WATKINS WINS JOE CSIKI TRIBUTE!

Last weekend the weather ruined the racing plans for the LHSS at the Hesston Speedway and the Bedford Speedway which included the Joe Csiki Tribute Race during the annual Bedford County Fair. This race was rescheduled for July 30th and the weather was beautiful this time as a nice crowd turned out to support the event while 21 sprint cars signed in to race!!!! Good to see “The Bedford Bullet” Bob Salathe and his RG3 sprint car back after several years off, Matt Kline of Saxton, Pa. finally made his LHSS debut in the 25K, Matt destroyed his other car at Port Royal earlier in the year and had to rebuild. Also making his first LHSS start of the year at Bedford was Dylan Shatzer of Hagerstown, Md., the youngster had competed Friday night at the Clinton County Motor Speedway which was a co-sanctioned event with the Pa Sprint Series, also making his first LHSS start of the year was Kyle Colwell of Knox, Pa. Kyle has been competing with the Allegheny Sprint Tour IMCA Race Savers which race closer to home, the second generation driver always is fast at Bedford. Also making his first start ever with the LHSS was Mark Watkins of McConnellsburg, Pa., and his performance netted a heat win and the feature win. Also back after several years at Bedford was Roger Irvine of Irvona, Pa. who destroyed his #12 in a turn one and two accident, the new car runs great.
There were three heat races for the sprint cars with Kyle Colwell taking the win in heat #1 from his fourth starting spot with Reed Thompson chasing him all the way from the third starting spot. Scott Lutz and Coltt Lepley both ran a strong race as well. The finishing order is as follows:
1st Kyle Colwell, 2nd Reed Thompson, 3rd Scott Lutz, 4th Coltt Lepley, 5th Ron Aurand, 6th Tim Lash, 7th Matt Kline.
For heat race number two the veteran Jim “Cowboy” Kennedy and rookie driver Jim Kosnosky brought the field to the green flag but third place starter Mark Watkins passed both cars down the front stretch to take the lead and run away with over a straightaway lead over the field. Positions were swapped back and forth with Kennedy holding onto second with Roger Irvine, Kosnosky and Joe Zap challenging each other. The finish for heat two is as follows:
1st Mark Watkins, 2nd Jim Kennedy, 3rd Roger Irvine, 4th Jim Kosnosky, 5th Joe Zap, 6th Steve Kenawell, Jr., 7th Bob Salathe
(DNF)
The third heat had Brad Mellott and rookie Ray Sheetz bring the field to the green with both cars not getting good starts which allowed third place starter Rob Bartchy to go inside down the front stretch to take the lead and pace the field. Wasn’t long before Ryan Lynn, Dylan Shatzer and 7th place starter Drew Ritchey to give chase to the leader with Ritchey eventually grabbing second spot and stayed within striking distance of Bartchy. The finishing order is as follows:
1st Rob Bartchy, 2nd Drew Ritchey, 3rd Ryan Lynn, 4th Dylan Shatzer, 5th Ed Mesaros, 6th Brad Mellott (DNF), 7th Ray Sheetz (DNF).
The feature event, the Joe Csiki Tribute race was scheduled for 24 laps, his car number, and 9 drivers, the top 3 from each of the heats redrew for starting positions with Roger Irvine and Mark Watkins drawing numbers 1 and 2 for the front row. Paying tribute to the late Csiki the 19 starters let the pole position open on the pace lap for the missing man formation, always a humbling sight. When the green flag waived Mark Watkins grabbed the early lead with Irvine, Reed Thompson, Drew Ritchey and Ryan Lynn giving chase. As lap one went into the books the first yellow flew for Ron Aurand who made contact with the wall in turns three and four causing heavy damage to the #86. At the restart the field stayed clean while clicking off laps until around lap 14 the yellow came out for Coltt Lepley who was trying to avoid some slower cars, broke traction and hit the inside wall in turn four ending his night and severely damaging the #4L. The green waived again for about two laps when Kyle Colwell got high in turns one and two tagging the outside wall, flattening the right rear and damaging the rear end, he was in the top five or so cars with a great finish ahead but his night ended after the contact. One more yellow around lap 20 for Matt Kline who got sideways in turns one and two with the leader making some contact however it didn’t seem to slow the #17 down. The finishing order is as follows:
1st 17 Mark Watkins, 2nd 880 Drew Ritchey, 3rd 33 Scott Lutz, 4th 29B Rob Bartchy, 5th 26 Ryan Lynn, 6th 12 Roger Irvine, 7th R6 Reed Thompson, 8th 75 Dylan Shatzer, 9th 33z Joe Zap, 10th 12J Tim Lash, 11th 17K Steve Kenawell, Jr., 12th 15 Ed Mesaros, 13th 5J Jim Kosnosky, 14th 7 Jim Kennedy, 15th 25K Matt Kline (DNF), 16th 80Jr. Kyle Colwell (DNF), 17th 4L Coltt Lepley (DNF), 18th 6x Brad Mellott (DNF), 19th 86 Ron Aurand (DNF)
DNS RG3 Bob Salathe and 99 Ray Sheetz
A thank you goes out to the Bedford Speedway including Joe Padula and Jake Hoover for allowing Laurel Highlands to be part of the Joe Csiki Tribute program, as always a thank you to all the teams who came out to support the show along with volunteer Kalena Lee who helps in the pits.