MARTZ, BAINEY, GASTON, HENRY, AND LINDEMUTH GRAB OPENING NIGHT WINS AT THUNDER MOUNTAIN SPEEDWAY
April 25, 2008
Knoxdale, PA…After weeks of prepping the new clay added to the surface, promoter Audie Geer opened the gates to Thunder Mountain Speedway for the 2008 season opener despite some sprinkles in the area. The skies cleared nicely as the stands overflowed with fans eager to take in the action the new surface was sure to provide. While all drivers put on an exciting show throughout the night, Rusty Martz (Super Stocks), Jason Bainey (Pure Stocks), Matt Gaston (Late Models), Don Henry (RWD 4 Cylinders), and Skip Lindemuth (Enduros) were left standing in Horizon Homes Victory Lane at the end of the program.
Fresh off of a win the previous weekend, 2007 Track Champion Rusty Martz started his title defense with a hard fought feature win. "It feels good starting off the year with 2 feature wins. The car was great tonight, it felt like a Sunday drive out there" stated the Brookville, PA competitor beside his #16M. "Fuzzy (Fields) and I got into the lapped traffic and I knew I had to get through them first. When 2 lapped cars are racing each other for position, it’s hard to find a hole sometimes", continued Martz next to his Martz Auto Sales, Cypress Gift Shop, Redline Performance sponsored Faster Chassis mount.
Mike Desch and Steve Cook lead the field to starter Tom Mott’s first green flag of the season. Desch grabbed the lead out of turn 2 while 4th starting Martz took 2nd from Cook in turn 3 and pulled along side Desch at the flagstand. Martz snared the lead from Desch in turn 2 as 5th starting Fuzzy Fields was up to 3rd and began closing on Desch. Martz began opening a comfortable lead as Fields took 2nd from Desch on lap 5. As Martz and now Fields were pulling away from the pack, front row starters Desch and Cook were 3rd and 4th respectively with 6th starting Chad O’Brien and 3rd starter Jamie Barber battling for 5th. Nathan Russell took 6th from Barber as O’Brien had a firm grasp on 5th.
Out front, Martz began making his way around lapped cars before entering heavy traffic. Fields started closing as Martz saw the "2 to go" flags. Fields got as close as two car lengths behind Martz as the leader was picking his way through 2 and 3 wide racing in front of him. As the white flag waved, Martz cleared the lapped cars and began pulling away from Fields who was left in the same pack Martz just disposed of. Martz cruised through the open track for the last lap and too the win by a half-straight stretch over Fields.
Desch held on for 3rd in a rare Thunder Mountain start for the Tyrone, PA driver. Fellow front row starter Steve Cook was 4th ahead of Chad O’Brien. Rounding out the top 10 were Russell, Barber, Johnny Lindenpitz, Jim Handyside Jr., and Jackson Humanic. Fields and Martz were heat winners over the 13 car field. The Super Stocks ran off caution free heats and the feature went green to checker as well.
In Pure Stock action, Jason Bainey had a night of reminiscence. "I won the season opener last year too. Last week, I embarrassed my brother with my driving so I wanted to redeem myself. It’s nice to be back here at Thunder Mountain", exclaimed Bainey. "I saw the 101 (Bruce Hartzfeld) under me in the last turn and thought I was going to give this one away too"" joked the Clearfield, PA driver.
Bainey and John Barley brought the field to green with Bainey taking the lead into turn 1. 3rd starter Dan Kennedy made his way by Barley for 2nd and set in pursuit of Bainey. Bruce Hartzfeld came from 5th to 3rd on lap 3 as Kennedy was on Bainey’s back bumper until a lap 5 caution for Barley and Paul Trunzo.
On the ensuing restart, Hartzfeld drove to the inside of Kennedy as the pair ran side by side until the halfway mark when Hartzfeld had a slight edge going into turn 3. Kennedy had the outside momentum and pulled back beside Hartzfeld as the two battled just behind the leader. Hartzfeld took the 2nd spot for good on lap 9 and tried to reel in Bainey with 2 laps to go. Bainey had a two-car length advantage over Hartzfeld who began opening ground ahead of Kennedy in 3rd as the white flag waved.
Hartzfeld had a good run into turn 3 and almost made contact with Bainey in turn 4. In a very sportsmanlike move, Hartzfeld backed off the gas allowing Bainey to gather his #22 as the pair had the front-stretch to fight for the win. Bainey had enough momentum to pull ahead and take the win. Hartzfeld settled for 2nd as Kennedy crossed the line 3rd. Barley and Chuck Rittenhouse were 4th and 5th. Steve Barnes and Trunzo rounded out the field. Hartzfeld won the 8 car heat race.
Punxsutawney, PA’s Matt Gaston held off a furious race long charge from Luke Hoffner to claim the Late Model feature win. Acknowledging the pressure, Gaston stated in victory lane "I can’t take anything away from Luke, he makes you earn a spot ahead of him. I don’t know what kind of luck you call it, but this is the first night on this car. We got it ready at 5:30 tonight and loaded the trailer to come here. My sponsors are a great help."
John Reed and Gaston made up the front row of the feature line up with Gaston taking the lead into turn 1 with Reed, Hoffner, Bobby McMillen, and Rick Maxim in tow. Hoffner got by Reed on lap 2 as Dwayne Tanneyhill and Chuck Kennedy were advancing through the field knocking on the top 5. Reed spun bringing out a yellow before the lap was completed. Ed Connor left his 5th spot to enter the pits and did not return.
Gaston got a good restart, but so did Hoffner as he looked under the leader in turn 1. Gaston’s high line provided him the momentum he used all night to stave off the low charges from Hoffner. The lead duo pulled well ahead of 3rd place McMillen as Tanneyhill and Maxim engaged in a battle for 4th. The pair swapped the spot on lap 3, but Maxim drove under Tanneyhill and opened a gap on the 5th place runner and began closing on McMillen in 3rd. Tanneyhill brought out a caution on lap 8 with a flat tire and headed to the pits for repairs. After two courtesy laps, Tanneyhill was unable to make the call and the field took the green flag for the restart. Heading into turn 2, 4th place Maxim looped his mount negating the start. Tanneyhill rejoined the field under yellow and was still on the lead lap.
Gaston and Hoffner resumed their dual line battle out front as Kennedy put his #51 under McMillen for 3rd with Jerry Redden making his presence known moving to 5th. By lap 12, Gaston had some breathing room ahead of Hoffner until McMillen stopped his #50 on the backstretch with front suspension failure and was done for the night.
When green replaced yellow, the two leaders took off well ahead of the field while Kennedy faced pressure from Redden for 3rd at the halfway mark. Tanneyhill was back up to 5th. With 10 laps to go, the field started to string itself out for the first time until lap 17 when Maxim took 5th from Redden and Hoffner re-caught Gaston who caught lapped traffic. Gaston worked the slower cars like the veteran he is and opened a lead on Hoffner with 2 laps to go. Tanneyhill took 4th position before slipping off the backstretch allowing Maxim and Redden by.
The final lap clicked off with Gaston taking the win in his #47 Battle Chassis over Hoffner who were both ½ lap ahead of Kennedy in 3rd. Maxim and Redden finished 4th and 5th respectively. Tanneyhill slipped to 6th at the stripe, followed by Larry Wingard, Keith Witherite, and Reed. McMillen was credited with 10th at the pay window. Maxim and Hoffner were heat winners over the 11 car field.
Replacing the Thunder Truck division for 2008 will be the Rear Wheel Drive 4 Cylinders. Although only 3 cars made the call, the track expects the division to grow by the week.
Don Henry from Brockway, PA has the honor of claiming the first ever feature win for the division. "I’m glad we were invited to race here this year, but sorry more cars didn’t show up. This is more track than I’m used to and had to run the car pretty hard" commented Henry beside his #68 machine. While being pressured the entire distance from heat race winner Bill McMillen, Henry took the win over McMillen and Joe Malobicky Jr.
Closing the curtain on opening night were the "Thunderbolt" Enduros. Brookville, PA’s Skip Lindemuth has won features in Super Stocks and the defunct Thunder Trucks, now he can add an Enduro win to his resume. "I’ll tell you what, if you want a good car have Aaron Hill build you one. This thing was great. Not quite the power I’m used to and I was out of control for a while. I got it together though" stated Lindemuth next to the #455 in victory lane.
Shawn Dinger and Chris Woodel brought the overflowing 26 car field to the track. Dinger grabbed the lead over Woodel with Randy Holliday and Brent Lee in pursuit. Holliday slowed with a flat tire on lap 2, fortunately everyone misses the slowing #422 as he limped to the pits. The pace slowed on lap 3 as Eric Luzier spun in turn 4 bringing out the first yellow. Dinger resumed his lead after the restart while Brent Lee took 2nd from Woodel. 2007 track champion Tim Bish was behind the wheel of the #95 and was up to 4th with cars 3 wide behind him jockeying for 5th. Jamey Lee took the 5th spot at the halfway mark as the top 4 were unchanged.
Brent Lee relinquished his 2nd place spot as he left the event. Bish started challenging Woodel for 2nd with Jamey Lee joining the battle. Woodel fought off the challenge leaving Bish and Jamey Lee to fight for 3rd. The leaders were entering intense lapped traffic on lap 9 as Woodel stopped in turn 4 resulting in a caution.
Resetting the field under yellow showed Dinger, Bish, Jamey Lee, Lindemuth, and Chad Greely making up the top 5. Dinger lead the field after the restart and saw the 2 to go flags displayed. Bish slammed the front stretch wall and brought out a caution as he slowed before exiting the track, which moved Jamey Lee to 2nd.
The restart changed the race as Jamey Lee looked under Dinger in turn 1 as the two cars made contact with Dinger spinning out of turn 2. Lee was sent to the rear with Dinger allowing Lindemuth to inherit the lead with Greeley in 2nd. Lindemuth was strong on the restart putting several car lengths between himself and Greeley with Shawn Lindemuth taking 3rd from Mike Guthrie with some contact at the white flag. Guthrie fought back and retook the spot as Randy Rickard followed into 4th.
Out front, Greeley made up ground and began pressuring Skip Lindemuth for the lead, but ran out of time as Lindemuth took the checkered flag over Greeley, Guthrie, Rickard, and Shawn Lindemuth. Rounding out the top 10 were Aaron Hill, Sam Orf Jr., Cory Silvis, Bryan Warren, and Michael Fields. Bish, Brent Lee, and Skip Lindemuth were heat race victors.
With the 2008 lid lifter in the books, Thunder Mountain Speedway will move on to week #2 on May 2 with a regular show of Late Models, Super Stocks, Pure Stocks, RWD 4 Cylinders, and Thunderbolt Enduros. Gates open at 4:00PM while racing begins at 7:30PM. Season long information can be found at the track’s web site, www.thundermountainspeedway.net.
Total Car Count: 61
1) RUSTY MARTZ, 2) Fuzzy Fields, 3) Mike Desch, 4) Steve Cook, 5) Chad O’Brien, 6) Nathan Russell, 7) Jamie Barber, 8) Johnny Lindenpitz, 9) Jim Handyside Jr., 10) Jackson Humanic, 11) Thomas Greeley, 12) Tim Bish, 13) Eric Baun (DNF)
Heat Winners: Fields, Martz
1) JASON BAINEY, 2) Bruce Hartzfeld, 3) Dan Kennedy, 4) John Barley, 5) Chuck Rittenhouse, 6) Steve Barnes, 7) Paul Trunzo, 8) Brian Rhed (DNS)
Heat Winner: Hartzfeld
STEEL BLOCK LATE MODELS:
1) MATT GASTON, 2) Luke Hoffner, 3) Chuck Kennedy, 4) Rick Maxim, 5) Jerry Redden, 6) Dwayne Tanneyhill, 7) Larry Wingard, 8) Keith Witherite, 9) John Reed, 10) Bobby McMillen (DNF), 11) Ed Connor (DNF)
Heat Winners: Maxim, Hoffner
RWD 4 CYLINDERS:
1) DON HENRY, 2) Bill McMillen, 3) Joe Malobicky Jr
Heat Winner: McMillen
1) SKIP LINDEMUTH, 2) Chad Greeley, 3) Mike Guthrie, 4) Randy Rickard, 5) Shawn Lindemuth, 6) Aaron Hill, 7) Sam Orf Jr, 8) Cory Silvis, 9) Bryan Warren, 10) Michael Fields, 11) Shawn Dinger, 12) Matt Krause, 13) Eric McCall, 14) Scott Stello, 15) Scott Brocious, 16) Jamey Lee, 17) Wayne Twilliger, 18) Devin Dempsey, 19) Chris Woodel, 20) Tim Bish, 21) Ryan Kemmer, 22) Barry Myers, 23) Brent Lee, 24) John Macormack Jr, 25) Randy Holliday, 26) Eric Luzier
Heat Winners: Bish, Brent Lee, Skip Lindemuth