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Spence meets challenge by holding off Stuhler

September 05, 2010|By C.J. LOVELACE/Staff Correspondent

Tire choice is so important at Hagerstown Speedway, especially if you want to be fast.

With that said, nobody could catch J.T. Spence on Saturday night.

Spence grabbed the lead from Tyler Armstrong on the fourth lap before fighting off Gary Stuhler's late charges to earn the win in the 44-lap 25th Annual McBee/Hays Championship, his first Late Model since 2008 at Hagerstown.

"Whenever that guy (Stuhler) is behind you, the only thing you don't want to do is make a mistake," said Spence of Hagerstown's winningest driver. "That's what he lives for. That's the best in the business behind you."

Spence, of Winchester, Va., opened a commanding lead about midway through as Stuhler positioned himself in second before several late cautions bunched the field. It looked like what Stuhler needed to catch the speedy Spence, but the choice of tires held him back.

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"That's the biggest thing here," said Stuhler, of Greencastle, Pa. "Everybody's gotta run the same right rear tire, so it's kinda like a guessing game on the left rear tire and that's what gives you traction coming off the corner."

Stuhler said a harder left rear tire was being used, which performed better on longer green-flag runs, but made it almost impossible to get a jump on Spence on the late restarts.

"We had that one long green. I felt like I could run him down a little bit, but, like I said, once those yellows came, it killed it," said Stuhler.

After Spence and Stuhler, Alan Sagi finished third, Dylan Yoder came home fourth and Roy Deese Jr. rounded out the top five. Tyler Hershey, Frankie Plessinger, Mike Lupfer, Marvin Winters and Jim Yoder completed the top 10.

By finishing seventh, Plessinger wrapped up his first career track championship after losing last year's title to Deese by just one point. This time, Plessinger had a 94-point bulge over Sagi.

"It really feels good," said Plessinger, who got a silly-string shower from Deese on the front stretch after the race. "That last year, I would have rather lost by 100 points versus that one point."

Spence, Armstrong and Deese won their respective heats. Dave Williams took the consolation race.

In the Late Model Sportsman main event, it was only fitting that the Weavers met in Victory Lane.

Rookie driver Justin Weaver, of Williamsport, led flag-to-flag to take his first career victory and his father, Pete Weaver, finished his 2010 championship bid with a solid third-place finish.

"It feels great. We hit it just right tonight," said Justin Weaver. "I have to thank the crew. They work so hard to get this thing running good. The car was great."

Veteran Richard Walls, who couldn't find a way to get past Justin Weaver, ran second for the majority of the 20-lap race, before finishing as the runner-up.

"I knew Richard was back there, but the car was so good, I thought we had him covered," the rookie said.

Even though Pete Weaver notched his first career track championship after 17 years of racing, he was overjoyed for his youngest son's win.

"This is actually how I'd have wanted it," said Pete Weaver, who bested Terry Flaherty by 140 points for the track title. "I would have liked to have been racing him for the win, but I'll take it like this."

Glenn Elliott finished fourth and Paul Cursey took fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Scott Palmer, Rodney Walls, Terry Flaherty, Chad Myers and Wayne Walls Jr.

A trio of Walls -- Richard, Rodney and Wayne Walls Jr. -- won the heat races.

Hagerstown's Dave Stouffer Jr. continued his hot streak at the speedway by overpowering early leader Danny Beavers for a 15-lap win in the evening's first feature.

Numerous cautions marred the race, including a first-lap wreck that sent several to the pit area. Mike Warrenfeltz won his fifth career Pure Stock track championship by rebounding for a solid fifth-place finish after being caught in the wreck.

"It was a long race; sweating it out," said Stouffer, who got married earlier on Saturday. "I didn't think we had it tonight."

Brian Miller took second, followed by Beavers, Steve Lowery and Warrenfeltz. Kenny Dillon, Frank Dibella, Kevin Koontz, Randy Kline and Wayne Hawbaker took the top 10 spots.

Warrenfeltz joined Stouffer in Victory Lane after the race after wrapping up his fifth Hagerstown title by almost 200 points over Lowery.

"This is the fifth championship, and there is no more. Let these guys who have never won them, win them," said Warrenfeltz, of Hagerstown. "I'll just come up and collect a win every now and then."

All three track champions will be featured in the header on the homepage at http://www.hagerstownspeedway.com, the speedway's Web site, next season.

"Krazy" Kenny Thomas finished the night by winning the 30-lap Enduro Dash, his fifth win in Hagerstown seven races this year.

Many were on hand for the action Saturday, including Maryland's republican candidate for governor, Brian Murphy, who served as the guest flagman for the Pure Stock feature.

This Saturday, the track welcomes the Three State Flyers Finale for the Late Model Open division plus the Silver Spring Super Sportsman and a 20-lap race for the top 20 in points. Racing starts at 7 p.m.

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