Mechanicsburg, PA (April 4, 1998) - Walt Stearly ran up front with his competitors in the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) CARQUEST Midget Series last year but could never break the ice. On Saturday night, at Silver Spring Speedway in ...
Mechanicsburg, PA (April 4, 1998) - Walt Stearly ran up front with his competitors in the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) CARQUEST Midget Series last year but could never break the ice. On Saturday night, at Silver Spring Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa., Stearly successfully broke through the cold night air and raced to his career first feature win with this historic Midget organization.
Veteran Midget racer, Denny Schaeffer, started on the front row alongside of John Heydenreich who now resides in Indianapolis, Indiana, and took the lead on the first lap. Heydenreich, who is pursuing a career in the Silver Crown division, dropped out after only one lap. Schaeffer held the top spot for six circuits until Ray Bull put Spike Gillespie's No.1 in the number one position. Meanwhile, Stearly was picking off cars from his tenth place starting position and, by lap 10, was on Bull's tail.
Once Walt Stearly took the lead on the eleventh lap his first win still wasn't guaranteed. Mark Freeland of Ickesburg, Pa. appeared to be the fastest Midget in the field down the backstretch. With Stearly running a high groove and Freeland on the bottom, the ARDC Midgeteers put on a side by side racing show for the highly knowledgeable Silver Spring fans.
The race was slowed three times during the night. The last time that starter Ron Grater waved the yellow flag was on lap 21 for a spin by Gary Halteman who was having a steering problem with his No. 91 Hawk/Fontana. On the restart, it didn't seem like Mark Freeland had the same power to get by Stearly that his Roger McKeehan Stealth No.4 had shown earlier in the race. Stearly held Freeland off for the final four laps as Ed Stimely Jr. was threatening to steal second from Freeland.
After the race, Freeland said, "We just needed to get by Walt. He runs hard but I don't know what was happening the last couple of laps. The car was cutting out a little bit. But, we'll take a second, coming from twelfth. That's not bad. This is a tough division, so we're happy with that."
In Victory Lane, Stearly commented on his first win in the ARDC CARQUEST Midget Series. "This has been a long time coming. It took us awhile to get to the winner's circle here in the Midgets, but we finally did it. I kept looking at the board and I could see No.4 was fourth or fifth. Then, on the last restart, I saw he was second so I knew Freeland would be there. I've raced with him enough to know that he was going to leave me enough room to race if I left him enough room. I'd like to thank Kevin and Roger Dice. They pretty much put my car together. And I'd like to thank these fans for staying around on such a cold night to watch us race." Following Stearly, Freeland and Stimely across the line were Ray Bull and Doug Borger to round out the top five.
The next four races for the ARDC CARQUEST Midget Series will be at dirt tracks. Saturday, April 18 will be at Lincoln Speedway; Saturday, April 25, will be at Port Royal Speedway; Friday, May 8, wil l be at Williams Grove Speedway and Saturday, May 16, will be at New Egypt Speedway.
Mason Racing Ignitions First Heat (8 Laps): 1. John Heydenreich 2. Ray Bull 3. Bryan Kobylarz 4. Ed Stimely Jr. 5. Lew Blair 6. Duane Mausteller 7. Mark Wakefoose 8. Ted Schmid
Hank's Performance Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. Mark Freeland 2. Doug Borger 3. Gary Halteman 4. Randy Mausteller 5. Tim Dietz 6. Bill Courtwright 7. Mike Lapp 8. Jim Jackson
Sander Engineering Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. Walt Stearly 2. Gary Mondschein 3. Dennis Schaeffer 4. Tom Martocci 5. Bill Ertel 6. Fred Schell 7. Brian Suchy 8. Mike Piersig (DNS)
Feature (25 Laps): 1. Walt Stearly 2. Mark Freeland 3. Ed Stimely Jr. 4. Ray Bull 5. Doug Borger 6. Dennis Schaeffer 7. Tom Martocci 8. Bryan Kobylarz 9. Tim Dietz 10. Gary Halteman 11. Lew Blair 12. Fred Sc hell 13. Mike Lapp 14. Gary Mondschein 15. Mike Piersig 16. Bill Ertel 17. Mark Wakefoose 18. Jim Jackson 19. Randy Mausteller 20. Duane Mausteller 21. Ted Schmid 22. Bill Courtwright 23. Jo hn Heydenreich 24. Brian Suchy (DNS)
Feature Lap Leaders: Laps 1-6, Schaeffer; Laps 7-10, Bull; Laps 11-25, Stearly.