Weekend race notes 2003-04-20

YOUNG BECOMES THIRD FIRST-TIME WINNER IN FIVE RACES AT LINCOLN First career wins are always memorable no matter how they happen. Drivers and teams may never forget them. But for the fans, they eventually get watered down over the days, weeks,...


First career wins are always memorable no matter how they happen. Drivers and teams may never forget them. But for the fans, they eventually get watered down over the days, weeks, and years as just another race.

But on rare occasions they become one for the ages.

Saturday night at Lincoln Speedway, the fans in attendance will never forget the first career win of Hanover's Niki Young.

The fact is, it would be a race for the ages even if it wasn't the former thundercar drivers first career win in 410 sprint competition.

In one of the most dramatic finishes ever at the Pigeon Hills' lightning-fast one-third mile oval , Young fought-off the likes of Greg Hodnett, Lance Dewease and Cris Eash - some of the best drivers in the land, to record his first career win in the headline sprint division.

And for his efforts, he was saluted by those in attendance in victory lane like none has ever seen in many years.

"Go, Daddy. Go, Daddy", those were the words uttered by Young's son, Cole, while in his arms in victory lane. With his wife, Kelly, by his side and thousands of new Niki Young fans cheering him on, Young smiled from ear-to-ear, trying to capture the moment in words.

"Greg Hodnett's my idol...he's a great help to me and I just can't believe this.," said the humbled Young. "I thought this day would never come."

The fact is, it did.

The tale of the tape will show that Young beat Hodnett by.28-hundreth's of a second. It will show he led every lap from the third lap on.

But over the final two laps, both Young and Hodnett had the lead several times.

But when it counted, Young was leader each time they crossed the start/finish line.

Young easiest move of the 25-lap feature was his pass of outside polesitter Craig Smith for the top spot on the third lap. That came after a six-car accident on the opening lap enabled Young to move up from his eighth starting spot.

But neither Chris Knopp nor Kevin Drury, Lincoln's other first-time feature winners this season, had to work quite like Young to go to the finish of the season's fifth super sprint feature.

Young encountered a literal roadblock late in the race when he encountered the car of Doug Esh, trying to stay on the lead lap with four laps remaining. That allowed two-time feature winner Eash, who charged from 12th starting spot, and Greg Hodnett, who came back from a flat tire suffered in the first-lap melee, to close the gap.

With two laps to go, threaded the needle low between two lapped cars entering the first turn. That allowed Eash, who was in second place at the time, go for the lead on the high side of the track.

Young's momentum carried him high at the exit of the turn, right in front of Eash. In the blink of an eye, Eash's bid for the lead carried him high above the cushion and into the wall, and spun around, nearly flipping over.

The red flag which followed put Hodnett and another feature winner this season, Dewease, on Young's tail.

"I really don't remember," said Young when asked about his battle in the first turn. "All I remember is that Hodnett passed me before that wreck and I don't know if I would have been able to get him back by him in all of that traffic."

"That red (flag) was a blessing to us to get me out away from traffic, where I could run clean laps and keep up my momentum."

The last two laps keep the grandstand crowd on there feet as Young and Hodnett swapped the lead in every turn. But each time Young would cross the line in the lead.

In the end, Young got his first career 410 sprint win to go along with his three career thundercar wins.

"I heard him underneath me and once I saw it was him, I mean, he's awesome," said Young as he struggled to describe the final laps. "I thought, 'Man, I don't know,' I pulled the car underneath him and it just drove off."

"The car was awesome. These guys (on my crew) do an awesome job. Denny Neiderer gave me the opportunity to drive the car this year and it's a lot easier on my pocket."

Following Hodnett at the checkers were Dewease in third, and great solid run for Smith to hang on for fourth, and Billy Sims fifth. Completing the top-10 were Johnny Mackison Jr., Bobby Weaver, Josh Wells, Esh and Glenndon Forsythe.

The opening-lap crash, which occurred after Brian Leppo's car spun in front of most of the field, took out the track's leading active feature winner, Fred Rahmer, whose car suffered front end damage. Meanwhile, Eash, whose duel with Young ended with his crash, was able to return and settled for 15th place.

In the 358 sprint feature, former 358 sprint champion Eric Stambaugh grabbed the top spot from Mike Bittinger on the 10th lap and led the rest of the 20-lap feature for his first win of the year over Bittinger and last week's feature winner, Cory Haas.

Bernie Beard scored his third feature win of the season and track-record 70th of his career in winning the 20 lap thundercar feature over Neil Smith and Steve Clabaugh.



Defending 11-time track champion Keith Kauffman of Mifflintown returned to victory lane at Port Royal Saturday night for the 116th time in winning the 25 lap 410 sprint feature. Kauffman, the winningest driver in the history of Port Royal Speedway, became the second different winner in as many races as he took the checkered over Sean Michael and Mike Wagner.

Dan Stone of Selinsgrove made it two different winner in two races as he picked up his first career late model win over Harold Ranck and Steve Campbell.

Gary Beward won the pro stock feature and Herm Renninger won the enduro dash.


Carlisle's Dave Calaman took the lead from Dave Berkheimer following a lap 11 restart and drove away from the field to become the third different winner in as many races in winning the 25-lap super sportsman feature Saturday night at Silver Spring Speedway. Calaman's 18th career win came over Berkheimer and Danny Hager.

Wes Alleman of Newburg started on the pole and led all 20 laps to pick up his first win of the year in street stock action.

Chris Reed won the four-lap sportsman cash dash.


Two-time defending track champion Chad Layton of Harrisburg returned to winning form Saturday night at Selinsgrove Speedway in winning the 25 lap 358 sprint feature. The win was Layton's 22nd career win at the Snyder County oval. Layton took the checkered over T.J. Stutts and Nate Snyder to become the third different winner in as many races.

Liverpool's Dale Kerstetter picked up his 30th career win in late model action over Tony Adams and Jeff Smith.

Peanut Heintzelman of Troxelville picked up his second win in-a-row in pro stock action while Matt Drum of Port Trevorton picked up his second win in-a-row as well in roadrunner action.


West Lawn's Dave Ely won the 25 lap United Racing Club (URC) Series feature event at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey Saturday night. The win was Ely's first win of 2003 and the second of his career in URC action.

Ely led every lap and took the checkered over Scott Purcell and Kevin Welch.


Friday rain, which began in the morning, continued into the afternoon and showed no signs of stopping, forced Trail-Way Speedway officials to postpone Friday night's special Auto Locator 358 Sprint Spring Championship.

The 30-lap $1,200-to-win show has now been rescheduled to Friday night, May 9th, with the newly formed Coors Light 358 Sprint Series joined by thundercars and scramble cars.

The Coors Light 358 Sprint Series will now have to wait one more week to make there debut at the lightning-fast Adams County 1/3rd-mile oval. Next Friday night, April 25th, the Coors Light 358 Sprints will again try to make there debut. They will share the spotlight that night with the highly competitive thundercar division as they race in a special Thundercar Championship event which will pay $500-to-win the 25 lap event. Rounding out the racing program will be the street stocks. Gates will open at 5:30 PM with the first heat set to take the green flag at 7:30 PM.


Rain and cold weather once again forced Hagerstown Speedway officials to postpone another racing program. Round one of the Winchester Hagerstown Speedway Shootout scheduled for Friday night, April 18th, has been rescheduled for Sunday night, May 25th, Memorial Day Weekend.

The Shootout is the fourth program this season that Hagerstown has had to cancel or postpone due to bad weather.

Next week, Hagerstown Speedway will return to action with the first appearance of the Renegade DirtCar Racing Series. The invading late model circuit will take on the Hagerstown regulars in the Stanley Schetrompf Memorial. The 50-lap race will pay $7,000 to the winner. Joining the ITSI late models will be the late model sportsman and the pure stocks. Race time is 7:30 PM with warm-ups at 7 PM.

-bill meyer-

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About this article
Series Sprint , Stock car
Drivers Jeff Smith , Neil Smith