Mike Lehman Wins 358 Opener at Lincoln Speedway Abbottstown, PA (March 28, 1998) - After eight yellow flags and three reds, Mike Lehman led flag-to-flag to take the season opening 358 Sprint race at the 3/8 mile oval. In Victory Lane,...
Mike Lehman Wins 358 Opener at Lincoln Speedway
Abbottstown, PA (March 28, 1998) - After eight yellow flags and three reds, Mike Lehman led flag-to-flag to take the season opening 358 Sprint race at the 3/8 mile oval. In Victory Lane, he acknowledged that he was happy with his starting draw near the front, which kept him away from the action behind him. "People were getting a little antsy out there", he said. Lehman, who also won his heat in record-setting time, shared credit for the win with his crew, and was pleased with the work they had all done over the winter drilling holes and adding titanium parts to lighten the car.
The full slate of Super Sprints, 358 Sprints and Thundercars got under way at 6:00, for the first night show of the season, but the early start made it a daytime track. The surface quickly dried out, with Turns 1 and 2 being particularly slick. Despite the dusty conditions, 358 heats 2 and 3 were set in record times. Bob Beidleman's 8 lap record of 2:02.96 was first lowered to 2:02.55 by Dale Hammaker in Heat 2, then re-lowered to 2:00.91 by Lehman in Heat 3.
The lineup for the feature was:
1. 24-Steve Buckwalter 2. 6E-Doug Esh 3. 59-Mike Lehman 4. 1B-Jimmy Burns 5. 6F-Bill Fannasy 6. A18-Becca Anderson 7. 7-Dave Gable Jr. 8. 3-Jeremy Trout 9. 88-Terry Leininger 10. 3W-Clair Wintermyer 11. 22J-Joe Ilg 12. 84-Dale Hammaker 13. 81-Bob Beidleman 14. 55-Jimmy Layton 15. 00-Elmer Stoltzfus 16. 12-Jimmy Stitzel 17. 03-Jeff Miller 18. 5N-Rusty Pressley 19. 27-Scott Ausherman 20. 77-Greg Leiby 21. 4-Eric Stambaugh 22. 63N-Bob Nace 23. 66-Eric Patteson 24. 10K-Mark Yinger
The feature got off to a bad start as pole sitter Steve Buckwalter backed it into the wall in Turn 2 after taking the green. The field was re-formed for a full restart. The green was waved, but before the smoke cleared, the yellow was out again, with Joe Ilg, Clair Wintermyer, Terry Leininger, Becca Anderson and Bill Fannasy tangled together in Turns one and two. At the same time, Bob Beidleman was stopped in Turn 4 with front end damage and Jimmy Stitzel was sitting on the front stretch.
With several cars from the middle of the lineup unable to continue, aligning the field for another full restart became a problem. The red flag was thrown to organize the restart and to allow all remaining cars to refuel. It is not known if zero laps represents a new record for the earliest refueling stop.
The third (and successful) full start had Mike Lehman on the pole, with Doug Esh beside him. Lehman took command immediately. Esh fell back, while Jeremy Trout moved up from his third row start and Terry Leininger began a long climb forward from 18th place.
After three laps (and two more yellows), Lehman remained in command, followed by Jimmy Burns, Dave Gable Jr., Jeremy Trout, Scott Ausherman, Doug Esh, Greg Leiby, Dale Hammaker, and Eric Stambaugh. Terry Leininger, favoring a high line, had moved up to round out the top 10.
Jeremy Trout was making the low line work, slowly gaining ground on the cars ahead. He got past Gable on the back stretch on lap 4, but had to return the spot when a yellow came out for Buckwalter's second spin of the race. After six laps (and two more yellows!) Trout's persistance down low had brought him into second place.
The red flew again after seven laps, when Eric Stambaugh spun in 3 and collected several others, including Becca Anderson who wound up on her side. After the carnage was cleared, Lehman was still in front, followed by Trout, Burns, Gable, Ausherman, Esh, Leininger, Hammaker, Beidleman and Stitzel. Leininger put on a spectacular exhibition of rim-riding, getting within inches of the wall in every turn of every lap, as he continued his move forward through the field. After eleven laps (and two more yellows) he had gained third place and set sight on Jeremy Trout in second. His high line was still working, but not gaining ground, so he worked low for several laps, almost getting under Trout several times. The low line eventually lost its advantage, and Terry returned to rim-riding to run out the last half dozen laps.
Up front, Lehman was never challenged as he maintained a lead of several car lengths over Trout. With the numerous yellow and red flags, traffic never became a problem for the leaders.
Feature Results (20 laps):
1. 59-Mike Lehman; 2. 3-Jeremy Trout; 3. 88-Terry Leininger; 4. 1B-Jimmy Burns; 5. 7-Dave Gable Jr.; 6. 27-Scott Ausherman; 7. 84-Dale Hammaker; 8. 12-Jimmy Stitzel; 9. 81-Bob Beidleman; 10. 10K-Mark Yinger; 11. 6E-Doug Esh; 12. 66-Eric Patteson; 13. 03-Jeff Miller; 14. 22J-Joe Ilg; 15. 55-Jimmy Layton (DNF); 16. 3W-Clair Wintermyer (DNF); 17. 77-Greg Leiby (DNF); 18. 5N-Rusty Pressley (DNF); 19. 63N-Bob Nace (DNF); 20. 24-Steve Buckwalter (DNF); 21. 4-Eric Stambaugh (DNF); 22. A18-Becca Anderson (DNF); 23. 6F-BillFannasy (DNF); 24. 00-Elmer Stoltzfus (DNF).
Lap Leaders - Mike Lehman (1-20)
Heat 1 (8 Laps, 4 transfer) - 1. 88-Terry Leininger; 2. A18-Becca Anderson; 3. 6E-Doug Esh; 4. 81-Bob Beidleman; 5. 50-Mark Richard; 6. 55E-Brian Eichelberger; 7. 80-Todd Reed; 8. 30-Tom Leach (DNF); DNS - 4-Eric Stambaugh. No Time
Heat 2 (8 Laps, 4 transfer) - 1. 84-Dale Hammaker; 2. 7-Dave Gable Jr.; 3. 22J-Joe Ilg; 4. 55-Jimmy Layton; 5. 03-Jeff Miller; 6. 66-Eric Patteson; 7. 97-Eric Miller; 8. 5L-Chad Layton; DNS - 27-Scott Ausherman. Time - 2:02.55
Heat 3 (8 Laps, 4 transfer) - 1. 59-Mike Lehman; 2. 24-Steve Buckwalter; 3. 6F-Bill Fannasy; 4. 00-Elmer Stoltzfus; 5. 63N-Bob Nace; 6. 94-Glendon Forsythe; 7. 5A-Brian Allman (DNF); 8. 10K-Mark Yinger (DNF); 9. 77-Greg Leiby (DNF). Time - 2:00.31 (New 8 lap track record for 358 Sprint)
Heat 4 (8 Laps, 4 transfer) - 1. 3-Jeremy Trout; 2. 1B-Jimmy Burns; 3. 3W-Clair Wintermyer; 4. 12-Jimmy Stitzel; 5. 17-Mike Rabold; 6. 5N-Rusty Pressley; 7. 5-Bob Hagan; 8. 75-Chris Snyder (DNF); DNS - 60-Bernie LeMaster. No Time
1st Consolation (8 Laps, 4 qualify) - 1. 03-Jeff Miller; 2. 27-Scott Ausherman; 3. 4-Eric Stambaugh; 4. 66-Eric Patteson; 5. 55E-Brian Eichelberger; 6. 5L-Chad Layton; 7. 30-Tom Leach (DNF); 8. 50-Mark Richard (DNF); 9. 80-Todd Reed (DNF); 10. 97-Eric Miller (DNF). No Time
2nd Consolation (8 Laps, 4 qualify) - 1. 5-Rusty Pressley; 2. 77-Greg Leiby; 3. 63N-Bob Nace; 4. 10K-Mark Yinger; 5. 60-Bernie LeMaster; 6. 75-Chris Snyder; 7. 5-Bob Hagan (DNF); 8. 94-Glendon Forsythe (DNF); DNS - 5A-Brian Allman, 17-Mike Rabold. No Time
Ken Plotkin - Motorsport News International