MECHANICSBURG, PA, 4/20/01 - It will go down as one of the classic races in Williams Grove history. In a wild three-car race for the lead, which saw the lead change three times over the final laps, culminated with Mont Alto's Lance Dewease ...
MECHANICSBURG, PA, 4/20/01 - It will go down as one of the classic races in Williams Grove history.
In a wild three-car race for the lead, which saw the lead change three times over the final laps, culminated with Mont Alto's Lance Dewease passing four-time defending track champion Fred Rahmer on the final go-around to become the first repeat winner this season at the historic Mechanicsburg half-mile.
Dewease slid under Rahmer exiting the second turn of the final lap to take the lead away and then raced cleanly through the final two turns to pick-up his second Williams Grove victory of the season in the 25 lap super sprint feature Friday night.
"That was a lot of fun," said an outwardly happy Dewease to a cheering grandstand. "You won't see no better racing than what we have here in Pennsylvania...I know that there's been people on the Internet that have been talking about how good California racing is and all that."
"But all I know is that this is the only place in the country that don't run time trials weekly and we put the fast guys in the back. That's what it's all about, putting a show on for the fans."
Polesitter Josh Wells grabbed the lead at the outset over fellow frontrow starter Troy Whitesel with third-starting Rick Lafferty, fourth-starting Shawn Keen and fifth-starting Darren Eash in tow.
A Kyle Sauder flip in the first and second turns on the second lap brought the action to a halt. The ensuing restart saw Wells maintain the top spot over Whitesel, Keen, Mark Smith and Rick Lafferty.
A spin by last week's feature winner, Greg Hodnett, in the second turn brought out the caution flag on the third lap.
From the it was a non-stop horse race to the final.
Whitesel showed some power as he slipped around Wells for the lead coming off the fourth turn of the fourth lap and pulled out to a tenuous one second lead over next few laps.
Meanwhile the heavy hitters were mounting there charge.
Eighth-starting Sean Michael immediately moved into the top-five following the third lap restart with Rahmer (who started 12th) following suit by the eighth lap.
Michael quickly moved past Wells for third as Keen, who was now in second, tried to put a dent into Whitesel's full second lead as they completed the eighth lap. Michael was relentless and got around Keen for the runner-up spot on the ninth lap and then a fourth turn pass of Whitesel to grab the lead on the ninth go-around.
Rahmer too became energized as he tried to keep pace with the new leader and passed Whitesel for third on the 11th lap, then Keen for second on the 13th lap as Michael pulled out to a 2.36 second lead.
All the while Dewease, who started 11th, suddenly began to catch everyone's eye as he too began to mount his charge to the front. Dewease moved into the top-five by the 11th lap, was in fourth by the 14th lap, third into by the 15th.
Michael's lead over Rahmer dwindled to less than a second as they entered lapped traffic on the 17th lap. By the 18th lap it became a three-car race as the top-three - Michael, Rahmer, and Dewease - were all nose to tail dodging backmarkers.
The with four laps to go all three drivers turned it up a notch as each driver took shot at the lead in every turn with Michael hanging on to the lead.
Dewease slipped by Rahmer in the third and fourth turns momentarily for second on the 23rd lap, only to have Rahmer fight back to regain the runner-up spot.
As the fans jumped to there feet sensing a climatic finish, Rahmer moved back around Dewease and Michael in the following first and second turn with less than two to go to grab the lead with Dewease following in the Salfordville racer's tracks into second as the white flag waved.
Rahmer moved to the bottom of the track in the first and second turns to block Dewease's lane on the final lap, only to slip high n the exit - opening the door for Dewease.
"When I first caught up to Fred (Rahmer) and Sean (Michael) I didn't know who was leading...I didn't know if somebody was out ahead of Sean," Said Dewease. "Our car wasn't real good at the beginning and it takes us a while to get cranked-up."
"Man this thing came on like a bandit at the end. I could run the bottom and they were struggling around the top. Our car was just working so good on the bottom. I got held up there by a lapped car and I thought Fred was going to get me back. Then he didn't stay on the bottom down in turns one and two and left it open for me and I got a run on him off the corner and got by him. All I knew then is that I had to stop making mistakes in three and four I'd be all right."
Dewease seized the moment and shot under Rahmer to grab the lead and then raced through the final turns mistake-free to take the checkered 1.29 seconds ahead of Rahmer for his 44th career Williams Grove win - moving him into a tie for with Rahmer for second-place on the all-time Grove win list.
"We were all right there together and I thought I had a chance," said Dewease. "It was just a matter of who got messed up in lapped cars...I messed up in three and four and let Fred get a good run by me."
"I pulled in behind him and he dove down to the bottom (in the first and second turns) to try and block the slider. He didn't stay down there and all I did was park it on the bottom...and this thing was driving up off the corners like a bandit."
Dewease's win was his third overall in 410 competition this season and was worth $3,000.
Following Rahmer at the checkered was Michael in third, and 13th starting Todd Shaffer in fourth, and Dave Ely in fifth.
"I'm just fortunate to have the crew, sponsors, and owners I have. We've been fast all year. We've just been having some dumb things happening...hopefully we'll get that over with.
"The crew did an excellent job, American Racer Tires, J&J Chassis, Don Ott Motors, Top Flight Wings, Hanks Performance Products, Acco Racing Shocks, Weld Racing Products and Wheels...this list just goes on and on."
Completing the top-10 were Cris Eash (who 9th), Keen, Donnie Kreitz Jr. (Who started 10th), Len Thompson (who started 17th), and 19th starting Keith Kauffman.
"It still a long year," Dewease added. "Every race means a lot but it's a long year and the big thing is you can't have no problems, wrecks, or drop-outs."
Heats for the 30 super sprints on hand were won by Mark Smith, Lafferty, and Keen, with Kauffman winning the consolation.
Smith's winning time of two minutes 54.45 seconds set a new 10 lap track record. Smith eclipsed the three year old record of two minutes 55.67 seconds that was set by Lance Dewease in August of 1997.
Second generation racer Billy Dietrich of Aspers passed Rusty Pressley with three laps to go to take the lead and then pulled away over the final two laps to pick up his first career Williams Grove victory in the 20 lap 358 feature.
Dietrich, who started seventh with his sidelined father Dan Dietrich looking on from the pits, quietly moved into third at the half-way mark and then into second with five laps to go.
Pressley, who had taken the lead from polesitter Mike Miller on the second lap, had opened up a comfortable lead by that point and looked to be the winner.
But a caution with three laps to go for the stopped sprinter of Billy Albright allowed Dietrich to close on the leaders bumper.
Dietrich didn't waste the opportunity as his slid under and then up in front of Pressley for in the third and fourth turns to grab the lead at the completion of the 17th lap.
From there Dietrich easily pulled away to take the checkered 2.27 second ahead Pressley for the win. Billy Johns finished third, Dale Hammaker fourth, and a hard-charging T.J. Stutts fifth after starting 17th. Completing the top-10 were Duaine Smith, Chad Layton, Kevin Drury, Scott Ausherman, and Kevin Welsh.
Heats for the 41 "358" sprints on hand were won by Pressley, Miller, Joe Ilg, and Johns. Twin consolations were won by Stutts and Eric Stambaugh.