By Steve Inch
SELINSGROVE, Pa. – Mark Smith of Sunbury passed Pat Cannon of Etters for his first career 358 sprint car win at Selinsgrove Speedway in Saturday night’s 25-lap main event. In the previous week’s main event, Smith finished second to Cannon, creating a close chase for the championship in early season action.
Smith, who drives the Mach 1 Chassis No. 1, now has the distinction of being the only driver to have won races in three major open wheel divisions at the track, including victories in 410 sprint cars, super sportsman, and 358 sprint cars.
Jeff Rine of Danville, who is seeking his sixth straight and eighth career late model titles this season, won his first race of 2012 and his 73rd career at the track in the division’s 25-lap main event.
In only his fourth start, 16-year-old rookie Hayes Mattern of Beavertown scored his first career pro stock win in convincing style in the division’s 15-lap main event.
Defending champion Bob Bussey of Northumberland won his second in a row in the rain abbreviated 11-lap roadrunner feature.
The track hosted nearly 70 Boy Scouts of America for the weekend’s racing action as part of the Seven Bridges District BSA Spring Camporee on the speedway grounds. Earlier in the day, track officials also participated in on-camera interviews as part of an upcoming WVIA Television documentary “Our Town Selinsgrove” that is tentatively scheduled to air at 8 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, May 16.
Selinsgrove Speedway will present a four division show of 358 sprint cars, late models, pro stocks, and roadrunners at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 21, sponsored by Advanced Concrete Systems. Track gates will open at 4 p.m.
Polesitter Josh Beard stormed into the lead at the drop of the green flag in the sprint car feature. Second-place starter Colby Womer chased Beard until third-place starter Pat Cannon moved into the runner-up position by the completion of the first lap. On the second circuit, fourth-place starter Mark Smith took over third as a war on wheels unfolded at the front of the pack.
By lap eight, Cannon was in striking distance and in a position to attempt a pass. Entering the third turn on the ninth circuit, Beard’s car blew a tire and spun backwards into the fence before flipping over several times. Beard escaped injury.
Cannon inherited the lead for the restart and held off Smith for several laps before Smith made the winning pass using the inside groove in turn two on lap 12. Once he was in front of the pack, Smith checked out from the field while Cannon held second. On the 15th lap, 10th-place starter Derek Locke began to show a lot of speed and advanced to third.
The race’s final caution flag regrouped the field on lap 21 when Womer’s car broke on the backstretch. On the ensuing restart, Smith continued to set the pace and posted a 2.5-second victory over Cannon, sixth-place starter TJ Stutts, Locke, and ninth-place starter Blane Heimbach.
Second-place starter Steve Campbell took the early lead in the late model feature. Third-place starter Jeff Rine quickly reeled in Campbell and race side-by-side for a lap before securing the lead using the inside lane entering turn three on the sixth circuit.
Just as Rine took the lead, the event’s first caution flag unfurled when Chad Davis spun in turn one. When the race resumed, Rine began to stretch his lead while a close battle for second unfolded between Campbell and fifth-place starter Jim Yoder.
On the eighth lap, J. Yoder moved passed Campbell for second. At the halfway point, fourth-place starter Dylan Yoder advanced to third. During the second half of the race, the Yoder father-and-son team attempted to gain real estate on Rine but came up short at the finish.
Rine was victorious by 2.9 seconds over J. Yoder, D. Yoder, Campbell, and sixth-place starter Matt Cochran.
Outside front row starter Hayes Mattern pulled into the lead at the start of the pro stock feature and wired the field for his first career victory in only his fourth start. In the early laps of the race, Mattern contended with sixth-place starter Doug Minium but by the halfway point had stretched his lead to a straightaway.
While Mattern set a torrid pace at the front of the pack, Minium and eighth-place starter AJ Hoffman dueled for the runner up position. Hoffman eventually secured the second position and attempted to reel in Mattern to no avail. At the checkered flag, Mattern was victorious by nearly six seconds over Hoffman, Minium, Nate Kerstetter, and Kyle Bachman.
Polesitter Nate Romig powered into the lead at the start of the roadrunner feature as third-place starter John Fowler raced in the runner up position. On the fourth circuit, Fowler edged out Romig for the lead. A lap later, however, ninth-place starter Bob Bussey made a charge to the front of the pack and made the winning pass using the inside lane in turn two.
Bussey maintained the lead while Fowler attempted to keep him in his sites. During a caution on the 11th lap, rain began to fall and the race was called complete. Bussey was declared the winner over Fowler, Matt Lawrence, Ricky Bender, and Brian Johnson.
SELINSGROVE SPEEDWAY SUMMARY – 14 April 2012
358 Sprint Cars –21 Entries
25-Lap A-Main: 1) 1 Mark Smith 2) 3 Pat Cannon 3) 23 TJ Stutts 4) 77 Derek Locke 5) 12 Blane Heimbach 6) 25 John Smith 7) 76 Larry Kelleher 8) 2 Jason Shultz 9) 1W Eric Tomecek 10) 5W Phil Walter 11) 37 Scott Flamer 12) 29 Matt Horst 13) 66 Ryan Kissinger 14) 21 Duane Mausteller 15) 38 Scott Wilson 16) 19 Colby Womer 17) 99K Cody Keller 18) 1N Brian Nornhold 19) 5B Josh Beard 20) 71 Charlie Anderson (DNS) 21) 3Z Brock Zearfoss (DNS)
Heat Winners: Josh Beard, Colby Womer, Pat Cannon