"I kind of hate to win 'em that way, but I'll take it," grinned Malvern, Pa. driver Tony DiMattia from the winner's circle. "We were really good tonight, but we still didn't have anything for Tyler (Walton) and Shane (Lewis). But we were the best of the rest, and we were able to take advantage of it when they got together."
The 40-lap, Hollinger's Sports 'n Turf main event for the 600cc Micro-Sprints began with Tyler Walton bolting from the pole position to lead the early stages of the race. Shane Lewis, who started third, wrangled the runner-up spot from DiMattia when the No. 5D slid high in turn two with eight circuits complete and Lewis dashed past him as they exited the corner.
Lewis, the Honeybrook, Pa. native who now lives and works in Connecticut, chased down Walton as the leader negotiated heavy lapped traffic during a long stretch (from laps 2 through 28) of green flag action.
Over eleven consecutive trips around the banked oval, Walton - from Mifflintown, Pa. - and Lewis traded slide jobs at both ends of the speedway as they navigated in and around lapped cars. In jaw-dropping fashion, the duo raced side-by-side, inches apart, on the straightaways before the driver in the bottom lane threw yet another slider on his foe as they blasted through the corners.
At one point, Lewis used a slower car as a pick to trap Walton and snare the lead. It seemed, for just a few seconds, that it might be the move that would win the race for the driver of the Lewis Automotive, RAMM Trailers No. 55L. But Walton rallied once more, making his Rich Glosser Racing/ Hyper No. 70 scream into turns one and two, diving under then sliding up in front of Lewis to reclaim the top spot. Lewis would counter - again - in three and four.
As the lead pair completed the 28th tour and rocketed back into turn one, calamity struck as both drivers went for the same piece of real estate and collided. The second caution of the event was a nightmare for the front-running duo, as both Walton and Lewis were parked near the top of the banking, their cars knotted together after such a sensational fight for the lead. Both drivers were able to restart, but Walton dropped out after he was involved in another incident with five to go and Lewis wound up 14th, one lap down, after he spun in what became a three-car crash in turn four on the final tour.
With Walton and Lewis relegated to the rear after their tangle, Tony DiMattia inherited the lead and he made the most of his golden opportunity. Five additional restarts over the last 12 circuits, with 600 Speedweek rules dictating double-file restarts during the A-Mains, did not deter the young charger as he held off a determined Chris Panczner and Mike Dicely to record the $2,500 victory.
As the leader, DiMattia was allowed to choose which line, inside or outside, he wanted on each restart. He consistently picked the bottom, and he was never seriously challenged as Panczner and Dicely wrestled for runner-up honors.
"We were very good on the bottom," explained the winner, "the car had real good drive off the bottom and that's why I decided to stay down there for the restarts."
Panczner passed Jared Esh for second on a lap 33 restart, opening the door for Dicely to follow, then the two of them diced for second-place money with Panczner, from Elverson, Pa., winning that battle.
At the finish, it was DiMattia scoring his first career Clyde Martin victory and his very first PA 600 Speedweek triumph. He was almost a full second in front of Panczner, who held off Dicely for second.
Mike Rutherford, who needed to use a Speedweek provisional (highest driver in Lanco points who did not qualify) in order to start the A-Main after engine issues sidelined him in his first heat race, weaved his way from 25th to fourth in the 40-lapper.
Ryan Greth, subbing for Brian Carber in the Greth Racing/ Carber Lawncare No. 71, ran a solid race to finish fifth. Jared Esh, A.J. Michael, Jay Hartman, Ryan Hook, and Tim Iulg completed the top ten.
Heat races for the 54-car field went to Dicely, C.J. Tracy, Chris Gerhart, Ryan Morris, Bill Thomas, Kameron Morral, Greth, A.J. Michael, Walton, and Lewis. Steve Whary won the last-chance B-Main.
Per Speedweek rules, the 600's utilized a dual heat race, passing points system for qualifying. The top six drivers in qualifying points were eligible for a Cash Dash, with time trials determining the starting order for the Dash.
Tyler Walton accumulated the most points in the two sets of heat races, then set quick time to earn the pole for the Dash. He and DiMattia actually tied for quick time in the trials, but Walton's second lap was a tick faster than DiMattia's, so he was given the pole for the eight-lap Dash.
Walton led all the way to pick up the $300 for winning the Dash and thereby putting himself on the pole for the A-Main. DiMattia ($200) and Lewis ($100) chased him to the line in the Dash.
Walton also picked up the Weld Racing Fast Lap of the Feature Award by recording the single quickest lap in the A-Main. His quick time in the race was 11.034-seconds.