Eckert wins Speedway points opener

March 24, 1997


Staff Correspondent

Rick Eckert couldn't have mastered Hagerstown Speedway's surface at any better time than Sunday when he recorded the late model victory in the first points race of the season.

Starting seventh, Eckert, of York, Pa., grabbed the lead on the fifth lap, then raced through lapped traffic to maintain a safety net over Rodney Franklin.

Mike Yeakle, of Clear Spring, captured the late model sportsman victory. Recording second wins were Chambersburg's Doug Bennett in the pure stocks and four cylinder competitor Derek Wink of McConnellsburg, Pa., who was awarded the win after Billy Sooner, Jr. was disqualified.


After Rusty Sites led the first four circuits, Eckert made his lead pass on the next lap. Eckert stretched his lead to nearly four seconds when Rodney Franklin moved into second on the 10th lap.

Following a single caution for debris on the track, Eckert easily covered the final two laps to post the win ahead of Franklin and Gary Stuhler.

"I thought on that caution, `Yeah, this all we need.' The car was so tight, I started running it really hard and throwing it sideways trying to loosen it up," Eckert said. "He was going to have to pass me on top, because I wasn't going to get off the bottom."

Jeremy Miller gained the sportsman lead on the second lap as Yeakle closed and took the lead on the seventh and ninth laps before caution flags recalled the moves. Yeakle again made the move on the restart and held a several car-length advantage over Miller and Alan Sagi to the finish.

Despite running a junk motor after his exploded two weeks ago, Bennett zipped through traffic and passed Kenny Dillon on the seventh lap. He held a 10 car-length advantage over Dillon during the remaining circuits while Chris Stock stayed ahead of a tight battle for fourth.

After leading the first three circuits, Wink appeared destined to finish third. He made an inside pass heading into turn three on the final lap to retake second from Eric Kerns. Wink was awarded the win following Sooner's disqualification due to an illegal carburetor. Kerns and Wes Bonebrake were next.


LATE MODEL - 1. Rick Eckert; 2. Rodney Franklin; 3.Gary Stuhler; 4. Denny Bonebrake; 5. Marvin Winters; 6. Rusty Sites; 7. Tommy Armel; 8. Charlie Schaffer; 9. Alan Sagi; 10. Jim Bernheisel.

11. Jeff Rine; 12. Ray Kable, Jr.; 13. Rick Workman; 14. Tom Myers; 15. Les Hare.

LATE MODEL SPORTSMAN - 1.Mike Yeakle; 2. Jeremy Miller; 3. Alan Sagi; 4. Wayne Walls , Jr.; 5. Barry Miller; 6. Richard Walls; 7. Darryl Burkholder; 8. Doug Paxson; 9. Don Zechman; 10. Pete Weaver.

11. Richard Clipp; 12. Dave Neff; 13. Frank Howery; 14. Todd Bowers; 15. John Giannine.

PURE STOCK - 1. Doug Bennett; 2. Kenny Dillon; 3. Chris Stock; 4. Mike Warrenfeltz; 5. Ricky Harbaugh; 6. Kim Ramer; 7. Bryan Kerns; 8. Matt Pastor; 9. Mark Vegh; 10. Randy Rowe.

11. Bruce Leibowitz; 12. Tommy Cordell; 13. David Larkin; 14. Dean Holmes; 15. Gary Dennis.

FOUR CYLINDER - 1. Derek Wink; 2. Eric Kerns; 3. Wes Bonebrake; 4. Dave Obitts; 5. Brian Miller; 6. Mike Warrenfeltz; 7. C. J. McAbee; 8. Eric Mellott; 9. Greg Gunter; 10.Vance Williams.

11. Richard Gwizdale; 12. Bobby Jones; 13. Art Jerin II; 14. Spence Leonard; 15. P.J. Rowland.

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