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Plessinger makes winning debut in Sportsman series

September 20, 2010|By C.J. LOVELACE/Staff Correspondent

Fresh off his first career Late Model track championship two weeks ago, the firsts kept rolling for Frankie Plessinger.

Plessinger, of Big Cove Tannery, Pa., won his first Late Model Sportsman division race in his first ever start on Saturday, scooting by Marvin Winters on the 10th lap then rolling to the 30-lap feature win at Hagerstown Speedway's 4th Annual Small Car Nationals.

Running in third, Plessinger got by Bruce Kane, who was running in second, before he brought out the caution when he struck the wall exiting the fourth turn on the eighth lap.

On the restart, Plessinger, who was able to make his car stick even in the higher grooves, couldn't be contained any longer as he flew by Winters and into the lead from his fourth-starting spot.

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"It felt good up there," said Plessinger. "Marvin was there too, and I just got a good start on the bottom and he must have messed up enough; then I slid up there. I was hoping I kept distance."

He did and then some, winning by more than two seconds over Winters.

"It was a good run," said Plessinger. "I've got to thank Doug Timmons for putting this together. It was a last-minute deal."

According to Timmons, the car Plessinger drove Saturday, which is for sale, has three wins and a runner-up finish in its only four races.

After Winters, Andy Fries finished third, followed by Steve Axtell Jr. and Ashley Barrett.

All qualifying for Saturday's main events were completed on Friday night. Caution-free throughout, the track was lightning quick with numerous cars turning record-breaking laps during time trials.

Kane, turning a quick lap of 19.285, broke the previous track record held by Andy Fries (20.133) by nearly a second. Fries set the record at the 2009 Nationals.

That trend held fast for the Pure Stock division as well. Eight more drivers spun circuits quicker than Dave Brown's previous record mark of 23.428 seconds.

Bob Gutshall was the quickest Friday (22.728) and set the pace early in Saturday's 25-lap feature, but Brian Duffy, of Bedford, Pa., overtook Gutshall on the 16th lap to cruise to a $2,000 payday.

His first career win at the track, Duffy was ecstatic to finally find a checkered flag at Hagerstown.

"I've been racing for 21 years, won at a lot of places, but never had much success here," said Duffy, who called the level of competition "unbelievable" for the annual event that drew over 100 cars. "I told my crew when we got here this weekend...the competition down here has really been stepped up."

Duffy was able to outlast a hard-charging Jamie Swank, who was using a high line by anyone in his way en route to a second-place finish. Mike Corbin, Mike Warrenfeltz and Brian Miller rounded out the top five.

Capping off the Nationals lineup, Richard Gwizdale Jr. went basically unchallenged to turn in a flag-to-flag victory in the 15-lap Four Cylinder feature.

"It was just an unbelievable night. I really don't know where to begin," said Gwizdale, of Inwood, W.Va., adding that they had to make a lot of changes to the car to compete in the Nationals, but they paid off.

The track is like the Mecca of area racing for the four-cylinder racers, according to Gwizdale.

"I'll never forget the first time I came to this track," he said. "I thought I was at Daytona. It was so big compared to everywhere else I ran. I know all the guys think the same."

Tommy Whitt came home second followed by John Stoll Jr. in third, Kevin Thomas in fourth and Greg Keister in fifth.

Also on the card for Saturday's events, Chris Ebersole, also out of Big Cove Tannery, Pa., won the 2nd Annual Derek Riley Enduro Championship. He took the lead on the 13th lap and cruised to the 72-lap win.

Concluding a busy night at the track, Teresa Koogler, of Thurmont, Md., won a special "Powder Puff" event in which women got behind the wheel of several cars to compete in time trials. Koogler defeated Dana Winters and Barbara Stamberg.

The speedway will remain idle until the Oct. 30-31 weekend when premier drivers in four divisions converge on Hagerstown for the 23rd annual Octoberfest 350. The event will feature 100 laps for late models, small block modifieds and big block modifieds, and 50 laps for the 410 sprint cars.

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