By: Anita Goodan
(Plymouth, IN) It’s a night that’s a popular event with fans at the Playground of Power – autograph night. It’s a chance for spectators to enter the pit area and get signatures and pictures with their favorite drivers in the five classes at Plymouth Speedway. An impressive crowd was on hand Saturday night eager to see their favorite drivers. The drivers were just as excited as some of the young fans that strolled the pits to get a different perspective on race night.
After the intermission highlight, Feature racing began with the Dickies Restaurant 600 Open Sprints. Chad Hartzell, of Granger, took the early lead and stayed out front through the first 12 laps. After attempting several passes on Hartzell, Eric Saunders, of Lakeville, caught up with the leader to take over the top spot going into turn one on lap 12. Bud McCune, of Pierceton, made his way to the top three two laps later after working through traffic and making contact with a competitor. McCune made a late race attempt to get by Saunders but couldn’t made the inside pass for position. It was a tight race for the leaders. Saunders won the Feature with Hartzell finishing second and McCune third.
The WTCA Super Streets Feature found tight racing with several cautions. David Short, of Winamac, held the lead throughout many of the cautions called and caught lapped traffic by lap seven. Two cautions allowed the field to bunch up and Roger Duszynski, Jr., of Black Oak, went after Short for the lead on lap 10. The pair were side-by-side down the backstretch and Duszynski, Jr. passed Short coming out of turn four. Bob McLean, of Hobart, held the fifth running spot but moved up the running order by lap 12. McLean challenged Shaun Wiltjer, of Gary, for third on lap 12 while Duszynski, Jr. and Short battled for the lead. McLean was able to secure third three laps later. The caution-littered race was shortened by two laps due to a time limit. Duszynski, Jr. claimed the win with Short in second and McLean in third.
Jamie Lomax and Derek Losh kept things interesting at the beginning of the Swan Lake Resort UMP Modifieds Feature. After a six-car pileup to begin the event with no injuries reported, Lomax, of Lake Village, and Losh, of Rensselaer, started working on each other for the lead when the green flag was in the air. They were able to keep close in the first seven laps. Dan Hamstra, of Wheatfield, moved up to the third position after overtaking pole-sitter Bradley Jameson on lap eight. Lomax and Losh pulled away to a straightaway lead from the field as the race stayed green. Lomax was able to keep Losh from gaining ground and won the Feature. Hamstra finished in third.
It was an emotional win for the top finishers in the Walmart Thunder Stocks Division. Tom Grall, of Plymouth, started the race from the pole but Sheldon Oberle, of Battleground, quickly picked up the lead on the backstretch on lap three after starting fifth. Jason Fritz, of Winamac, picked up second place shortly after and Grall fell to second. Austin Hunter, of Kokomo, entered the top four by lap five. Fritz dropped out of second after suffering car trouble which allowed Grall to move up to second and Hunter in third. Hunter moved to the inside of Grall on lap 15 and got the position out of turn two. Hunter went after Oberle for the lead on lap 18 and made the successful pass on the outside coming out of turn four. Oberle then fell back in the running order after experiencing a flat right rear tire. After holding his spot in the field and working his way around traffic, Douglas Payton, of Valparaiso, moved to the last spot on the podium after Oberle’s misfortune. Hunter scored his first podium finish while Grall claimed second. Payton also got his first podium finish in third.
The Shepherd Firearms Pro Sprints also saw a first-time winner in Saturday night’s Feature. Eric Saunders, of Lakeville, and Michael Summers, of Warsaw, went side-by-side for the lead and Summers got the spot on the second lap in turn three. Kevin Atkins began looking for the leaders on lap three. He was able to get to third and went by Saunders for second on lap four. Summers was able to stay out front. Zane DeVault, of Plymouth, got up to the fourth position by lap seven after starting sixth and made a move on Saunders for third on lap 16. With two laps to go, DeVault got past Atkins for second. Summers watched the action unfold from the winning position while DeVault picked up second place and Atkins crossed the finish line in third.
Only two nights of racing remain in Plymouth Speedway’s 2016 season. Fans can cash in on Saturday, Aug. 13 as $2,000 will rain on the track. The five regular divisions of racing will provide the main entertainment on the fastest dirt track that evening as well as the Season Championship on Aug. 20. For more information, visitwww.plymouthspeedway.net.