67th Season Opener and ORCS Awakening
Penn Can Speedway opened up its 2022 Season Friday night with a strong showing for new Promoters Keith and Laura Beach. With 5 of its weekly divisions in competition as well as an Open Racing Challenge Series special on the card fans turned out in great numbers despite the early spring chills. With a tight schedule and great track conditions the new crew was off to a great start that kept both fans and drivers ready to roll.
Former track Champion Brett Tonkin has returned to Penn Can Speedway weekly competition this season and will look to take the points title this season from defending Champion Brian Malcolm. Tonkin started the season on a high note taking the exhibition Modified feature. With heat wins going to Malcolm and Alan Rudalavage everyone anxiously awaited the redraw. After the pills had been picked it was Mike Loney and Malcolm bringing the field to the green flag out of turn 4. Malcolm showed his speed from the jump as Ken Titus spun in the top of turn 2 resetting the field for a second try. Malcolm would again take the lead from Loney
Feature winner Brett Tonkin brought a familiar ride with him competing in the car he piloted to a 4th place points finish at Afton in 2021. The Stafursky Paving sponsored driver said it was a little different out there as he was down a crew member, with no signals coming on the restarts or on how much of an advantage he had out front. Brett gave all the credit to his younger brother Alex and Jimmy Witco who have helped him with shock ideas and worked over the offseason to find new ways to get faster. After getting by Malcolm for second Brett was only focused on what was in front of him as he sailed away to the checkers. Asked about what race he most looked forward to this year, he stated he’s always looking forward to the next one. Brett would also like to thank car owners Dave and BJ Stafursky, Stafursky Paving, Stafursky Auto Parts. Morrison Performance, FNCB Bank, H&K Dunmore Asphalt, and Regal Plumbing and Heating.
The Open Racing Challenge Series held its debut on Friday night with nine cars showing up to put their talent and cars to the test. The ORCS feature would be a thirty-lap event where anything goes for the cars and setup, however the only two rules are the car must weigh 3,000 pounds and run-on DOT tires. The race would start with Kevin MacDonald starting on the pole with Thunder Mountain regular Steven Deinhardt to his outside. Deinhardt would take the early lead leaving Mike Morse and MacDonald to battle for second. Before the battle for second could heat up, the first caution of the feature came on lap 1 with Penn Can regular Sheldon Whitman spinning between turns 3 and 4. The ORCS series is all about being a different type of series and one way is the way restarts are done. With a Delaware Double File Restart, Deinhardt would be in the front row alone and the field would fire when he did. As the race continued, the battle for second quickly heated up again between Morse and MacDonald with Morse taking over to try and hunt down Deinhardt. Shawn Boynton would look to the inside of MacDonald for third but would be unable to hold on the spot. Boynton and MacDonald would swap some paint causing Boynton to spin on lap 4.
Deinhardt would once again lead the field in a Delaware Double File restart, however it would not last exceedingly long as Brett Spoor, Alecia Towner and MacDonald all got together resulting in a yellow flag. Deinhardt would pull off another restart while Morse would take second and attempt to hunt down Denhardt’s 160 machine. Boynton would battle with Walt Henry for the third position and would claim it with Whitman right on his tail. Whitman would step up and take away third from Boynton as he slowed and brought out a yellow for a flat right rear tire. Deinhardt would lead the field one last time on a restart, as he took off like a bullet leaving the rest of the field to duke it out for positions. MacDonald will work his way through the field and end up passing Whitman for third while Deinhardt catches the end of the field and passes Henry, and Towner. Spoor’s night would end as he pulled to the infield as would Whitman’s as he would head pit side. Deinhardt would take the checkered flag followed by Morse, Boynton, and MacDonald.
Feature winner Steven Deinhardt is now 2 for 2 in O.R.C.S. competition after picking up the first annual Unruly Race at the Thunder Mountain Speedway last fall. The Street Stock regular loves the idea of a no-holds barred series and has used a large side panel modification on his feature winning cars in the series. The panels and missing roof give the car a better aero package and hold the car to the ground through the turns reasons the O.R.C.S. ace. The driver nicknamed “Dollar Sign” had to fight through traffic in the race’s closing circuits while dealing with a broken shock mount that enhanced the surface’s character late in the program. Steven is also a fan of the Delaware Double style restarts used in the series. Deinhardt plans to run the series whenever it doesn’t conflict with his points chase at Thunder Mountain this season and is creative with his setups to counter running on the DOT tires.
The 25 lap Sportsman feature would see 2021 Modified track champion Brian Malcom start on the pole with the newcomer at Penn Can, Marty Goodwin to his outside. As Scott Stevens waved the green flag, it was action from the start with Malcom gaining the early lead. The battle would rage on as 2021 track champion Ray Leonard, Goodwin and Tommy Groover took to fight three-wide for second place. While Leonard, Goodwin and Groover were trying to claim second place, it left the door for Malcom’s teammate Alex Konopka to slide in to claim second. The first car that would not finish the race would be John Bush as he pulled into the infield on lap 4. Malcom would pull away from the field as the action behind him would continue. Groover, who moved into a sportsman from a factory stock, would battle track regular Brad Weaver to take away the fourth position. By lap 7, Malcom had caught the rear end of the field and would pass the 13MH of Matt Millard as Ned Fitch would head pit side. The leaders would continue to work lapped traffic as Mike Nagel Jr. would slow along the back stretch before pulling into the infield on lap 10. Millard would head pit side on lap 16 as Malcolm would remain the leader, the first caution of the feature would come on lap 19 as Konopka would close the door on Leonard as they battled for second causing Leonard to spin in turn four. Malcom would lead the field to a single file restart followed by Konopka, Groover, Weaver, and Mike Schane in the top five. As the laps were counting down, there was no shortage of action as the battle for third would rage on. Weaver would look to the inside of Groover’s 7R machine and claim the third-place spot, but it would not last as the 7R took to the high line and the two would go door to door for the remaining two laps with Groover ultimately claiming the position. Malcom would cross the line first with Konopka close behind as well as Groover, Weaver, Mike Schane, Goodwin, Matt Martino, Mike Samony, Kolyn Schane and Joe Novak would round out the top 10.
Feature winner Brian Malcolm drew well and said it’s always nice to come from the pole. It was a good team night as the Konopka cars finished 1-2 in the best possible start to their season. When asked about racing against his teammate Brian quipped that he didn’t even realize who it was until Alex almost slipped by him. After that it was game on for last year’s Modified champion as he navigated through lapped traffic and made skating around the clay look easy. Brian is excited for the new names that appear in Penn Can’s sportsman field this year and is most looking forward to the annual running of the King of the Can this season. Brian would like to thank his daughter Magda, the Konopka Family, the Soloman Family for their travel support, Sharkey’s Fuels, Konopka Excavating, Smokin Joes, NEP Telephone and Keystone Electrical.
Xcel 600cc Modified action brought some new and familiar faces for their opener as Jeff Baldwin and former factory stock ace Josh Towner brought the field beneath the green. The start wouldn’t hold as some early jitters lead to a Mollie Mroz spin in turn one. Towner got the advantage on the restart taking the lead as Nolan Smith went to work on Baldwin for second. Darwin Greene Jr would take a hard hit on a turn 4 spin to bring out the event’s second yellow. Towner elected for the high side on the restart, maintaining the spot as Nolan Smith came under fire from Adam Mudge as just behind Tyler Smith looked to the outside of Roger Lewis for fourth. The action was slowed again on lap 3 when Tori Straway came to a spinning stop in turn 4. Towner would again take up the outside position firing well as the Smith duo battled for second. The pair ran door to door over the next two laps with Tler taking the spot away. A lap 7 yellow for the slowing 110 machine would once again bunch things up for an exciting finish.
The outside continued to be Towner’s friend on the restart as he pulled away from Smith, meanwhile Tyler Smith made a tricky slider work briefly taking the lead into turn 3 before Towner crossed him over to take it back. As the pair traded the top spot Mudge looked to the outside to take third. By lap 12 Towner and Smith were frequently swapping the top spot but Towner would prevail collecting his first win of the season followed by Tyler Smith, Nolan Smith, Mudge, and Ali Scutt rounding out the top 5. Feature winner Josh Towner felt confident working the top through his many restarts and is a fan of the track’s new transponder system. Towner feels the system saves time getting cars lined up on restarts and picked up his new car over the offseason. When asked what race he is most looking forward to this season Josh responded he and his team are hoping to make it down to Bloomsburg Fair Speedway. Towner was impressed with the amount of bite the track had, especially on the first go round when he rocketed away after feeling the car bog down a little originally. Josh would like to thank his family and crew, in addition to sponsors Wademan Auto, Premier Landscaping and Digging Setups.
The Gary’s U-Pull It 4 Cylinders made some changes over the offseason as the series will now follow the SCDRA rulebook with some SCDRA sanctioned events at the speedway this season. Rob Williams and Brian Salmini led the charge out of turn four with Salmini holding the early advantage as Jeff Sterling moved into third. By the backstretch Williams and Salmini were door to door with Williams getting the better of the exchange to take the lead with Sterling challenging Salmini for second. After a flurry of lap 3 restarts Williams resumed the lead with Rich Wagner taking second from Salmini, and Tim Vandermark charging through the field. After dropping to seventh Scott Beach would head pit side in the closing laps. A multi lap battle between Salmini and Sterling would result in both losing out as Vandermark swept them both and shuffled Sterling back to fourth. As Williams crossed the finish line Wagner gave chase with Vandermark, Sterling and Salmini rounding out the top 5.
STAFURSKY PAVING MODIFIEDS
WINNER – 27K - BRETT TONKIN
2.) 119-Brian Malcolm 3.) 72-Nick Petrilak 4.) 145-Alan Rudalavage 5.) 27-Dan Vauter 6.) 17D-Mike Loney 7.) 52-Brandon Fritsch 8.) 484-Travis Brockner 9.) 1-Darwin Greene Sr. 10.) 5-Kevin Hartnett 11.) 14-Stanley Wilkins 12.) 23P-Bud Phillips 13.) 7M-Mike Nagel 14.) 9-Ken Titus DNS 73-Casey Plummer
WINNER - 160 STEVEN DEINHARDT
2.) 21- Mike Morse 3.) J12-Shawn Boynton 4.) 27M-Kevin McDonald 5.) 171-Walt Henry 6.) 2-Dick Shaddock 7.) 4MK-Sheldon Whitman 8.) 23S-Brett Spoor 9.) 77X-Alecia Towner
602 CRATE SPORTSMAN
WINNER – 14X - BRIAN MALCOLM
2.) 14K-Alex Konopka 3.) 7R-Tommy Groover 4.) 1A-Brad Weaver 5.) 197-Mike Schane 6.) 55-Marty Goodwin 7.) 226-Matt Martino 8.) 88S-Mike Samony 9.) 10K-Kolyn Schane 10.) 70J-Joe Novak 11.) 3R-Ray Leonard 12.) 32-Eddie Kudrako 13.) 23JR- John Michael Phillips 14.) 13MH-Matt Millard 15.) M7-Mike Nagel Jr. 16.) 4J-Joe Buchanan 17.) 16-Ned Fitch 17.) 26-John Bush
A & E TIRE AND AUTO CENTER 600 c.c. MODIFIEDS
WINNER – 9X - JOSH TOWNER
2.) 80-Tyler Smith 3.) 77X-Nolan Smith 4.) 54T-Adam Mudge 5.) 108-Ali Scutt 6.) 30NN-Nate Oropallo 7.) 17-Jeff Baldwin 8.)176-Mollie Mroz 9.) 1JR- Darwin Greene Jr. 10.) 999-Bill Johnson 11.) 67-Tori Straway DNF 176-Devan Sieben, 110-Roger Lewis DNS 354-Andy Bolles, 12J-John Dinniny, 00-Jeremy Williams
GARY’S U-PULL IT 4 CYLINDERS
WINNER – 9mm ROB WILLIAMS
2.) 8W-Rich Wagner 3.) 107-Tim Vandermark 4.) 56-Jeff Sterling 5.) 77-Brian Salmini 6.) 76-Kenny Underwood 7.) 5-Josh Wilder 8.) 71-Rob Sterling 9.) G55-Dakota Fuller 10.) 49Z-Shawn Furman 11.) 21-Scott Beach 12.) 17B-Mike Ferris