Buman wins Lightner Cup
By Jason Bonsignore
The 14th Omar Lightner Cup, honoring the late, former track worker and Vestal police officer who was a good friend to many at Champion Speedway over the years, took place under nice skies and weather conditions on Aug. 17.
Round one of the all-scratch championship kicked off with Mikey Buman gating Casey Donholt and outdistancing him for four laps. Taking third position was Keith Hawkins and fourth was Zach Peters. Tuff McBride would go on to win heat two over Shawn Engel, Ray Barondick and Dave Oakden in that order. Jeff Garlinghouse spectacularly flipped his bike at the start of race three but would rebound to get second place to Jeremy Parsons in the restart. Chuck Podany looked solid in third place ahead of veteran Russ Cornell. Jesse Diem made a nice start from the outside to get across second placed Gene Bonsignore to close out the round with a win. Third went to Corey Brookes while Ron Walker did not make the call.
Donholt took three points to begin round two with a victory over Oakden. Brookes kept ahead of Garlinghouse for a third place point. McBride remained unbeaten by taking a win from Diem, Podany and Peters. Buman, from gate four, then made an equal gate to Parsons, who was coming off the inside but got to the dirt line first and was able to take the lead and never look back for another three points. Parsons stayed in second for the duration with Barondick third. Hawkins gated strongly from the outside also in his ride to take the checkers from second placed Bonsignore, with third going to Cornell and last to Engel.
Third series wins went to Parsons, Donholt, Garlinghouse and Buman, while second place points were picked up by Hawkins, Bonsignore, McBride and reserve, Alex "Hazard" Heath!
Rolling on into the fourth and final round, Buman would keep his string alive with a first place ahead of Bonsignore, who took his fourth second place, while a third went to Oakden. Donholt also kept a solid evening going with one more win against Diem, who took second, Barondick was third. Parsons grabbed three points one last time over Brookes and Engel and McBride would lead the final heat for nearly four laps but appeared to slow on the last corner when he hit a rut and Hawkins was making a great outside run which resulted in the win. McBride crept across the line for second with Garlinghouse third.
Young Roger Roberts rode hard to win the Division Three Main next just before Brandon Sturzenegger finally put it all together with four smooth fast laps to win the Division Two final.
Parsons got a flat tire while doing a practice start for the final and was given time to run back to the pits to change wheels. When he came out the lineup for the final was Buman, Donholt, Parsons, McBride and Hawkins in order of top points on the evening, however McBride opted to not ride the race as it was determined he had injured his shoulder in his last heat. As the tapes flew it was Donholt who made the start and seemed to have it in the bag for several laps until Buman decided to try and well-groomed outside. Buman went out there and made it work as he passed Donholt in fine fashion on the last lap for the Lightner Cup win. Donholt finished second, Parsons third and unfortunately Hawkins blew his motor violently while in progress.
The riders and fans are looking ahead to the U.S. Open Championships at Champion Speedway on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 as the season is hitting the stretch run.
Omar Lightner Cup
1. Mikey Buman
2. Casey Donholt
3. Jeremy Parsons
4. Keith Hawkins
5. Tuff McBride - DNS
1. Brandon Sturzenegger
2. Alex Heath
3. Andrew Clark
4. Spencer Portararo
5. Dan Oakden
1. Roger Roberts 10
2. Brandon Bruzek 30
3. Jared Geist 0