JOE MARTIN RACES TO EMOTIONAL SEASON’S 1 ST WIN IN $2,000 “GARY KNOLLINGER MEMORIAL” AT SHARON; KNOLLINGER’S GOOD FRIEND JOEL PROSSER FITTINGLY WINS NON-QUALIFIER By Mike Leone
June 23, 2012 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hartford, OH)…The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Pace Performance FASTRAK Northeast Late Model Touring Series returned to Sharon Speedway on Saturday night for the second of five stops of the year. Race #8 of 25 on the 2012 slate was the second annual “Gary Knollinger Memorial”. Thirty-five cars from all over Ohio,Pennsylvania,West Virginia,and New York were on hand for the big event that paid tribute to the former FASTRAK standout,who tragically lost his life from injuries suffered after being struck by an automobile during Christmas 2010.
On a night that remembered Gary Knollinger,the Series’2010 Mid-Ohio Valley Touring Champion and Northeast third place finisher,it appeared Knollinger may have just had a hand in the night’s outcome with Joe Martin winning the feature and Joel Prosser capturing the non-qualifier. Knollinger considered Sharon to be one of, if not,his favorite speedways and in fact was the site of Knollinger’s only career Touring Series victory on July 29,2010. For those reasons,the Knollingers decided Sharon would be the site of their son’s memorials. Gary’s parents Gary,Sr. and Bev were on hand as well as longtime crew friend and crew chief John Seyler.
At last year’s awards banquet,Joe Martin was the recipient of the Series’inaugural Gary Knollinger Memorial “Golden Award” for his sponsorship and professionalism that he emulated at all times on and off the speedway. Martin stated the award meant more to him than any other honor that he had ever received.
Martin entered Saturday night down on luck and needing a boast. Martin was coming off of a hard crash last Saturday night at McKean County Raceway and had only recorded one top five finish in seven events this season with five finishes of 13 th or worse. So it was only fitting that Martin performed nearly a perfect night winning his heat,a runner-up in the K&N Dash,and an impressive wire-to-wire performance in the 30-lap feature.
The $2,000 win was the biggest of the fourth year racer’s career and he also earned the $100 Genesis Shocks “Top Dog of the Night” and the K&N $100 certificate for his runner-up dash finish along with the beautiful memorial racer statue trophy. Martin became the Series’fourth different winner of the season with his third career Tour win,but first ever away from Dog Hollow Speedway.
“It’s an honor to win this race,” stated the 27-year-old Mayport,Pa. resident. “I think Gary (Knollinger) and I have something going on here and he’s looking down on me. We won the award this winter and this is a special night to be in victory lane. I’m glad the Knollinger Family is here for Gary. Our right front strap broke that supports the nose piece. It got under my tire in that dash. I was nervous;I thought we were going to have a junk race car instead of a winning one.”
“We are learning every time we get in this car,” explained Martin about his new Wylie Race Car. “We take our hats off to Gary and Andrew Wylie. I have to thank the good Lord above for watching over us. We’re strapped for cash. This is going to go a long way. We actually blew two trailer tires on the way here. I wasn’t sure if we were going to get home. I have to thank all of my sponsors,Mike Ingram,all of the many people that come to the track and support me. We put so many hours into this thing. I also have to thank Mike (Leone) and Vicki (Emig). They pay attention and take care of us along with Brad Hibbard.”
Martin took off from the outside pole into the lead past Andrew Satterlee with John Over,Shane Weaver,and sixth starting Chad Ruhlman moving into the top five after one lap. The top five remained unchanged as the laps ticked off caution-free. Martin had a half-straightaway lead when he caught lapped traffic on lap seven; meanwhile Ruhlman put the pressure on Weaver on lap eight before making the pass for fourth one lap later.
Satterlee quickly caught up to Martin on lap 10 and actually got alongside the leader coming off turn four. Martin carried the momentum off the top side of the speedway as he held the lead,while 11 th starting Mike Pegher,Jr. was on the move driving around both Dennis Lunger,Jr. and Weaver for fifth. Satterlee continued to pressure Martin on laps 11 and 12 looking to somehow get by until the first caution of the event was displayed when two cars slowed with 12 laps completed.
On the ensuing restart,a seven-car melee took place when racers got bunched up. It was unfortunate end for runner-up point man Butch Lambert,who would suffer his first DNF of the season. For that Lambert, received for The Brake Man “Tough Brake of the Night”. When racing resumed, Pegher advanced past Ruhlman for fourth on lap 13. A pair of cautions on laps 13 and 14 for Bobby Rohrer and Ricky Meglaye were the final cautions of the night as the last 16 went green-to-checkered.
Defending track champion Josh Double, who had worked his way from 10 th to fifth, slowed when racing resumed moving Ruhlman back into the top five. With each progressive lap,Martin stretched his lead on Satterlee as Satterlee had his hands full with John Over and Pegher. On lap 17, Pegher ducked under and past Over in turn four to take third. Lunger used the outside to get by Ruhlman for fifth on lap 18.
With 10 laps to go,Martin increased his lead to a straightaway margin. Martin caught lapped traffic on lap 24,but he was able to negotiate them without any trouble over the final six laps. Martin took the checkered flag first by 1.947 seconds for his fifth career Sharon win matching Pegher as the track’s all-time leader. Martin’s popular victory came in the Allegheny Crane Rental/Neese Trucking/Martin Farms/Spartan Thru Tubing/Zero Wraps/JNJ Motorsports Media-sponsored,Wylie Race Car & Ingram Engines #55.
Two weeks after recording his career best Tour finish at his home track Dog Hollow, Satterlee held on for a career best runner-up worth $1,000. It was another solid night for Pegher in third,who has really moved up the standings of late coming off two straight runner-up finishes. Pegher now moves past Ryan Montgomery and Butch Lambert and is just one-point behind Ruhlman for runner-up in points.
Over,who is in his first full year on the Tour,recorded his first career top five in fourth in his third year of participating in Tour events. Lunger was fifth in his first Touring start of the season. Completing the top 10 were Ruhlman,Sharon point leader Will Thomas III,Dan Angelicchio,Touring point leader Max Blair,and Bill Cunningham.
Dave Poske’s Performance Parts put up $75 gift certificates for the third and eighth place finishers in memory of Knollinger and those were awarded to Pegher and Angelicchio. Cunningham was the final driver to qualify for the feature through the B main and he had a great run up to 10 th to earn the Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” $100 Hard Charger certificate. Lauren Longbrake was the final car on the lead lap in 17 th and received the Utsinger’s Towing free Hoosier Tire.
One week ago,Joel Prosser came to Sharon to get ready for Saturday’s “Gary Knollinger Memorial”. The longtime friend of Knollinger suffered a hard crash that to many figured would end his chances of being able to compete Saturday night. But with the help of former Knollinger crew chief,John Seyler,and others,the #77 was back at the track Saturday night with an amazing tribute body panel to Knollinger’s #38K.
Prosser unfortunately missed his heat race then came within one spot of transferring to the feature through his B main. Prosser paced the four-wide salute and tribute to Knollinger before the 30-lap feature. With his third place B main finish,Prosser earned the pole for the night’s non-qualifier event. And though it wasn’t the race he wanted to be in,Prosser fittingly led all six laps of the race for the $175 victory.
“I have to really give it up for John,Bub,Bill, and dad,” expressed the 38-year-old New Martinsville,West Virginia racer. “We worked our tails off this week. We destroyed this car last week,and Tuesday night this car was on the jig so that tells you how hard we worked. We put the body on for Gary…gotta love it for him! This is the first time in victory lane in three years and we needed it. This was all John’s idea. Last year John came up to me and asked if I minded if he helped and I said I would be proud and tickled to death.”
Prosser became the amazing 20 th different non-qualifier winner in 23 races run all-time. The victory came in his Dutch Pantry Restaurant/Amsoil Specialty Lubes-sponsored #77. New York teammate racers Tim Sears,Jr. and A.J. Kingsley finished a close second and third. Sears now moves into runner-up in the “Wheelman” Bonus Event Challenge Series points behind Jamie Brown. Garrett Mott,Paul Phillips,and Tom Bateman completed the starting field.
Heat race winners were Rohrer,Satterlee, Weaver,and Martin. Rohrer drew the number five pill meaning an invert five for the feature. That put John Over on the pole of the K&N “Cold Air Induction Dash” along with the second,third,and fourth place heat winners. Edward W. Stifel III,a longtime friend and sponsor of Knollinger, put up $100 cash to the dash winner,which went to Satterlee. As stated previously, Martin then picked up the $100 K&N certificate for runner-up with the $50 K&N certificate going to Over,while Weaver received $25 cash for fourth. Over and Martin are now tied for the K&N Dash Championship point lead. The B mains were won by Ryan Montgomery and Andrew Wylie.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Pace Performance FASTRAK Northeast Late Model Touring Series Race #8 (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. JOE MARTIN (55) 2. Andrew Satterlee (2) 3. Mike Pegher,Jr. (Geisler 1c) 4. John Over (K2) 5. Dennis Lunger,Jr. (Schwartz 71L) 6. Chad Ruhlman (Suppa 4s) 7. Will Thomas III (9) 8. Dan Angelicchio (14) 9. Max Blair (111) 10. Bill Cunningham (59) 11. Matt Latta (Bidwell B1D) 12. Ryan Montgomery (12) 13. Josh Holtgraver (00) 14. Shane Weaver (Ruffner 325x) 15. Ricky Meglaye (5) 16. Ben Black (27B) 17. Lauren Longbrake (27) 18. Eric Wilson (27W) 19. Bobby Rohrer (11) 20. Bobby Whitling (7W) 21. Randy Wyant (11T) 22. Josh Double (38) 23. Butch Lambert (27) 24. Brad Kling (Powell 100) 25. Brian Booher (Hoover 00H) 26. Andrew Wylie (84) (Note: Lauren Longbrake took a Series provisional & Bobby Whitling took the Track provisional).
Non-Qualifier Event (6 laps,$175 to-win): 1. Joel Prosser (77/38K) 2. Tim Sears,Jr. (Kingsley 3T) 3. A.J. Kingsley (3K) 4. Garrett Mott (43x) 5. Paul Phillips (Longwell 114) 6. Tom Bateman (B8) 7. Clay Ruffo (14R)-DNS 8. Chad Wright (6)-DNS 9. Michael Mitchell (19)-DNS.
Heat Winners: Rohrer,Satterlee,Weaver, Martin B Main Winners: Montgomery,Wylie Edward W. Stifel III K&N Cold Air Induction Dash: 1. Andrew Satterlee 2. Joe Martin 3. John Over 4. Shane Weaver Feature Lap Leaders: Martin (1-30) Car Count: 35
Genesis Shocks “Top Dog of the Night”: Joe Martin Poske’s Performance Parts “In Memory of Gary Knollinger”: Mike Pegher (3 rd ),Dan Angelicchio (8 th ) Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger: Bill Cunningham (+14) Utsinger’s Towing Hoosier Tire Giveaway: Lauren Longbrake Brake Man “Tough Brake of the Night”: Butch Lambert