08/12/13 Five classes of racing passed with flying colors as Plymouth Speedway hosted back to school night at the track. While the students got free backpacks, participated in bicycle races and stuffed their pockets with candy, the drivers pushed the pedal to the metal to provide racing entertainment.
An eventful Thunder Stock race saw a great battle from John Rhoads and pole-sitter Ryan Smurdon on lap seven as Rhoads took over the lead and never looked back. Randy Lambert, who watched the pair battle snuck past for second place. A late-race caution bunched up the field but Rhoads had a strong car and went right to the checkered flag.
Rhoads, who had taken a few weeks off of racing to be with his girlfriend who suffered life-threatening injuries in a work accident, was understandably emotional as he stood on top of the podium. His girlfriend had taken herself off of life support and encouraged Rhoads to “go and have fun racing” and he brought home the first place trophy. She continues to recover.
“It’s an emotional time,” said Rhoads. “Thank you to everyone at Plymouth Speedway and the fans for all of your prayers.”
Randy Lambert fought from the field to finish second while Kevin Kerlin finished third after starting in the sixth position.
UMP Modifieds point leader Frank Marshall had his hands full all race long as he attempted to get by Michael Tarlton. Every time Marshall got to the front, a caution came out and put him back in the second spot as the restart order reflects the last completed lap. It was quite a break for Tarlton as Marshall passed him five times, and every time a caution was called. After the last caution flag flew, Marshall had run out of chances as Tarlton was the first to see the checkered flag.
“Yeah, I had lost the race at least three times, but all of those cautions came out at the right time. Thank you to the guys who caused those cautions!” Tarlton laughed.
Marshall finished in the second spot while Tommy Beezley II snuck into third place. Beezley had started the race in the twelfth spot.
In the Traxxas USAC 600 Open Sprints race, it didn’t take Randy Shilling to nose his race car to the lead. He bumped pole-sitter Gavin Taylor out of the way to see clean air on lap five. The first caution was called when the third place car, driven by Jason Montel, spun out of turn four on lap 10. Two more caution flags flew, but that didn’t phase Shilling. He finished on the top spot on the podium.
“We didn’t look back and that’s what we’re looking for. We were able to get to the front after starting eighth. Pretty good night,” commented Shilling.
Billy Cribbs was the runner-up and Eric Saunders brought home the third place trophy. Saunders had hit the rear wheel of a competitor’s car early in the race and fell back a couple of spots but battled back for a podium finish.
The 20-lap Super Streets feature had a few highlights. Bryce Shidler had a tough time seeing where to go for a while as the hood flew up on his car later in the race. He had gotten involved in an early caution and the hood wouldn’t stay down after that melee. The top three drivers, JC Moldovan, David Short and Michael Clark, were up on the wheel once the green flag dropped. Clark spun out of turn two, but as he did another car spun which brought out the caution. Clark was able to get his spot back and kept that third place spot until the end of the race.
Moldovan won a heat race earlier in the evening and later his first feature race of the season.
“It’s been a rough season,” he said after the race. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the podium. I’d like to thank everyone who is on the car to help me get here.”
David Short, who has had some car troubles the past few weeks, was second.
It was Garrett Saunders who dominated the Traxxas USAC 600 Restricted Wing Sprint race. He took a commanding lead after starting in the second place position. Nicholas Schaefer, who started at the tail, closed Saunders’ almost one second lead in the last two laps and gave Saunders something to sweat about, but Saunders remained undaunted and won the race.
“I just had to relax and work on my racing and now I’m back on the podium. Thank you to everyone who has helped me,” stated Saunders.
Next week, the Bob Newton Hoosier Tire Classic will take center stage with the Sprits on Dirt series, the UMP Modifieds and the Traxxas USAC 600 Winged Sprints and the USAC 600 Restricted Winged Sprints. NASCAR’s Kenny Wallace will be racing his Modified and there may be more stars that come to the track. Stay in touch on www.plymouthspeedway.net, Facebook or Twitter for any future announcements. Gates open at 4 p.m. and racing begins at 7 p.m. ET.
By: Anita Soltis