Boyertown resident Ryan Watt electrified Penn Can Speedway on Wednesday night. Watt put his name in lights as an upset winner of the Pioneer Pole Buildings Inc.-VP Racing Fuels ‘Clash at the Can’ contested in front of a full grandstand at the Susquehanna County oval. The 60-lap Race of Champions Dirt Modified Tour-sanctioned big-block/small-block Modified event co-promoted by Brett Deyo of BD Motorsports Media LLC and track managers Reed Miller and Al Wilcox drew a record turnout of 67 cars.
For Watt, winning the ‘Clash at the Can’ was an instant career highlight.
“This is awesome,” he said after climbing to the roof of his Ron Roberts-owned No. 14w in Victory Lane. “It is by far the biggest win ever for me.”
A total of $34,000 in posted purse money, bonuses and contingency awards was distributed during the richest evening in Penn Can history. Watt collected a base winner’s share of $5,000, plus $555 in lap money, $50 from Manmiller Electric for a heat-race win, a guaranteed starting position in the Fulton (N.Y.) Speedway Outlaw 200 in October, a $1,000 website package from Elite 3 Web Design, a $100 credit from Bob Hilbert Sportswear, a party sub from Subway of Hallstead, Pa., 28 beers from Lakey’s Tavern (one for each lap led) and a custom trophy from S&W Awards in Lindley, N.Y.
Watt started the 60-lap main from 10th position. Out front, Grandview Speedway regular and former two-time Penn Can champion Mike Gular pressed his self-owned No. 53 into the lead from a pole starting position.
Early on, Gular set a torrid pace in his Morrison-powered Teo-Pro car, pulling away from the field.
Watt found the outside lane of the Penn Can oval to his liking. The 33-year-old Watt charged into third place on lap 21, trailing Gular and track regular Bobby Trapper. He swept past Trapper for second on lap 28 and just four circuits later executed a power move past Gular for the top spot.
Despite three caution periods in the final 20 laps, Watt convincingly drove to victory, his first ever at Penn Can. He is the fourth different winner in four ‘Clash’ editions.
“We ran well here last year,” Watt said of two top-10 finishes in the 2012 special events including a fifth in the ‘Clash’ one year ago. “Tonight the car was good in warm-ups and the heat race. I was almost afraid to make any changes for the feature.”
Gular, of Green Lane, Pa., held on for a second-place finish. The 30-year-old driver earned the largest payout of his racing career as a result. He collected the $4,000 second-place money, plus $810 in lap money and a $100 credit from Bob Hilbert Sportswear.
“We needed this,” said Gular, who is funding his own team this year. “Money has been tight. We haven’t had a good year at all. We almost didn’t make it tonight after we got wrecked pretty bad on Saturday.
“Our car got loose at the end. I didn’t have anything for Ryan, but I’m happy with second. There were a lot of good cars behind me.”
Fourteenth-starter Duane Howard of Oley finished fifth in Glenn Hyneman’s No. 126 despite a right-rear tire going down. Howard earned $1,500.