Newmanstown, PA – Alex Bright cut his racing teeth in a 600cc Micro-Sprint at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. On Saturday night, the Collegeville, Pa. wheel-twister made a victorious return to his old stomping grounds, but this time the triumph came at the controls of an ARDC Midget.
Bright, who made headlines in January by winning his preliminary night A-Main at the prestigious Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, survived a caution plagued season opener as the American Racing Drivers Club kicked off its 77th season of competition. The No Wing Spring Fling, presented by MJF Trucking, marked just the second-ever appearance by the mighty Midgets at the Clyde Martin oval located in Newmanstown, Pa.
“Oh, it’s definitely special (to win here),” said Bright. “A lot of effort went into bringing our car back out this year, and to win the opening race is really special.”
The ARDC touring series, presented by Autobahn Indoor Speedway and Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic, produced a season opening event that turned into a tale of tires, as in large tractor tires that line the inside of the corners at Clyde Martin. Most of the drivers were focused on running as low as possible at both ends of the speedway, resulting in a lot of contact with those infield tire markers.
Brenden Bright set the pace in the early going of the 30-lap feature, with his brother Alex quickly moving into the runner-up slot. The Bright brothers waged a nip-and-tuck battle in the first one-third of the race as Danny Stratton slipped into third position on the eighth circuit and closed in on the top two.
With eight tours complete, Alex Bright nipped one of those big infield tires in turn two, spinning but never coming to a complete stop. Fourth running Nick Wean bumped the spinning Bright and stalled, forcing another yellow flag slowdown.
On the restart, Alex ducked under Brenden as they charged down the front chute, taking the lead as the duo headed into turn one. On the next restart, just one trip later, Brenden returned the favor but now it was his turn to clip an infield tire in corner number two. The resulting spin produced another caution and sent the younger of the Bright brothers to the rear.
With Alex Bright now in command and 15 laps in the books, Danny Stratton sailed to the inside of the leader in turns three and four, making contact with Bright’s Lightcap Electric No. 77. Stratton blasted off turn four with the race lead as Alex gathered his mount and continued.
“That was just typical short track racing,” said Alex afterward. “I thought I gave him enough room and he probably thought he had enough room to make that move, but I guess there wasn’t as much space as we thought and we got together. It happens.”
Stratton led through lap 18 when – you guessed it – he tapped the infield tires in three and four and came to a stop. His misfortune put Alex Bright back in front as the field lined up nose to tail for yet another restart.
As A. Bright opened a fairly comfortable lead, an entertaining four-car battle developed right behind the second place car of Ryan Greth. Trevor Kobylarz, who started 17th, Nick Wean and Brenden Bright (who both came from the back of the pack after bringing out caution flags) fought furiously for the third spot on the bottom of the race track while Kyle Spence, making his ARDC debut, was rim-riding around the top as part of that fight. The third position was in constant state of flux as all four swapped the spot over the final ten revolutions.
A final yellow with one to go created the final bit of drama, as A. Bright grazed an infield tire coming to the green. He wheelied down the frontstretch but gathered up his unsteady mount and maintained control as Greth took a look at challenging in turn one. Bright held on, though, flashing under the checkered flag by a half-second over Greth, with Brenden Bright claiming the torrid battle for third. Spence, in his first ride in a Midget, earned a strong fourth place finish and Kobylarz raced home in fifth.
With 20 cars signed in for the season opener, Brenden Bright was quickest in timed warm ups at 10.804 seconds. The timed hot lap sessions set the heat race line ups, and those victories went to Stratton, Wean, and A. Bright.
by BARRY ANGSTADT
ARDC Midgets Feature, 30 laps: 1.Alex Bright, 2.Ryan Greth, 3.Brenden Bright, 4.Kyle Spence, 5.Trevor Kobylarz, 6.Nick Wean, 7.Billy Pauch Jr., 8.Danny Stratton, 9.Justin Grosz, 10.Ryan Wilson, 11.Brett Wanner, 12.Troy Betts, 13.Brett Arndt, 14.Shawn Jackson, 15.Tyler Rivard, 16.Tommy Kunsman Jr., 17.Jimmy Glenn, 18.Jim Radney, 19.Kenny Johnson.DNS: Brandon Yarlett.