Rod George turned in a spectacular performance last week earning his first Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Car victory in several years. He held off defending champion and current points leader, Jack Sodeman, Jr., to do it. But, Sodeman has to be looking over his shoulder at the Professor, Michael Bauer, who is only thirteen points back in the title chase. These talented drivers, and more, will be fighting for the gold and the glory!
While Jimmy Holden and Lonny Riggs duke it out for supremacy in the Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds, Sid Unverzagt, Jr. is quietly putting together his best season ever at Mercer Raceway Park. Unverzagt has been running consistently, and he just needs a little luck to break through with that first career win at the Park.
Andy Priest had Ted Hull's 305 Sprint Car humming this Saturday, as he captured yet another win in the quest for the crown offered by Bonnell's Rod Shop. His former car owner, Gregg McCandless, turned in another solid run, and he has now cut Darin Gallagher's points lead to just seventeen counters. Gallagher destroyed his primary car a couple of weeks ago, and he had to pull out his back-up machine to continue to compete. The trusty old mount was just a bit off the pace, but Gallagher will burn the midnight oil to get it up to snuff for this week's contest.
In the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites, there is a three horse race at the top of the standings. Bobby Springer continues to lead, but Jason Johnston and Shane Webb are both within sixteen points of him. Mark Marcucci remains hot as a firecracker, and Shane Pfeuffer and Doug Stanley are showing some speed, too.
There is another close contest in the Mini Stocks presented by Ray's Racing Collectibles and Eperthener's Auto Wrecking. Bill Fuchs is atop the rankings, but Tim Callahan is only eleven points out of the lead. Former champion Tyler Fulton has slid back to third due to some engine problems, but he is only 31 points behind the leader, so don't count him out! Isaac Paden is coming off a strong win, so this division continues to be one of the most competitive classes at the track.
The gates will swing open at 4 p.m., with hot laps and qualifications taking to the track at 6:00. Heat races will promptly follow.
Regular event ticket pricing will apply, so adults will be admitted for $13. Seniors (60+) will pay just $11, and students (ages 9-15) only $5. The children (ages 8 and under) will be admitted for free, as always. Families can get a special pass for only $28, and that will apply for two adults and up to four minors of any age. Pit passes will be $30, and purchasers can check out the racers as they prepare for action on the tricky oval.
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.
Marketing partners of Mercer Raceway Park for 2107 include Hovis Auto & Truck Supply, Schaeffer's Specialized Lubricants, Scheidemantle Motors, Greenhill Farms Equipment, Inc., the Normandy Banquet Center of Hickory VFW Post 6166, Ritenour Equipment Center, Pizza Joe's, AMSOIL, Noga Ambulance Service, Inc., Pyrotechnico, Watson's, Inc., Big Dog Indoor Racing & Hobby, Herr's Foods, the American Cancer Society, Sunburst Environmental, and Lias Tires.
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.
Another veteran, Andy Priest of New Castle, romped to his fourth victory of the season and twelfth overall in the Bonnell's Rod Shop 305 Sprint Cars. Jimmy Holden of Tiona held off Lonny Riggs to capture his fifth of the season in the Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds, building upon his points lead. Mark Marcucci made a clean sweep in the Rock Concrete Supply Mod Lites, setting fast time, winning a heat, and then acing the feature. Isaac Paden took the night cap in the Ray's Racing Collectibles and Eperthener's Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks.
"You know, this deal came together late, late, late," said George."I haven't run for a couple of years. My crew chief, Matt (Turner), he's been helping me for probably the last fifteen years, so we kinda got back together and it's taken a little bit of time to get back up to speed, not him, me for sure, but it was great all night long." George's win, together with a second to his teammate Cory Good a few weeks back, makes George a solid contender once again.
It was a spectacular opening lap to the Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Car Car feature event, to say the least. Third place starter Gary Kreiss, Jr. popped a wheelie, but maintained control. Michael Bauer, the outside pole man, carried too much momentum into turn three, and he spun wildly off the top of the track. While he let loose a huge cloud of dust, Bauer's car was found safely nosed towards the guardrail, and he was able to restart the race, albeit in last. Then, the field had a bad start waived off before the race got going for real.
Through it all, Rod George maintained his cool. He bolted out to the early lead, with George Hobaugh, Jr. second and points leader Jack Sodeman, Jr. in third. Gary Kreiss, Jr. held down fourth and Mike Miller was in fifth. The racers ran in that order through the first seven laps. Sodeman broke ranks and slid beneath Hobaugh to take second in turn one on lap eight. By that time, George had a safe lead of more than a half straightaway. While Sodeman tried to reel him in, things were happening behind the leaders.
Kreiss was pressing Hobaugh for the fourth position. His challenge ended on lap 10 when he suddenly turned into the infield entering turn four. Kreiss's car had broken its front suspension. While the field was circulating under the only yellow of the race, Hobaugh darted into the pits. He was unable to make repairs and return.
So, that juggled the restart line-up. When the field fired off again, it was still George and Sodeman out front, but Miller was now in third, with Michael Bauer breathing down his neck. Bauer took the position within a lap or two of the restart.
George was able to maintain about a two second advantage over Sodeman the rest of the way. He swooped under the checkers much to the delight of the Mercer crowd. Sodeman, Bauer, Miller, and Jimmy Morris rounded out the top five. For Morris, it was his first run at the Park in over a month, as he was sidelined with engine problems.
Joe Kubiniec was the final car in the running at the finish. The remainder of the top ten were placed on the basis of laps completed. They were Hobaugh, Kreiss, Davey Jones, and his teammate, Jimmy Fitzwater.
Jack Sodeman, Jr. set the fastest lap in qualifications, at 14.039 seconds. Rod George and Michael Bauer were best in their respective heats.
"I don't know about Rod, but I'm sweating," said the happy Bonnell's Rod Shop 305 Sprint winner, Andy Priest on this hot and humid night. "I know that we're not getting very many cars, but it sure is hard to pass anybody becasue these engines are so even," he explained. But, Priest made the only passes that he needed on the opening lap, when he bolted from third to first. Gregg McCandless, a former car owner for Priest, held down the second spot.
Behind them, Darin Gallagher and Cody Bova were fighting for the third spot. Gallagher assumed control of it when Bova entered the pits with a dozen laps in the books.
At the finish, it was Priest by 7.178 seconds over McCandless. Gallagher was third, Bob McMillin and rookie Caitlin Chaffman rounded out the top five. Bova was scored sixth based on laps completed. Joe Sylvester was unable to start the race.
Andy Priest topped the speed charts at 15.381 seconds. However, the heat victory went to Cody Bova.
Upon learning that he was moving up the all time winner's list in the Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modified division, Holden remarked, "I sure wish that Gary (Smoker) and Frank (Guidace) were still racing with us, we had a lot of fun back then." Smoker and Guidace were divisional kingpins while Holden was cutting his teeth in the class. Now it is his turn to lead the way, and he did just that despite a constant threat from his nemesis, Lonny Riggs.
Riggs wrestled the second position away from Brian Fink. Brian was substituting for his son, Kyle, who stepped aside to allow his father to race the family-owned hot rod as a father's day gift. Fink did him proud taking home a well deserved third place finish.
Steady Sid Unverzagt, Jr. topped Tom Holden, also subbing for his son Kyle, for the fourth position. It was Ryan Riffe's turn behind the wheel of the car he shares with his brother, and he brought it home in the sixth spot. Jerry Bowser, Ethan Siple, and Jason Sines rounded out the field.
Jimmy Holden once again topped the qualifications at 17.481 seconds. He and Brian Fink captured the heat wins.
In the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites, former champion Mark Marcucci showed that he still knows the fast way around Mercer Raceway Park. He was the best every time he hit the speedway. Another former champ, Shane Pfeuffer was just under one second behind Marcucci at the finish. Last week's winner, Doug Stanley, rode home in third.
Chris Logan was fourth and Kurt Eckstrom in fifth. Positions six through ten went to Jason Johnston, Shane Webb, Bobby Springer, Dusty Frantz, and Ed Mudrick.
The evening's fastest qualifier was Mark Marcucci, at 19.117 seconds. He backed that up with a heat win. The other preliminary belonged to Shane Pfeuffer.
In the finale, the Mini Stocks preswented by Ray's Racing Collectibles and Eperthener's Auto Wrecking again put on an exciting race. While Isaac Paden ran out front, Shane shook held down second. Bill Fuchs and Mike Porterfield had a struggle for the third position, with Fuchs salting it away in the final stages. Tim Callahan recovered from problem on the opening lap. His hood flew up, but he was able to stop the car safely and get to the pits for service. He raced his way back through the field to take fifth.
Tyler Fulton was next across the line. J.R. Shaner was seventh. Jacob Rice, Justin Bailey, and William Haylett completed the top ten.
Late arriving Shane Shook and Tyler Fulton scored the heat race wins.
Next week, the speedway will host another Saturday Night Live! event, with the fabulous five racing divisions in action. But, coming soon will be the Independence Day holiday spectacular, which will feature three, yes, three divisions of Sprint Cars. Joining the Precise Racing Products 410 Sprints and the Bonnell's Rod Shop 305 Sprints will be the Patriot Sprint Tour. It is not too long ago when Danny Holtgraver won both the 410 and Patriot 360 races on the same night. Can somebody do the double? Is a triple even possible? You will want to be at the track to find out first hand. Plus, you will get to see the fireworks! All of this will be made possible by Bonnell's Rod Shop and Pizza Joe's.
Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Cars: Rod George, Jack Sodeman, Jr., Michael Bauer, Mike Miller, Jimmy Morris, Joe Kubiniec, George Hobaugh, Jr., Gary Kreiss, Jr., Davey Jones, Jimmy Fitzwater, Joe McEwen, Vincent Daugherty (DNS).
Bonnell's Rod Shop 305 Sprint Cars: Andy Pries, Gregg McCandless, Darin Gallagher, Bob McMillin, Caitlin Chaffman, Cody Bova, Joe Sylvester (DNS).
Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds: Jimmy Holden, Lonny Riggs, Brian Fink, Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Tom Holden, Ryan Riffe, Jerry Bowser, Ethan Siple, Jason Sines, Richard Whitney (DNS). Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites: Mark Marcucci, Shane Pfeuffer, Doug Stanley, Chris Logan, Kurt Eckstrom, Jason Johnston, Shane Webb, Bobby Springer, Dusty Frantz, Ed Mudrick, Larry Bevivino.
Ray's Racing Collectibles/Eperthener's Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks: Isaac Paden, Shane Shook, Bill Fuchs, Mike Porterfield, Tim Callahan, Tyler Fulton, J.R. Shaner, Jacob Rice, Justin Bailey, William Haylett, John McCracken, Kyle Donnelly, Harold Winner, Nick Steiger, Ed Haylett (DNS).
After sweeping his heat and the feature in the Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Cars, young Michael Bauer did slice into the points lead of defending champion Jack Sodeman, Jr. Only eleven counters separate the two. George Hobaugh, Jr. and Davey Jones have a close contest for the third position, while Gale Ruth, Sr.--with some help from his son, Gale Jr.--are barely ahead of Rod George and A.J. Flick for the fifth spot in the standings.
Hermitage veteran Mike Lutz got a late start to the 2017 season, but he is beginning to climb up the 410 Sprint Car rankings. He is driving for a pair of owners, fellow racer Francis Sesco and former driver Brian "Cowboy" Steinman, and he had a sure top five slip from his grasp last weekend when a mechanical problem forced him off the track late in the race. Lutz and company will be looking to improve upon that performance.
Jimmy Holden snagged his fourth victory of the season in the Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds, and he now has a 55 point margin over Lonny Riggs. Kyle Fink, a three-time winner, is expected back, and these three fellows will be racing hard for the win. Tommy Kristyak returned last week after a hard crash that kept him sidelined for a week, and he was just as competitive as ever.
Andy Priest was another racer back in the fold, and he captured last week's Bonnell's Rod Shop 305 Sprint Car main. Points leader Darin Gallagher had some misfortunes, and his advantage is down to 27 points over steady Gregg McCandless. McCandless is searching for that elusive first win of the season, and this could be his week to do it!
The top three racers in the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites are separated by only seventeen counters, and any one of them could emerge victorious. Bobby Springer currently holds the top spot, with Shane Webb and Jason Johnston within striking distance. But, don't forget about former champs Mark Marcucci and Shane Pfeuffer.
The Mid-Season Championships did result in a realignment of the standings for the Mini Stocks presented by Ray's Racing Collectibles and Eperthener's Auto Wrecking. Bill Fuchs and Tim Callahan both supplanted defending champ Tyler Fulton. But they will have plenty of competition, as almost twenty racers have turned out for each of the races so far this season. And there is quality in addition to quantity, as the competition has been fierce! This week's race should be no different.
The gates will swing open at 4 p.m., with hot laps and qualifications taking to the track at 6:00. Heat races will promptly follow.
Regular event ticket pricing will prevail, which means that adults will be admitted for $13. Seniors (60+) will pay just $11, and students (ages 9-15) $5. The children (ages 8 and under) will be admitted for free, as always. Families can get a special pass for only $28, and that will apply for two adults and up to four minors of any age. Pit passes will be $30, and purchasers can check out the racers as they prepare for action on the tricky oval.
If you cannot make it to the track this week, June 24 will be another Saturday Night Live! program. Coming up on July 1 will be a Sprint Car triple header, plus fireworks! Bonnell's Rod Shop and Pizza Joe's will make that all possible to welcome in the Independence Day festivities.
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. Marketing partners of Mercer Raceway Park for 2107 include Hovis Auto & Truck Supply, Schaeffer's Specialized Lubricants, Scheidemantle Motors, Greenhill Farms Equipment, Inc., the Normandy Banquet Center of Hickory VFW Post 6166, Ritenour Equipment Center, Pizza Joe's, AMSOIL, Noga Ambulance Service, Inc., Pyrotechnico, Watson's, Inc., Big Dog Indoor Racing & Hobby, Herr's Foods, the American Cancer Society, Sunburst Environmental, and Lias Tires. 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.
Jimmy Holden passed veteran Tommy Kristyak midway through the Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modified feature event, and went on to his fourth score of the season and 33rd of his career. Andy Priest romped to the win in the Bonnell's Rod Shop 305 Sprint Cars. Taking the Mini Stock feature offered by Ray's Racing Collectibles and Eperthener's Auto Wrecking was Tim Callahan. Doug Stanley wore the nightcap for the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites.
"That was all I had for 25 laps. I just ran away from Jack (Sodeman) as fast as I could." Bauer added, "when you see the 23 up on the board in the second place and you're in the first place, you might as well just expect him on your tail."
Bauer, who hails from Clarion, PA, wasted no time building up a commanding lead while George and Sodeman were fighting for the second spot. Sodeman grabbed the position from George on lap eight and took off after Bauer. At one point, Bauer had nearly a half track advantage, but Sodeman never gave up.
When Bauer encountered some heavy lapped traffic, Sodeman chopped the margin down considerably. However, when Bauer cleared the lappers, he began to pull away again. "Even the lapped traffic was very competitive there. I didn't get too much courtesy there but a lapped car got me back there in one and two and I got trapped below another car. It was a white car and I thought it was Jack (Sodeman) and I said 'aww man.' You gotta keep charging because you know 23 is coming."
Sodeman was indeed coming. He began to reel Bauer in again in the closing laps of the race. However, the lap counter continued to advance, and Bauer still had a margin of .644 seconds when the checkers came out.
Behind Bauer and Sodeman were George and Hobaugh. Ruth was fifth, but a lap down at the finish. Mike Miller was sixth in his first 410 start of the season. Davey Jones, Joe McEwen, Eric L. Williams, and Mike Flynn completed the top ten.
The heat winners were Bauer and George. The fastest time of the night belonged to Sodeman, who navigated the track in 14.086 seconds.
Tommy Kristyak was making his first start after destroying his racer a couple of weeks ago in a spectacular crash between turns three and four. Despite being hobbled by a knee injury, Kristyak was quick on the throttle. He led the fist ten laps before Holden was able to charge by on the only restart of the contest.
Holden was pleased with the performance of his car. "I gotta give a lot of credit to my dad, you know, we've been talking about this car for a few week here. You know, Kyle Fink's been handing it to us for a couple of weeks, and he wasn't here tonight, so we are looking forward to him coming back."
Holden pulled away to a lead of nearly 2.7 seconds over Kristyak. Jeff Schaffer, Sr. raced up to third, with Lonny Riggs and Sid Unverzagt, Jr. completing the top five. Kyle Holden, Jason Sines, Kevin Green, Jerry Bowser, and Ryan Riffe.
Heat victories went to Jeff Schaffer, Sr. and Lonny Riggs. Collegian Kyle Holden was the evening's fastest qualifier, at 17.329 seconds.
Andy Priest had an engine problem in the heat race, but it was all cleared up come feature time for the Bonnell's Rod Shop 305 Sprint Cars. The New Castle driver, who was doing double duty this night, was aided by a wreck on lap eight that eliminated two top competitors. Mike Marano, II, who was running in second, spun in turn four and point leader Darin Gallagher had nowhere to go. Gallagher was fourth at the time.
Gregg McCandless was second. C.J. Jones rode home in third, with newcomer Jake Hesson in fourth and Joe Sylvester in the fifth spot. Then came Marano and Gallagher based on laps completed.
Gallagher prevailed in the only heat race for the class, while Jones had the top honors in qualifications, at 15.246 seconds.
Tim Callahan, a retired Pennsylvania State Trooper and current Mercer County Deputy Sheriff, scored his second win of the season, and fourteenth career victory in the Mini Stocks presented by Ray's Racing Collectibles and Eperthener's Auto Wrecking. Callahan swept into second place on the opening lap and took the lead just one round later. In the non-stop affair, Bill Fuchs tried to chase down Callahan in traffic, but could not accomplish the feat. "It was hard dealing with those lapped cars," Callahan said. "You never know where they are going to go when the track is a little greasy."
Harold Winner was third, followed by high school graduate Shane Shook, and Mike Porterfield. Tyler Fulton was sixth, ahead of Kyle Donnelly, Nick Steiger, Ed Haylett, and Justin Bailey.
The heat winners were Porterfield and Isaac Paden, who took an excursion out over the edge of turns three and four before retiring from the feature.
Bobby Singer jumped out to the early lead in the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lite feature event, which was the finale on this Mid-Season Championship Night. Just three laps in, though, Chirs Logan passed him heading toward turn three. Loagn held command until lap 13, when Doug Stanley surged ahead. Stanley led the final two rounds, making a triumphant return to Mercer Raceway Park.
Taking second was Logan. Springer held on for third. Late arriving Jason Johnston was fourth, with Shane Pfeuffer fifth in his first run of the 2017 season. Kurt Eckstrom, Shane Webb, Dusty Frantz, and Larry Bevivino completed the field.
Stanley doubled up with a heat win. Pfeuffer was the fastest car in qualifications, at 19.355, but he was unable to start his heat race.
The next two weeks will be Saturday Night Live! programs. However, there will be a twist to the one on June 17, for the Twin State Auto Racing Fan Club Night will be held at the speedway. So, all members in good standing will be admitted for free! And, then, July 1 Mercer Raceway Park will have its huge Independence Day celebration, featuring the Patriot Sprint Tour, along with the Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Cars and the Bonnell's Rod Shop 305 Sprints. Plus, there will be fireworks. This show will be made possible by Bonnell's Rod Shop and Pizza Joe's.
Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Cars: Michael Bauer, Jack Sodeman, Jr., Rod George, George Hobaugh, Gale Ruth, Jr., Mike Miller, Davey Jones, Joe McEwen, Eric L. Williams, Mike Flynn, Mike Lutz, Sadie Siegel, Jimmy Fitzwater.
Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds: Jimmy Holden, Tommy Kristyak, Jeff Schaffer, Sr., Lonny Riggs, Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Kyle Holden, Jason Sines, Kevin Green, Jerry Bowser, Ryan Riffe, Ethan Siple, Andy Priest, Richard Whitney (DNS).
Bonnell's Rod Shop 305 Sprint Cars: Andy Priest, Gregg McCandless, C.J. Jones, Jake Hesson, Joe Sylvester, Mike Marano, II, Darin Gallagher.
Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites: Doug Stanley, Chris Logan, Bobby Springer, Jason Johnston, Shane Pfeuffer, Kurt Eckstrom, Shane Webb, Dusty Frantz, Larry Bevivino.
Ray's Racing Collectibles and Eperther's Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks: Tim Callahan, Bill Fuchs, Harold Winner, Shane Shook, Mike Porterfield, Tyler Fulton, Kyle Donnelly, Nick Steiger, Ed Haylett, Justin Bailey, William Haylett, Karlee Longwell, Jamie Tasker, Summer Pitts, Isaac Paden, Mike Gelhausen, Josh Rathbun, J.R. Shaner (DNS).