STEWART, Ohio – A full house, a timely Harvest Moon, and a great field of 31 AMRA Tru-Tech Late Models provided the backdrop for Josh McGuire, who won his fourth Harvest 50 Saturday night at Skyline Speedway.
McGuire brought home the $5,000 first prize in the 29th running of the ‘Harvest 50’ 50-lap event, finishing well ahead of second place Rod Conley.
Despite a pair of cautions, the race was run in just 20 minutes and thirty seconds. McGuire won the Harvest 50 in 2006, 2008 and 2009.
Claiming the AMRA MALTA Road Warrior 30-lap finale was defending two-time AMRA National champion Kenny Johnson, while Andre Layfield claimed the 25-lap sprint-car main.
“The key tonight was what we did before the feature, and us thrashing around in the pits,” smiled a relieved McGuire. “Last week at Eldora the car did the same thing and we just couldn’t find the problem. We changed carburetors, MSD boxes, needles, floats, plugs and it just kept missing. Right before we came out I put the timing light on it back there where it was dark. Just by accident I saw the number one plug wire was arching across to the motor. I put a new wire on it and the problem was solved. That may have saved us tonight.”
“We hooked up good just about anywhere, but the car was fastest on the bottom. All I had to do was drive.”
McGuire and Conley paced the field to Todd Gorrell’s green flag start.
The duo battled side-by-side for nearly five laps, when Conley faded in the high groove and McGuire began his march to victory. Defending race champ Eddie Carrier, Jr. quickly jumped up the ladder from 9th to fourth behind Tyler Carpenter, who blitzed from 7th-to-third.
Meanwhile, Ralph Withem appeared to have his 15W wound to perfection with a 15th-to-eighth place run that eventually was stonewalled in a heated battle with Andy Bond.
Chris Garnes had dropped back to 8th at one point. before the first caution waved for a tangle between one of the night’s top qualifiers Ricky Williams and Dan Morrison.
As Conley settled in behind McGuire’s GPC Engines/Mastersbuilt, realizing he had nothing for a challenge, the pair of 28’s – Carpenter and Carrier – battled fiercely.
Garnes moved high, mounting a charge back toward the front, picking off Bond and Dohm, then engaging in a three-way battle with Carpenter and Carrier.
Just as the action was heating up Anthony Huber caught an inside tire and went airborne, becoming the second casualty of the race on lap 14. The next 36 laps went green-to-checkered with McGuire half-tracking second place Conley, lapping every car up to eighth place Withem, and even lapping some cars twice.
The dominant performance by McGuire just left Conley shaking his head.
“Josh was just better than me tonight,” said Rod Conley matter-of-factly. “I thought I had something for him early, moved up beside him and gave him a run for a few laps, then he checked out. I just went to the bottom and tried to stay there to pick up second. Finishing one and two this weekend has been a pretty good deal.”
Defending Harvest 50 winner Eddie Carrier, Jr. said, “The first few laps everyone was trying to find a groove and I was able to get under them. I had a good run on the bottom, but then everyone found that the bottom was fast. The only way I was going to get around Rod (Conley) was to spin him and I wasn’t going to do that.”