By Shawn Brouse
Mechanicsburg – The one month delay to get the 2023 season opener in the books at Williams Grove Speedway was well worth the wait as both sprint car divisions turned in exciting main events on Friday night with invader Zeb Wise scoring the upset victory in the 410 division.
In the 358 sprint main, long-time campaigner Cody Fletcher returned the Fletcher name to oval victory lane for his first ever track checkers.
The start of the 25-lap, 410 sprint feature was slowed when polesitter Danny Dietrich bit the inside turn four rail when green appeared, causing a flat front tire.
Dietrich would tag the rear for a new start while Freddie Rahmer took control off of the front row.
Anthony Macri and Zeb Wise of Angola, Indiana, trailed on the first lap.
The leaders were just about to enter traffic when Lance Dewease forced a caution period on the seventh tour after spinning in the second corner while running sixth.
The restart saw Rahmer race safely outside of Macri’s grasp still with Wise in tow before the front trio again raced up on and into the rear of the field with 10 laps to go.
Macri then began making time on the leader while blasting the top side in the first and second turns and by lap 17 the leaders were under a blanket racing through traffic.
Macri took a stab at snaring the top spot with an attempted flyer in the third and fourth turns with six laps to go only to bounce back away from Rahmer when he couldn’t complete the pass.
The next time around, Macri was able to muscle in front of Rahmer as the pair set their cars into the third turn but when Macri tried to hold Rahmer down to the inside groove, both drivers ended up sliding up across the racetrack and Zeb Wise was able to sneak by and lead lap 20.
However Macri went deep in turn for the next time around to take control from Wise and secure what he might of thought was the win.
But Wise simply would not let up and he hung with the leader the next three laps before seizing his opportunity on the final tour.
When Macri went high through the first and second corner, Wise blasted low into the turns and as a lapped car held up Macri the door was open for Indiana’s Wise.
And with that, the 20-year old bit fast and drove through the opening to get control and the upset win although Macri did his best coming off of turn four to the checkers to reclaim the point.
“Well holy shit, I can’t believe we just won at the Grove,” Wise proclaimed from the winner’s circle.
“I felt like I had the best car for the entire race. The whole race I stuck to the bottom in one and two,” he said.
“This is really rewarding to our whole entire team.”
Wise took the $5,000 victory by .182 seconds over Macri with Rahmer riding home in third and he picked up a $500 bonus thanks to the WC Eshenaur last lap pass award.
Chase Dietz was fourth and Devon Borden finished fifth.
Sixth through 10th went to Tyler Ross, TJ Stutts, Brandon Rahmer, Kyle Reinhardt and Kyle Moody.
Heats went to Dietz, Borden and Wise with Sean Rayhall taking the consolation.
TJ Stutts lowered the track record in qualifications with a lap of 16.089 seconds.
Lucas Wolfe was the PA Dyno Hard Charger in the main event.
In the 20-lap 358 sprint feature, polesitter Chase Gutshall led the first four circuits before Kody Hartlaub would race into the lead.
The only caution flag of the race unfuled with 11 laps to go for a stopped Tyler Rutherford.
The restart saw Cody Fletcher and three time, defending track champion Derek Locke chasing the leader.
Fletcher pulled the trigger when action resumed with a low move in the first corner.
Hartlaub then went to work trying to reclaim the point by working the top lanes.
However at the same time Locke was working the lowside on Hartlaub before finally taking the spot on lap 19.
This allowed Locke to run up on Fletcher for the win but he fell short at the finish.
Hartlaub would end up third followed by Devon Borden and Steve Owings.
Sixth through 10th went to Gutshall, Scott Fisher, Chad Criswell, Nash Ely and Doug Hammaker.
Heats were taken by Fletcher, Owings and Creswell with Chris Frank scoring the consolation.
Jay Galloway was the PA Dyno Hard Charger.
410 sprints, 25 laps: 1. Zeb Wise, 2. Anthony Macri, 3. Freddie Rahmer, 4. Chase Dietz, 5. Devon Borden, 6. Tyler Ross, 7. TJ Stutts, 8. Brandon Rahmer, 9. Kyle Reinhardt, 10. Kyle Moody, 11. Danny Dietrich, 12. Troy Wagaman, 13. Dylan Cisney, 14. Jeff Haligan, 15. Lucas Wolfe, 16. Justin Whittal, 17. Davey Franek, 18. Scott Thiel, 19. Cameron Smith, 20. Sean Rayhall, 21. Kody Lehman, 22. Lance Dewease, 23. Steve Buckwalter, 24. Zane Rudisill
DNQ: Troy Fraker, Jim Siegel, Chad Trout, Austin Bishop, Mark Smith, Dylan Norris
358 sprints, 20 laps: 1. Cody Fletcher, 2. Derek Locke, 3. Kody Hartlaub, 4. Devon Borden, 5. Steve Owings, 6. Chase Gutshall, 7. Scott Fisher, 8. Chad Criswell, 9. Nash Ely, 10. Doug Hammaker, 11. Tim Glatfelter, 12. Frankie Herr, 13. Brett Strickler, 14. Matt Findley, 15. Justin Foster, 16. Jayden Wolf, 17. Jay Galloway, 18. Jordan Strickler, 19. Tyler Ulrich, 20. Cody Phillips. 21. Jacob Balliet, 22. Tyler Rutherford, 23. Nat Tuckey, 24. Chris Frank
DNQ: Kyle Ganoe, Shane Yost, Andrew Hake, George Streaker Jr., Josh Bricker, Zach Newlin, Kyle Keen