by Billy McKinney

BARBERTON SPEEDWAY: After nearly a month of rainouts the sun was shining high! Barberton Speedway ran their first back to back pair of races uninterrupted by Mother Nature since September of 2018. After last week’s racing brought some intense side-by-side action in cooler conditions, drivers knew that this week was going to be a challenge with hot and humid temperatures expected. The slick racetrack was going to test even the best of the best. With improved fields in all six divisions and more drivers expected to be gracing the pits of Barberton in the coming weeks, this was a pivotal week for all. Get momentum now and be set for the summer months and the big Memorial Day race in the coming days.

Mason Surgener took home the Bandolero feature win. After going winless in 2018, Surgener showed the fans that he meant business taking a commanding lead on lap two of the feature from front row starters Cameron Curto and Steve Mitch. Surgener surged out front and began logging laps in clean air as the battles back through the field were quick and decisive. Veteran Madison Lengyel positioned her #51 Bandolero in second place after passing Cameron Curto and set her sights on the #42 of Surgener. Just when it seemed that Surgener was untouchable, a yellow for a spun-out Ayden Kitchen bunched the field up for a pivotal late race restart with four laps to go. Surgener brought the field to green and was under fire from Lengyel immediately. For a couple laps, Lengyel gave it all she had but could not match Surgener’s launch off of the corners. At the checkered flag, Surgener took home the win and Lengyel followed closely behind in second place.

With the biggest field of the night, the Legend race was full of all stars, hard racing, and action from first to last. Ryan Miller took home the win. When the green flag was displayed, Aaron Mulrooney took the field to speed. A slip-up in turn three allowed him to be passed by the #82 of Caleb Heady. Heady began leading but a spin in the middle of the field drew a yellow. The tightly bunched up field restarted with Heady and teammates Sam Butler and Ryan Miller in tow. As the three teammates logged laps until such a time that it was suitable to begin battling it out for a win, a metal-crunching wreck in turn four brought the race to a sudden halt. Madalynn Minnear had impacted the turn three wall head on. She was okay with just some pain in her leg, thankfully. After her car was towed off, the green flew again, and the field continued to race in three and four wide battles. Sam Butler grabbed the lead on the restart, but a smear of yellows kept the field close. On one such yellow, it was discovered Butler had exceeded his qualifying time. He was put to the back allowing Ryan Miller to take the lead. Ryan led his brother Zach for the final few laps and took the win by just a few car lengths.

Matt Marlowe took the modified win with a last lap pass on Doug Mate. When the green flew, Mate took the lead from Shawn Lewis, subbing for John White. Mate logged laps out front until he was spun by Marlowe in turn three. Marlowe served the penalty and Mate retained his pole position on the ensuing restart. Mate battled Dave Dobbins on the restart and secured the lead position. Dobbins followed suit in second place with Marlowe able to sneak through the field to get back to third place. Marlowe used his hot rod to wrestle second from Dobbins and, once again, set his sights on Mate. The field bunched up for another yellow when Shawn Lewis broke a rear end component. On the restart, Marlowe slipped up allowing Dobbins to get second. A few laps later, Dobbins made contact with Mate. Mate went around and Dobbins took the penalty. Mate restarted on pole, again, and held off several challenges from Marlowe. On the final lap, Marlowe and Mate made contact but both kept their cars strait. Marlowe got under Mate in turn one and made the final race pass. He held off a hard challenge from Mate and took the checkers

The Street Stock feature was won by Greg Barnard. Barnard took his third win in a row, but this was perhaps the hardest fought win. When the race started it was Ron Miller and his patriotic #83 with the pole. Miller began leading instantly while the close field of street stocks followed suit. Barnard made several passes to get to second place. Barnard followed Miller but had a hard time getting a run put together. On three separate occasions, Barnard would appear to have a potential pass put together, but Miller was quite strong. Barnard would lose the handle a little and Miller would pull away by a few car lengths. Barnard would battle back but the same result would follow. The two drivers duking it out made fans erupt in cheers as the two never touched. With just three laps to go, Barnard made one last ditch effort move for the lead. With Miller appearing to tighten up as the long run continued, Barnard made a move low off of turn four to take the lead. He led the final two circuits and took the win with Miller in second place.

The Late Model feature was won by Doug Sommers. When the green flag waved, it was the #3 taking the lead. Not Sommers, but Dave Martin. Martin led a couple laps until mechanical woes halted the ‘what-if’ run. Sommers took the lead on the exchange and began holding the lead. Fast time setter Roger Smith followed behind in second and kept the pressure on the #3 of Sommers and Gary Whipkey followed suit in third. While they raced it out, Sommers appeared to spin off of turn four apparently losing the handling on his car. Roger Smith promptly pulled up and admitted he hit Sommers and took the blame voluntarily. Sommers kept his lead position and battled it out with Gary Whipkey. Whipkey kept the pressure on Sommers but simply ran out of laps to get the job done. Sommers took the win and immediately ran back to get his compact ready for the next feature.

Sommers also took the compact feature. Rookie Chase Skeens and Alyson Smith led the field to green. Smith took the lead from Skeens after just a half of a lap and led the race’s opening circuits. Scott Kitchen passed Smith and began leading laps while the field scrambled for position behind him. Sommers made his way to second and was followed by Farrar. Sommers began stalking Kitchen. While it looked as if Kitchen was going to get his first career win, a yellow for Matt Hicks drew the field close together. Sommers worked the high line on Kitchen and passed him after an intense five-lap battle. A caution shortly after allowed Sommers to get the low line on Kitchen with Farrar inside of row two. Farrar passed Kitchen and began battling with Sommers. Never giving more than an inch of clearance between their two bumpers, Farrar made sure to exploit any weaknesses Sommers might have. He tried high, low, hard breaking, short breaking, and everything except for making contact with Sommers but it was to no avail. Sommers took the win with Farrar in tow in second.

FEATURE FINISHING ORDER:
*Denotes Heat Winners
Bandoleros-
#42 Mason Surgener*
#51 Madison Lengyel
#34 Steve Mitch
#88 Ryan Gardner
#2 Ayden Kitchen
#7 Cameron Curto
#83 Riley Tulley (DNS)

Legends-
#7 Ryan Miller
#87 Zach Miller
#82 Caleb Heady
#21 Tristan Borkoski
#11 Cale Grimed
#2 Aaron Mulrooney
#38 Dylan Mehrl
#17 Austin Tapia
#24 Anthony Price
#01 Chris Breads
#27 Dan Shively
#8 Sam Butler*
#1 Dave Hawkins
#4 Chuck Whitt
#51 Madalynn Minnear*

Modifieds-
#37 Matt Marlowe
#14 Doug Mate
#53 Dave Dobbins*
#5 Justin Cortney
#153 Dan Winger
#64 Wayne Mounts
#17 Shawn Lewis (subbed for White)
#43 Shawn Lewis (DNS)

Street Stocks-
#21 Greg Barnard
#83 Ron Miller
#55 Cyler Bertram*
#100 Jim Raines III
#03 Chase Hughes
#68 Gary Hoopingarner
#42 Tim Schmitt Jr (DNS)

Late Models-
#3 Doug Sommers
#59 Gary Whipkey
#43 Roger Smith
#10 Doug Mate*
#50 Jeff Walker
#83 Dino Campolito
#8 Richard Price
#3 Dave Martin

Compacts-
#37 Doug Sommers
#59 Tim Farrar*
#2 Scott Kitchen
#38 Dustin Wyckoff
#14 Tim Likens
#1 Brandon Donley*
#69 Paul Magnum
#13 Sierra Stewart
#93 Chase Skeens
#22 Billy Miller
#11 Chad Greenland
#12 Alyson Smith
#5 Matt Hicks