The gates swung open for the 55th consecutive season opener at Selinsgrove Speedway Saturday night presented by Insinger Performance Sunoco Race Fuels/Stinger Racing Alcohol.
Carlise native Jason Shultz took the $2,500-to-win opening 360 Sprint Car Spring Showdown event that was co-sanctioned with Empire Super Sprints. Danville’s Jeff Rine claimed his second opening night win in a row in the Late Model main event and Tommy Slanker of York was the Pro Stock winner.
Shultz led the field for the first 16 laps under the green flag while trying to maneuver around lap traffic. Schultz had his hands full when he came upon two lap cars battling side by side while Davie Franek closed in from the second spot.
Franek wasn’t the only one closing in on the leaders. Chad Layton had moved into third and was also closing in on the lead duo. A yellow flag flew on Lap 16 that settled the action. Shultz used the open race track to open the lead back up on the field before action slowed again for a lap 19 yellow flag.
At that point in the race Nate Snyder was running the quickest laps in the field and was into the fourth spot. Franek was stout on the next restart staying right with Shultz into turn one. Snyder also continued his charge moving into third spot.Although Shultz was challenged, he was able to pull away in the final two laps to secure the victory over Franek and Snyder. Layton was fourth and Larry Kelleher finished out the top five. Steve Collins, Derek Locke, Colby Womer, Troy Betts, and Ryan Kissinger rounded out the top ten finishers. Heat races went to Larry Kelleher and Nate Snyder for the Sprint Cars.
Bryan Bernheisel won the heat race for the Late Models. The redraw did not fall into Bernheisel’s favor with a draw of four. Donnie Schick benefited by starting on the pole and leading the race early. Schick was using a different line on the outside of the speedway than the drivers chasing him, Steve Campbell and Jeff Rine.
As Schick came upon lap traffic he had to make a quick decision that paid off by clearing the first lap car. He would not fair as well on the second car to go a lap down. Schick used the inside line along with Campbell. As if Rine could see the future he slid to the outside of the race track to go by the top two into the top spot. Rine struggled a little in dirty air as he dealt with some lap traffic which allowed Campbell to again close, but Rine would clear the lap car and drive to his second opening night win in a row.
Campbell, Bernheisel, Tony Adams, and Hayes Mattern made up the top five across the line. Meade Hahn, Dan Green, Schick, Ernie Millon, and Nate Long crossed the line as the top ten.
Brandon Moser brought the field to the green flag in the A&A Auto Stores season opener before his car stumbled and handed the race lead over to Shawn Lawton. Lawton raced in the lead just ahead of Tommy Slanker. Slanker closed the point paying races out with a victory last season and looked to carry that momentum into victory lane in the season opener for 2017.
Slanker made his move on lap five on the outside of the race leader Lawton. Lawton stayed in hot pursuit of the race leader until the closing laps when Lawton began to reel the leader back in. As the white flag flew Lawton had pulled even with the race leader before a red flag flew for John Shock who had an engine fire on the backstretch. Shock was okay.
Slanker sat ten feet shy of the finish line, but now he had to hold off the field in a one lap shootout. On the restart, third place running Kyle Bachman drove to the inside of Lawton and Slanker drifted away. Lawton made his final bid out of turn four, but fell just short as Slanker claimed the opening night win after finishing second in the opening event a year ago. Lawton came home in second followed by Bachman, John Fowler, and Moser. Dustin Snook came from last to finish sixth just ahead of Bill Conrad, Nate Stroup, Curtis Lawton, and John Shock. AJ Hoffman and Kyle Bachman won heat races for the Pro Stocks.
In memory of late Pro Stock driver Jim Payne the leader on the fourth lap of the feature, Shawn Lawton, and fourth place finisher John Fowler received bonus money. Payne raced the number 4 for many years at the speedway and passed away last fall.
Cold temperatures kept a few teams hibernating at the Season Opener. Next week at Selinsgrove Speedway the 360 Sprint Cars will be back in action along with the Super Late Models and the Pro Stocks. Start time will remain at 6 p.m.
SELINSGROVE SPEEDWAY SUMMARY - 8 April 2017
360 Sprint Cars - 18 Entries
25-Lap A-Main: 1) 29 Jason Shultz 2) 28F Davie Franek 3) 56 Nate Snyder 4) 35 Chad Layton 5) 76 Larry Kelleher 6) 67 Steve Collins 7) 77 Derek Locke 8) 3Z Colby Womer 9) 22 Troy Betts 10) 66 Ryan Kissinger 11) C4 Jim Shuster 12) 10 Joe Kata 13) 2T Michael Thomas 14) 67W Justin Whittall 15) 1W Eric Tomecek 16) 99K Cody Keller 17) 33 Michael Walter II 18) 49S Mallie Shuster
Heat Winners: Larry Kelleher, Nate Snyder
Late Models - 10 Entries
25-Lap A-Main: 1) 2J Jeff Rine 2) 2C Steve Campbell 3) 119B Bryan Bernheisel 4) 88 Tony Adams 5) 9 Hayes Mattern 6) 7M Meade Hahn 7) 46 Dan Green 8) 6 Donnie Schick 9) 88M Ernie Millon 10) 63 Nathan Long
Heat Winners: Bryan Bernheisel
Pro Stocks - 15 Entries
15-Lap A-Main: 1) 40 Tommy Slanker 2) 92 Shawn Lawton 3) 99 Kyle Bachman 4) 02 John Fowler 5) 8M Brandon Moser 6) 15 Dustin Snook 7) 14C Bill Conrad 8) 26 Nate Stroup 9) 33 Curtis Lawton 10) 89 John Schoch 11) 40 Nick Gentile 12) 6C AJ Stroup 13) 55 Lori Croop 14) 26 AJ Stroup 15) 88 Matt Hornberger
Heat Winners: AJ Hoffman, Kyle Bachman