By BRYAN CHASE
SUSQUEHANNA, PA – Eighty-two cars signed in to Penn Can Speedway on Friday evening, the most the track has had on a regular Friday night show in a handful of years. The first two weeks of the season have been very good for new promoter Chad Towner. Improvements are sweeping and people are taking notice!
Brian Malcolm took the top spot early in the 30-lap modified main and seemed untouchable. For the first half of the race, Malcolm kept his #119 machine low and smooth, pulling away from the 18 other cars chasing behind him. Malcolm would soon find company however. Steve Davis, who was comfortably in 2nd, started finding some speed in his #13 modified. Davis, from Jackson, NJ, began reeling in Malcolm and by around lap 22, he would start challenging for the lead.
They were not alone! Kevin Hartnett, otherwise known as The Stalker, held true to his nickname and methodically worked his way forward. Hartnett had his machine on rails on the outside of the speedway picking off car after car. With 3 laps to go, Malcolm, Davis and Hartnett all battled under a blanket. Malcom had some serious pressure on him at this point as Davis was on his rear bumper, while Hartnett looked to say hello from the top. As the white flag dropped, Hartnett maneuvered around Davis and put his sights on Malcolm as the two entered 3 and 4. Malcolm had a good run off the bottom as he raced down the front stretch to the checkered flag, keeping the multi-time Penn Can Speedway track champion behind him. Rounding out the top 5 were Alan Rudalavage and Dan Pompey.
Ray Leonard, from Thompson, put the 602 Modified division on notice Friday night with a big win, and also the first of his career.
Randy Brokaw and Leonard brought a good field of 602 modifieds to the green flag. Leonard piloted his #3r to the lead, stretching the field out behind him early on. Leonard stayed smooth and appeared unnerved to any battles going on behind him. Mike Nagel Jr began to come through the field and set sights on Leonard, however some mechanical issues appeared to end his night as he was forced to pull off into the infield.
A caution on lap 19 would bunch the field back up, putting the invader and very fast Kevin Borden right on his bumper with only 6 to go. Borden, piloting a former Matt Sheppard-turned crate car, was able to get a run on Leonard as the green flag dropped, sticking his nose alongside of him. It appeared the two might battle the rest of the way, but Leonard pulled away once again. He went mostly unchallenged for the last 5 laps until the checkered flag fell. Borden was 2nd, Randy Brokaw, (a returning) Mike Schane and Matt Brewer rounded out the top 5 respectively.
In the street stock division, Doug Stack marched to victory in his first start of the season at Penn Can Speedway. Stack pulled out to the lead early and showed the rest of the field the quick way around the 3/8ths speedway. Doug Polhamus and Shane Wolf Jr gave chase and challenged hard, but they were unable to slip by Stack. Polhamus was 2nd, Wolf Jr 3rd, while Eric Beach and Brett Relyea were 4th and 5th.
The factory stock feature saw Tommy Groover finally get the monkey off his back and charge to victory. Groover was challenged by Steve Simpson the last few laps of the race, but Groover was able to hold to him off as he claimed victory for the first time in 2018. Last week’s feature winner, Cyrus Homer was 3rd. Nate Hill and Alan Komar rounded out the top 5.
John Ayre, from Mountain Top, cruised to his first win of the season in the 600cc Modifieds. Ayre was followed by Tyler Smith, Doug Lattner, Dakota Anderson and Jared Green.
In the 4 Cylinder division, Bob Kress took top honors. Kress was challenged hard by “Captain Quick” Nick Kennedy. The two battled back and forth for a number of laps. Unfortunately Kennedy would experience some issues with his #N2 machine and would need to nurse it to a 4th place finish. Kress held on to the top spot over Matt Browning. Chris Taylor was third and Cory Lewis rounded out the top 5.
The Jr Modified program gained some new cars this week. This division allows younger competitors a chance to cut their teeth in a race car and to gain experience on a smaller track in either a 300cc Modified or a Slingshot.
5-18-18 Official Results
Modifieds (19 Cars):
BRIAN MALCOLM, Kevin Hartnett, Steve Davis, Alan Rudalavage, Dan Pompey, Joey Grammes, Nick Rochinski, Alan Kellogg, Mike Loney, Dan Solomon, Nick Petrilak, Joey Colsten, Kailee Dimorier, Brad Shafer, Jamie Bedford, Charlie Hendrickson Jr, Mike Nagel, Butch Getz, Brian White
602 Modifieds (17 Cars):
Ray Leonard, Kevin Borden, Randy Brokaw, Mike Schane, Matt Brewer, Carl Bittenbender, Moose Gulley, James O’hara, Tom Creed, Kam Maby, Mike Nagel Jr, Chuck Miller, Randy Fox, Ryan Stone, Devon Zona, Joe Guastella, Phil Clapper
Street Stocks (10 Cars):
DOUG STACK, Doug Polhamus, Shane Wolf Jr, Eric Beach, Brett Relyea, Steve Polhamus, Jonathan White, Rich Green, Keith Beach, Doug Stack Sr
Factory Stocks (13 Cars):
TOMMY GROOVER, Steve Simpson, Cryus Homer, Nate Hill, Alan Komar, David Acosta, Ned Fitch, Alecia Towner, Dusty Decker, Dustin Fassett, Andy Brigham, Frank Payne, Charlie Towner
600cc Modifieds (8 Cars):
JOHN AYRE, Tyler Smith, Doug Lattner, Dakota Anderson, Jared Green, Dominick Amato, Chace Scutt, Ali Scutt
4 Cylinders (15 Cars):
BOB KRESS, Matt Browning, Chris Taylor, Nick Kennedy, Cory Lewis, Joshua Wilder, Andy Bolles, Mat Mather, Brian Salmini, Kevin Whitman, Jason Colwell Jr, Bryant Beach, Brandon Gumaer, David Fox Jr, Jason Colwell
Chris Gennarelli/Tonarlos Hard Charger Awards
Modified Hard Charger ($100): Kevin Hartnett
602 Modified Hard Charger ($100): Carl Bittenbender
Street Stock Hard Charger ($30): Doug Polhamus
50/50 was worth $512.00 and was claimed.
Over 450 people were in attendance, another increase over last week and all of last year.
From Chad Towner:
“Thank you to teams who came out to give our track a try and to all of the people in the stands. We are a work in progress. Improvements have been made weekly around the facility and will continue to get noticeably better.
We know the track was rougher than last week. We will work to make it right. We felt the surface was pretty good during the week of track prep leading up to race night. Obviously bumps formed and this caused the track to get a little narrow in spots. The amount of rain we have had has played a part in this, as we know we aren’t the only ones fighting to keep a smooth surface. But we will do what we can to make sure we combat this the best we can. It will get better!”