Kunsman Sweeps Linda's Micro Sprint Mains; Carraghan Is Slingshot Victor
TK Goes Six-for Six (Including Heat Race Wins) On Friday
by Barry Angstadt
Jonestown, PA - Friday, April 6, at Linda's Speedway...the 2018 Groundbreaker event...the track's season opener that will go down as a picture-perfect night for Tommy Kunsman.
TK, the Bethlehem pilot who captured three Micro Sprint point titles at Linda's in 2017, continued his mastery of the quarter-mile in Jonestown, Pa. with a magical run in the three feature races he entered on Friday. Kunsman won all three races, including his very first USAC Eastern Midget triumph. That was his first main event of the evening, and he followed it up with victories in the Hoosier Tire Wingless 600 and Fredericksburg Eagle Hotel 270 Micro Sprint features, making him the first driver to ever sweep the Midget, 600, and 270 features on the same night at Linda's.
Dave Carraghan won a sheet metal swapping 20-lap main for the All Star Slingshots.
With 27 of the wingless 600's on hand for the Groundbreaker, Kunsman started the night by winning his heat race, which put him on the pole for the 25-lap Hoosier Tire main event. A skirmish on the initial circuit sent several cars to the rear of the field, including Kyle Spence. When they got down to racing, Kunsman set the pace over Tyler Brehm. While Brehm shoved the nose of his No. 21R under the leader on occasion, Kunsman was able to repel each challenge and hang on to the top spot. His job got a bit easier when Brehm succumbed to mechanical ills while still in the runner-up position on lap nine. Kunsman romped to the victory from that point, winning handily over Dakota Barlet, who authored an impressive second place effort. Barlet held off Kyle Lick for almost the entire 25-lap distance, forcing Lick to settle for third ahead of Spence, who rebounded from his misfortune on the original start to finish fourth. Billy Koch, in his first ride in the Metzger M80, took the checkered flag in fifth.
Kunsman, Brehm, and Cale Mutter won wingless 600 heat races. Joe Nemeth scored the consolation race victory.
The Fredericksburg Eagle Hotel 270 feature was pretty much a repeat of the 600 Micro Sprint scenario...Kunsman flew to the win in his heat race, placing him on the inside of the front row for the 25-lap feature. He blasted to the lead as the best battle of the entire evening developed behind him. Scott Gingrich and Brandon Firestine went wheel-to-wheel and wing-to-wing for the runner-up position, trading that spot for several tours before Gingrich finally passed and cleared Firestine on a restart with five revolutions complete. Firestine then stalked Gingrich for the next ten trips as Kunsman danced away to a big lead. With 15 circuits scored, Firestine roared back around Gingrich to claim second once again. Kunsman waltzed to another win as he opened defense of his 2017 track championship in the 270 Micro division. Firestine held off Gingrich for runner-up money, with Mason Peters and Mike Boyer rounding out the top five.
Kunsman and Gingrich were heat race winners in the 270 class on Friday.
It should be noted that Kunsman was a perfect six-for-six on Friday night, winning his heat races and features in the Midget, wingless 600, and winged 270 divisions.
Dave Carraghan, from Emmaus, Pa., gave himself an early birthday present by winning an exciting 20-lap main for the All Star Slingshots. Dave Labe shot out to the early lead as Carraghan and Brett Bieber tussled for the runner-up spot. When Labe got hung up in lapped traffic, Carraghan made his move for the lead in turns three and four. He and Labe rubbed and washed up the track, allowing Bieber to make it a three-wide scrum for the top spot. Labe went back in front with Bieber now second. When Bieber ducked under Labe a few laps later, he washed up the track in the fourth turn and Carraghan accelerated past both of them to take the lead. With two to go, Labe attempted to get Carraghan out of shape with a "bump and run" maneuver in three and four, but it backfired and Labe spun. Carraghan led the final two laps to win on the eve of his birthday, with Bieber finishing second ahead of Justin Thompson, Reese Nowotarski, and eleventh-starting Anthony Raisner.
Slingshot heat winners included Labe and Justin Thompson.