|Date: 3/23/2014 10:50:07 PM|
By DINO OBERTO … “Keeping Track”
(SELINSGROVE 3-13-14) Selinsgrove Speedway got its 2014 season underway on Sunday afternoon featuring Pennsylvania’s premier short track racing division, the 410 Sprints and at the conclusion of the 25-lap main, one of the track’s most decorated stars, Blane Heimbach of Selinsgrove, stood proudly in Victory Lane with his Goff Racing/Creasy Signs No. 12.
A multi-time track champion of the Snyder County ½-mile dirt oval and winner of 36 features between 358 and 360 Sprinters, Sunday’s victory marked his first here with the 410. Seventh starting Heimbach passed Chad Layton on lap 17 and then held on for the $4000 top prize from the $16,500 purse.
“It’s pretty awesome. I guess you don’t really expect it being the first race of the year and just making sure your car is going to start, run and not have any problems, that’s half the battle let alone get a win so it’s pretty awesome,” said Heimbach, who last year switched to Port Royal Speedway and went on to win the 410 title there.
Heimbach is no stranger when it comes winning with a 410 Sprint car at other tracks yet despite his years of success at Selinsgrove a victory in this type car had somehow eluded him.
“I’m very proud of my guys and all the effort they put in going into this season. They worked really hard this winter and the car was really nice out there today. It was good right from the start of the day and my car was just phenomenal. It’s nice to hit the ground running.
“I have a lot of great wins here in 358 and 360 but it’s really nice to get this one out of the way. We’ve been close so many times in a 410 – the National Open a couple times here that we should have won. I’m just glad that it’s all behind us now and got this first win out of the way. I have high expectations for this season.”
After a redraw of the top six from the pair of heats, Justin Barger and Greg Hodnett brought the field to the race commencing green. Hodnett got a great jump and dashed into the lead but it would be for naught as 2012 track champion Pat Cannon came to halt in turn two.
On the restart Barger was much sharper and kept Hodnett in check. They would then run one-two over the first half dozen laps with Layton in close pursuit. Fast moving Heimbach needed only five laps to enter the top five and was producing some of the best racing on track as he picked off cars with each passing lap. By the time he reached Layton on lap nine it was the start of terrific duel.
Upfront Barger continued to hold off the charges of Hodnett. A number of cautions for blown rear tires kept the action tight and unfortunately for Barger that would be his demise when on lap 12 he suffered a flat and exited the race. Hodnett quickly zipped by for the top spot and at the same time Heimbach had charged his way past Cannon and was glued to the leader’s rear bumper. The pair then diced down the front straight and at the completion of lap 13 Heimbach assumed the lead. He would keep his mount there the rest of the way.
On lap 18 Hodnett’s day came to an abrupt end when his car stalled in a cloud of smoke. Cannon advanced to second and despite a late race caution that bunched the field and allowed him a shot at the leader, it was to no avail as Heimbach cruised home the winner.
“Today was the easy day because we won but we could just as easily run 15th today felt like we didn’t even know what we are doing and we’ve done that already. On those days is when it tests your character of not only yourself but your crew,” said Heimbach who drivers for car owner Jeff Creasy of Bloomsburg. The team has been together since 2001.
“It takes a lot of work to do this. We all have regular jobs. I was feeding calves at 6 o’clock this morning in order to come here and race and I have to do it again at 6 o’clock tonight. So it takes a lot of effort to do this and only on the good days does it feel like it pays off.”
When cars where dropping out due the rear tire flats it sent out an alert to the rest of the pack and worried them if the same fate would befall them as well, Heimbach included. The caution also could have cost him the win.
“Whenever you see people cutting tires and you don’t know why then it always becomes a concern. Actually the yellows (flags) didn’t help me because we were coming off (turn) four the last lap and it (motor) started skipping and that means we only had two laps left for fuel. When it’s cold air like this they really use up fuel,” explained Heimbach. “I would have just as soon run it straight through without those yellow laps.”
Layton settled for second with Mike Erdley, Lucas Wolfe and Steve Buckwalter completing the top five.
“The restarts were really my only hope. I gave it everything I had to try and get him on that restart and I just couldn’t and then once we got going he put enough distance between us an there wasn’t much I could do from there. I did my best and just came up a little short. My hat’s off to him. Second is better than third and we had a second place race car,” said Layton.
Wolfe and J.J. Grasso were heat race winners.
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