Times Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE -- Near perfect weather greeted fans and drivers at Lincoln Park Speedway on Saturday night and the racing ultimately matched the sunny skies in brilliance.
For sprint car owners, Steve and Carla Phillips, the story this season at Lincoln Park has been about near misses.
However, on Saturday night, Billy Puterbaugh Jr. broke his winless streak at the Putnamville oval this year and found himself in a familiar spot atop the points standings as well.
The Brownsburg, Ind. native pulled an impressive sweeping pass to edge past Kent Christian with just a few laps remaining and was able to hold off Christian to the checkered flag.
The win also served as a very nice Father's Day gift for Puterbaugh's father, who was in attendance, but also as a great birthday present as well.
Gaines was the aggressor from the start, drawing out to a solid lead ahead of Christian and Puterbaugh as Kimmel and Shane Hollingsworth slugged it out for fourth. Behind them, Ryan Hamilton and Link were putting on a side-by-side show for the crowd.
With a smooth racing surface under them and a cushion on top, drivers were able to pick the line that suited their setup and their strategy.
Gaines had his Pottorf Logging machine locked in early and worked his way through traffic while maintaining his lead ahead of Christian, who had his hands full with a blazing Puterbaugh, who was working every inch of the LPS oval looking for an opening.
That break came in the form of a spin by James Bradshaw at the halfway point.
On the restart, Puterbaugh drove the Green's Truck and Auto, Church Bros., Zore's, No. 71p also sponsored by Creative Design Embroider, deep into turn three and throttled past Christian out of the corner and set his sights on Gaines.
A spin by Hollingsworth brought out a late caution and set the stage for a frantic finish.
On the restart, Puterbaugh got a good jump to stay close to Gaines and set-up a huge run coming out of turn two and flashed into first past Gaines coming through turn three. Christian was close behind and was able to get a run for second with Hamilton in tow.
Puterbaugh kept the hammer down over the final couple of laps to earn his first LPS sprint win of the year ahead of Christian, Hamilton and Gaines. Kimmel took fifth ahead of Hollingsworth, who rocketed back to sixth after his spin. Russ Harper captured seventh ahead of Will Nedderman, Bradshaw and A.J. Martin.
In the UMP Modified feature, the battles between Paul Bumgardner and Travis Shoulders are becoming addictive to fans of the thrill-a-minute competitors.
Saturday was no different as Shoulders led through much of the feature, but unlike last week, when he walked away with the winner's share ahead of Bumgardner, this time around it was the defending points winner who took home the trophy.
Bumgardner showed his nose several times down low in turns one and two before finally getting alongside Shoulders, who got too much of the cushion. Bumgardner got past for the lead and despite a pair of Shoulders' challenges, held on for his third LPS win of the year.
Phil VanSant and Harold Grayless had a good battle for the third spot before VanSant claimed the spot with Mark Auler holding down fifth ahead of Mike Trimble, who recovered after some mechanical woes early in the evening. Kenny Carmichael Sr. took seventh ahead of Paul Wright, Gary Hall and Wayne Cooper.
The UMP Super Stock feature went right down to the finish line as Doug McCullough led wire-to-wire and barely nosed out last week's winner, Cullen Goodman.
The win was McCullough's first since 2007 and came in thrilling fashion after Goodman, was able to whittle away the lead until getting alongside McCullough on the final lap. The two were door-to-door coming off turn four, but it was McCullough that outran Goodman by a matter of a couple of feet.
McCullough thanked his sponsor's Patterson Driveline, Freeman Signs, Durabuilt Racing along with his Mom and Dad following the win.
Kris Starks placed third ahead of Kenny Carmichael Jr., Jim Moore, Greg Amick, Travis Heramb, Tony Erdly, Doug Flynn Jr. and Michael Conner.
In the bomber feature, Harry Shepherd led the lion's share of the laps, but on this occasion, it paid to be in it for the long haul.
Shepherd cruised out to a strong lead and began working through lapped cars before a late caution re-set the field.
Stacey Ford and David Wallen's cars got entangled in turn four, necessitating a cutting torch to cut them apart. The break in the action saw both Chuck Walden and Shepherd have to pull into the infield.
Shepherd's night closed with an overheating problem and left the lead on the re-start to C.J. Bryan, who made it stick.
Bryan was able to hold off the challenges of Ron Smith and points' leader, Ryan Freeland. Marlin Burns came in fourth followed by a strong run by Cullen Sandusky. Jack Campbell took sixth ahead of Ron Wallen Jr., Josh Settles, Chad Nolte and Shepherd.
Bryan's win was his first of the season and came in the Specialty Grafix, Pott's Tax Service, Joe's Hobby Barn and Griffin's Auto machine.
Next week will be a regular show of sprints, modifieds, super stocks and bombers.
Lincoln Park Speedway
Sprint car feature
1. Billy Puterbaugh, 2. Kent Christian, 3. Ryan Hamilton, 4. Dickie Gaines, 5. Todd Kimmel, 6. Shane Hollingsworth, 7. Russ Harper, 8. Will Nedderman, 9. James Bradshaw, 10. A.J. Martin, 11. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 12. Kevin Chambers, 13. Don O'Keefe Jr., 14. Michael Fischesser, 15. Mark Harden, 16. Eric Burns, 17. Troy Link, 18. Dakota Jackson
Heat winners: Todd Kimmel, Dickie Gaines
UMP Modified feature
1. Paul Bumgardner, 2. Travis Shoulders, 3. Phil VanSant, 4. Harold Grayless, 5. Mark Auler, 6. Mike Trimble, 7. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 8. Paul Wright, 9. Gary Hall, 10. Wayne Cooper, 11. Darrin Dayhuff, 12. Josh Fagg, 13. Dan Lewellen, 14. Steve Carpenter, 15. C.J. Bryan, 16. Kenny Weaver
Heat winners: Paul Bumgardner, Phil VanSant
UMP Super Stock feature
1. Doug McCullough, 2. Cullen Goodman, 3. Kris Starks, 4. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 5. Jim Moore, 6. Greg Amick, 7. Travis Heramb, 8. Tony Erdly, 9. Doug Flynn Jr., 10. Michael Conner, 11. Joe Starks, 12. Dennis Morgan, 13. Doug DeMoss, 14. Mike Callahan
Heat winners: Cullen Goodman, Doug McCullough
1. C.J. Bryan, 2. Ron Smith, 3. Ryan Freeland, 4. Marlin Burns, 5. Cullen Sandusky, 6. Jack Campbell, 7. Ron Wallen Jr., 8. Josh Settles, 9. Chad Nolte, 10. Harry Shepherd, 11. Michael Thompson, 12. Stacey Ford, 13. David Wallen, 14. Josh Presley, 15. Ron Wallen Sr., 16. Daylan Chambers, 17. Chuck Walden, 18. Corey Gregory, 19. Robert Corbin, 20. Sean Yakel
B-main winners: Ron Wallen Jr.
Heat winners: C.J. Bryan, Harry Shepherd, Chuck Walden