Former track champion Jason Van Doren kicked off the 2009 season with a win in a thrilling wingless 600cc Micro-Sprint 20-lap headliner at The Fairgrounds at Kutztown Speedway Wednesday night.Van Doren, of Easton, emerged from a three-car tussle for the lead to pick up the Goldie Meitzler/Ron "Stringy" Frey Memorial trophy at the one-fifth-mile oval.
The evening's activities honored Meitzler, the matriarch of the family that operates the speedway, and Frey, a longtime race fan and track employee.
Third-starter Van Doren and Mike Freed closed on pole starter Tim Buckwalter at the halfway point. The trio engaged in a fight for the lead until Freed spun from contention on lap 14 in turn three.
A final caution on lap 16 set the stage for Van Doren, who drove hard to the inside of Buckwalter entering turn three on the 17th circuit. Van Doren completed the go-for-broke pass, led the final two laps received an extra $50 in his pay envelope courtesy of Russell E. Conrad Inc. Heating Oils.
Eric Bodine was second, followed by 13th-starter Arron Spahr, a visibly loose Buckwalter and Jesse Hartman.
The 600cc Micro-Sprint division, which will run wingless all season at Kutztown, drew a buzz from the crowd with twoand three-wide racing.
Defending track champion Ross Perchak may have led from green-to-checkered to win the 20-lap 270cc Micro-Sprint main, but it wasn't an easy victory for the Hazelton driver.
Dueling with Ryan Smith through lapped traffic, Perchak got turned sideways exiting turn two on lap 13. Perchak's No. 4 maintained forward motion through the infield grass and held the lead, while Smith's car came to a stop and the Kunkletown driver restarted from the rear.
Perchak led the final seven laps uncontested over Eric Bodine, ARDC Midget regular Nick Wean, Marty Gorr and Matt McAnally, who started 19th.
Brian Mady was the XCel 600 Modified dominant force. Mady, of Milford, shot under Rich Gardner on the second circuit of the 20-lap main and drove away from New Jersey Sportsman racer Jon Haegele, who finished second. Gardner, Jeromy Guistwite and Joe "Geezer" Fanelli were third through fifth, respectively.
Michael Glass of Myerstown darted to an early lead and never relinquished the top spot en route to the 20-lap Slingshot feature victory. Glass outdueled polesitter Kurt Bettler on the start. Bettler regained momentum in the race's second half to finish runner-up, with defending champion Nate Christman, Mike Sabo and a charging Kyle Lick in tow.
Racing continues May 20 with a full program of wingless 600cc Micro-Sprints, 270cc Micro-Sprints, XCel 600 Modifieds and Slingshots.
Gates open at 4 p.m., with hot laps at 6:30 p.m. and racing at 7 p.m. for all events.
Competitors are reminded that transponders are mandatory for all divisions in 2009. Rentals will be available at the track for $10 per night with proper photo identification.
New for 2009, Micro-Sprint and Slingshot racers will be rewarded for higher car counts with increased pay scales. On any night when 36 or more competitors sign in, the pay will be adjusted by track management.
For further information on The Fairgrounds at Kutztown Speedway, contact Kerry Meitzler by phone at: 610-683-8234 or events organizer Janelle Stump via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. On the Web at www.kutztownfair speedway.com.
RACE SUMMARY Wingless 600cc Micro-Sprint Feature Finish: JASON VAN DOREN, Eric Bodine, Arron Spahr, Tim Buckwalter, Jesse Hartman, Brett Peters, Ryan Wilson, Doug Snyder, Brittany Tresch, Ron Lewis, Mike Freed, Blane Rmery, Jeff Halligan, Alex Bright, Keith McIntyre Jr., Rob Vivona, Kevin Kierce, Mark Yoder, Brian Carber, Ryan Smith, Shane Lewis, Brett Michalski, Donny Trent, Brock Bilger, Joe Kay.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature Finish: Ross Perchak, Eric Bodine, Nick Wean, Marty Gorr, Matt McAnally, Branden Edgar, Billy Murphy, Brendon Poff, Taylor Urban, Tommy Kunsman Jr., Marty Reinsmith, Blaine Schlosser, Jonathan Pepe, Tom Tanner, Louis Horvath, Darin Bartholomew, Ryan Smith, Chad Owens, Terry Schaeffer, Andrew Dietrich, Trevor Kobylarz, Josh Pepe, Tom Schearer, Charles Stone Jr.
Did Not Qualify: Jay Horvath, Tom Kunsman Sr., Mark Janisch, Cody Gerhart, Amanda Quinones, Dave Seip, Scott Washburn, Marc McConnell, Aaron Rinehimer, Ronald Helmick, Ben Quinones.
XCel 600 Modified Feature Finish: BRIAN MADY, Jon Haegele, Kyle Gardner, Jeromy Guistwite, Joe Fanelli, George Loux, Ryan Kunkle, Ryan Suchon, Mike Kelly, Aaron Bowes, Dave Ogin, Justin Schrader, Ray Horning, Curt Amey, Matt Groover, Trevor Utt, Eric Whitbe, Ian Detweiler, Tyler Bartik, Kevin Gruber, Jeff Paulson, Kasey Ernst, Kermit Horning, Nick Seaman.
Did Not Qualify: Joe Heintzelman, Michael Fry, Joey Fahler, Mark Schaeffer, Brian Horning, Matt Greene, Joe Carter, Tim Van Horn Jr., Josh Fox.
Slingshot Feature Finish:
Michael Glass, Kurt Bettler, Nate Christman, Mike Sabo, Kyle Lick, Matt Mertz, Travis Bieber, Jan Acker, Colby Shollenberger, Brett Bieber, Jason West, Kim Dornblaser, Jordan Henn, Daniel West, Kevin Kierce, Damian Bower, Matt Miller, Simon Whitnell, Romke Bosga, Logan Shollenberger.
Did Not Start: Anthony Schlosser-White, Mike Pontrelli.