Fink, Burns, Bauer, Pfeuffer, and Longwell also WIn
Mercer, PA (April 12, 2014): Rod George raced to victory in the 410 Sprint Car feature presented by Luxaire Heating & Cooling, Ralph Butch, Inc. and New Wilmington Motors. George’s win snapped a three-year run for Brandon Spithaler in capturing the first checkers for the winged machines at the Park.
Kyle Fink topped the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds after wrestling the lead away from Lonny Riggs. Tim Burns made a late-race pass to earn the win in the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars. Michael Bauer opened up his title defense the best way possible, taking the win in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Likewise, Shane Pfeuffer scored a win to begin his run for a second straight championship in the Modified Lites presented by Big Daddy’s Speed Center and Rock Concrete. Steve Longwell, Jr. took the nightcap for the Mini Stocks, offered by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles.
George and company had to make repairs to the brakes of his Sprinter after the heat race, and the adjustments proved to be highly successful. “The older I get, the harder it gets,” the veteran mused. “These kids keep coming up and they’re faster, there are some young guys that are really fast,” he added. Indeed, George had to chase down one of the youngsters to claim the win.
Brandon Matus and Brandon Spithaler were paired up on the front row for the first Sprint Car feature of the season. The third-generation driver from Wampum, PA got the jump on Spithaler, who ran second until the halfway mark in the event. That was when he brushed against the frontstretch wall and, soon afterwards, he surrendered second spot to Rod George.
George was closing rapidly on Matus as the laps clicked off. Just when it appeared that the Kittanning Comet would make his bid for the lead, a caution was displayed for the disabled racer of Adam Kekich, who was racing in the top five before the stoppage. Matus was no match for George when racing resumed with 16 laps complete. George dove low entering turn three and he came off the fourth corner with the lead.
George began stretching things out , but the action behind him was furious. A yellow with two laps remaining bunched the field up again, and that enabled Carl Bowser to pick up several positions in the final tally.
At the checkers, it was George over Matus. Bowser climbed to third, bringing Eric Williams with him. Arnie Kent crossed in fifth, making a rare appearance with a wing over his head. Spithaler was scored in sixth, as his car was beginning to show the ill effects of the incident earlier in the event. Defending divisional champion Jack Sodeman, Jr. turned in a seventh place performance. Cole Duncan was eighth, with Scott Priester, and Jimmy Seger completing the top ten.
Heat winners were Kuriger, Matus and George. Kuriger was the first car out of the race. There was no B Main.
Seger was unhurt in a pit fire after completing his heat race.
Lonny Riggs and Jordan Eck had the front row for the 358 Modified start. Eck never got the chance to show his stuff, though, as he spun to the apron of turn four coming down for the initial start. Riggs powered away with the lead when the race did officially start, but Fink was hounding him right away. The duo raced side by side for several laps until a caution for spins by Jimmy Holden and Rich Whitney slowed the pace. Holden was unable to continue, but Whitney returned, and scored a career-best fourth place finish.
When the race went green again, Fink snagged the lead. This time, it was Riggs nipping on his heels. Fink maintained his advantage over Riggs to the checkers. Fink survived a scare late in the race, when he ws putting a lap on Jordan Eck. Fink swerved to avoid impact, but managed to get the car straight again before Riggs could capitalize on the miscue. “All I knew was that I wasn’t going to take myself out of the race, if I lost positions, I could make them back,” he said. Fink went on to complete the remaining laps without incident.
Shawn Fleeger ran a smooth race to earn third, his best ever finish at the Park. Rich Whitney came back up through the field to get fourth. Makayla Guidace also turned in a stellar run, taking fifth.
Clyde Gumpp, Brian Schaffer, Jordan Eck, Rocky Kugel and Jeff Schaffer, Jr. were the next five finishers.
The heat winners were Fink, Holden, and Whitney. There was no B Main.
The Precise Racing Products Stock Cars turned in the best race of the night. Pat Fielding led from the start, but lost the lead on lap 14 to Tim Burns. Leigh Wheeler snuck by him on the final circuit. Fielding did hold off the division’s dominant driver, Rusty Moore, who came from deep in the field to earn the fourth position. Ryan Moyer crossed in fifth.
William Hurrelbrink, Rob Bates, Patrick Adams and David Myers were the final finishers.
The preliminaries went to Fielding and Moore. There was no B Main.
In the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Mike Miller took the early lead, with defending champ Michael Bauer racing in second. Bauer worked by Miller with just nine laps in the books. He led the rest of the way to be one of only two champions to score a win on the first night of points at the track.
Miller outpaced Jimmy Morris for second. Rob Felix placed fourth, just a notch ahead of George Hobaugh, Jr., who was making his first start in a full-sized Sprint car. Cody Bova, another rookie in the class, was sixth. Positions seven through ten went to C.J. Jones, Eric L. Williams, Evan Kornbau, and Chad Matthews.
Chris Matthews and Felix scored in the heats. There was no B Main.
Mike Murano, III, was transported to the hospital after suffering burns when his Outlaw Sprint Warrior caught fire before the start of hot laps.
Shane Pfeuffer survived a caution-plagued main event in the Modified Lites. Pfeuffer led from the drop of the green, but lost the lead to Big George Englert. Englert’s outstanding run came to an end in turn two when he spun and collected several other cars. Pfeuffer regained the lead and held on to get his first checkered flag of the season.
Mark Marcucci came up to second, with Chad Shearer, Darrin Gallagher, and Keith Smith rounding out the top five. Chris Frank, Joe Grezlak, Jim Good, Chris Logan, and Richard Lawson were next in line. For Lawson, a spin with just a few laps remaining deprived him of the opportunity to celebrate with his grandson, as he was second until turning around in the second corner.
Heat victories were posted by Pfeuffer, Shearer, and Gallagher. There was no B Main, as the track opted to start all cars that were able to answer the bell.
The final race of the evening was for the Mini Stocks. For a while, it appeared as though Steve Longwell, Sr. and Jr. would have a father-son finish, but the younger driver passed the elder with just a few laps remaining. Mike McConnell snuck by Sr. just a lap later to spoil the family affair.
Chad Fry was fourth this night, with Peter Williams taking fifth. Rudy Troples was sixth, ahead of Jamie Maxwell, Shane Shook, Roger Wigton, and Matt Cwynar.
Heat wins belonged to Tim Callahan and Steve Longwell, Jr.
Next week, it will be another exciting Saturday Night Live! program, but there will be extra cash on the line in all divisions, courtesy of Bonnell’s Rod Shop.
Remember that you can get alerts regarding the cancellation of any racing event at Mercer Raceway Park sent directly to your smartphone or other electronic device. To register, please go to the track’s website, www.mercerracewaypark.com, click on the icon for RainedOut.com, and follow the easy steps.
About Mercer Raceway Park: Mercer Raceway Park is a 3/8-mile dirt track located minutes from both Interstate 79 and 80 just off Route 19 on Fairground Road in Mercer, Pa. Dirt track racing and quality family entertainment are presented weekly from late March through late September. For more information, check out www.mercerracewaypark.com, www.twitter.com/mercerraceway, or www.facebook.com/mercerracewaypark.
Luxaire Heating & Cooling/Ralph Butch, Inc./New Wilmington Motors 410 Sprint Cars: Rod George, Brandon Matus, Carl Bowser, Eric Williams, Arnie Kent, Brandon Spithaler, Jack Sodeman, Jr., Cole Duncan, Scott Priester, Jimmy Seger, Dennis Wagner, Todd Hoddick, Brent Matus, Francis Sesco, John McCracken, Jr., A.J. Flick, Bob McMillen, Adam Kekich, Dan Kuriger.
Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: Kyle Fink, Lonny Riggs, Shawn Fleeger, Rich Whitney, Makayla Guidace, Clyde Gumpp, Brian Schaffer, Jordan Eck, Rocky Kugel, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Kyle Martell, William Schaffer, Jamie Duncan, Max Smoker, Eric Gabany, Jimmy Holden, Frank Guidace, Matt Reeher (DNS), J.R. McGinley (DNS).
Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: Tim Burns, Leigh Wheeler, Pat Fielding, Rusty Moore, Ryan Moyer, William Hurrelbrink, Rob Bates, Patrick Adams, David Myers, Gary Miller (DNS), Curt Bish (DNS), Josh Seippel (DNS).
Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Michael Bauer, Mike Miller, Jimmy Morris, Rob Felix, George Hobaugh, Jr., Cody Bova, C.J. Jones, Eric L. Williams, Evan Kornbau, Chad Matthews, Alex Paden, Darren Pifer, Devin Litwiler, Chris Matthews, Andy Feil, Cody Braden, Sye Lynch, Mike Murano, III (DNS).
Big Daddy’s Speed Center/Rock Concrete Modified Lites: Shane Pfeuffer, Mark Marcucci, Chad Shearer, Darrin Gallagher, Keith Smith, Chris Frank, Joe Grezlak, Jim Good, Chris Logan, Richard Lawson, Jacob Bova, Todd Rhoads, Jim Gump, Joey Sisk, Shane Webb, George Englert, Don Cain, Mike Flockerzi, Jason Johnson, Josh Deems, Brandon Smith, John Harvey, Cory Webb, Preston Roach, Brandon Shaw (DNS).
Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks: Steve Longwell, Jr., Mike McConnell, Steve Longwell, Sr., Chad Fry, Peter Williams, Rudy Troples, Jamie Maxwell, Shane Shook, Roger Wigton, Matt Cwynar, Richard Wilbert, Tim Callahan, Tim McAninch, John Bundrant, Ed Haylett, Tyler Fulton, Pete Blazak (DNS), Patricia Riffe (DNS).