Dewease edges Hodnett, Rahmer in a race for the ages in the Pigeon Hills; Mark Billet, Duane Watson claim limited late model, thundercar wins. ABBOTTSTOWN, PA, 6/22/02 - It was a sprint car fan's dream at Lincoln Speedway Saturday night. For...
Dewease edges Hodnett, Rahmer in a race for the ages in the Pigeon Hills; Mark Billet, Duane Watson claim limited late model, thundercar wins.
ABBOTTSTOWN, PA, 6/22/02 - It was a sprint car fan's dream at Lincoln Speedway Saturday night.
For the final 16 laps of the 25-lap feature, three of the world's best sprint car drivers put on a clinic, changing racing lines at will as they diced through lapped traffic in pursuit of each other.
In the end, the nation's winningest driver scored his 13th win of the year.
Lance Dewease grabbed the lead with a slider on race-long leader Billy Sims in heavy lapped traffic in turn four of lap six and led the rest of the way. But the win was far from easy.
"This place was kinda like the Grove last night...there was only one place to run," said a happy Dewease in victory lane. "We got a good start there on that second restart, and cut down on the bottom and got by a couple guys and got up through there."
Dewease, driving with a bumper sticking in his radiator from a multi-car incident on the frontstretch of the original start, had to deal with both an overheating engine and a charging Greg Hodnett and Fred Rahmer.
"On the start, we knocked a hole in the radiator or something and I was worried to death that the motor wouldn't make it," said Dewease. "We were taking it easy there for a while...then I saw Hodnett's nose one time and stepped it up a little bit...those lapped cars were three abreast and there was nowhere to go. I had to wait, but got a couple of breaks and got by them."
Dewease (who started seventh after the first-lap incident), Hodnett (who started tenth), and Rahmer (who started 12th), were running in the top three by the end of the seventh lap. Rahmer slid under Hodnett in heavy traffic on turn four of lap nine and ran second for two laps, but Hodnett returned the favor two laps later.
"The car was throwing out water, but I know this guy here (Al Hamilton) doesn't care as long as we try to win the race," Dewease was quick to add. "And that's what we keep trying to do."
"We actually weren't real good tonight, but the track was tough to pass on, and tonight we were fortunate to get to the front before Greg and Fred."
Caution flags on lap 13 (for Johnny Mackison stopping on turn two) and lap 19 (for a Todd Gracey spin on turn four) gave Dewease some clear race track twice in the feature, both times during which he pulled away from his two closest challengers. But both times, multi-car battles for position at the back of the lead lap caused problems for the leader. Dewease's 2.06-second lead at the end of lap 20 evaporated to 63-hundredths of a second by the end of lap 22 as the three raced through heavy lapped traffic.
All three drivers changed their lines several times each lap as they worked their way through the lapped traffic over the last seven laps. But numerous daring moves by the Manheim Auto Auction/Hank's Performance Products No.77 under and around lapped cars kept Hodnett and Rahmer at bay.
"On that last restart I didn't run as hard as I could," said Dewease. "I didn't want to catch them (the lapped traffic) that quick, but we still did...they were running three wide again and I had to get into the brakes and then I got a good run and got between them and got by them."
"I could see Greg, but I could hear somebody back there and I didn't know if it was him or Fred coming. I didn't know if Greg or somebody could sneak around the bottom and get by us. I knew it was pretty slick down there, but we were really fortunate to get the job done."
Dewease's final margin of victory was 38-hundredths of a second over Hodnett. It was his fourth win of the season and the 18th of his career in the Pigeon Hills.
"I've really got to thank the fans for coming out and supporting us every week like you do here," Dewease added. "I'll tell you what, these are some of the best fans on the local circuit in Pennsylvania. It's a pleasure racing in front of you like this."
"The crew has been working real hard since last week. We made some changes on this car to make it a little better and hopefully we've found something for the big races next week (Pennsylvania Speedweek)."
Completing an outstanding run to cross fourth was Chris Knopp, with Billy Sims finishing fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Brook Weibley (who started 15th), Bobby Weaver (who came from the back after suffering a flat tire on the original start), Kevin Drury, Josh Wells, and Glenndon Forsythe (who advanced from a 20th starting spot).
Heats for the 26 super sprints were won by Sims, Hodnett, and Mark Coldren, with Larry Shive winning the consolation.
York's Mark Billet led wire-to-wire in the 20-lap limited late model feature. But his win wasn't easy, either. He withstood repeated challenges from two-time defending Silver Spring champ Jason Covert, actually losing the lead and literally driving under the backside of Covert's car on the backstretch of a 17th-lap restart. Covert had to back down and let his back wheels return to the race surface, giving way to Billet again by the end of the lap.
Billet's final margin of victory was .41-seconds over Covert, with Scott McCann coming from 12th to finish third, Carl Billet coming from 10th to cross fourth, and Jeff Leiphart coming from 18th to fifth at the end.
Heats for the 32 limited late models on hand were won by Jake Jones, Mark Billet, and Covert, with Carl Graves winning the consolation.
Abbottstown's Duane Watson passed Lincoln racing legend and race-long leader Kenny Slaybaugh on the eighth lap for the lead and then held off the challenges of all-time Lincoln thundercar win leader Bernie Beard in a one-lap dash to the checkered for his second win of the year in the 20 lap thundercar feature.
Watson, who started 10th, moved into the top-five on the fifth lap, third place on the sixth, second place on the seventh by the eighth, and then made his race-winning move on the ninth lap. Watson then held had to hold off Bernie and Bobby Beard over the final laps of the caution-filled event for his fifth career Lincoln win.
Bernie and Bobby Beard finished second and third respectively. Neil Smith and Nat Tuckey both came from the rear after early race incidents to finish fourth and fifth respectively.
Heats for the 29 thundercars were won by Smith, Tuckey, and Slaybaugh, with Allen Cullum winning the consolation.
Next Saturday night, June 29th, Lincoln Speedway will host the opening night of action for the annual Pennsylvania Speedweek Series with the third running of the Kevin Gobrecht Memorial. The best super sprinters in the area will all converge on the Pigeon Hills oval as the other Saturday night super sprint tracks will give them the night off to vie for $177,000 in total prize money that will be awarded during the course of the eight race series. The Miller Brothers Thundercars will join in the nights' racing action. Gates will open at 5:30 PM, with warm-ups at 7 PM, and time trials getting underway at 7:30 PM.