There are only two more race nights at Plymouth Dirt Track (PDTR) before the season champions are crowned. With the full moon coming, misadventures made things more challenging. The previous night’s events at another track took a toll on Saturday’s car count and no B mains were needed for the first time. Group qualifying evidently worked out so well last week that the sprint cars were joined by the Grand National field in the new process. Each heat group posted its own quick qualifier, with one car earning the overall fast time and bonus cash. A four-car invert provided just enough challenge for passing points in the heats.
Tim Simon was quickest overall and Grand National heat winners were Roger Lee, Mark Fieber and Matt Yancey. Matt Loehr led the opening laps from the pole of the 25-lap feature, but a string of caution flags soon followed. Fourth-place Fieber was one of the early retirees after six laps and Kevin Lubach slowed with a flat on the tenth time around. By this time point leader Don Sorce Jr. had moved up from the third row to second, charging into the lead after the restart. He was challenged by another caution when three cars tangled four laps later. Pagel’s bumper was knocked off to cause the next yellow and he was penalized two laps for ignoring the black flag.
The restart ended when a car slowed with a flat tire, one of several suffering that fate. By this time Lee had charged up from his sixth-row start to challenge Sorce on the high side. With six laps remaining Lee’s car faltered on the restart and was hooked together with Tyler Kulow. Three laps from the checkered flag the second and third place cars had to vacate their positions, and Sorce led the finalists to the finish line. The crowd cheered at the strong finish by Melissa Singer from the second-last row, followed by Jeff Lammers from the fifth row, Barry Maas and Dick Hed from the fourth row. Sorce notched his fourth victory of the year, claiming, “My car was really good. I appreciate everyone coming out to watch.”
Donny Goeden posted the quickest lap in Sprint Car group qualifying, joining Justin Miller and Shane Wenninger as heat winners. The 25-lap feature went caution-free as recent high school graduate Mitch Yurmanovich led every lap from the pole to score his very first win. Yurmanovich began lapping cars before ten circuits were complete while the rest of the field vied for position. Many watched as the others began to close the half-lap lead of the young racer, especially Goeden’s progress from the sixth row.
Yurmanovich had a pair of lapped cars behind him at the final strip and Jim Melis was runner-up sporting a wing loaned to him after his last wreck. Goeden surged ahead of Ken Jay Fiedler and Tim Haddy hung on for fifth place.
Yurmanovich parked in victory lane and climbed onto his wing to celebrate his first win. Giving thanks to his father for bringing him into the sport a year ago, Yurmanovich exclaimed, “It feels great.”
Several late models were missing Saturday, but the intensity of the competition did not suffer. Mitch McGrath and Jim Schmidt won their heats. Schmidt began the 25-lap feature in fifth place, but McGrath started dead last. Turk Letizia borrowed Bob Cullen’s car and started on the pole, but Charlie Schmidt spun before the feature began. When the green flag waved again it was Justin Schmidt taking charge from the front row. Just past the halfway point another spin regrouped the field and Schmidt was in charge again. Having posted his first win at another track the previous night, Schmidt proved there’s nothing like confidence to improve one’s performance. Schmidt was asked about track conditions, replying, “The track works for me. It got pretty close there at the end, but I got it done.”
The Outlaw Compact head was won by Scott Schlafke and the field was regrouped for the 15-lap feature. Chris Maas led from the pole and Schlafke took charge on the third lap of the nonstop event. On lap ten it was Brody Rivest in charge, taking the checkered flag ahead of Schlafke, Maas, Norm Rivest and Donnie Welch. The cool-down lap heated up when Rivest spun Schlafke in the frontstretch, getting disqualified in the process. Track rules state that when the winner is disqualified, no one moves into the top spot, so technically there was no winner. We do not know what will happen when the full moon shows up next week.
Veteran racer Dennis Klumb won the Super Modified heat and began in last place for the 15-lap feature. Leroy Ostrowski led the opening circuits from the pole and Johnny Fahl charged past after seven orbits. It was then that the caution flag came out for a car leaking fuel, but the rest of the race was nonstop. The restart gave Klumb the chance he needed, providing a challenge for Fahl to the final corner. Klumb gave his final effort, taking the point as Bob Brion followed across the final stripe ahead of Fahl. Ostrowski and Randy Ostermann Jr. completed the final five.
It was not quite 9:30 when the program was complete. A bit of chill in the air reminded all that school begins soon and the race season will come to an end here. Next week things will heat up when the Corn Belt Clash late Model tour joins the action.
-By Fay Hendricks. Photo Credit: Fay Hendricks