BEDFORD, Pa. (Sept. 29) — There couldn’t have been a much more appropriate winner of Bedford Speedway’s richest Super Late Model ever than Jeff Rine.
Defending his home turf in convincing fashion, the five-time and reigning track champion from Danville, Pa., stormed forward from the 10th starting spot to grab the lead from Ross Robinson of Georgetown, Del., on lap 36 and waltzed from there to a runaway victory worth $15,000 in Saturday night’s inaugural 60-lap Keystone Cup event.
Driving the Elbin family’s Hershey-powered Longhorn Chassis that he has campaigned weekly at the half-mile Bedford oval for more than a decade, Rine, 41, topped his previous personal-best first-place check of $10,000 earned twice at his longtime home track of Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway. His car owners — Bob Elbin Sr. and his sons, Bob Jr. and Tim — exceeded their previous richest victory as well, tripling the $5,000 they earned for wins with Rine at Bedford in 2008 and Hesston (Pa.) Speedway in ’11.
“It’s so cool for the Padula family to schedule this for the locals and that some professional didn’t come in here and steal the money,” Rine said of the Bedford promoters and the fact that no full-time national touring series regulars entered the lucrative, unsanctioned two-day show. “That’s really cool they did that. We really appreciate it.
“It means so much (to win $15,000) because there’s three of them funding (the race team) out of their pockets, Tim, Bobby and Bob. You can’t count on winning money like this to get ready for the next year, so hopefully now we can build the car better for next year and make everything better.”
Rine, who tallied his third consecutive Bedford points crown in 2018, dominated the feature’s late stages, defeating Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., by a commanding margin of 4.536 seconds. The 16-lap stretch of caution-free racing that capped the A-main allowed Rine to build over a straightaway edge on the 26-year-old Hubbard, who finished second after leading laps 1-11 and then later overtaking Robinson for the runner-up spot on lap 38.
Robinson, 28, settled for third after winning a semi-feature on Friday night and leading laps 12-35 of the headliner. Sixth-starter Alex Ferree of Saxonburg, Pa., finished fourth in his family-owned machine and eighth-starter Gene Knaub of Dover, Pa., placed fifth after his attempts to overtake Ferree in the final circuits fell short.
Rine’s weekend actually began rather quietly on Friday with a seventh-fastest qualifying effort in his group and a fourth-place finish in the second 16-lap semi-feature. But while he didn’t make much noise, he went to sleep feeling good about his prospects in the finale.
“I was off in time trials, which put us back,” Rine said. “After time trials, we put stuff on the car that we ran at Selinsgrove the week before (when he charged from 17th to finish fifth in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series A-main in his Jeff and Kathy Kurtz-owned No. 2J) — because these cars are identical to the 2 cars — so after that semi-feature I knew we had a good piece. Even though the top (lane) was dominant, I could run on the bottom and stay with ‘em.”
Rine flexed his muscle with the big money on the line, hustling into fifth place by lap 18 of the 60-lapper and overtaking Amanda Whaley of Millsboro, Del., for fourth five circuits later. He then found himself nearly a straightaway behind Robinson, Hubbard and Ferree, but he ran them down in short order and disposed of them even quicker, running the inside groove past Ferree for third on lap 33, Hubbard for second on lap 35 and Robinson for the top spot as lap 36 was scored.
The remainder of the distance was simply a joy ride for Rine, who was in a league of his own as he easily pulled away following four restarts between laps 38 and 44.
“Tonight was one of them cars that you could probably have put anybody in it and they could’ve drove it to the front,” Rine said of his No. 92 mount. “It just felt that good. I felt good anywhere. I could run that top at the beginning and picked a couple off, and then I could run through the middle and run on the bottom.
“I passed them three in front of me on the bottom (to gain command). They were just running that middle and I just kept working that bottom. I was real good on the bottom, in the brown coming off the corners, and I just got by them.”
Tire wear, which is usually an issue in longer races at Bedford, didn’t even worry Rine.
“The car was so good I wasn’t spinning the tires, so I wasn’t wearing ‘em off,” said Rine, who recorded his fourth win of 2018 and the 26th of his career at Bedford. “For how good the car was, it doesn’t kill the tires.
“It’s just one of them things where you put everything together on the biggest night of the year. It all worked out.”
Hubbard, who scored an $8,200 win at Bedford in July’s Billy Winn Classic, was blown away by the ease with which Rine sailed by both him and Robinson to seize control of the race.
“He was in another zip code compared to the rest of us,” said Hubbard, who started from the pole in his XR1 Rocket. “All my focus was on Ross and trying to get back to him and we were slowly reeling him back in, so the last thing on my mind was somebody catching us and driving by us. But by the time (Rine) was next to me, he was by me and by Ross and gone before I even knew what was going on.
“He was definitely better, and I think he had a harder (compound) tire than I did,” he added. “I ran a softer tire and I knew he was better, so I just wanted to make sure I didn’t blow out. Second paid good ($6,000) so I didn’t want to lose that.”
Hubbard realized he should have gone harder with his tire choice, but he didn’t think that would have turned the tables on Rine.
“The tire I ran is what we won on the past four times we’ve won here, and (Rine) put on a harder tire than that,” Hubbard said. “But there were other cars that ran that tire and weren’t nearly as good as him, so he definitely was doing something right … and he’s really good here.
“I’m happy for him,” he continued. “Jeff’s a great guy, his wife Shelley, they’re really good people, so if anybody’s gonna win, I’m definitely cool with it being Jeff.”
Robinson offered similar sentiments after claiming a $3,600 third-place finish in his family-owned Longhorn machine.
“We were on the same thing (tire) as him — he’s Mr. Bedford for a reason,” said Robinson, who started fourth. “But I got to thank Jeff a lot, too, because he’s part of the reason that I’ve run better this year. I’ve come up in his area a few times and we’ve become good friends. He’s given me a lot of pointers and helped, so I owe him and Tim (Elbin) and them a lot for helping me. They’ve helped me with stuff that they didn’t need to and I can’t thank them enough.”
Nevertheless, leading 24 laps got Robinson dreaming of by far the biggest victory of his career. He had certainly put himself in position to capture the race after shooting past outside polesitter Tyler Bare of Rockbridge Baths, Va., on the opening lap to grab second and overtaking Hubbard for the top spot on lap 12.
“At the start of it, I seen Austin slide Tyler and I knew right then that was my shot to get Tyler,” Robinson said. “I knew if I didn’t, I probably wasn’t gonna get him. I hated to be that aggressive with him, but at the same time, there’s a lot of money on the line and I would expect him to do the same thing.
“I could see I was maintaining with Austin, and then I started tracking him down. I felt like I had a shot to get him so I knew I had to take it. And then when I was up front — for however long it was, because I stopped looking at the (scoreboard) just because I was trying to focus on what I was doing — I thought, Man, I wonder if I can even get beat? Every time I come around and looked at (crewman) Logan, the (signal) sticks were staying that way or even gaining a little bit, so I just thought, Man, maybe!
“But then we caught that lapped traffic (after the halfway point) and I think they just weren’t sure … I mean, I can’t blame lapped cars, but it’s tough because you don’t know what’s coming behind you, and that one lapped car drove his left sides up on the bank and kicked stuff out and that’s right when Jeff got me (for the lead).
“But at the same time, Jeff was probably gonna get me regardless,” he added. “He was good. It’s just a testament to him and Tim (Elbin) and what they can do up here. I’m happy for ‘em. They’ve done a lot for me, so I’m happy to see them get a win like this. They’re sort of a small-budget team like myself so that kind of money can do them a lot of good.”
Six caution flags slowed the A-main, the most serious being Friday fast-timer Bare's lap-39 pounding of the inside wall on the backstretch entering turn three after a scrape with another car damaged his Bryan Klinedinst-owned machine’s steering and caused him to lose control. Bare, who wasn’t injured in the accident that left his car with significant damage, had slipped to the back end of the top 10 after starting second because he was struggling with a tire-compound choice that was too hard.
Other caution flags flew on lap 13 (Kyle Lear stopped in turn four with terminal mechanical trouble); the lap-13 restart; lap 38 (Reese Masiello stopped on the backstretch); lap 40 (Jason Covert slowed in turn two); and lap 44 (Dylan Yoder pulled up lame in turn four).
Keystone Cup feature lineup
Row 1: Austin Hubbard, Tyler Bare
Row 2: Amanda Whaley, Ross Robinson
Row 3: Allen Brannon, Alex Ferree
Row 4: Jason Covert, Gene Knaub
Row 5: Matt Cosner, Jeff Rine
Row 6: Andy Haus, Bryan Bernheisel
Row 7: Daryl Hills, D.J. Troutman
Row 8: Nathan Lasalle, Dylan Yoder
Row 9: Robbie Black, Kyle Lear
Row 10: Dan Stone, Dan Angelicchio
Row 11: Matt Sponaugle, Reese Masiello
Row 12: Ralph Morgan Jr., Justin Weaver
Row 13: Chuck Clise
First B-main finish (12 laps; top 2 transfer): Matt Sponaugle, Ralph Morgan Jr., Chuck Clise, Kirk Baker, Tom Decker Jr., Travis Cottle, Dylan Stake.
Second B-main finish (12 laps; top 2 transfer): Reese Masiello, Justin Weaver, Matt Parks, Dave Stamm, Dave Troutman.
(12 laps; top 2 transfer)
Row 1: Matt Sponaugle, Ralph Morgan Jr.
Row 2: Cuck Clise, Dylan Stake
Row 3: Kirk Baker, Bob Gordon
Row 4: Larry Baer, Paul Cursey
Row 5: Spike Moore, Tom Decker Jr.
Row 6: Travis Cottle, Coleby Frye
Row 7: Mark Pettyjohn
Row 1: Marvin Winters, Justin Weaver
Row 2: Reese Masiello, Matt Parks
Row 3: Travis Stickley, Dave Stamm
Row 4: Clinton Hersh, Darras Deneen
Row 5 Andy Anderson, Scott Palmer
Row 6: Kyle Lee, Jeff Johnson
Row 7: Dave Troutman
Charging off the outside of the front row, Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., shot by polesitter Tyler Bare of Rockbridge Baths, Va., at the initial green flag and never looked back en route to winning Friday night’s 6-lap dash at Bedford Speedway.
Hubbard’s $200 triumph earned him the pole position for Saturday’ inaugural 60-lap Keystone Cup, which boasts a track-record $15,000 first-place prize. He crossed the finish line 1.219 seconds in front of Bare, who will start from the outside pole in Saturday’s A-main after steering Bryan Klinedinst’s No. 43A to a new track record in qualifying earlier in the night.
“I definitely feel good,” Hubbard said of his XR1 Rocket machine. “The track’s kind of more my style tonight. It’s never really this fast or wide-open, so that helped. We’ve got a big motor so I like to be able to run hard.
“It’ll be different tomorrow, but we can race both ends — the wide-open or when it’s rubbered and hard. We’ve run in all kinds of conditions here. The only thing I’m worried about, if we get the lead on lap one, it’s gonna be 60 laps of stress — well, I hope, anyway.”
Hubbard enters the weekend just over two months removed from an $8,200 victory in Bedford’s Billy Winn Classic. He’s expecting Saturday’s track surface to more closely resemble his successful mid-summer visit than Friday’s heavy conditions, which resulted from soaking overnight rain.
“The track (in July) was totally the opposite of what it was tonight, but that’s the way it’ll probably be tomorrow,” Hubbard said. “We’ll have to put some hard tires on and take care of them. It’s more of a battle of attrition here it seems — not that you tear stuff up, but it’s definitely hard on tires. You got to know when to use ‘em and when to save ‘em. Being in the lead is a good place to save ‘em.”
Delaware’s Amanda Whaley and Ross Robinson, who have been dating for several years, finished third and fourth, respectively, in the dash after they both recorded flag-to-flag wins in Friday’s 16-lap semi-features. They were start side-by-side in the second row of Saturday’s feature.
Allen Brannon of Winchester, Va., and Alex Ferree of Saxonburg, Pa. — the runners-up in the semi-features — completed the finishing order in the dash.
Dash finish: 1. Austin Hubbard, 2. Tyler Bare, 3. Amanda Whaley, 4. Ross Robinson, 5. Allen Brannon, 6. Alex Ferree.
First semi-feature finish (16 laps; top 9 transfer): 1. Ross Robinson, 2. Alex Ferree, 3. Jason Covert, 4. Matt Cosner, 5. Andy Haus, 6. Daryl Hills, 7. Nathan LaSalle, 8. Robbie Black, 9. Dan Stone, 10. Matt Sponaugle, 11. Ralph Morgan Jr., 12. Chuck Clise, 13. Dylan Stake, 14. Kirk Baker, 15. Bob Gordon, 16. Larry Baer, 17. Paul Cursey, 18. Spike Moore, 19. Tom Decker Jr., 20. Travis Cottle, 21. Coleby Frye, 22. Mark Pettyjohn.
Second semi-feature finish (16 laps; top 9 transfer): 1. Amanda Whaley, 2. Allen Brannon, 3. Gene Knaub, 4. Jeff Rine, 5. Bryan Bernheisel, 6. D.J. Troutman, 7. Dylan Yoder, 8. Kyle Lear, 9. Dan Angelicchio, 10. Marvin Winters, 11. Justin Weaver, 12. Reese Masiello, 13. Matt Parks, 14. Travis Stickley, 15. Dave Stamm, 16. Clinton Hersh, 17. Darras Deneen, 18. Andy Anderson, 19. Scott Palmer, 20. Kyle Lee, 21. Jeff Johnson.
(16 laps; top 9 transfer to feature)
Row 1: Alex Ferree, Ross Robinson
Row 2: Coleby Frye, Andy Haus
Row 3: Jason Covert, Matt Cosner
Row 4: Matt Sponaugle, Daryl Hills
Row 5: Robbie Black, Nathan LaSalle
Row 6: Mark Pettyjohn, Ralph Morgan Jr.
Row 7: Chuck Clise, Dan Stone
Row 8: Paul Cursey, Dylan Stake
Row 9: Bob Gordon, Larry Baer
Row 10: Tom Decker Jr., Kirk Baker
Row 11: Spike Moore, Travis Cottle
Row 1: Amanda Whaley, Allen Brannon
Row 2: Gene Knaub, Bryan Bernheisel
Row 3: Dylan Yoder, Jeff Rine
Row 4: Kyle Lee, D.J. Troutman
Row 5: Kyle Lear, Dan Angelicchio
Row 6: Reese Masiello, Scott Palmer
Row 7: Andy Anderson, Matt Parks
Row 8: Justin Weaver, Dave Troutman
Row 9: Travis Stickley, Marvin Winters
Row 10: Darras Deneen, Dave Stamm
Row 11: Clinton Hersh, Jeff Johnson
Blistering a half-mile oval left heavy from soaking overnight rain, Tyler Bare of Rockbridge Baths, Va., established a new track record of 18.490 seconds in the evening's first qualifying group to earn the $200 DirtonDirt.com Fast Time Award.
Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., was quickest in the second group at 18.561 seconds, allowing him to join Bare as an automatic qualifier for Saturday night's $15,000-to-win feature. The group fast-timers do not have to run one of Friday's 16-lap semi-features, but they will hit the track later in the program to run a 6-lap dash with the top-two finishers from each semi to determine the top-six starting positions in Saturday's headliner.
Tyler Bare (43A), Rockbridge Baths, Va., 18.490
Alex Ferree (4), Saxonburg, Pa., 18.623
Ross Robinson (7R), Georgetown, Del., 18.666
Coleby Frye (0F), Dover, Pa., 18.668
Andy Haus (76), Hamburg, Pa., 18.811
Jason Covert (72), York Haven, Pa., 18.870
Matt Cosner (66C), Ridgeley, W.Va., 19.074
Matt Sponaugle (8), Wiley Ford, W.Va., 19.134
Daryl Hills (7H), Great Mills, Md., 19.261
Robbie Black (01), Queen, Pa., 19.276
Nathan LaSalle (68), Everett, Pa., 19.309
Mark Pettyjohn (8Ball), Milton, Del., 19.337
Ralph Morgan (44), Mount Union, Pa., 19.341
Chuck Clise (5), Frostburg, Md., 19.516
Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 19.544
Paul Cursey (000), Baltimore, Md., 19.568
Dylan Stake (D19), Mapleton, Pa., 19.607
Bob Gordon (31), Keyser, W.Va., 19.633
Larry Baer (0B), York, Pa., 19.822
Tom Decker Jr. (43), Bellwood, Pa., 19.875
Kirk Baker (11), Hustontown, Pa., 19.934
Spike Moore (48W), Defiance, Pa., 20.444
Travis Cottle (32), Hopewell, Pa., 21.283
Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del., 18.561
Amanda Whaley (4W), Millsboro, Del., 18.628
Allen Brannon (30), Winchester, Va., 18.700
Gene Knaub (1), Dover, Pa., 18.794
Bryan Bernheisel (119B), Jonestown, Pa., 18.841
Dylan Yoder (24), Selinsgrove, Pa., 18.883
Jeff Rine (92), Danville, Pa., 18.892
Kyle Lee (2T), Mercersburg, Pa., 18.900
D.J. Troutman (7), Hyndman, Pa., 18.965
Kyle Lear (151), Severna Park, Pa., 19.053
Dan Angelicchio (14a), Mt. Pleasant, Pa., 19.137
Reese Masiello (22R), Centreville, Md., 19.25
Scott Palmer (86), Greencastle, Pa., 19.318
Andy Anderson (41), Bunker Hill, W.Va., 19.360
Matt Parks (15), Three Springs, Pa., 19.488
Justin Weaver (72W), Williamsport, Md., 19.495
Dave Troutman (7T), Hyndman, Pa., 19.526
Travis Stickley (32), Keyser, W.Va., 19.855
Marvin Winters (46), McConnellsburg, Pa., 20.034
Darras Deneen (22), Bedford, Pa., 20.230
Dave Stamm (10), Mifflinburg, Pa., 20.377
Clinton Hersh (16), Somerset, Pa., 20.863
Jeff Johnson (72J), 20.874