"It took a long time," said a jubilant Jesse Wentz in victory lane after winning his first super sprint feature at Lincoln Speedway on Saturday night. "We just kept banging away and we finally got one. There are so many cars capable of winning here. We won at the [Williams] Grove, Susquehanna and Trail-Way, but we could never win one here.
"It's weird it took so long," added Wentz. "We have been in the top five pretty much, have a lot of seconds; we are just happy that we finally got one. Maybe, now that we got the first one, more will come."
Wentz's racing program has been slowly coming together to where he is in the best position of his 12-year career.
"I think we got it together. We really have been consistent so far this year," said Wentz. "We have a brand new car and some good sponsors with us this year."
Wentz, 34, is coming off his best year, so it was only a matter of time before he would break the win column at Lincoln. Last year, he finished third in points and is near the top this season. He has a third and was second to Woodbine's Cris Eash two weeks ago. While Wentz had a win at Williams Grove, something that many drivers never accomplish, it was a win at Lincoln that he wanted.
The win didn't come easy for the Manchester native. Wentz started sixth and passed race-long leader Jeff Rohrbaugh exiting the fourth turn on the fourth lap to take the lead. Then he survived the final 21 caution-filled laps to pick up his elusive Lincoln Speedway feature win.
"Man, I thought it would never end," Wentz said of the race that had two red flags for multi-car pileups and eight cautions. "Once I was in the lead I was never really challenged. On each restart I was able to pull away from the field, but I was still worried with all those cautions. It was just giving everyone another shot at me."
"The whole team was happy," said Wentz about his Carroll County crew of Charlie Singer, Kenny Stambaugh, Joe Topper and engine builder Eddie Singer. "They have worked so hard. We needed to get this one."
Before this year, Wentz had built his own cars, but this season the team purchased a factory car from Gambler chassis.
"Last year we built our own car, but it takes too much time," said Wentz. "We went to something pretty much like my own so we wouldn't be searching for the right setup. We still make the rest of our equipment, like the axles and nerf bars."
Wentz is off to the best start of his career and has a great shot at winning the track championship at Lincoln, but he also is in a position where he can do some traveling this year. He has his eyes, like everyone in sprint car racing, on the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals in August, the World Series of sprint car racing. But for now, he will concentrate on Lincoln and do a little more racing at Williams Grove once he gets his second motor and car together.
Last weekend at Mason-Dixon Dragway, Anthony Battaglia of Union Bridge won the street class division in his 1987 Buick. Joey Mayne of Mount Airy was runner-up in the super E.T. class.
At 75-80 Dragway, two Westminster drivers met in the Class II finals, with Steve Dustin defeating Roger Jorss. Ed Talbert of Taneytown was a semifinalist. Joe Henry of Mount Airy was runner-up in Class I. In the motorcycle division, Malcolm Ford of Hampstead defeated Gene Belt of Taneytown.
In oval track racing, Jesse Wentz of Manchester won the super sprint feature at Lincoln Speedway. Brad McClelland of Westminster finished second in the special micro-sprint feature, followed by Steve Owings of Westminster in third. In the semi-lates, Randy Zechman of Westminster was sixth and his brother Mickey was third in the thunder car feature. Fred Cullum of Hampstead was ninth.
At Hagerstown Speedway, Charlie Schaffer of Hampstead was ninth in the late-model feature, Kenny Dillon of Owings Mills was fourth in the pure-stock feature and Mike Walls of Taneytown scored his second win in the 4-cylinder pure stock main event. At Winchester Speedway, Ernie Jones of Westminster was ninth in the late-model feature.
Pub Date: 5/05/96