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Saying that she maintained her composure would be an understatement...making the comment that she displayed the poise of a grizzled veteran just doesn’t do justice to her performance. Pointing out that the driver was cool as a cucumber; much more so than her car owner/crew chief/father...well, that would be entirely accurate.
Molly Chambers pulled off her first career victory in 600cc Sprint competition on Wednesday night at the Kutztown Fair Speedway. And all she had to do in order to earn that initial triumph was to hold off some of the best wheel-twisters that the 600cc community has to offer.
The young lady from Clarks Summit, Pa. was up to the task as she survived several caution periods to notch the victory. Joining Molly in the winner’s circle on Checkered Flag Fan Club Night and WIX Filters 100 Nights of Racing at the fairgrounds were Pete Skias (winged 270cc), Mark Sensenig (All Star Slingshots), and Andy Ressler (Xcel Sportsman Modifieds).
Chambers took the Wingless 600cc green from the pole position, but this would hardly be a walk in the park for Molly and her Abington Body Shop No. 51.
Two-time and defending track champion Jeff Hartman blasted from sixth on the starting grid to run fourth by the time one lap was scored. A yellow flag with one down provided the scenariofor Hartman, from Flagtown, NJ, to jump up two more spots on the ensuing restart.
As Hartman reeled in the leader and began to challenge Chambers, eighth-starting Brett Schoenly was on the move. The Emmaus Jet climbed into fourth on the seventh trip around the oval, with ninth place starter Shane Lewis entering the top five on lap eleven.
Five cautions slowed the pace of the 20-lap feature and frayed the nerves of Todd Chambers, the race leader’s father. But his daughter was on the gas and focused, maintaining a car length advantage over Hartman. And she benefitted from an eventual three-car tussle for the runner-up position between Hartman, Schoenly, and Lewis.
Schoenly had a run on the outside of Hartman with four to go, but hopped over Hartman’s right-rear tire exiting turn two. Schoenly had to back off for a split second, allowing Lewis to scoot by him for third.
With three to go, Lewis had a similar opportunity to pass Hartman, but the same fate befell the 2012 PA 600 Speedweek Champion, and he lost third to Schoenly.
All that scrambling permitted Chambers to open some daylight over her pursuers, and Molly raced under the checkered flag with a margin of 0.784-seconds over Jeff Hartman. Lewis passed Schoenly (again) for third on the final lap, and Dave Graziano was fifth.
Pete Skias and Jason Swavely made up the front row of the winged 270cc Sprint feature, with Skias charging into the lead at the outset.
He and Swavely pulled away from the field as they waged a furious battle for the top spot. Skias steadily put some daylight between himself and Swavely, only to see the one-time winner from Douglassville close in once again as the 20-lapper entered its final stages.
Swavely motored up to Skias’ tail tank, then ducked as low as he possibly could in turns one and two to make the pass for the lead. At that point, two things occurred that put a severe crimp in Swavely’s efforts; he hit the cone that marks the boundary line between the racing surface and the infield, and the yellow waved for a spin by another racer.
During the caution that followed, Swavely was put to the rear for hitting the cone - and his pass would not have counted anyway because the yellow flag was thrown before he could be scored as the leader.
Skias, of Wernersville was now back in front, and he paced the final three circuits to record the victory.
Austin Bishop was involved in a minor skirmish on the initial start and had to go to the rear of the pack. The teen sliced his way back to the front of the field, slipping past Harlee Schaffer on the final tour to finish second. Schaffer, Billy Logeman, and Tommy Kunsman Jr. completed the top five.
Leesport’s Mark Sensenig registered an emotional triumph in the Wert’s Beverage of Topton All Star Slingshot main event.
The 16-year-old Sensenig used the high groove to zip by early leader Nick Timar as the duo roared down the homestretch to complete the second lap.
Matt Mertz wrestled second away from Timar on the fifth circuit and Robbie Hocker followed Mertz past Timar’s No. 79 to claim third.
Mertz spun out of the runner-up spot just before the halfway point, putting Hocker on the back bumper of race leader Sensenig as they formed up for the restart.
Sensenig held on, winning by the narrow margin of 0.185-seconds over Hocker. Point leader Brett Bieber finished third, with Matt Miller and William Mohring crossing the stripe in fourth and fifth, respectively.
After the race, one of Sensenig’s family members noted that the driver’s grandmother (who passed away three years ago) was born on July 25 - which was Wednesday’s date. And Mark proudly carries the number 725 on his car in honor of his grandmother’s birthday.
“To win on her birthday is awesome,” smiled the winner. “We miss her every day, and I can’t think of a better way to honor her memory.”
Gilbertsville’s Andy Ressler appeared to have the fastest Xcel Sportsman Modified on more than one Wednesday this season, but Lady Luck has not been kind to the driver who also pilots a Late Model at Grandview on Saturday nights.
Ressler shook the gorilla off his back on Wednesday, dominating the 20-lap Xcel Sportsman feature to score his first win of the 2012 campaign.
With the Garages ‘N More, Southpaw.com No. 10 firmly in command, an exciting four car battle developed for the second position. Opening night winner Jordan Dreher, one-time victor Justin Schraden, Eric Whitby, and point leader Richie Hitzler were involved in the nip-and-tuck wrestling match, with Dreher hanging on to finish a distant second to Ressler.
Schraden, Hitzler, and Whitby traded positions three, four, and five over the second half of the event, with Hitzler securing third with a final lap pass of Schraden.
Another solid field put on a great show last Wednesday, with 31 of the All Star Slingshots leading the car count competition. The Wingless 600’s pulled in a field of 24, while the winged 270cc Sprints and the Xcel Sportsman each boasted a 20-car entry list, making the grand total 95 racecars in action on July 25. Despite the large number of entrants, the entire program was wrapped up by 9:50 p.m.
Heat race winners for the All Star Slingshots included Ryan Grim, Jim Housworth, and Brett Bieber. Shannon Smith won the consolation race.
Brett Schoenly, James Morris, and Jeff Hartman were victorious in heat race action for the Wingless 600cc Sprints.
The dual Xcel Sportsman qualifiers went to Scott Washburn and Shaun Burd.
The Xcel Sportsman drivers were also competing for the NAPA Know How Quick Qualifier Award, a cash bonus awarded to the driver who records the single-quickest lap in heat race activity. Eric Whitby received the bonus on Wednesday, turning a lap at 12.758-seconds during his eight-lap heat.
Trevor Dunn and Harlee Schaffer notched wins in heat races for the winged 270cc Sprints.
On July 11, Harlee Schaffer earned the NAPA Know How Quick Qualifier Award by registering the quickest lap of all the 270cc competitors who took part in heat race action.
Wingless 600cc Sprint Feature, 20 laps: 1.Molly Chambers, 2.Jeff Hartman, 3.Shane Lewis, 4.Brett Schoenly, 5.David Graziano, 6.James Morris, 7.Rhett Long, 8.Tony DiMattia, 9.Simon Egan, 10.Jay Hartman, 11.Taylor Troxel, 12.T.J. Lilly, 13.Zach Fisher, 14.Doug Snyder, 15.Richie Hartman, 16.Bobby Butler, 17.Tim Iulg, 18.Brett Peters, 19.Rick Perone, 20.Joe Kay, 21.Tom Schearer, 22.Steve Kemery, 23.Carey Becker, 24.Billy Ney.
Winged 270cc Sprint Feature, 20 laps: 1.Pete Skias, 2.Austin Bishop, 3.Harlee Schaffer, 4.Billy Logeman, 5.Tom Kunsman Jr., 6.Mark Ewer, 7.Jarid Kunkle, 8.Cheyenne Schaffer, 9.Trevor Dunn, 10.Jason Swavely, 11.Paul Richards, 12.Hayden Miller, 13.Steve Walters, 14.Jonathan Swift, 15.Bradley Stevens, 16.Alex Reinsmith, 17.Andrew Dietrich, 18.Ronald Helmick, 19.Mike Miller. DNS: Jeff Carman.
All Star Slingshot Feature, 20 laps: 1.Mark Sensenig, 2.Robert Hocker, 3.Brett Bieber, 4.Matt Miller, 5.William Mohring, 6.Joe Nemeth, 7.Ryan Grim, 8.Kyle Gruber, 9.Travis Bieber, 10.Shannon Smith, 11.Jim Housworth, 12.Danny Buccafusca, 13.Louden Reimert, 14.Matt Massone, 15.Joe Bodenschatz, 16.Dylan Hoch, 17.Matthew Mertz, 18.PJ Knappenberger, 19.Scott Dinin, 20.Jordan Knepp, 21.Nick Timar III, 22.B.J. Antonio, 23.Jacob Dunn, 24.Tayllor Schoenly.
Xcel Sportsman Modified Feature, 20 laps: 1.Andy Ressler, 2.Jordan Dreher, 3.Richie Hitzler, 4.Justin Schraden, 5.Eric Whitby, 6.Chad Mullen, 7.Jason Dunkelberger, 8.Scott Washburn, 9.Jessica Weiss, 10.Shaun Burd, 11.Ryan Suchon, 12.Kermit Horning, 13.Korey Inglin, 14.Ray Horning, 15.Josh Fox, 16.Kevin Gruber, 17.Kyle Kocher, 18.Ronnie Molnar, 19.Brian Mady, 20.Shawn Horning.