Ritchey Wins Bedford Opener

After three rain outs in a row, with those races scheduled for the Clinton County Motor Speedway, the Laurel Highlands IMCA Racesavers finally got the first race of the 2019 racing season in the books at the Bedford Fairgrounds Speedway on Sunday April 28th under less than comfortable conditions. Although there was little rain in the area the temperatures hovered around 40 degrees at race time. A field of 16 sprint cars signed in to compete with many familiar faces and a few new faces to Laurel Highlands. Dylan Proctor of Lock Haven made his debut in his #92 and relative newcomer Josh Spicer of Bellefonte who ran some shows in 2018 was on hand in his #71. The race track was in fantastic shape and provided a fast and competitive surface for the two sprint car heat races and the 20-lap feature. In the first heat race Jim Kennedy and Ray Sheetz brought the field to the green flag with Sheetz debuting a new chassis jumped into the lead with third place starter Josh Spicer following with Jim Kennedy and Dylan Proctor in pursuit. Sheetz led the field for the entire 8 laps with Spicer turning in a very impressive run staying close and at the checker flag it was Ray Sheetz taking his first ever victory in a sprint car with Josh Spicer finishing second, Jim Kennedy came in third with Dylan Proctor finishing fourth in an another impressive run rounding out the field was Randy Sterling in fifth, Reed Thompson sixth, Kyle Ganoe seventh and Matt Kline finishing eighth.  In heat number two Bob Garvey, Jr and Scott Lutz brought the field to the green flag with Garvey getting a nice jump to lead the field to turn one. As the laps unwound Garvey maintained the lead with Drew Ritchey and Jonathon Jones trying to reel him in with Scott Lutz running fourth. The young driver from Grass Flat was dialed in and hit his marks taking his first ever sprint car win with Drew Ritchey finishing second, Jonathon Jones third, Scott Lutz fourth, Reed Thompson fifth, Ron Aurand sixth, Ryan Lynn seventh and Jake Gomola eighth. Jake was having some engine issues during the heat event. For the 20 lap feature the top three from both heats redrew for starting positions with Jonathon Jones and Bob Garvey, Jr. starting on the front row, Drew Ritchey and Jim Kennedy in the second row and Ray Sheetz and Josh Spicer in the third row. At the drop of the green Garvey got a nice jump to take the lead into turn one with Jones close behind but some trouble in turn two involving Dylan Proctor saw the yellow wave before a lap was completed, the incident sidelined Proctor for the evening. As the field lined up for a complete restart and the green waved in was Jones who got the jump and led the field with Garvey, Ritchey, Sterling, Lutz, Spicer and Sheetz running tight until about lap 11 when a second yellow slowed the field when Josh Spicer who had a strong run going in the top four looped his mount coming out of turn four and almost saved it but ended up tapping the wall ending his night. As the green waved again Jones who has had a “hot shoe” in the early racing season took the lead with Ritchey close behind and as the pair exited turn four Jones got a little high giving Ritchey the chance to grab the lead and he held on for the remaining laps. In the meantime Garvey continued to do a good job as did Randy Sterling, Scott Lutz and 13th place starter Kyle Ganoe who moved into sixth. At the checkered flag it was Ritchey taking the season opener with Jones finishing second. The finishing positions are as follows: 1st 880 Drew Ritchey, 2nd 12J Jonathon Jones, 3rd 11x Bob Garvey, Jr., 4th 00s Randy Sterling, 5th 33 Scott Lutz, 6th 0 Kyle Ganoe, 7th 6R Reed Thompson, 8th 6x Brad Mellott, 9th 26 Ryan Lynn, 10th 99 Ray Sheetz, 11th 86 Ron Aurand, 12th 25K Matt Kline, 13th 71 Josh Spicer, 14th 7 Jim Kennedy, 15th 4J Jake Gomola, 16th 92 Dylan Proctor. The next stop for the Laurel Highlands IMCA Racesavers is the Dog Hollow Speedway on Saturday May 4th.