Steve Inch, SELINSGROVE, PA, (June 14, 2014)0. TJ Stutts, of Liverpool, PA and Mark Smith of Sunbury, PA exchanged the lead several times before Stutts settled the suspenseful war on wheel s with a victory in Saturday night’s 30-lap Patriot Sprint Tour/11th Annual Joe Whitcomb Memorial at Selinsgrove Speedway.
The $2,571 win was Stutts’ third of the season and third career in the Whitcomb Memorial at the wheel of the Mountain View Travel/Shimock’s Furniture No. 23. The victory also marked the 20th of his career in 358-360 sprint car competition at the track.
Brock Zearfoss of Jonestown was the night’s Fast Tees Fast Qualifier with a lap time of 17.414.
At the start of the Whitcomb Memorial, second-place starter Mark Smith pulled into the lead over polesitter Jason Shultz. Before the completion of lap one, sixth-place starter TJ Stutts raced into the third position. The caution flag unfurled on lap two when Ryan Kissinger’s car made contact with the first turn wall.
When the race resumed, Stutts passed Shultz for the second spot and set his sights on Smith. A two-car tangle in turn three regrouped the field for a lap five restart. Stutts drew even with Smith entering turn one but Smith maintained the lead with momentum around the top of the racetrack.
In the early laps of the race, Smith led the field over Stutts, fourth-place starter Cody Keller, 11th-place starter Pat Cannon, and Shultz. On the 14th circuit, Smith drifted high in turn two traffic and allowed Stutts to make a pass for the lead using the inside groove.
A caution on lap 15 became a red flag for a fuel stop. During the second half of the race, Stutts maintained a solid lead while Smith kept him in his sights. Ninth-place starter and fast qualifier Brock Zearfoss entered the top five with nine laps to race. The final caution flag waved on lap 25, setting up a five-lap dash to the checkered flag.
The final laps produced an exciting wheel-to-wheel duel between Stutts and Smith, swapping the lead several times through the turns. Stutts eventually settled into the lead and went on to post a mere 1.3-second margin of victory over Smith, Cannon, Shultz, and Zearfoss.
Heat winner Cody Keller placed in sixth, ahead of PST point leader Jared Zimbardi, who drove forward to seventh. Larry Kelleher, heat winner Joe Trenca, and young Jordan Thomas completed the top-10.
A total of 27 sprints filled the pits for the maiden voyage of the Patriot Sprint Tour to the famed half-mile oval. An even split of track regulars and invaders battled throughout, however some teams suffered early issues. Local Derek Locke was fourth fastest in time trials but grenaded his engine on a second lap. Derek Jonathan, Brad Knab and Bobby Parrow were among others who were unable to start the feature event.
For more information, visit www.PatriotSprintTour.com.
Patriot Sprint Tour Press Release:
30-Lap Whitcomb Memorial: 1) 23 TJ Stutts ($2, 571) 2) 1 Mark Smith 3) 3 Pat Cannon 4) 29 Jason Shultz 5) 1W Brock Zearfoss 6) 99K Cody Keller 7) 35 Jared Zimbardi 8) 76 Larry Kelleher 9) 98 Joe Trenca 10) 79 Jordan Thomas 11) 21F Jared Fink 12) 61 Parker Evans 13) 19 Colby Womer 14) X Dan Mazy 15) 67 Steve Collins 16) 54J Dave Just 17) 71C Charlie Anderson 18) 00 Dane Lorenc 19) 66 Ryan Kissinger 20) 54Jr Scott Just 21) 13 Kevin Ward Jr. 22) 29S Derek Steward DNS 23) 81 Derek Jonathan DNS 24) 38 Brad Knab DNS 25) 33W Michael Walter II DNS 26) 3Z Bobby Parrow DNS 27) 77 Derek Locke DNS
Heat Winners: Brock Zearfoss, Cody Keller, Joe Trenca
Time Trials: 1) Brock Zearfoss 17.414 2) Mark Smith 17.478 3) Ryan Kissinger 17.495 4) Derek Locke 17.546 5) TJ Stutts 17.652 6) Pat Cannon 17.673 7) Jordan Thomas 17.765 8) Larry Kelleher 17.792 9) Cody Keller 17.801 10) Jason Shultz 17.820 11) Colby Womer 17.845 12) Steve Collins 17.892 13) Joe Trenca 17.952 14) Kevin Ward Jr. 17.957 15) Parker Evans 18.007 16) Jared Zimbardi 18.060 17) Michael Walter II 18.069 18) Brad Knab 18.157 19) Dan Mazy 18.384 20) Jared Fink 18.489 21) Derek Steward 18.493 22) Dave Just 18.504 23) Charlie Anderson 18.639 24) Derek Jonathan 18.684 25) Dane Lawerence 18.932 26) Scott Just 19.082 27) Bobby Parrow DNT