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Once again the plan was for Bruce and I to go to Williams Grove Speedway for the sprints on Friday and stay over for Lincoln Speedway on Saturday. But this weekend we were going to go one step further and stay over on Saturday night to see the 410 sprints make one of their only two stops this year at Susquehanna Speedway. I was excited about the weekend but not the forecast and for the third week in a row it rained on Friday and Williams Grove had to cancel. Therefore it was not until Saturday morning that our weekend racing trip began.
Saturday, April 9 - First I have to say that today would have been my grandfather’s birthday and he was one of the most important men in my life. I lived with my grandparents until I was 21 years old. Today he would have been 101 unfortunately he only made it to 95. I still miss him.
Anyway, we left home Saturday under sunny skies that soon turned gray and overcast, stopped for lunch at our favorite Harrisburg restaurant, Fiesta Mexico, checked into the Yorktowne Hotel in Historic Downtown York and watched the Phillies kick butt on Atlanta all before heading over to Lincoln Speedway. We arrived at Lincoln at 5:00 an hour before the starting time and were surprised to see a smaller than usual crowd. Even though it was overcast the temperature was in the 50’s. It was a late arriving crowd and by the 6:00 start the crowd filled in some. It was a normal show of 410 sprints, 358 sprints and thundercars. The car counts were 25, 32 and 22 respectively.
Racing started promptly at 6:00 with four 358 heats followed by thundercar warm-ups, 410 heats and thundercar heats. Including the consolations for the sprints there were 12 qualifying events in all and they were complete by 7:45. The track was smooth, tacky and dust free and I am sure the overcast skies and damp air helped to contribute to the awesome looking surface.
This was the first night when all divisions would be going to the handicapping system. One I like because it means the fast cars do not start up front. Although that does not mean that the cars starting up front are not fast. The 410 sprint feature is always first and it took the green at 8:00 with the first caution coming out on lap 7 for a multi sprint tangle in turn one caused by Fred Rahmer when he decided to cut to the inside of the turn. Unfortunately another car was already occupying the area. Two laps later the caution/red came out as Adam Wilt flipped the #15 on the homestretch and then again two laps later Fred Rahmer ran into a spun Mike Bittinger on the homestretch. It appears the race was going to be run two laps at a time and it continued when on lap 13 the caution waved for the final time after Derek Sell and Justin Collett collided on the homestretch as Collett went for the lead. Well, actually as I saw it Sell ran into Collett. Finally racing began and the rest of the race went nonstop. It appeared that Brad McClelland was going to pick up his first win but 15th starting Brian Montieth had a different idea of how the finish would be. Montieth did a perfect slide job in turns three and four to take the lead with four laps remaining but McClelland came right back, dove to the inside and completed the pass back into first in turn one. It appeared that McClelland was pulling away but Montieth would have none of that in turns three and four Montieth got back past McClelland with two to go and went on to win as the crowd went wild. It was like watching two different races. The first half was not good but the second half more than made up for it.
The 358 feature was up next and no sooner did it start it stopped. On lap 3 of the 20 lap event there was a 17 car pile-up in turn four. I thought only 17 car pile-ups happen in NASCAR. No sprint turned over but once the track was blocked they just kept piling in. When they restarted 13 of the 17 sprints were able to continue racing. It took 15 minutes to clear the track and when racing resumed there was a lot of good racing action. The caution would only wave one more time for a spin by Dale Hammaker on the backstretch. Billy Dietrich picked up the win over Steve Owings, Tim Wagaman, Doug Hammaker and Chad Trout.
It was a good night of racing and at 9:05 we were heading for the gate. We decided to skip the thundercar feature and go back to the hotel where we caught the finish of the Texas race. Now we have to hope the showers predicted for Sunday afternnon do not materialize. I am already tired of these April showers.
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