J. Bookwalter couldn't start after bouncing hard off the backstretch wall in the heat race and losing the right rear wheel. Ron Daihl started second and beat polesitter Dan Smith to turn one and the lead. On lap five Johnny Runk got sideways entering turn three, and Jesse Dehart clipped his front end, sending both to the pit area with flat tires. After the restart, Daihl pulled away as Smith and Robbie Imgrund dueled for second. Daihl suddenly slowed on lap 14 and pitted, giving the lead to Smith. Over the final laps, Imgrund looked to the inside of Smith, but each time Smith used the momentum of the high groove to retain the lead. It was Smith's second win of the season, while Imgrund continues to be the point leader. Imgrund won the heat race.

In the Super Stock feature Craig Imes showed his preference for a tackier track by leading all 20 laps and cruising to his third win this year. Ryan Renninger, Adam Yetter and Steve Harlan put on a show racing for second place. Harlan had just taken second place from Renninger when his right rear axle broke, and the wheel went rolling into the infield. The top-five finishers were Craig Imes, Renninger, Yetter, Bobby Witters and Adam Imes. Adam Imes won the heat race.

The 8-Cylinder Strictly Stock main event showcased close racing action from start to finish. Jeremy Woodring started second and beat Carl Miller to the lead on lap one. For the first half of the race, Woodring and Miller battled for the lead while Joey Burdge, A.J. Verno and Jason Ege were scrapping for third. On lap nine Woodring's left rear shock absorber broke, slowing his pace. Miller was able to drive around Woodring and into the lead. At the same time, Ege took advantage when both Burdge and Verno went low as he used the high groove to drive past both and into third. Before the lap was over, Ege used the same move to pass Woodring for second. The only caution waved when Burdge lost power and stopped on lap 16. After the restart, Ege made several attempts to pass on either side of Miller, but just couldn't find the speed to complete the pass. On the final straightaway, Ege gave one lastditch effort for the win, but his transmission broke sending gear oil and parts on the track as they took the checkered flag. The win was Miller's fifth of the year. With Ege in second, Woodring held off Verno for third. Ben Deardorff completed the top five. Verno won the heat race.

Justin Williamson was the only 6-Cylinder Strictly Stock able to start the feature, and Chuck Gipe the only Strictly Stock Truck to start, giving both of them heat and feature wins.

Six divisions of racing provided plenty of action and a few surprise results at Path Valley Speedway Friday night.

Tim Mertz started second in the 270cc Micro Sprint feature and took the lead on lap one with Levi Peck and Brian Marriott right behind. Marriott passed Peck for second on lap seven, and Sean McAndrew followed suit the next lap to take third. The leaders were spread out by a few car lengths as they diced through lapped traffic, and it appeared the event would run caution free. That was until lap 18 when Marriott suddenly slowed and stopped in turn three. And while under caution, Peck also lost power. On the restart, McAndrew powered by Mertz for the winning pass. Steve Whary passed Mertz with one lap to go to finish second. Mertz held on to third, ahead of Tom Shearer and Ryan McAndrew. This is the fourth win this year for Sean McAndrew and the third race in a row that he or his brother Ryan have won. Heat race wins went to Bryan Hart and Sean McAndrew.

The 600cc Micro Sprint feature was controlled by the front two rows, as the first four starters were the first four to finish. The only pass in the top four was Tyler Walton passing Jim Brookens for the lead on lap five. There were two red-flag periods during the race. The first came out on lap six when Jon Bakner did several barrel rolls at the end of the backstretch. Bakner climbed out uninjured. The second red flag was two laps later when Rodney Glass climbed the backstretch wall and flipped repeatedly in mid-air until landing abruptly on his wheels. Glass was conscious, but had some pain and requested to be taken to the hospital to be checked out. From there, Walton's only problem was trying to put a lap on Josh Lesher. Lesher was low, and Walton tried to go underneath him entering turn one. The two got together, but both continued after checking up to regain control. At the finish it was Walton collecting his fourth win ahead of Brookens, Jake Murphy, Travis Saner and Timmie Barrick. Saner, Murphy, and Walton won the heat races.

Tim Fedder wired the field, starting on the pole and leading every lap to become the first three-time winner in the Late Model division this year. The nine-car field became spread out with only two cautions slowing the pace. Jerry Bard ran second the entire event, a few car lengths ahead of Kyle Wiser. Dave Dunkle had another solid finish, coming home fourth, and Brad Kling completed the top five. The heat race winners were Bard and Dunkle.

When Jeff Sell injured his arm, he decided to put one of his mechanics, Dave Wilson, into the car while he recovered. Wilson had raced go-karts and micro sprints in the past, 20 years ago in the past. Wilson started on the pole of the PA Sprint Series 305 Sprint Car feature and led every lap to win his first race in more than 20 years. Wilson was never really pressured during the event, and his only scare came when Mike Wagner spun around right in front of him on the next-tolast lap. On the restart, Steve Whary got past Ryan Lynn for second, only to have Lynn recapture the spot by just a few feet at the finish. Todd Spangler finished fourth and Logan Wagner fifth. Spangler and Mike Wagner won the heat races.

Kevin Thomas continues to dominate the Mini Stock division at Path Valley, winning his 11th feature in 14 events. Thomas started 12th and had worked his way into second on lap 12. With Ricky Harper leading, Thomas looked to the inside several times until he was able to make the pass coming to take the white flag. Harper held on to second, ahead of Kenny Hill, Jodie Varner and Eric Seibert. Heat race wins went to Mark Grove and Varner.

Tom Crum has been running part-time in the 4-Cylinder Thunder Car division at Path Valley more than the past four years. John Rasp is a five-time champion with over 50 career feature wins. Crum had been leading since lap two, and Rasp had moved into second on lap nine. When the green flag waved after the ninth of 10 cautions Crum's racer hesitated just a moment and Rasp drove around and into the lead. As Crum said in victory lane he "buried his foot to the floor and held on." Rasp continued in the high groove, and Crum was able to get back past using the low line on lap 10. The final caution on lap 20 gave Rasp one more chance, but Crum was up to the challenge to get his first win at Path Valley. Rasp followed in second. Last week's feature winner, Tyler Adams, finished third ahead of Denny Scofield and Bill Kennedy. Heat race victories went to D.J. Keefer and Crum.

Path Valley Speedway returns to action next Friday night, July 17, with the PA Sprint Series and the Sidewinders joining the regular four divisions. For schedule information and other track info, check out the Web site at www.pathvalley.com.

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