SWEENEY RUSH LATE MODEL SERIES HONORS CHAMPIONS & ITS TOP RACERS AS APPROXIMATELY $70,000 IN CASH DISTRIBUTED AT INAUGURAL SERIES AWARDS BANQUET SATURDAY NIGHT AT GATHERINGS; NUMEROUS SPECIAL AWARDS DOLED OUT
January 18, 2014
(By Mike Leone) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Edinburg, PA)…While the 2014 racing season is only a few months away, Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Series Directors Vicki Emig and Mike Leone put a final wrap on the 2013 inaugural racing season with the awards banquet and dinner on Saturday night at the Gatherings Banquet & Event Center in Edinburg, Pa. A large gathering of drivers, car owners, crew members, sponsors, track promoters, Series officials, and other supporters filled the beautiful banquet hall as the majority of the season’s $70,000 cash point fund was distributed.
RUSH scheduled events at a total of 15 different speedways in 2013 with 13 of them completing at least one event. A total of 210 different racers from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Ontario Canada competed in either a weekly-sanctioned and/or touring series event!
Crowned 2013 champions were Mike Pegher, Jr.-Sweeney Touring Series, Max Blair-Sweeney Weekly Series and Pace Performance Summer Chase, Eric Wilson-Futures Cup, Justin Smith-Wheelman Bonus Event Challenge Series, and Ryan Montgomery-K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash Championship. RUSH was proud to have 2013 track champions Dennis Lunger, Jr.-Sharon Speedway, Kyle Lukon-Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway, Ken Herman-Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex, Ward Schell-Bradford Speedway, and Max Blair (represented by Lori Blair due to Max competing with NDRL in Tucson, AZ)-McKean County Raceway in attendance.
The highlight of the program was the special awards ceremony. Butch Lambert was presented the prestigious Gary Knollinger Memorial “Golden Award”. Lambert completed his sixth and final season of touring that included over 100 races with Emig and Leone’s Crate Late Model Touring Series. The Valencia, Pa. driver reminded Series Directors a lot like their fallen friend, who passed away on Christmas Day 2010 from injuries sustained in a highway accident. Lambert’s loyalty and determination was unmatched and will certainly be missed in 2014 as he retires Butch Lambert Racing.
While Butch accepted the award, his daughter Madison was presented the 2013 “Super Kid Award” for her support of both her father and the Series over the same period of time. Madison received a beautiful plaque with a collage of her and the race team and a pink official checkered flag.
The second prestigious award was the “Majestic”. This year’s honor went to Dan “The Greek” Karalagas. The former racer concentrated his efforts on his nephew Nico Dabecco in recent years; however, last winter, Karalagas suffered multiple strokes and was near death on several occasions. When Emig and Leone went to Pittsburgh to visit Karalagas on his hospital bed, he was barely able to sit up and struggled to speak, but assured the Series Directors that Dabecco would be racing in 2014 and that was his motivation to get better.
Not only did Dabecco race and was present on opening night at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway, but had a great season both weekly and touring. On Saturday night, Karalagas walked into the banquet hall on his own and was emotional as he accepted the award. Karalagas also received a RUSH jacket with Dabecco’s 2012 Futures Cup honors embroidered.
Mike Brunner was certainly surprised to be awarded the “Crew Chief of the Year Award”. Brunner spent several years with his good friend Mike Pegher, Jr. and finally in 2013 propelled him to his first ever Crate Late Model Touring Series Championship. In addition, Pegher finished second in the Sweeney Weekly Series and third in the Pace Summer Chase and along the way winning nine feature events.
This year’s special appreciation/recognition honors were titled “Miles Traveled”. The awards were presented to the Cody Dawson and Matt Glanden Families. These two race teams went above and beyond to participate in the majority of the Sweeney Touring Series events. Outside of the races in their home state at Hagerstown, the teams traveled between four and eight hours to every event. Dawson of Westover, MD competed in 21 of the 24 events, while Glanden of Denton, MD participated in 16 of them, and of course both families made the long trip to attend Saturday’s banquet.
The Series’ major sponsors Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC and RainEater Wiper Blades were also presented with Sponsor Appreciation plaques. Sweeney branded the entire Series as well as was the title sponsor of the Weekly and Touring Series, while their sister company Pace Performance was the presenting sponsor of the “Summer Chase”. RainEater meanwhile presented the weekly RUSH “Talkin” television segment on PCNC’s “Open Throttle 360” as well as several major RUSH race events.
The top 30 drivers in the Sweeney Weekly Series points received beautiful engraved photo plaques and shared over $25,000 in cash! On the strength of 13 wins, Max Blair beat out Mike Pegher, Jr. for the $5,000 top prize. The 23-year-old Blair of Centerville, Pa, who already received $1,000 for being the Speedweek Champion, added another $3,000 to the bank account for nailing down the Pace “Summer Chase” crown. The Chase looked at drivers’ average point score from July 1 through Labor Day that competed in a minimum of eight events. The top 10 drivers in the Chase shared over $10,000!
Ryan Montgomery, who finished third in the final Sweeney Weekly rundown, came up just 0.631 of a point behind Blair in the Pace Summer Chase. Montgomery, who was the 2011 Futures Cup Champion, also was the bridesmaid in the Sweeney Tour standings. The 16-year-old led the points heading into the finale at Lernerville on October 26, but was overtaken by Pegher. Montgomery did capture the K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash Championship as he was the only driver to win more than two dashes with three to his credit. Montgomery received a beautiful championship plaque, $100 cash, and $200 in K&N certificates. The remainder of the top five in K&N points also received certificates.
The 27-year-old Pegher of Wexford, Pa. earned $5,000 for the Sweeney Tour title along with $3,000 for his runner-up in the Sweeney Weekly standings and another $1,000 for third place in the Pace Summer Chase! Pegher had an excellent season on the Tour with five wins, 17 top four finishes, and 21 top 10s in 24 starts! The top 15 drivers in the Sweeney Tour shared in approximately $25,000!
Sixteen-year-old Eric Wilson of Cortland, Ohio came out on top of the “Futures Cup” points by just six over 12-year-old Michael Lake for the $1,000 championship! The top 10 drivers shared over $3,000! Wilson won a feature event at Sharon Speedway, while Lake was victorious four times at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex including a Sweeney Tour win in addition to winning one of the three $200 to-win “Futures Cup” Trifecta races!
Pegher, Blair, and Wilson not only received their point fund monies, but also a championship photo plaque, a championship trophy cup, large championship check, and embroidered RUSH championship jacket!
Justin Smith of East Smethport, Pa. was recognized for winning the “Wheelman” Bonus Event Challenge Series points for non-qualifier events. Smith received a beautiful plaque, $150 cash, and $200 in K&N certificates.
Special thanks to Bobby Lake Motorsports, who awarded a 2014 Sweeney Weekly and Touring Series membership that includes an additional $100,000 in participant accident insurance to a lucky driver on Saturday night. The recipient was Matt Glanden.
Shirley Phillips, a representative of NHRA drag racing star Doug Herbert’s B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) Foundation, was on hand. RUSH will align with B.R.A.K.E.S., which trains and educates teenage drivers about the importance of safe and responsible driving. Over 6,000 teenagers lose their lives each year across the country in traffic accidents. One way that this awareness is achieved is through the B.R.A.K.E.S Teen Pro-Active Driving Course. Teenagers are put on a slalom course and actually experience unexpected situations such as wheel drop, panic stops, wet and icy road conditions and others.
Also on hand were Brian and Nicki Mathieson. Last year, the Mathiesons held the inaugural “Blaise Mathieson Memorial” go-kart event in honor of their son and raised over $3,000 for the Makenna’s Hugs Foundation. This organization supports those that have lost a child to stillbirth and SIDS. For the upcoming 2014 season, the Mathieson have organized an eight-race memorial karting series titled the “RUSH Memorial Cup Series”. The Mathiesons felt being aligned with our series and drivers would add credibility to their efforts.
Attendees enjoyed an excellent dinner menu of Italian chicken, filet tips with burgundy rice pilaf, pasta and meatballs, sausage, peppers, and onions, redskin potatoes, buttered corn, fresh garden salad and dinner rolls, specialty desserts, soda, coffee, tea, and draft beer. Attendees also received a Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Series shop rag courtesy of Brian Ellenberger’s Classic Impressions.
Series announcer Brian Spaid emceed the affair and also previewed the upcoming 2014 season. All of the 2013 weekly-sanctioned speedways will be returning in 2014 as well as the four new speedways including Potomac Speedway in Mechanicsville, MD, Winchester (VA) Speedway, Freedom Speedway in Delevan, NY, and Humberstone Speedway in Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada. A tentative Sweeney Tour schedule was released and previewed. The approximate 20-event schedule is expected to be released to the public later this week. Toni Carbone photographed the event and the photo link will be posted as soon as it’s available.
Sweeney Weekly Series Top 30: 1. MAX BLAIR 1674 2. Mike Pegher, Jr. 1660 3. Ryan Montgomery 1642 4. Chad McClellan 1641 5. Will Thomas III & Dennis Lunger, Jr. 1624 7. Rick Singleton 1620 8. Kyle Lukon 1613 9. Eric Wilson 1598 10. Troy Shields 1597 11. Chad Ruhlman 1590 12. John Over 1589 13. Michael Lake 1588 14. Josh Holtgraver 1586 15. Ward Schell 1584 16. Josh Double 1583 17. Joe Martin 1579 18. Ken Herman 1569 19. Garrett Mott 1552 20. Nico Dabecco 1546 21. Chad Silleman 1544 22. Brad Mesler 1539 23. Matt Latta 1537 24. Bob Kish 1512 25. Adam Sixt 1506 26. Richard “Critter” Hemphill 1501 27. Rocky Kugel 1497 28. Michael Reft 1494 29. Joe Layfield 1492 30. Butch Lambert 1487.
Sweeney Touring Series Driver/Owner Top 15: 1. MIKE PEGHER, JR. (Lynn Geisler 1c) 2376 2. Ryan Montgomery (12) 2373 3. Butch Lambert (27) 1974 4. Cody Dawson (36) 1688 5. Chad Ruhlman (Terry Suppa 4s) 1625 6. Rick Singleton (Clint Enyeart 99*) 1574 7. Joe Martin (55) 1503 8. Matt Glanden (01) 1398 9. Max Blair (111) 1380 10. Michael Lake (27) 1284 11. Andrew Wylie (84) 1262 12. W.L. Stile (1W) 1181 13. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Rueben Schwartz 71L) 1099 14. Nico Dabecco (Dimitrius Karalagas F1) 1047 15. Jorden Peters (Darren Peters 1P) 1026.
Pace Summer Chase Top 10: 1. 1. MAX BLAIR 108.231 2. Ryan Montgomery 107.6 3. Mike Pegher, Jr. 106.357 4. Chad McClellan 104.125 5. Ken Herman 102.6 6. Troy Shields 102.2 7. Kyle Lukon 101.778 8. John Over 101.444 9. Rick Singleton 101 10. Josh Holtgraver 100.375.
Futures Cup Top 10: 1. ERIC WILSON 1886 2. Michael Lake 1880 3. Cody Dawson 1623 4. Clay Ruffo 1600 5. Jorden Peters 1547 6. Matt Glanden 1303 7. Jennae Piper 1043 8. Lauren Longbrake 870 9. Shane Weaver 725 10. Brad Blackshear 355.
K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash Champion: RYAN MONTGOMERY
“Wheelman” Bonus Event Challenge Series Champion: JUSTIN SMITH
Special Award Winners:
Gary Knollinger Memorial “Golden Award”: Butch Lambert
“Majestic Award”: Dan Karalagas
Crew Chief of the Year: Mike Brunner
“Miles Traveled” Special Appreciation Awards: Cody Dawson Family & Matt Glanden Family
Super Kid of the Year: Madison Lambert
2013 RUSH marketing partners include Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, Pace Performance, RainEater Wiper Blades, Hoosier Tire, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Precise Racing Products, ARbodies, The -Brake Man, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, TurboStart, K1 RaceGear, Beyea Headers, FK Rod Ends, Bobby Lake Motorsports, Wrisco Industries, High Gear Speed Shop, Utsinger’s Towing, RockAuto.com, and Valley Fashions.
E-mail can be sent to the RUSH Racing Series at email@example.com and snail mail to 4368 Route 422, Pulaski, PA 16143. Office phone is 724-964-9300 and fax is 724-964-0604. The RUSH Racing Series website is www.rushracingseries.com. Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rushlatemodels and follow us on Twitter @RUSHLM.