Weekend race notes 2003-03-23

Chris Eash wins Sunday Williams Grove season-opener. MECHANICSBURG, PA - 3/23/2003 - Hanover's Cris Eash has been plagued with early-season bad luck for years. This year all that changed in winning the season-opening 25 lap 410 sprint feature at...

Chris Eash wins Sunday Williams Grove season-opener.

MECHANICSBURG, PA - 3/23/2003 - Hanover's Cris Eash has been plagued with early-season bad luck for years. This year all that changed in winning the season-opening 25 lap 410 sprint feature at Williams Grove Speedway Sunday afternoon.

Eash drew to start on the outside frontrow for the 62nd season-opening feature and then waited for polesitter and race-long leader Doug Esh to make just one mistake.

And he obliged on the 15th lap.

Eash slipped under the race leader in lapped traffic in the first and second turns to take the lead and then survived two caution restarts with defending track champion Lance Dewease on his bumper to notch his second career season-opening win at the historic Mechanicsburg half-mile.

"These daytime races are tough," said a happy Eash in victory lane. "It's really hard to pass and I was really thankful that I got that frontrow starting spot."

Polesitter Esh grabbed the lead at the drop of the green on the dry-slick daytime racing surface with Eash and Dewease in tow. Esh had opened up a 1.04 second lead as they entered lapped traffic on the eighth lap. Eash and Dewease played the waiting game as all the leaders stayed on the bottom of the race track where the rubber was being laid down.

"I knew I better stay tucked in behind him and just ride a while," said Eash. "Then I started seeing his tire going flat and I got a little concerned."

Heavy lapped traffic bunched the leaders together by the half-way point and on the 14th lap Eash got the break he was waiting for.

Esh slipped high while trying to navigate around a slower car which gave the veteran Eash the opening he needed to slip under and into the lead.

"I knew if I just stayed with him that sooner or later he was going to get a little impatient and try and slip around the outside of a car," said Eash. "That's what he did, and I got by him."

Dewease was able to take advantage of the former leaders' mistake and slipped around on the backstretch of the same lap to move into second.

The 1987 World of Outlaw Rookie of the Year opened up nearly a full second lead by the time they entered heavy lapped traffic again on the 19th lap.

The hectic non-stop action came to and end on the 23rd lap when Todd Hestor rolled to a stop on the backstretch.

This gave Eash a clear race track and a lone lapped car between himself and the second place Dewease on the restart.

Eash was able to maintain a comfortable margin over Dewease on the restart and appeared to be on his way to the win when the race's third and final caution flag waved with one lap to go when early race-leader Esh came to a stop in the fourth turn with a flat tire.

This time Eash didn't have any lapped cars between himself and Dewease as they lined up nose-to-tail for a one-lap shoot-out to the checkered.

"As long as I didn't slip out of the rubber I knew he wasn't going to be able to pass me on the outside," said Eash on the final restart. "But it (the caution) breaks your rhythm and you just have to worry about hitting all your marks and staying it that rubber."

Eash was not to be denied this day as he was able to lead the field around to register his 21st career Williams Grove victory by .47 seconds over Dewease and assumed the lead in the season-long battle for the Cindy Rowe Paintless Dent Removal 410 Sprint Track Championship.

"We are going for both of them (Williams Grove & Lincoln)," said Eash when asked about going after the Williams Grove track title. "It's been a long time since I've been the point leader here (Williams Grove).

Afterwards it was also apparent that his bald right-rear tire was nearly spent.

"I probably wouldn't have made it if it was two more laps before all the cords would have been showing all the way across," said Eash on his worn right-rear tire. "We were real fortunate that it made it to the end."

"They are a great sponsor and they've helped us out tremendously," said Eash on his primary sponsor Advance Settlement Agency who gave away 400 sprint car calendars to the first 400 fans in the gate for the opener. "It's a great deal to win for them today."

"I'd also like to thank my dad because if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be doing this today."

Todd Shaffer (who started 3rd) finished third, Fred Rahmer (who started 5th) finished fourth, and Greg Hodnett (who started 7th) finished fifth. Completing the top-10 were Keith Kauffman, Len Thompson, Brook Weibley, Dale Blaney, and Donnie Kreitz Jr..

Heats for the 32 "410" sprints on hand were won by Blaney, Rahmer, and Esh, with Billy Sims winning the consolation.

Polesitter Bobby Howard of Mechanicsburg led the first 12 laps of the special invitational 20-lap super sportsman feature before yielding to 18th-starting Frankie Herr entering the third turn on the 13th lap.

Herr appeared to be on his way to certain victory when he suddenly slowed on the frontstretch with a large plume of smoke trailing on the 18th lap. This handed the lead back to Howard who then was able to lead the final laps to pick up the win by 2.05 seconds over Steve Wilbur. Polesitter Paul Miller finished third, seventh-starting Smokey Snellbaker finished fourth, and 16th-starting Dave Neuman crossed fifth.

Completing the top-10 were Richie Hartman, Howie Locke, Ryan Rupp, Bobby Hockenberry, and Ken Carberry.

DEWEASE WINS CAREER 20TH IN LINCOLN SPRINT MAIN

Fayetteville's Lance Dewease took advantage of a good starting spot while he could get one, and wired the field in winning the 25-lap 410 sprint feature at Lincoln Speedway Saturday night.

"You've got to take advantage of these good starting spots like this, because in a week or so there's no way we're going to be starting up there," said a happy Dewease upon exiting his Al & Betty Hamilton-owned Manheim Auto Auction No.77 in victory lane. "The racetrack was a little tricky tonight."

The win, in only the second race at the Pigeon Hills lightning-fast 3/8th-mile oval in 2003, was almost text-book for the veteran Dewease as he grabbed the lead from his outside front row starting spot at the drop of the green over polesitter Jason Hagenbuch.

Third-starting Todd Shaffer shot around the polesitter into second on the opening lap, and immediately pressured Dewease for the lead on lap two.

Shaffer then tried on several caution restarts and in heavy lapped traffic to get around the leader but could not as he pulled away over the final laps to register his 20th career Lincoln win by 2.43 seconds over Shaffer.

Fred Rahmer settled for third, Johnny Mackison Jr. fourth, and Sean Michael fifth. Completing the top ten were Keith Kauffman, opening day winner Chris Knopp, Niki Young, Donnie Kreitz Jr., and Cris Eash.

Heats for the 37 "410" sprints on hand were won by Hodnett, Mackison, Eash, and Shaffer. Twin consolation events were won by Donnie Kreitz Jr. and Steve Siegel.

Billy Dietrich grabbed the lead from polesitter Mark Freeland in the first two turns and led every lap for his second career Lincoln win in the season opener for "358" sprint cars.

Eric Stambaugh and Shawn Weaver battled for the runner-up spot from lap six on, with Stambaugh crossing second and Weaver third. Alan Krimes and Darren Eash completed the top five. Sixth through tenth were Billy Johns, Keith Prutzman, Jack Raudabaugh, defending 358 track champ Cory Haas, and Freeland.

Dover's Scott Ausherman was transported to Hanover Hospital after complaining of dizziness following a flip onto the fourth turn inside guardrail on the first lap. No further details were available.

Biglerville's Nat Tuckey gave himself a birthday present with a last-turn pass of all-time winner Bernie Beard to claim the 20-lap thundercar feature. Opening day winner Beard, who started third, grabbed the lead with a low-side move on the first two turns and led the first 19 laps. Tuckey started sixth and advanced to the runner-up spot by lap eight, then chased Beard the rest of the way. Tuckey was unable to make a pass until Beard bobbled on the final turn, giving Tuckey an opening to slide under Beard and beat him in a drag race to the checkered. The final margin of victory was a scant 22-hundredths of a second.

Polesitter Neil Smith finished third, with 12th-starting Steve Clabaugh and 10th-starting Mike Zeigler, Sr. completing the top five.

CHARLIE SCHAFFER WINS HAGERSTOWN LATE MODELS

Charlie Schaffer of Hampstead Maryland wired the field in winning the 30-lap ITSI Late Model feature at Hagerstown Speedway Sunday afternoon.

Schaffer started on the pole and led every lap en route to the $2,000 win over Gary Stuhler, DJ Myers, Frankie Plessinger, and Andy Anderson.

Completing the top-10 were David Pettyjohn, Mike Lupfer, Jeremy Miller, Alan Sagi, and Devin Friese.

Alan Johnson of Sharon Springs, NY, took the lead from Randy Chrysler on the second lap and went on to pick up the win in the 30-lap $2,000-to-win Small Block Modified Octoberfest 350 Qualifier over Frank Cozze and Danny Johnson. Keith and Kenny Brightbill finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Tracy Fritter of Zanesville, OH, won the Modified Lites feature.

LOCAL SPEEDWAY CANCELLATIONS

Wet grounds forced several area speedways to cancel this past weekends racing action. They included Saturday's scheduled events at Port Royal, Trail-way, and Selinsgrove Speedway, as well as Sunday racing action at Selinsgrove Raceway Park.

-bill meyer-

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About this article
Series Sprint , Stock car
Drivers Neil Smith
Teams Williams