JENNERSTOWN, Pa. – Jennerstown Speedway Complex roared back to life on Saturday as the track launched its racing season, with Garry Wiltrout headlining the list of winners in the late model class.
A pair of former Jennerstown Speedway Champions launched from the front row of the 30-lap feature race for the Martella’s Pharmacies Late Model division. Wiltrout grabbed the lead when the green flag was displayed, as Barry Awtey settled into second place.
Wiltrout was a winner in 2019, and he immediately built up a lead of several car-lengths in round one of action for the new season. Awtey, a five-time champion, held down second place while the competition was heated behind him.
Jarred Barclay started in third position, but was quickly passed by defending Jennerstown Speedway Champion Teddy Gibala. Making a charge through the field early on was Ohio teenage phenom Albert Francis. Francis started in the 10th spot, but passed veteran Todd Price for fifth place nine laps into the event.
On lap 16, Barclay surrendered fourth position to Francis. Through the middle stages of the race, the top five remained Wiltrout, Awtey, Gibala, Francis and Barclay. A caution flag halted the action when Eldon King suffered a flat tire and nearly collided with Mike Hemminger.
With 10 laps remaining, the restart paired Wiltrout and Awtey side-by-side. Just one lap later, another spin by King created the same drama yet again. The cagy veterans, Wiltrout and Awtey, challenged one another mentally, with restart strategy two different times before the closing laps were contested.
Wiltrout accelerated away from Awtey’s machine in both cases. Gibala, the leading winner last season, snagged second spot from Awtey on lap 23. Hemminger, despite body damage, made a late race surge after struggling early in the event, and climbed into the top five.
Two-time Champion Wiltrout was able to keep Gibala more than two car lengths behind and score the opening night win at his home track. Gibala, Awtey, Francis and Hemminger completed the top-five.
Other winners on Saturday night included Anthony Aiello (Stoystown Auto Wrecking Modifieds), Casey Fleegle (Ron’s Collision Center Street Stocks), Dale Kimberly (Farmers Union Co-Op Chargers) and Jeff Vasos (Somerset Trust Company Fast ‘n Furious 4-Cylinders).