Emma Libby, 15, overcomes ruling to win Sport-4 race at Speedway 95

Wally Henderson, No. 155,  races at Speedway 95 on Saturday.
Carter F. McCall | BDN
Wally Henderson, No. 155, races at Speedway 95 on Saturday. Buy Photo
By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff
Posted May 19, 2013, at 12:23 p.m.

HERMON, Maine — Fifteen-year-old Emma Libby of Glenburn was irritated.

She was sent to the back of the field for her role in an accident on the fourth lap of the 35-lap Coca-Cola Sport-4 series race at Hermon’s Speedway 95 on Saturday night.

She felt she was wronged.

So she picked her way through the field from the 12th spot, took the lead on lap 29 and cruised to a 30-car-length victory.

“I was upset. It was a stupid call,” said Libby. “It wasn’t my fault. [Keith Ogden] came up on the bottom of me, I was in the middle [because another car was on the outside] and [Ogden] took himself out. It was his own fault.”

But she didn’t dwell on it.

“I didn’t think about anything. I just wanted to get up there and win,” said Libby, a freshman at Orono High School. “The car was great. We won the previous race and the car was going good so we didn’t really change anything.”

Libby did a lot of her passing on the inside groove, which is generally considered the slower of the two grooves. However, track owner Del Merritt’s decision to apply a traction compound to it beginning in 2010 has significantly improved it and enabled some cars to pass on it.

“The car goes good on the inside,” said Libby, whose car is set up by her father, Edward. “I had a hard time keeping up with Donny [second-place finisher Donny Silva] but as the tires got hotter, the car stuck better.”

“Her car is set up to run on the inside,” said Silva. “She did a hell of a job coming up from the rear.”

Silva said his car “started pushing [up the track] a little bit. It got a little loose.”

Hermon’s Andrew Crosby finished third and also praised Libby.

“She was real fast. She’s always fast. She has a good car and she’s a good driver, especially for someone her age,” said Crosby.

Bradley Dolan of Glenburn was fourth and Hermon’s Kevin Hartley was fifth in the feature, which was the first of a three-race series.

In the 40-lap Late Model feature, Ryan Deane of Winterport and Steuben’s Wayne Parritt were locked in a thrilling duel for 35 laps until Deane slipped by Parritt on the inside with four laps remaining and held off a late challenge by Parritt to capture the win.

Like Libby, Deane’s victory was his second in four races so far this season.

“It was tough. I just kept plugging away and plugging away on the bottom. I’d sit back and let the tires cool and then I’d go [and make another run at Parritt],” said Deane. “I wasn’t even paying attention [to the lap count] because I was working so hard to get by him. I didn’t know how many laps there were until I heard them say, ‘one lap [to go]’ and I said, ‘finally!’”

Parritt said he was hampered by a bent rear housing on his car that occurred when Andy Saunders bumped into him during the heat race.

“Since I got hit, it had been snapping loose on me coming out of the corner and it snapped just loose enough that it picked up a good push on me,” said Parritt. “I tried to hang on but the car just started ice skating on me [at the end].”

Hermon’s Mike Hopkins, who led the class in wins a year ago with seven, finished third in his first race of the season.

“I’m glad to be here,” said Hopkins. “The car was awesome. Ten more laps and we would have taken the checkered flag. We were four-tenths [per lap] faster than the other cars but we also had newer tires.”

Bradley’s Deane Smart and Winterport’s Shane Clark rounded out the top five.

In the Keystone Automotive Strictly Street 35-lap Pepsi Beverage Co. series race, Winslow’s Andy Turbovsky took the checkered flag only to be disqualified after the race which supplied Cornville’s Shelby Kimball with her second victory.

“His car was too light and he had too much weight on the left side of the car,” explained Kim (Baker) Allen, the head scorer and office manager. “You’re only allowed to have 54 percent of your weight on the left side of the car. That’s the maximum. If you have more, it’s an unfair advantage.”

Norridgewock’s Shawn Austin, running his first race of the year, wound up second followed by Harrington’s Alex Berry, Hermon’s Gerry Phillips and Corinth’s Jim Bragdon.

Berry and Kimball started on the front row but they were sent to the back at the start of the race because they didn’t line themselves up side by side to begin the race.

In the Sportsman race, Hermon’s Kris Watson withstood a stern challenge from Skowhegan’s Kris Matchett to collect this second win. Watson won by 1 1/2 car lengths.

Ellsworth’s Bradley Norris, Stockton Springs’ Lindsey Young and Bradley’s Bradley Smart completed the top five.

In the 20-lap Bomber feature, Palermo’s Cody Robbins maneuvered past Newport’s Mark Lane on the inside lane with four laps remaining and went on to become the fourth different driver to win a race in the class.

He won by 12 car lengths.

Lane was followed across the finish line by Fairfield’s Paul Jackson, Carmel’s Dennis Burns and Bangor’s Scott Bonney.

There were two Vintage Racing Association features with Winthrop’s Scott Tucker winning the Late Models-Modifieds Class and East Machias’ Kenny Robinson capturing the Sportsman and Outlaws division.

Tucker was driving a 1964 Ford and he was followed across the finish line by Warren’s Keith Smalley (1955 Chevy) and Litchfield’s Wally Henderson (1964 Chevy).

In the Sportsman and Outlaws, Robinson and his ’49 Plymouth nipped Bradley driver Tim Reynolds’ ’48 Plymouth by a nose.

Watson was third in his 1935 Chevy.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/05/19/sports/auto-racing-sports/emma-libby-15-overcomes-ruling-to-win-sport-4-race-at-speedway-95/ printed on August 22, 2014