Stearly Wins ARDC CARQUEST Midget Wingless Feature Saturday Night at Lincoln; Kobylarz or Stimely Will be '98 Champion NEW OXFORD, Pa., Sept. 12 - Walt Stearly of Trappe, Pa., ...
Stearly Wins ARDC CARQUEST Midget Wingless Feature Saturday Night at Lincoln; Kobylarz or Stimely Will be '98 Champion
NEW OXFORD, Pa., Sept. 12 - Walt Stearly of Trappe, Pa., fought off the challenges of first Mark Freeland of Ickesburg, Pa., and then Billy Courtwright of Hackettstown, N.J., to win the wingless American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) CARQUEST Midget Series feature Saturday night at Lincoln Speedway.
The program was the club's first event run without wings since the Galen Halteman Memorial Classic on Sept. 4, 1994 at Grandview (Pa.) Speedway.
The Stearly Motor Freight Hawk Pontiac took the green in fourth place and immediately charged into second behind outside front-row starter Bill Ertel of Toms River, N.J. On the second lap Ertel hit the outside wall in turn two and flipped, however, and Stearly inherited the lead.
His second ARDC CARQUEST Midget Series feature victory of the season wasn't accomplished as easily as that sounds, however. Freeland applied heavy pressure for the next seven laps with his Exportise Stealth Scat V4, and he even took the lead for an instant in turn two on a restart with two laps down before the yellow waved again. (In addition to the red for Ertel's flip, the yellow flew with two laps down for a spin by Scott Jackson of Paoli, Pa.; Dave Suchy of Annville, Pa. stopping in turn one under yellow; and a spin by Bill Case Jr. of Sellersville, Pa., in turn two.)
After Stearly and Freeland battled side-by-side for several laps, the pair made contact just before Craig Rochelle of Hackettstown, N.J., brought out the yellow when he stopped in turn two with nine laps down. Freeland went into the pits under that yellow with a broken camshaft, and his night was done.
That put Ray Bull of New Oxford, Pa., into the runner-up spot and he threatened Stearly for a bit too, but Courtwright was on the move by that point from his 14th starting position. Courtwright used that lap nine restart to vault from tenth to fourth as the wingless midgets ran as many as four deep at times in some of the turns. Courtwright passed defending ARDC CARQUEST Midget Series champion Ed Stimely Jr. of McVeytown, Pa., for third with a slide job in turn three on lap 12, but the very next lap he got a bit too high between turns one and two and lost a lot of real estate. He didn't lose a position, however, and soon he was once again challenging Bull for second. Bull's Spike Gillespie Beast Gaerte got too high in turn three with 18 laps down too, but Courtwright didn't get around him until five laps remained in the 25-lapper, and Stearly, Courtwright and Bull took the checkered in that order a few minutes later. Stearly's second triumph of the season was indeed convincing, and Courtwright's runner-up finish was his best ever in ARDC CARQUEST Midget competition. The latter's C.D. Starrett Courtwright Fontana is sponsored by Coal Export Services. Courtwright was very pleased with his run but he said he had nothing for Stearly because he'd used up his right-rear Hoosier tire at the end.
Perhaps the biggest story of the night was the performance of the fourth-place finisher, Fred Schell of Phoenixville, Pa., who has been driving the Hawk Pontiac which used to be campaigned by Doug Craig of Flagler Beach, Fla., this year. Schell's night got off to a rough start when he flipped on the first lap of the first heat when he unsuccessfully tried to make some room in turn one that wasn't actually there.
Schell started dead last in the 24-car field for the feature, and as he took the green he was just going to see if he could make a lap or two while checking out the repairs his team had made to the car after the flip. He had borrowed a front and rear near bar from the eventual winner, Stearly, just to be able to make the call for the feature.
Schell was as surprised as anybody when the car ran flawlessly, and despite not having driven a midget without a wing in about 23 years, he was in 11th place by lap nine and in eighth by lap 14. He took the "five-to-go" signal in fifth place, and he got around Stimely for fourth with 22 laps down enroute to his best finish ever in ARDC CARQUEST Midget competition despite starting scratch.
Stimely hung on for fifth followed by Phil DiMario of Piermont, N.Y., and the current point leader, Bryan Kobylarz of Birdsboro, Pa. Mark Wakefoose of Hopatcong, N.J.; Fremont Dickerman of Higganum, Conn.; and Doug Borger of Kunkletown, Pa., rounded out the top 10.
(DiMario was lucky just to make it to the track. A camper belonging to his car owner, Ray McCabe of New Britain, Pa., which hauls the team's trailer broke down enroute to Lincoln. A street class and pro street class drag racer from York, Pa., Lonnie Gordon, was flagged down, and he graciously delayed his trip to Tennessee to tow the team to Lincoln. They arrived more than two hours after the gates opened.)
There were four drivers still eligible for the driver's championship before the feature - Kobylarz, Stimely, Freeland and DiMario - but now heading into the season finale at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., this coming Saturday, Sept. 19, it's all down to Kobylarz and Stimely. There are 120 points up for grabs at Langley, and Kobylarz holds a 24-point lead over Stimely after Lincoln.
It's even closer on the owner's side, as the top four car owners are still in the hunt for that championship. In order, they are Claudette Starrett of Yorktown, Va., (Kobylarz's car owner); the defending car owner champion, Harold and Ruthann Yetter of Sciota, Pa., (Stimely's car owners); Roger McKeehan of Newville, Pa,. (Freeland's car owner); and McCabe.
In preliminary action, Freeland won the first eight-lap heat over Kobylarz. Bull won the second eight-lap heat on the last lap over Stimely.
All of the midget drivers involved in accidents during the night escaped injury.
First Heat (8 laps) - 1. Mark Freeland, 2. Bryan Kobylarz, 3. Gary Mondschein, 4. Bill Ertel, 5. Fremont Dickerman, 6. Craig Rochelle, 7. Shawn Burke, 8. Scott Jackson, 9. Shannon Mausteller, 10. Dave Suchy (DNF), 11. Fred Schell (DNF). No time. Lap Leaders: Lap 1, Rochelle; lap 2, Ertel; laps 3-8, Freeland.
Second Heat (8 laps) - 1. Ray Bull, 2. Ed Stimely Jr., 3. Walt Stearly, 4. Randy Mausteller, 5. Mark Wakefoose, 6. Phil DiMario, 7. Billy Courtwright, 8. Mike Lapp, 9. Mike Piersig, 10. Donnie Trent II, 11. Bill Case Jr. (DNF), 12. Doug Borger (DNF), 13. Dan Shelbo (DNF). No time. Lap Leaders: Lap 1-2, Trent; laps 3-7, Stimely; lap 8, Bull.
Feature (25 laps) - 1. Walt Stearly, 2. Billy Courtwright, 3. Ray Bull, 4. Fred Schell, 5. Ed Stimely Jr., 6. Phil DiMario, 7. Bryan Kobylarz, 8. Mark Wakefoose, 9. Fremont Dickerman, 10. Doug Borger, 11. Randy Mausteller, 12. Mike Piersig, 13. Mike Lapp, 14. Shawn Burke, 15. Gary Mondschein, 16. Scott Jackson, 17. Mark Freeland, 18. Craig Rochelle, 19. Bill Case Jr., 20. Dave Suchy, 21. Bill Ertel, 22. Dan Shelbo, 23. Shannon Mausteller (DNS), 24. Donnie Trent II (DNS). No time. Feature Lap Leaders: Laps 1-2, Ertel; laps 3-25, Stearly.
Ruthann Yetter, who along with her husband, Harold, is the defending ARDC CARQUEST Midget Series car owner champion, is battling lymphatic cancer.
Cards of encouragement can reach her at P.O. Box 273, Sciota, Pa. 18354-0273.