Pennsylvania drivers dominate Georgetown Speedway races

Scott Hitchens drives the Matt Smith-owned No. 97 car during races held at the Georgetown Speedway on Friday, June 1.

Special to the Coastal Point • Bruce Walls

A near-capacity crowd at Georgetown Speedway last Friday night saw what they came for: a great night of racing under the lights at the historic high-banked half-mile clay oval in Georgetown.

Six classes competed that night, with Oley, Pa.’s Craig VonDohren highlighting the evening’s racing action, fighting his way from ninth to first to win the $3,000 30-lap Big Block/Small Block Modified feature.

“It was worth the three-and-a-half-hour trip — it’s always worth the trip down here,” said VonDohren, who piloted the win in Dick Biever’s No. 14 machine. “We had a good car. We drove down here tonight with a chance of rain — which is a hell of a gamble — but it was worth it… we’re good, it was worth it. Track conditions were a little rough because of the rain earlier in the week, but we’re happy with the win. The car ran great, and the motor was strong.”

Rocketing off the outside pole, Norm Hansell — a past Georgetown feature winner — hustled into the early lead, which he held for the initial 11 laps before surrendering the front to David VanHorn, who was piloting Fred Vahlsing’s Vahico Wheels No. 323ov.

VanHorn was running away with the lead, leaving the field behind. Then, suddenly, a Lap 20 yellow flag changed everything. Along with wiping out VanHorn’s gains, it closed VonDohren’s gap on the leaders. When racing resumed, Hansell recaptured the lead as VanHorn’s machine developed rear-end troubles, forcing him from the competition.

In the final laps, the pair of Berks County, Pa., pilots battled side-by-side, swapping the lead several times before the last yellow waved five laps from settling it. VonDohren led them back to the green flag and across the stripe. Hansell was second under the checkers, collecting $2,000 for his efforts.

Also in the top five were Billy Pauch Jr. of Milford, N.J., finishing third, piloting the Daniel Sommeling’s No. 51. Orefield, Pa.’s pilot, Brett Kressly, came from 12th to finish fourth, and Neshanic Station, N.J., native Jimmy Horton finished fifth.

Connor King of Morgantown, Pa., clocked an L&J Sheet Metal Crate 602 Sportsman milestone. King led the field flag-to-flag, covering the 20-lap distance in just 7:24. King pocketed the $1,000 posted purse, plus $100 additional from Ad-Art Sign Company.

“Thankfully, we had a nice clean race with no cautions,” described the 20-year-old winner. ”I got to start on the pole, and that was great. I was able to get off real quick, and settled down into a rhythm, and click off laps. I like this class. I’ve been racing it for six years. It’s affordable, with the crate motor, and I’m having fun with it.”

With Joseph Tracey on his tail, Harbeson driver Kirk Lawson produced his second Little Lincoln feature win of the season. Trailing in the top five were Jordan Herbert, Matt White and Bunky White.

“I couldn’t tell if they were close to me or not. I wear a head/neck restraint, with no mirrors, so you can’t tell what’s going on behind you. You just run hard. I started deep in the back,” Lawson described. “With the new clay here, and the new banking, you can really get up on the outside to make up some ground, and that’s what I did. This car is set up to do that. We just started on the outside and ran for the front.

“The car handled great. It loves a tacky track. I don’t like a slick track. I don’t think it’s a lot of fun. This track tonight has a lot of bite in it. There is a lot of cushion up there, and I was able to use it. I want to thank Stockley Tavern, First State Flag, Wilkins Wild Life, and I want to thank the fab guys back at the shop, Allan and Josh. They do a good job for me and take care of this thing and keep me up front.”

Georgetown native and Super Late Model standout Ross Robinson ruled the Southern Delaware Vintage Stock Car Racing Club feature. Robinson, who was driving the Mark “Coot” Williams No. 26 car, got the lead and was never seriously challenged after that. Veteran Freddy Brightbill was second across the stripe, and Jamie Eicholz’s third-place finish earned him the Sportsman win.

“It was a lot of fun. We started fifth and were able to get the lead quick,” Robinson reported. “We did what we needed to do. We got up front, and that makes it easier. The car was perfect.”

Eicholz, a resident of Milford, was piloting a 2007 Rocket Chassis.

“It’s a little old to be running competitively in the Crate class, made it vintage. It’s got a 602 Crate motor in it, the old style nose on it. I’m just out here having fun.”

Chris “Tippy” Martinez and Ashley Merritt put on quite the show in the Delmarva Charger 12-lap feature. Merritt led the way until two laps remained, when she went too high in Turn 4, allowing Martinez to pass under her for the lead, which he then held to the finish.

“The car’s been really good all year,” Martinez admitted. “When we got out there on the track tonight, it was a little rough out there. It was challenging. We had that big mess in Turn 1 at the beginning. I was lucky to make it through that. On the restart, I just found my line, set sail, and away I went.

“The track was good during the race. It was fast. I want to thank my sponsors — especially Ernie Dallying. If it weren’t for him, this car wouldn’t go. He’s my motorman. We wouldn’t be here without him. I also want to thank Lye Wood Electric, Joseph Simmer, Campbell’s Collision, Ryan Plumbing, P.L. Bennington and Martina Construction. There’s been a whole lot of people doing a whole lot of stuff, or we wouldn’t be here.”

When racing returns to Georgetown on Friday, June 29, a 35-lap Super Late Models “Clash for Cash” to win a $3,500 prize will highlight the ticket, making their first appearance of the season. Also included in the lineup will be RUSH Late Models, Delaware Super Trucks, Delmarva Chargers, Southern Delaware Vintage Stock Cars and Little Lincoln Stock Cars.

By Bruce C. Walls
Special to the Coastal Point