The Laurel Highlands Sprint Car Series IMCA Racesaver 305’s made their second appearance ever at the beautiful, historic and scenic Allegany County Fairgrounds in Cumberland, Maryland this past Saturday. The location is perfect as it sets along the Maryland/West Virginia border and separated by the Potomac River and the old style covered grandstand adds the fairground feel that is tradition in America also the walk over bridge at turn one adds a whole new dimension to the facility. A light field of 11 sprint cars were on hand to compete with many of the cars on hand that competed last year and Reed Thompson of Petersburg, Pa. made his first start at Cumberland with the LHSS. Action on the big track provided green to checker heat races and the feature race as well. In heat race one Stevie Kenawell and Jonathon Jones the “Rocketman” started on the outside sporting new colors. Young Kenawell jumped into the lead followed by Jones, Brad Mellott, with Matt Kline, Donnie Hendershot and Drew Ritchey in pursuit, it wasn’t long before Ritchey moved by the others from his sixth starting spot to take over runner up trying to reel in the East Freedom driver. As the checker flew it was Stevie Kenawell taking the win with Drew Ritchey second, Brad Mellott ran a strong race for third, with Jonathon Jones taking the fourth position, Donnie Hendershot of Clear Spring, Md. was fifth and Saxton’s Matt Kline was sixth.
In the second eight lap heat race Reed Thompson and Ryan Lynn paced the field to the green, both are second and third in the 2019 Summer Showdown point standings, and at the green it was a drag race into turn one with Lynn taking the lead, as the race went on he stretched it out a little over Thompson who was having a good run but had Scott Lutz moving into third from his fifth place starting spot. Everyone settled into a groove and at the checkered flag the winner was Ryan Lynn with Reed Thompson capping the runner-up spot with the Jonestown Jet Scott Lutz taking third, Ray Sheetz had a nice run for fourth and Ron The Rage Aurand finished fifth but was battling a stumbling engine at about the half way point. It was good to see Ray Sheetz back and doing well as he suffered some engine woes at Dog Hollow Speedway the week before and was unable to get his car fired to compete.
The 20-lap feature saw the top three finishers from each heat redraw for starting spots with Scott Lutz and Drew Ritchey getting front row seats. At the green flag both drivers were on the hammers down the front stretch with Ritchey getting an edge and taking the lead which he stretched out to almost a straight away led with Lutz keeping him in site. Ryan Lynn and Rob Mellott moved into the third and fourth positions with their own battle as Reed Thompson and Stevie Kenawell did likewise. As the race wore on the engine woes that plagued Ron Aurand in the heat race and started in the hot laps sent the Lewistown driver to the infield ending his night. As the 20 laps clicked away under the green Scott Lutz had a setup that began to work as the race wore on and he began closing the gap Ritchey had built up and got within about four car lengths a couple of times but couldn’t get close enough to make a challenge. At the checkers the finishing order was this: 1. 880 Drew Ritchey, 2. 33 Scott Lutz, 3. 26 Ryan Lynn, 4. 6x Brad Mellott, 5. R6 Reed Thompson, 6. 17K Stevie Kenawell, 7. 12J Jonathon Jones, 8. 99 Ray Sheetz, 9. 25K Matt Kline, 10. 31 Donnie Hendershot, 11. 86 Ron Aurand (DNF).
It was good to see Jim “Cowboy” Kennedy on hand at Cumberland as a spectator. Jim is sidelined having lost two cars in crashes this year, one at the Hesston Speedway and the other car at the Clinton County Motor Speedway a couple weeks ago. He is presently trying to get something together to complete the season but it was nice to see him on hand in good spirits walking around talking to fellow competitors. Another legendary driver, now retired, that frequents the IMCA sprint shows is the ‘Everett Express’, Gerald Chamberlain who can be seen with the Ritchey crew. Always a great person to chat with if fans get the chance. Also on hand was another legendary driver to cheer on his Grandson was Junior Ritchey it was good to see him on hand at Cumberland and looking very good health wise.
As was announced earlier the Friday August 2nd race for Dog Hollow has been cancelled and hopefully can be made up this year? With that the LHSS teams have a day off to get ready for their third appearance at the famed Hesston Speedway this Saturday, August 3rd. Hopefully a strong field of sprint cars will be on hand. And a thank you to our volunteer helper at Cumberland Bob Lund who was filling in for Bud Horner who was taking the night off to be with his family.