Keith Kauffman Comes From 9TH To Win Icebreaker 30 Northeast Season Opener Thundercar Spring-Thaw 20 To All-Time Win Leader Bernie Beard ABBOTTSTOWN, PA, 2/23/02 - Mifflintown's Keith Kauffman took what they gave him in scoring his second...
Keith Kauffman Comes From 9TH To Win Icebreaker 30 Northeast Season Opener Thundercar Spring-Thaw 20 To All-Time Win Leader Bernie Beard
ABBOTTSTOWN, PA, 2/23/02 - Mifflintown's Keith Kauffman took what they gave him in scoring his second opening day win in three years at Lincoln Speedway Saturday afternoon.
Kauffman, widely regarded as one of the best sprint car drivers in the history of Central Pennsylvania racing, claimed the $3,000 top prize in the "Icebreaker 30," the season opener for dirt tracks in the Northeast. It was Kauffman's 11th career win in the Pigeon Hills, and came on a day in which Lincoln opened its new asphalt pits behind the backstretch and kicked off its 50th Anniversary season.
Kauffman drew the ninth starting spot after qualifying third in his heat. After five unsuccessful attempts to start the feature, he advanced three spots on lap one and entered the top five on lap two. Brook Weibley led from his front row starting spot until the red flag came out for a fuel stop during an eighth-lap caution. Kauffman was still running fifth at the time, but he squeezed past polesitter Johnny Mackison and Cris Eash for third on the restart. As Kauffman was making his move, Piketon, Ohio's Jim Nier (who started sixth) raced by Weibley for the lead.
Nier led the next eight laps before Weibley reclaimed the top spot on lap 16. One lap later, Kauffman slid under Nier for second as the leaders reached lapped traffic. As the laps wound down, it appeared Kauffman was destined for a second-place finish. But the lapped car of Doug Esh became a factor. Weibley had trouble getting around the Macri Concrete/C.W. Fritz Co. #30, and Kauffman slid under Weibley for the race lead as the three cars exited the fourth turn of lap 28.
Kauffman raced away to a .56-second victory over Weibley, with five-time defending track champ Fred Rahmer third (from his 10th starting spot), Lance Dewease fourth (from 11th starting spot), and Cris Eash fifth. Completing the top ten were Sean Michael, Donnie Kreitz, Jr., Johnny Mackison, Jr., Nier, and Todd Shaffer.
"We kinda' had a tough time getting going, and once we got going, they didn't want to go in front of me," said Kauffman in victory lane, "Then we got into a rhythm and got smoothed down. Brook was really good, too, but he jammed up behind a lapped car and I hit the corner right. He made a bunch of good laps and I'd get close to him and hit the inside guardrail...I always knocked the heck of the inside front tire, but I came out on top."
"In races like this, you got search around and start up on top, then go down low. It seemed I could keep my momentum and go a lot better on top. My team gave me a great race car today."
When asked if he heard Rahmer and Dewease racing behind him, Kauffman said, "I ain't worried about them guys!"
Heats for the 37 super sprints on hand were won by Craig Keel, Eash, Mike Erdley, and Rahmer. Twin consolation events were won by Jeff Shepard (driving the Tanger No.07) and Rick Lafferty.
All-time Lincoln thundercar winner Bernie Beard scored his 64th career win in the 20-lap Spring Thaw for thundercars. Beard started 11th and survived an eight-car backstretch melee on the first lap which saw the cars of Gary Potts and Ken Stitt, Jr. roll, with Stitt's No.99x landing on top of the No.9J of Mike Johnson. There were no injuries.
Mike Walls, Jr. started on the pole on the revamped restart, and led the first six laps. Beard grabbed the top spot on lap seven, and led the rest of the way, with Walls crossing second 2.96-seconds behind the leader. Third through fifth were Mike Zeigler, Sr., Steve Clabaugh, and defending track champ Bobby Beard.
Original pole sitter Mike Zeigler, Jr. experienced mechanical problems early and came from the rear to finish seventh behind Neil Smith. Heats for the 26 thundercars were won by Bobby Rudisill, Bernie and Bobby Beard.
Lincoln Speedway swings back into action next Saturday afternoon March 2nd at 2 p.m. with another super sprint and thundercar racing program. Gates will open at noon, with hot laps at 1:30 p.m., and the first heat getting underway at 2 p.m.