McGinley, Morris, Englert, Moore, and McConnell also Crowned

Mercer, PA: Herr’s snacks presented Meet your Heroes Night at Mercer Raceway Park. Jack Sodeman, Jr. stormed to victory in the Mid-Season Championship for the 410 Sprints running under the twin banners of Luxaire Heating & Cooling and McCrudden Heating & Supply. The win unofficially put him into the lead in the season’s standings.

In the Mini Stock division, sponsored by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles, points leader Mike McConnell padded his lead with a wire-to wire victory in the evening’s opening feature event. J.R. McGinley took advantage of Eric Gabany’s difficulty navigating through lapped traffic to capture the win in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds. Big George Englert took the unofficial points lead in the Rock Concrete Modified Lites with his win and a disappointing outing by defending champ Shane Pfeuffer. Jimmy Morris romped to victory in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Rusty Moore prevailed in the finale for the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars.

“We had a good starting spot, and we figured that we had to capitalize,” said the happy winner, Sodeman. “We’ve been struggling, and we sure could use that to get our confidence up a bit before Speedweek,” he added. Sodeman was not phased by the fact that his win catapulted him into the points lead. “Even though you win the Mid-Season Championship, its still a little too early to look at points; you just try to win every race you can.” After being told that he snapped a three-year streak set by Eric Williams in the Mid-Season Championships, Sodeman retorted, “see, we did it backwards last year, he won the Mid-Season and I won the last one.” He added, “how it lays on the last night, that’s when you pay attention.”

The high points drivers occupied the front rows for the feature events this evening. That put
Brandon Matus on the pole and Jack Sodeman, Jr. in second for the start of the 410 Sprint Main, offered by Luxaire Heating & Cooling and McCrudden Heating & Supply. Eric Williams lined up third, with Rod George in fourth. At the drop of the green, it seemed as though Sodeman was shot out of a cannon. He opened up a full second lead in just one lap! Williams followed him into second, and the two good friends would eventually battle for the lead.

Sodeman opened up an advantage of several car lengths, but once he got into lapped traffic, Williams began hacking into his lead. On lap 18, Williams could see that he was closing in on Sodeman. However, as Williams entered turn three with a head of steam, he encountered the slower machine of North Carolina’s Lance Moss. Williams swerved to avoid him, but clipped his right rear tire, sending Moss around. Williams went airborne briefly, but managed to keep his car moving when he hit the ground. Remarkably, Williams also stayed off the unforgiving concrete wall that is outside turn four.

The resulting caution gave Williams second spot again for the final restart of the race. Sodeman got away cleanly, but Williams’ mount was showing some signs of distress after his wild excursion through turn four. That enabled George to reel him in. The veteran pilot dove low as the pair rounded the fourth turn heading for the white flag. George entered one with the second spot, which he held to the checkers.

Behind Sodeman, George, and Williams came Brandon Matus. he narrowly defeated his good friend Adam Kekich. A.J. Flick ran sixth for the second week in a row. Dan Kuriger overcame some mechanical problems in his heat to earn seventh. Scott Priester topped Moss, and John McCracken, Jr.

The preliminaries belonged to Flick and Priester. There was no B Main.

Points leader Kyle Fink could not crack the top twelve drivers in qualifications for the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds, so that put his challenger, Jimmy Holden, on the pole for the twenty lapper. Eric Gabany was on his flank.

Gabany grabbed the lead, and was pulling away from Holden when Shawn Fleeger rolled to a stop on the backstretch for the only caution of the race. Fleeger was able to restart, but he retired a few laps later. When racing resumed, J.R. McGinley began stalking Holden. He worked his way into second just before Gabany tangled with a lapped car. Gabany was not as fortunate as Williams, for he lost the lead to McGinley, as the race remained under the green. Holden also snuck by the former leader.

McGinley led the remainder of the contest, but he, too, had his difficulties with lapped cars in the final two rounds. Holden could not capitalize on the situation. Indeed, when he rolled up behind a slower machine on the final lap, Gabany raced by to regain second spot.

McGinley, Gabany, and Holden were the podium finishers. Lonny Riggs was fourth, with Frankie Guidace completing the top five. Shayne Izzo outpaced returning veteran Tommy Kristyak for sixth. Brian Schaffer, Matt Reeher, and Kyle Fink rounded out the top ten.

The heat winners were Holden and Riggs. There was no B Main. In a show of good sportsmanship, Holden gave his back-up car to Fink for the night, as Fink’s machine suffered heavy damage the week before at the Park.

In the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Andy Feil and Jimmy Morris were on the front row. But, it was C.J. Jones who grabbed the early lead. Morris remained in second, with George Hobaugh and Cody Bova trailing.

Ken Rossey spun in front of the leaders, and Jones and Morris both made it by safely. Feil was caught up in the action, though. After the restart, Morris raced past Jones, and opened up a substantial margin. Cody Bova displaced Jones for second late in the event. Hobaugh held on for fourth, with Mike Marano, II, crossing in fifth.

Divisional Rookie Evan Kornbau was sixth. Feil came back to finish seventh. Eric L. Williams, Chris Matthews, and teenager Clay Riney were in positions eight through ten.
Bova and Ken Rossey copped the heat wins. There was no B Main.

George Englert led all the way in the Rock Concrete Modified Lites. The win, coupled with a disappointing outing for defending champ Shane Pfeuffer, gave Englert a substantial points lead.

He had entered the night locked in adead heat with Pfeuffer.

Mark Marcucci began to close in on Englert in the waning laps, but the margin was too large for him to become a factor at the finish. Josh Deems was third, with Jacob Bova and Mike Flockerzi next. Aaron Meister and Cory Webb led Pfeuffer’s wounded car to the checkers. Bill Stivason and Don Cain were also in the top ten.

Chris Frank and Marcucci topped the heats. Frank was unable to start the feature. Shane Pfeuffer was unhurt in a bone-jarring wreck in his heat. Although the car appeared to be demolished, the crew managed to patch it up again and Pfeuffer drove it to eighth in the feature.

Trusty Rusty Moore lived up to his nickname, going all the way for his fourth straight mid-season championship. Not surprisingly, he built upon his points lead in a quest for his fourth seasonal title.

Leigh Wheeler, Curtis J. Bish, and Pat Fielding had a stirring contest for the second spot, with Wheeler coming out on top. Bob Schwartzmiller was back on the track, in fifth spot this night. Brett McDonald, Jesse Brock, Andy Thompson, Jacob Billyk, and Gary Miller, Jr. took positions six through ten.

Moore and Curtis J. Bish were best in the preliminaries. There was no B Main.

Mike McConnell battled to the win in the Mini Stock division, extending his points lead in the race for the crown offered by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. For the first five laps, he had second place point man Tim Callahan rolling around beside him. However, after a caution for Matt Cwynar, McConnell put some distance on Callahan. On lap eight, Tyler Fulton, the winner of the most races thusfar in 2014, came to life. Soon he overtook Callahan for second, bringing Todd Gabriel with him. A caution with two to go allowed Fulton to start along side McConnell, but the inside groove was working to perfection for McConnell, and he sped away to the win.

Behind McConnell and Fulton came Caleb Hickok, Gabriel was fourth, after starting in twelfth position. Steve Longwell, Jr. crossed in fifth. Callahan faded to sixth. Jordan Ehrenberg, Tyler Blake, Chad Fry and Shane Shook completed the top ten.

The heat victories went to McConnell and Callahan. There was no B Main.

Next week, it will be another Saturday Night Live! program. Added to the card will be the Vintage Modifieds.

Luxaire Heating & Cooling/McCrudden Heating & Supply 410 Sprints: Jack Sodeman, Jr., Rod George, Eric Williams, Brandon Matus, Adam Kekich, A.J. Flick, Dan Kuriger, Scott Priester, Lance Moss, John McCracken, Jr., Gale Ruth, Sr., Brent Matus, Gale Ruth, Jr., Francis Sesco, Bill Jones, Jr., Bob McMillin (DNS).

Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: J.R. McGinley, Eric Gabany, Jimmy Holden, Lonny Riggs, Frankie Guidace, Shayne Izzo, Tommy Kristyak, Brian Schaffer, Matt Reeher, Kyle Fink, Max Smoker, Kyle Holden, Steve Barr, Makayla Guidace, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Kevin Green, Marty Kristyak, William Schaffer, Rich Whitney, Shawn Fleeger, Clyde Gumpp (DNS).

Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Jimmy Morris, Cody Bova, C.J. Jones, George Hobaugh, Jr., Mike Marano, II, Evan Kornbau, Andy Feil, Eric L. Williams, Chris Matthews, Clay Riney, Devin Litwiler, Kotie Kirkbride, Ken Rossey, Joe McEwen, Alex Paden, Cody Braden.

Rock Concrete Modified Lites: George Englert, Mark Marcucci, Josh Deems, Jacob Bova, Mike Flockerzi, Aaron Meister, Cory Webb, Shane Pfeuffer, Bill Stivason, Don Cain, Tim Prelog, Shane Webb, Chris Logan, Jason Johnson, Chris Frank (DNS).

Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: Rusty Moore, Leigh Wheeler, Curtis J. Bish, Pat Fielding, Bob Schwartzmiller, Brett McDonald, Jesse Brock, Andy Thompson, Jacob Billyk, Gary Miller, Jr., Curtis L. Bish, Garrett Calvert, Dennis Clark, Ryan Moyer (DNS).

Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks: Mike McConnell, Tyler Fulton, Caleb Hickok, Todd Gabriel, Steve Longwell, Jr., Tim Callahan, Jordan Ehrenberg, Tyler Blake, Chad Fry, Shane Shook, Rudy Troples, Roger Wigton, Steve Longwell, Sr., Ed Haylett, Russ Grossman, Patricia Riffe, Matt Cwynar, Wally Stearns, Jr. (DNS), Pete Blazak (DNS).