Stimely Wins ARDC CARQUEST Midget Season Finale Saturday Night at Langley; Kobylarz Earns Driver Championship HAMPTON, Va., Sept. 19 - The top two teams in the American...
Stimely Wins ARDC CARQUEST Midget Season Finale Saturday Night at Langley; Kobylarz Earns Driver Championship
HAMPTON, Va., Sept. 19 - The top two teams in the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) CARQUEST Midget Series have been so close this season that it was fitting that both of them should go home with a championship at the season finale Saturday night at Langley Speedway. That's just what happened, because a fifth-place finish gave Bryan Kobylarz of Birdsboro, Pa., his first ARDC CARQUEST driver title, and a victory in the 25-lap feature by Ed Stimely Jr. of McVeytown, Pa., was enough to give his car owners, Harold and Ruthann Yetter of Scotia, Pa., their second consecutive car owners' championship.
The point championships were so tight that unofficially Kobylarz won the drivers' championship by one point over Stimely, and the Yetters won the car owners' title by two points over Kobylarz's car owners, Doug and Claudette Starrett of Yorktown, Va. Kobylarz didn't win a feature all year, while Stimely's victory Saturday night was his third of the season and his first ARDC victory on an asphalt track.
Mark Freeland of Ickesburg, Pa., finished third in the drivers' championship and his car owner, Roger McKeehan of Newville, Pa., was third in the owners' point standings. That completed a terrific season for the "Class of '96" in ARDC, as Kobylarz, Stimely and Freeland were all rookies in the club that year.
Monnie Wonder III of Lititz, Pa., started on the pole and led the first five laps of the 25-lap feature on Langley's 0.396-mile paved asphalt oval, which is right next door to the NASA wind tunnel. Stimely, who started eighth, took the lead by charging to the outside of Wonder going into turn three with five laps down, and he was never again headed.
Bill Courtwright of Hackettstown, N.J., who became a father for the first time last Sunday with the birth of his daughter Sarah Renee, jumped into second on lap two but he was pushed back to third on lap five. He got second again on lap eight and held that spot until the while-flag lap, when Wonder got the runner-up spot back. Stimely, in a Creek Gaerte sponsored by PrimeVest Financial Services, Gaerte Engines, Pennzoil and Precision Autobody, took the checkered with about a straightaway lead over Wonder at the line, with Courtwright a little further back in third.
Wonder's runner-up finish was his best ever in ARDC competition. His car is a 1997 Stealth Fontana sponsored by Ay Machine, Kendall GT-1 Motor Oil and Mother's Polishes. "John Godfrey [of Stealth] gave me that set-up, and it made all the difference in the world," he said after the race. Courtwright, who is Kobylarz's teammate, was in a Courtwright Fontana sponsored by Coal Export Services, Rich's Rainbow Room, Glen Design, Real Racing Wheels and Allendale Automotive Enterprises.
Mike Lapp of Slatington, Pa., turned in a strong performance to finish fourth in Keith Mory's Rothenberger Fontana sponsored by Lapp Auto Center. Kobylarz was fifth in an Ellis Fontana sponsored by Coal Export Services, H&B Railroad, Rich's Rainbow Room, Allendale Automotive Ent., Pete's Automotive and Fred Will Graphic Arts.
Rounding out the top 10 were rookie Mark Wakefoose of Hopatcong, N.J.; Freeland; Gary Halteman of Gilbertsville, Pa.; Fred Schell of Phoenixville, Pa., and Jim Jackson of Plains, Pa. The latter brought out the only yellow when he spun and hit the backstretch wall with 10 laps down.
Before the green flew, Kobylarz knew that if Stimely should win he'd have to finish fifth or better to earn the drivers' championship. He spent a good portion of the early stages of the race in seventh, but he got fifth with an outside move past Wakefoose with 13 laps down.
"Something just didn't feel right with the car right from the start, and on that restart with 10 laps down I realized that my right rear tire was going flat," Kobylarz disclosed later. "I almost hit the wall on the restart when I washed out going into turn one."
Still, he was able to get fifth three laps later. When asked if he knew the significance of that pass at the time, he said, "Oh yeah!" with a huge sigh of relief.
"I'm a little bummed out that we couldn't get the car owners' title for the Starretts, but winning this driver championship was something we set out to do 11 months ago," Kobylarz added. "I owe it all to Doug and Claudette Starrett; my crew chief, Leroy Bossler and his brother, Corky, and my family, who is very supportive.
"Winning the ARDC title is a big deal," he continued. "Last night before we came here we were looking at some of the old ARDC yearbooks. Now my name will be with all those people. It's a national title, and I'm very happy."
"Who would have thought that after a whole season of racing, it would come down to one point difference at the last race of the year?" noted Stimely. "Bryan did a great job, and we all congratulate him."
In preliminary action, Wonder led all the way to win the seven-lap Mason Racing Ignitions first heat, while Stimely did the same to win the Hank's Performance second heat.
Mason Racing Ignitions First Heat (7 laps) - 1. Monnie Wonder III, 2. Byran Kobylarz, 3. Gary Halteman, 4. Mark Freeland, 5. Fred Schell, 6. Art Lawshe Jr., 7. Jim Jackson. Lap Leaders: Laps 1-7, Monnie Wonder III.
Hank's Performance Second Heat (7 laps) - 1. Ed Stimely Jr., 2. Bill Courtwright, 3. Mike Lapp, 4. Mark Wakefoose, 5. Shawn Burke (DNF), 6. Mark Lawshe (DNS). Lap Leaders: Laps 1-7, Ed Stimely Jr.
Feature (25 laps) - 1. Ed Stimely Jr., 2. Monnie Wonder III, 3. Bill Courtwright, 4. Mike Lapp, 5. Bryan Kobylarz, 6. Mark Wakefoose, 7. Mark Freeland, 8. Gary Halteman, 9. Fred Schell, 10. Jim Jackson, 11. Art Lawshe Jr. (DNS), 12. Shawn Burke (DNS), 13. Mark Lawshe (DNS). Feature Lap Leaders: Laps 1-5, Monnie Wonder III; laps 6-25, Ed Stimely Jr.