ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. – For drivers such as Tim Wagaman and Freddie Rahmer, the significance of Saturday’s Ice Breaker at Lincoln Speedway depended on their perspective.
Modest teams, like Wagaman at Travis Esh Motorsports, savor the complete reward of winning central Pennsylvania’s opening race. The slate is clean, the crowd is typically in tune, and the atmosphere was filled with anticipation.
It’s all the ingredients that only elevate frugal squads like Wagaman’s.
“I don’t think an Ice Breaker relates to the National Open or anything like that … but an Ice Breaker is a nice one,” Wagaman said after winning the event Saturday at Lincoln Speedway. “It’s the first race of the year. Everyone is watching. You see the atmosphere. It’s a cool deal.”
For Rahmer, as well as Danny Dietrich, Saturday’s outlook depended on the pill draw.
Rahmer was scheduled to start 16th in the 30-lap feature, but decided to start-and-park since the track provided unfavorable conditions for someone starting toward the rear.
“The way the track was, it didn’t make sense,” said Rahmer, who was credited with a 26th-place finish.
“These day races are more situational than anything,” Rahmer tipped before the race.
Dietrich, meanwhile, drew the highest pill and only logged nine laps in the feature. Central Pennsylvania’s winningest driver from a year ago ran 18th before he pulled in the pits, taking home a paycheck that paid the same from 16th on back.
Rahmer and Dietrich didn’t think much of Saturday, but Wagaman, Kyle Moody, and Tim Glatfelter sure did. For Wagaman, it lifted the weight of a six-year winless drought and the moved the pressure of getting win No. 1 of the season out of the way.
“I think it makes your tensions go down,” Wagaman said after winning the Ice Breaker on Saturday. “You get [a win], and you calm down and drive.”
For Moody, an Ice Breaker ranks high on his list of events he wants to win, largely because of the exposure. The 30-year-old finished second on Saturday, the fifth straight year he’s finished in the top-seven of the Ice Breaker.
Moody finds no consolation in this stat, though, especially since he started on the pole Saturday and lost the lead five laps in.
“I just want one of these opening day Ice Breaker wins so damn bad,” Moody said. “We’ve been close so many times.”
Glatfelter, meanwhile, cashed in on a third-place finish. Last year, he finished on the podium just once in 27 races.
– Lincoln Speedway held a moment of silence prior to Saturday’s events, honoring racing figures who lost their lives over the winter break.
At the top of that list was Mike Yeaple, 50, the longtime Lincoln Speedway track worker who officiated the start line in turn three. The track has now named the start line after Yeaple in his memory.
“He was a fixture here,” Lincoln Speedway co-owner Scott Gobrecht said. “He always had that sign, ‘At the line,’ pointing his rolled up yellow flag to.”
Others remembered included:
- Al Hamilton, 91, one of the winningest car owners in central Pennsylvania history
- Bob Jones, 89, the former promoter of Williams Grove Speedway
- Randy Lisi, 68, a long-time sprint car owner
- Ed Powell, 84, a long-time late model and sprint car owner
- Stan Lobitz, 86, a long-time supporter of central Pennsylvania sprint car racing
- Bobby Rudisill, 51, a former sprint car driver
- Nathan Durbarow, 63, one of the most decorated late model racers in the south-central Pennsylvania area
– Tim Shaffer finished 12th from 24th in his Central Pennsylvania debut for Heffner Racing Enterprises.
If it wasn’t for a bad pill draw, Shaffer, who was the fastest in hot laps, might have been the car to beat Saturday at Lincoln Speedway.
By the race’s first stoppage on lap five, Shaffer had rocketed 10 spots to 14th before maintaining over the final 25 laps.
– Matt Campbell placed fifth in his first race of the new year in the Premier Racing Team No. 21, the same car Brian Montieth raced to eight Lincoln Speedway track titles with.
Campbell challenged for the lead with under 10 laps to go, but was subsequently knocked out of the line, losing three spots in the closing stages.
– Anthony Macri plotted his way to a sixth-place effort from 12th. Last year, Lincoln Speedway was a weakness for the 21-year-old, who won eight of his nine 410 sprint car features at Port Royal Speedway.
A solid run like Saturday will only help Macri once he returns to bigger shows at the speedway later in the year.
– Brandon Rahmer finished seventh from 14th, while Justin Peck salvaged ninth from 18th.
– Pennsylvania-based teams Kerry Madsen, Brent Marks, Lucas Wolfe, and Brock Zearfoss did not show up to Saturday’s Ice Breaker.
Madsen, who is driving Michael Barshinger’s familiar No. 24 this year, stayed home in Knoxville, Iowa, over the weekend. He is planning to race Lincoln Speedway next Saturday and the Port Royal Speedway opener next Sunday.
Marks, meanwhile, will race the next six NOS Energy Drink World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series races, through the Drydene Texas Two-Step at Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, on March 19-20.
– Jordan Mackison raced the iconic Apple Motorsports No. 12 for the first time since 2014 in the final race last year on Nov. 14 at BAPS Motor Speedway.
The 23-year-old returned to action Saturday in the Ice Breaker, not in the Apple No. 12, but in his No. 1080 family car.
Mackison said that nothing has progressed regarding a potential revival of Apple Motorsports since the team’s one-off return with accomplished crew chief Lee Stauffer last November.
Mackison is set to race for his family team on a part-time basis this season.