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Hartnett Gets the Better of Mother Nature

By Nathan Aldrich and Kayla Peting

Recovering from a prerace shower racing action resumed at the Penn Can Speedway with a weekly show and a strong crowd braving the weather. When the storm cleared a beautiful tacky surface awaited the start of the night’s side by side action. With the first of the tracks many community night’s underway the green flag was set to come out.

After a few bouts with Lady Luck, Kevin Hartnett broke his streak and returned to Penn Can speedway victory lane. Alan Rudalavage and Darwin Greene Sr, set the pace as the modified field charged to the green. Rudalavage took the early lead as the Stafursky Paving team of Dan Vauter and Brett Tonkin went door to door for second. Tonkin would settle into the third spot as the first yellow halted the action with two laps completed. With Brian Malcolm, Casey Plummer, Nick Petrilak, and Mike Nagel Sr. rejoined at the tail, Rudalavadge prepared for the restart. Rudalavadge elected for the inside powering away down the frontstretch before getting hooked on Greene’s bumper in turn one collecting Plummer, Nick Rochinski, Art Bray, Nagel and George Kostelansky.

The third time was the charm as Vauter and Tonkin brought the field back to green. Vauter powered ahead down the backstretch working the outside momentum as Hatnett tried the outside of Alex Stanton for third. With the field working lap five Petrilak was flying back to the front challenging Mike Loney for fifth. At the point, Vaunter had locked down the lead with Hartnett using the inside to slide past Tonkin. Rochinski followed Petrilak through the field moving past Loney and Malcolm on lap seven moving himself into the top five. The battle for the lead was on however as Hartnett took a look inside Vauter as the duo drag raced down the front stretch coming up on the lapped car of Travis Brockner. Brockner allowed the leaders plenty of room to work, hugging the inside tires. Vauter shot around the outside as Hartnett slowed up, patiently waiting to clear the slower car as Vauter began to work on Bray.

With eleven laps complete Vauter trapped Hartnett behind Bray, taking a two car length lead as Hartnett moved the slower car out of his path. With Rudalavage slow on the backstretch the lap thirteen yellow cleared the path for the leaders. Vauter put Hartnett to his inside on the restart and by the time the lap was complete Hartnett had taken the lead. Three more yellows would ensue with the running order of Hartnett, Vauter, Rochinski, Stanton, Petrilak, Greene, Kostelansky, Bray and Brockner left on the surface for the final fifteen laps. Hartnett rocketed away lapping almost half of the remaining field in the closing laps, taking the checkered flag with over a full straight away lead. Vauter, Rochinski, Tonkin and Stanton would follow him across the line rounding out the top five.

Feature winner Kevin Hartnett has battled some tough luck so far this season and faced motor issues during his heat. He and the crew made some wholesale changes to the carburetor and in some other areas for the feature but it only got worse. Brad Grammes puts a rocket under Kevin week in and week out and the driver is confident they will be good to go for next weekend. With the string of green flag laps at the end Hartnett said everyone has a right to race and when the lapped cars are battling for spots of their own sometimes it’s just best to be patient as the leader. Kevin would like to thank the Grammes Family, RPM Race Engines, Penske Shocks, Stone Ridge Realty, Big Creek Concrete, Grammes Construction, Higfab chassis, and Hartnett lettering.

Ryan Grimm and Joe Buchanon brought the 602 crate sportsman to the grid Grimm powered off on the start as Ray Leonard took third from Michael Samony. Leonard swiped second away from Buchanon ,with the contact moving Buchanon deep into the field. Brian Malcolm worked to the inside of Samony for third down back stretch before a Marty Goodwin flat left rear drew the first yellow. Grimm took up position on the outside for restart as Leonard pulled into the lead down the frontstretch. Malcolm would keep the action going as he took the second spot with a three wide move before Grimm came back and the pair would run door to door. Grimm prevailed on lap seven, taking the spot back as the pair again went door to door on lap 9. While the battles raged up front Tommy Groover and Ned Fitch put on a show for the ninth spot with Fitch taking the spot to Groover’s inside on lap thirteen.

Brad Weaver got the better of Malcolm for the fourth spot as the front of the field began to encounter lapped cars. When the leaders caught Eddie Kudrako the battle was on, as Malcolm quickly reeled Leonard in and peeked inside for the lead. Contact in the back between Nagel Jr and Joe Novak, who had been battling hard for twelfth, would lead to issues for Novak. With a lap 23 Novak spin bringing out the yellow it would be a 2 lap dash to the finish. Ned Fitch and Samony spun on the ensuing restart, resetting the field once again. Leonard would sprint away from Malcolm collecting the win with Alex Konopka, Weaver and Grimm completing the top five.

Feature winner Ray Leonard rolled off fourth and wasted no time getting to the front. Ray said he had a great surface to work with and would like to thank Keith for everything he does to improve the speedway. The long string of green laps helped him to find a rhythm, with the 2 lap dash at the end keeping things interesting. Leonard had the car to beat, defending his line and staying focused on his own car. With the outside pulling well for him the defending Sportsman Champion certainly has Penn Can figured out. Ray would like to thank Eric Hines Trucking, Sleepy Hollow Turf Equipment, Arlo’s Tavern, Pitside Products, AB Tent Rental and his family and crew.

A & E Tire and Auto Center 600cc Modifieds drew a strong field with 20 cars in attendance. Adam Mudge and Jeremy Williams put their machines to work as Mudge pulled ahead and Williams fought Nick Kennedy for second. Kennedy grabbed the spot away briefly but Williams battled back, retaking the spot before Larry Furman slowed in turn 4, bringing out the first yellow. Mudge got a good launch from the bottom on the restart as Kennedy, John Dinniny and Williams went 3 wide into turn one. With Josh Towner and Kenny Harris also joining the mix Harris and Kennedy would make contact, sending Kennedy up high and drifting back. A turn two spin involving Roger Lewis, Mollie Mroz, Jarrod Myers and Andy Bolles slowed the field on lap four. Mude resumed the lead from the inside spot on the restart but a charging Josh Towner quickly moved into the top spot. Harris was the next to get past Mudge, moving the pole sitter back to third on lap seven. With Tori Straway slowing in turn four a lap eight yellow reset the field.

Towner put Harris on the outside for the restart and led the way into turn one, however Harris had the pull down down the back stretch leading by a third of a car length into turn three. With Chase Scutt going up in smoke on the exit of turn four the action slowed again. With lane choice this time belonging to Harris the leader selected the outside. Harris led the way down the backstretch as Jarrod Myers and Kennedy pulled to the infield. Ali Scutt took the fourth spot from Mudge, followed by Nolan Smith putting Mudge back to sixth. The laps closed out with Harris picking up the win, Towner, Williams, Scutt and Mudge in tow. Feature winner Kenny Harris of Fredericksburg, PA was able to get a great run on the outside line due to the setup choices of he and his crew. With the berm coming in perfectly for him he was able to ride the cushion battling with Towner. It was a good night for the Nate Shay Racing team as they finished 1,2,3 after dealing with many motor problems to start their season. The 2021 Xcell tour champion has some experience with a 2020 Fall Series championship at 5 Mile Point speedway as well. He would like to thank his fiancee Shana, crew, Nate Shay Racing, Dale Richard’s Garage, and Diggin Setups.

Gary’s U-Pull It 4 Cylinders went fifteen laps and were led to green by Scott Beach and Josh Wilder. Wilder took the lead on lap one as Jeff Sterling moved inside of Beach for the second spot. Tim Vandermark followed in Sterling’s tracks moving Beach back to fourth. Vandermark wasn’t done yet however as he challenged Sterling’s outside for second. Sterling would keep the spot, instead moving inside of Wilder and taking the lead. Vandermark made his move on WIlder, securing the second spot before disaster struck. Sterling came to a stop in turn two, going off on the hook and putting Vandermark in the lead. Vandermark and Wilder would stay on the front row through a flurry of cautions that led to a lap 9 single file restart. Vandermark would sail away as Wlder beat out Beach for second, with Brian Salmini, Jason Seymour, Rob Sterling, Shawn Mills, Mike Ferris and Dave Benson taking the checkered flag. Feature winner Tim Vandermark feels confident in his car and setup this season and enjoyed his battles with Wiler and Sterling on the night. With the track surface bearing a good bite over the course of the night Vandermark was able to put the setup to work and drive away. It was another good points night for Vandermark as his season is off to a dominant start. Tim would like to thank his Grandpa and Aunt Robin for their help and support.

The night’s fireworks concluded with the Factory Stocks taking to the surface for a 15 lap feature event. Charlie Gilbert and Sheldon Whitman brought the field to green with Whitman taking the early lead. In the opening laps Jason Rhodes moved past Charlie Towner for third as Gilbert and Whitman ran door to door just ahead of him. Gilbert captured the lead as the only caution of the event came out on lap 5 for the stopped car of Towner on the frost stretch. The pair would continue to be door to door from the restart until lap seven when Gilbert took the top spot for good. Rhodes would take second from Towner on lap eight and chase Gilbert the rest of the way to the flag. Whitman would come home third with Towner rounding out the night. Feature winner Charlie Gilbert said the win was bittersweet, being the first since the passing of longtime friend and supporter Ray Ayers. With an always positive attitude it was a celebration for the 28 team. Gilbert felt the track was very wide with each lane being equal and the track bearing some character late in the night that kept it tricky and made for good competition. Though they have struggled with the new transponder system Gilbert mentions the track has been great on tires this year and is glad to see the fruit’s of promoter Keith Beach’s efforts.

The speedway will be back in action for a double header next weekend with a Friday night regular show plus Classic Racing Series and a Sunday Night Spectacular featuring $1000 to win for the sportsman, $1000 to win for the IMCA NY/Penn Modified Series and a SCDRA 4 Cylinder full field $500. It’s going to be a great weekend at The Can!

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