Going into Friday night, Kevin Hartnett was 3rd in points, and 29 points behind the leader Nick Petrilak. Hartnett, no stranger to victory lane or track championships at Penn Can Speedway, knew what he what he had to do and the veteran driver did exactly that by staying out in front of the talented Ryan Godown, and winning the 40-lap feature event in dominating fashion. This put all the pressure in the world on Petrilak and also Alan Rudalavage, as he was in on the hunt to claim his second title in 3 seasons as well. Rudalavage going into Friday night was 2nd in points, only 10 points behind Petrilak.
Petrilak, who started towards the back due to his victory in the last event held at Penn Can, would have to finish in the top 5 to win the points championship, assuming Hartnett would win the feature. Petrilak drove a strong race and eclipsed the top 5 at one point. However, Rudalavage muscled by Petrilak, overtaking 5th. Petrilak would try to battle back and picked up a lot of speed by moving to the outside line of the track in the last handful of laps. Unfortunately, lapped traffic would slow his progress as he closed in on Rudalavage's bumper, allowing Rudalavage to claim a 5th place finish. Petrilak would finish 6th, one spot out of the magic number.
When it was all said and done and the dust had come to rest over the Susquehanna County dirt track, Hartnett would steal his 5th Track Championship by only 1 point over Petrilak. Rudalavage would drop to 3rd in points overall. The top 3 cars (Hartnett, Petrilak and Rudalavage) were only separated 6 points once the numbers were all totaled up.
The crate sportsman class also had a very close points battle on its hands. Mike Nagel Jr was the points leader over Michael Schane by 30 points and 65 over Ray Leonard. Schane would have his work cut out for him and would need a little bit of luck to go his way if he wanted to repeat as track champion in 2018. But what happened earlier that night in the modified feature, it would be worth believing that anything was possible!
Schane came from the last starting position and would eventually take the lead from Moose Gulley, who earlier had wrestled the lead away from Nagel. But Nagel took home a 3rd place finish in the end, which would be more than enough to secure his position as track champion in 2018. Schane would finish a close 2nd, 20 points behind the one they call the Beav.
Schane would win nine events in 2018, but it would be Schane's absence the first week of the season that ultimately doomed the multi-time track champ from repeating once again. Mike Nagel's consistent top 3 finishes and a big win on July 20th kept the generational talent out ahead by just enough.
In the factory stock division, 50 points separated the top 3 drivers – Tommy Groover, Dusty Decker and Nate Hill. Tommy Groover was a marked man, as a bounty was on him, due to winning three consecutive races in a row. Extra money was on the line for anyone that could best the talented full fender driver.
Dusty Decker, only 10 points behind Groover, was up to the task. Decker would take the lead from Charlie Towner and never looked back. Groover, who had somewhat of a boom or bust season, knew he would have to keep pace and pray his #7r machine wouldn't give him any last minute mechanical issues.
Groover stayed clean and patient, working his way up 2nd place behind Decker and that would be where he stayed until the very end. By staying out of trouble and keeping both eyes directly on Decker, Groover secured his first track championship. Decker would win the race and the bounty, but would have to settle for 2nd overall in points.
Bailey Boyd, the 2017 Penn Can 600cc Modified track champion, made his first start of the season in at the speedway and would drive to a victory over Dakota Anderson and Jared Green. Dakota Anderson, however, would claim his first track championship in the 600cc modifieds. Anderson, a two-time winner in 2018, was very consistent all season long and really poured it on over the last eight races to give himself a big edge as the season started to close out.
Doug Polhamus, who was the dominating force in the street stock division all season long, could have sipped some iced tea and relaxed Friday evening, but being the competitor he is, he strapped in one more time and battled with Steven Deinhardt for the lead. Deinhardt would prevail in the end, but Polhamus had the 2018 points wrapped up a few weeks ago. Polhamus won six times in 2018, aiding to his wide margin of victory.
Chris Taylor was the definition of consistency in 2018. The talented 4-cylinder driver would not win a race in 2018, but would would be crowned the track champion by simply starting the feature event. Taylor, a consistent front runner, was close on multiple occasions to picking up a win, but never got over the hump. And while a win would be nice, Taylor got the last laugh in the end, by being able to go down in history as one of the more unique track champions of the speedway.
During intermission, head flagger Gary Folk, made his way out to the infield towards victory lane. Folk would grab the microphone from announcer Craig Hawley and began to speak about memories and small factoids about Penn Can and what has made the place special over the last several decades. As crowd grew quiet, a large crowd of drivers and staff began to flood the infield.
Folk would then call upon the current promoting team at Penn Can, Chad and Kristen Towner. Not knowing what was going on Chad and Kristen both looked around confused. Seconds later, Folk presented the Towner's with a plaque, which gave thanks to their efforts in not only essentially saving Penn Can from uncertainty, but also as a statement to the progress that was made and care that was given to the speedway throughout the season. Individuals then took turns shaking hands or hugging the husband and wife team, letting them know they were appreciated for what they have done and how little they had to do it all with.
It was a special moment. A very deserving moment. And that will once again make the list of memories made at Penn Can.
Our next event will be October 12th and 13th for the annual running of the King of the Can. Event details and pricing will be forthcoming. Please keep a watch on our facebook page (@penncanspeedway) for all of the up to date news!
300CC JUNIOR SPORTSMAN
1. Kaden Ayre 2. Aubrey Ayre 3. Trevor Houghton
American Racer Tire 600cc Modifieds
1. BAILEY BOYD 2. Dakota Anderson 3. Jared Green 4. Doug Lattner 5. John Ayre 6. De Ramey 7. Nolan Smith 8. Kyle Fallis 9. Chace Scutt
SUNOCO RACING FUEL distributed by INSINGER PERFORMANCE MODIFIEDS
1. KEVIN HARTNETT 2. Ryan Godown 3. Leo McGurrin 4. Brian Malcolm 5. Mike Loney 6.Alan Rudalavage 7. Nick Petrilak 8. Darwin Green 9. Stanley Wilkins 10. Bob Trapper 11. Dan Pompey 12. Bobby Trapper jr 13. Brad Shaffer 14. Mike Nagel 15. Brian Franko 16. Jaime Bedford
1.NICK KENNEDY 2.Joshua Wilder 3. Chris Taylor 4.Walter Decker 5. Mike Farris 6. Tucker Harpell 7. Rich Wagner 8. Scott Miller 9. Jimmy Difulvio
1. DUSTY DECKER 2. Tommy Groover 3. Charlie Towner 4. Brady Simpson 5. Ned Fitch 6. Paul Conklin 7. Sheldon Whitman 8. Alecia Towner 9. Nate Hill
SUNOCO RACING FUEL distributed by INSINGER PERFORMANCE 602 CRATE SPORTSMAN
1. MIKE SCHANE 2. Moose Gulley 3. Mike Nagel jr 4. Devon Zona 5. Brandon Fritsch 6. James O’Hara 7. John Redner 8. Ray Leonard
SUNOCO RACING FUEL distributed by INSINGER PERFORMANCE STREET STOCKS
1. STEVE DEINHARDT 2. Doug Polhamus 3. Steve Polhamus 4. Tom Donahue 5. Randy Fox 6. Keith Beach 7. Shawn Stalker 8. Brandon Gumaer 9. Kyle Stark 10. Shane Wolf jr
2018 Track Champions
Modified Track Champion - KEVIN HARTNETT (Towanda, PA)
Factory Stock Track Champion - TOMMY GROOVER (Susquehanna, PA)
602 Crate Sportsman Track Champion - MIKE NAGEL JR (Jackson, PA)
4 Cylinder Track Champion - CHRIS TAYLOR (Endicott, NY)
Street StockTrack Champion - DOUG POLHAMUS (Windsor, NY)
600cc Modified Track Champion - DAKOTA ANDERSON (Candor, NY)