Sodeman Seals the Deal at Mercer Raceway Park, Wins Feature and Championship

Mercer, PA (August 29, 2015): It was Championship Night at Mercer Raceway Park and Jack Sodeman, Jr. sealed the deal with a win in the 410 Sprint Cars presented by 4 Your Car Connection and World of Wheels. For Sodeman, it was a bit of redemption, as he inherited the lead when Brandon Matus spun after damaging the left front suspension in an excursion off the back stretch on lap 17. The week before, Sodeman had a win slip through his grasp when a broken brake caliper sent him to the pits while leading the Auto Racers for Kids event.

Cody Bova put an exclamation mark on his championship season by taking the victory in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. His closest contender, George Hobaugh, Jr., rapped the turn two wall while running second on lap 17. Lonny Riggs captured the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified feature, but Jimmy Holden’s second place finish was more than enough for him to repeat as champion in the class.


Tyler Fulton topped the Mini Stocks, offered by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles, but Michael Thompson claimed the top spot in the season’s standings. Mark Marcucci maintained his domination of the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites, winning the feature and sweeping the championship as well. Curtis J. Bish took the checkers in the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars, but Ryan Moyer was crowned the king of the Stock Cars.

“I think it was going to be a heck of a battle,” Sodeman said of his tussle with Brandon Matus. “I feel horrible for him. His bad luck is how I actually got the (points) lead when he crashed up there in the Midseason Championships and I happened to win on that night.” While Sodeman was running second to the younger Matus, it looked as though the contest for the points title would go right down to the wire. “I was just running in second, and we were going to take it right down to the end, but I can’t say if I could have beaten him, he was really going well.”

But, Matus’ misfortune opened the door for Sodeman to walk away with another point championship. “You’re going to see a lot more championships and a lot more races won by Brandon. That kid’s going pretty good,” Sodeman observed. Then, he added with a grin, “I’m not getting any younger, so I guess it’s good that I won a championship now becasue all the young guys are going to be winning all the championships, and I’ll be in the rocking chair.”

Sodeman and Matus were separated by just 26 points entering the finale, and they got to start side by side on the front row. With double points on the line, Matus could have easily taken the title. He shot out ahead, and led the veteran Sodeman for the first 16 laps before disaster struck. Matus slid out over the edge on Mercer’s back chute, and that enabled Sodeman to drive by for the lead. Worse, Matus’ car sustained severe damage to the left front suspension. His car limped over to turn four, where it spun to a stop in the middle of the racing groove. Mike Miller had nowhere to go, and struck the disabled Matus mobile, ending the night for both drivers.

That put Sodeman on the point for the restart, with former champion Eric Williams on his tail. Turkey tried to mount a charge, but, soon after the race resumed, his front suspension was giving him fits. Williams fought to maintain control, but his night ended with a spin between turns three and four.

Sodeman and A.J. Flick lined up to do battle over the remaining laps. Sodeman was dominant, and Flick rode home wih his best career finish at the Park, second. Dan Kuriger finished a creditable third. Andy McKisson came on strong for fourth late in the race, with Scott Priester taking fifth.

Adam Kekich came from fifteenth to finish sixth. Michael Bauer, Brent Matus, Gale Ruth, Jr., and Andy Feil rounded out the top ten.

Heat winners were Kuriger and Brent Matus. There was no B Main.

Cody Bova was a man on a mission this night in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. He jumped out front at the drop of the green. He built up a substantial lead over his rival for the title, George Hobaugh, Jr. Hobaugh was able to keep divisional rookie, Darin Gallagher at bay for most of the contest. However, Hobaugh’s night ended againstthe turn two wall. His crash on lap 16 eliminated him from the championship run, and gave Gallagher the second place for the final four lap run to the checkers.

Bova led Gallagher the rest of the way. Evan Kornbau was third, with Jacob Gomola climbing through the pack to earn the fourth spot. Fifth went to last season’s Modified Lite champion, George Englert. Darren Pifer, Mike Marano, II, Devin Litwiler, Alex Paden, and Ken Rossey were the next five finishers.

The heat winners were Hobaugh and Paden. There was no B Main.

In the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified go, Jimmy Holden and Lonny Riggs paced the field as they were ready to fight for the title. Holden jumped out front, and led by a car length or two for the first six rounds. Riggs began to get some momentum going and he pulled along side of Holden. They raced side by side for more than a lap. But Riggs powered by on the inside as they came off the second turn.

While Riggs would stay out front the rest of the way, Holden remained close. But Riggs was flawless, and that was the way that they finished. Kyle Fink ran third the complete distance, with Tommy Kristyak doing the same in fourth spot. Fifth went to Sid Unverzagt, Jr., who was a welcome addition to this competitive division.

Jeff Schaffer, Jr. crossed in sixth, with Brian Fink in seventh. Fink was subbing for Shayne Izzo, who had a personal commitment. Brian Schaffer, Rich Whitney, and Kyle Holden were the remaining drivers in the top ten.

The preliminaries belonged to Jimmy Holden and Unverzagt. There was no B Main.

In the Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stock feature event, Tyler Fulton led wire to wire to win the non-stop race. However, the victory was not enough for him to surpass Michael Thompson, who named as the divsional champion. After hopping into that rdie serval weeks into the 2015 season, Thompson went on an extended hot streak, and climbed through the standings quickly.

Finishing behind the high flying Fulton was former champion Mike McConnell, who, like teammate Thompson, took over the seat in a Grossman’s Garage machine in recent weeks. Thompson was third, with Trooper Tim Callahan and Steve Longwell, Jr. rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten were Isaac Paden, Shane Shook, Steve Longwell, Sr., Rudy Troples, and Ed Haylett.

The heat winners were Callahan and Fulton. There was no B Main.

In the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites, Mark Marcucci was again the class of the field as he was all season long. He powered out to an early lead and held the top spot despite a couple of brief interruptions. Jacob Bova could not match the rapid pace set by Marcucci, but he was fleet enough to finish well ahead of Glenn Teeters and Bill Staivason. Shane Webb took the fifth position. Dusty Frantz and Anthony Cavicchia were the final racers to cross the line. Bova topped the qualifier. There was no B Mian.

The Precise Racing products Stock Cars wore the nightcap on Championship Night. While Ryan Moyer set the early pace, Curtis J.Bish moved ahead after a handful of laps. Moyer kept second to himself. Leigh Wheeler, Pat Fielding, and Randy Wyant ran in the top five. Gary Miller, Jr., Garrett Calvert, Charlie Baptiste, Dennis Clark, and Bobby Heim were the other competitors. Moyer won the only heat. There was no B Main.

There will be no action on the oval for the next three weekends. But, remember that USA East Regional Final Fall Nationals Truck and Tractor Pull will be held on Saturday, September 19. Then, the racers will converge for the 16th Annual Little Guy Nationals, which will feature racing in eight, count ’em, eight classes. That spectacular will be held on Friday and Saturday nights, September 25 and 26.

4 Your Car Connection/World of Wheels 410 Sprint Cars: Jack Sodeman, Jr., A.J. Flick, Dan Kuriger, Andy McKisson, Scott Priester, Adam Kekich, Michael Bauer, Brent Matus, Gale Ruth, Jr., Andy Feil, Dennis Wagner, Eric Williams, JimmY Seger, Jimmy Morris, Brandon Matus, Mike MIller, John McCracken, Jr., Brandon Spithaler (DNS).

Bonnell’s Rod SHop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Cody Bova, Darin Gallagher, Evan Kornbau, Jacob Gomola, George Englert, Darren Pifer, Mike Marano, II, Devin Litwiler, Alex Paden, Ken Rossey, Rod Jones, George Hobaugh, Jr., Bob McMillin.

Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: Lonny Riggs, Jimmy Holden, Kyle Fink, Tommy Kristyak, Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Brian Fink, Brian Schaffer, Rich Whitney, Kyle Holden, Kevin Green, Erik Martin, Jason Sines.

Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks: Tyler Fulton, Mike McConnell, Michael Thompson, Tim Callahan, Steve Longwell, Jr., Isaac Paden, Shane Shook, Steve Longwell, Sr., Rudy Troples, Ed Haylett, Karlee Longwell, Cameron McQuown.

Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites: Mark Marcucci, Jacob Bova, Glenn Teeters, Bill Staivason, Shane Webb, Dusty Frantz, Anthony Cavicchia, Doug Jones (DNS).

Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: Curtis J. Bish, Ryan Moyer, Leigh Wheeler, Pat Fielding, Randy Wyant, Gary Miller, Jr., Garrett Calvert, Charlie Baptiste, Dennis Clark, Bobby Heim.

Kekich Best on Auto Racers for Kids Night at Mercer Raceway Park

Mercer, PA (August 22, 2015): Adam Kekich raced to victory in the 410 Sprint Cars in the Auto Racers for Kids Charity event held at Mercer Raceway Park. All proceeds from this program benefit disadvantaged youth in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The designated charity for this area is the Children’s Aid Society of Mercer County. Kekich benefited when Jack Sodeman, Jr. retired while the field was under a red flag on lap three. But, once out front, there was no denying the third generation driver from nearby Hermitage, PA.

Joining Kekich (4 Your Car Connection/World of Wheels 410 Sprint Cars) in victory lane were Tommy Kristyak (Approved Toilet Rental 358 Modifieds),Darrin Gallagher (Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors), Tim Burns (Precise Racing Products Stock Cars), Tim Callahan (Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks), Mark Marcucci (Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites).

“We got a win right off the bat there, then we kinda struggled through the year,” said the happy winner, Adam Kekich.”We finally got things figured out,” he added. “As soon as they dropped the green, I ripped around the top of one and two and passed a couple of cars, and I knew we were good and I knew that’s where I wanted to be. We actually started reeling in Sodeman, and I actualy thought that I had a chance to race him for the win, and when he dropped out, my stomach just dropped but I got real excited and I just knew that it was my race to lose and I just couldn’t give up.”

Second place runner Dan Kuriger had a battle all race long with Carl Bowser before seizing the advantage on lap 23. “Adam was really fast around the top down here (pointing to turn four) and my car wasn’t sticking down there on the top, but there was no catching Adam, he was gone.” Bowser concurred. “I was hoping for lapped traffic to maybe get a chance at him, but he made his way right through it, and once I got by them, I couldn’t even see him.”

Carl Bowser jumped out front at the drop of the green, but it was Jack Sodeman, Jr. who rode the cushion between turns one and two to take the lead away on the opening lap of the feature event. Sodeman’s attempt at a second Auto Racers for Kids crown came to an end when his car was pushed back to the pits while the field was stopped due to the flip by Dennis Wagner. Wagner was unhurt, but he walked back to the pits dejectedly.

Sodeman’s misfortune put Kekich on the point for the restart, with Bowser and Dan Kuriger in row two of the Delaware double file system. Bowser tried to get a run off the top of turn four on the restart, but Kekich was not shaken by the maneuver. He entered turn one with an advantage that continued to grow until the race was halted briefly on lap 8 due to a spin by John McCracken, Jr.

Bowser tried the same move on the restart, but once again Kekich powered into the first turn with the lead. Kekich led the remaining laps without interruption. Bowser held second, but Kuriger pressured him over the second half of the contest. Kuriger was able to drive past Bowser coming through turns one and two with 23 laps completed. While they were fighting for second, A.J. Flick and Jimmy Seger were battling for fifth, behind Brandon Matus

At the checkers, it was Kekich by nearly six seconds over Kuriger for his second triumph in the 4 Your Car Connection and World of Wheels Sprint Cars. Bowser led Brandon Matus and Flick across the line. Sixth went to Seger, Andy McKisson was seventh. Michael Bauer, Brandon Spithaler, and Arnie Kent rounded out the top ten.

Heat wins went to Kekich and Bauer. The Dash had the six fastest qualifiers go head to head for the front three rows, and Bowser came out on top. The evening’s fastest qualifier, Eric Williams dropped out of that event due to a malfunction in the rear end, and he was unable to get the start in the feature event. There was no B Main.

In the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified go, Sid Unverzagt, Jr. led Kyle Fink on the opening lap. On the second round, Jimmy Holden, who was running third at the time, spun in the second corner, collecting Tommy Kristyak, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Lonny Riggs, and Shayne Izzo. All but Holden were able to continue, which was surprising because Kristyak did get airborne in the incident.

Fink was able to blast ahead of Unverzagt when the the green flag waived. Fink led until lap sixteen, when he jumped the cushion in turn two. Fink tried to keep the car moving, but the damage was too severe, and he came to a halt in the second corner the next time around.

Kristyak and Riggs were in front on the restart, and they stayed put for the remaining two laps. Unverzagt posted his best finish at the Park, third. Jeff Schaffer, Jr. did likewise, crossing in fourth. Kevin Green was fifth. Brian Schaffer, Kyle Holden, Rich Whitney, Izzo, and Cody Cooper completed the top ten.

Riggs and Jimmy Holden scored in the preliminaries. There was no B Main.

Darin Gallagher romped to his second win of the season at Mercer Raceway Park in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Cody Bova raced home in second, with a ringer, Brandon Matus, taking the third spot. Evan Kornbau placed fourth, with Darren Pifer in fifth. Andy Priest, George Hobaugh, Jr., George Englert, Mike Marano, II, and Alex Paden completed the top ten. The heat winners were Priest and Bova. There was no B Main.

Tim Burns led wire to wire to take the Precise Racing Products Stock Car feature. Former champion Rusty Moore returned to the track for second, ahead of Bobby Heim, Bob McCann, and Bob Schwartzmiller. WIlliam Hurrelbrink, Brent Johnson, Terry Wheeler, Charlie Baptiste, and Dennis Clark completed the top ten. Burns and Johnson took the qualifiers. There was no B Main.

Trooper Tim Callahan claimed the victory in the Mini Stocks presented by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. Isaac Paden, Steve Longwell, Sr., and Ed Haylett completed the top five. Sixth went to Karlee Longwell with Davey Cox, Shane Shook, Josh Ehrenberg, and John Shannon rounding out the top ten.. The heat winners were Callahan and Shook. There was no B Main.

Mark Marcucci prevailed in the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites. Kacy Campbell was next, with Doug Jones, Levi Spinnewebber, and Bill Stavason third through fifth. The next five across were Josh Christopher, Keith Smith, Jacob Bova, Shane Webb, and Dusty Frantz. The heats belonged to Smith and Jones. There was no B Main.

Next week, Mercer Raceway Park will crown its champions. Double points will be on the line on Meet your Heroes Night, presented by Herr’s, the official snack food of Mercer Raceway Park.

4 Your Car Connection/World of Wheels 410 Sprint Cars: Adam Kekich, Dan Kuriger, Carl Bowser, Brandon Matus, A.J. Flick, Jimmy Seger, Andy McKisson, Michael Bauer, Brandon Spithaler, Arnie Kent, Gale Ruth, Jr., Brent Matus, Scott Priester, Jimmy Morris, Andy Feil, Alex Paden, Eric L. Williams, John McCracken, Jr., Michael Flynn, Jack Sodeman, jr., Dennis Wagner.

Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: Tommy Kristyak, Lonny Riggs, Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Kevin Green, Brian Schaffer, Kyle Holden, Rich Whitney, Shayne Izzo, Cody Cooper, Kyle Fink, Jimmy Holden.

Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Darin Gallagher, Cody Bova, Brandon Matus, Evan Kornbau, Darren Pifer, Andy Priest, George Hobaugh, Jr., George Englert, Mike Marano, II, Alex Paden, Devin Litwiler, Joe McEwen, Ken Rossey, Bobby Siegel, Andrew Fescemyer, Bob McMillin.

Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: Tim Burns, Rusty Moore, Bobby Heim, Bob McCann, Bob Schwartzmiller, WIlliam Hurrelbrink, Brent Johnson, Terry Wheeler, Charlie Baptiste, Dennis Clark, Curtis J Bish.

Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks: Tim Callahan, Isaac Paden, Steve Longwell, Sr., Ed Haylett, Karlee Longwell, Davey Cox, Shane Shook, Josh Ehrenberg, John Shannon, James Tasker, Matt Pegher (DNS).

Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites: Mark Marcucci, Kacy Campbell, Doug Jones, Levi Spinnewebber, Bill Stavason, Josh Christopher, Keith Smith, Jacob Bova, Shane Webb, Dusty Frantz, Cole Petrelle (DNS).

Smackdown! to Dave Murdick

Bova, Marcucci, Shook, Haupt, and Stivenson also win

Mercer, PA (August 15, 2015): The thunder of The BRP Modified Tour once again roared at Mercer Raceway Park, and Butler’s Dave Murdick emerged as the winner of the annual Smackdown! event. Murdick started in the sixth position and methodically worked his way forward throughout the 35 lap affair. It was just his second victory of the season for the former touring series champion.

Also reaching victory lane were Cody Bova (Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors), Mark Marcucci (Rock Concrete Modified Lites), Shane Shook (Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks), Cory Haupt (Pa Vintage Modifieds), and Brian Stivenson (Pa Vintage Modifieds/Sportsmen Division).

Shane Pierce, who hails from the Niagara Region in Ontario, Canada led the first 25 laps of the race after pulling the number two pill in the redraw for starting positions. He was passed for the lead by Murdick after a lap 25 restart, and a lap later, the hard charging Erick Rudolph managed to slide past Pierce as well. Pierce held on to a podium finish as he followed Murdick and Rudolph under the checkers. Fourth place went to Rex King, Jr., while Mercer’s own Lonny Riggs led the way for the locals with a very strong fifth place finish.

Positions six through ten went to Rex King, Sr., Rick Richner, Eric Gabany, Rick Regalski, and Tommy Kristyak.

It was a heartbreak for teenager Kyle Holden, a regular in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified ranks, as he finished second in his heat race and pulled the number three pill for the feature, only to have his car break on the first of the parade laps and have to exit the event on the hook.

Winners of the four heat races were Garrett Krummert, Rudolph, Kng, Jr., and Kyle Fink. B Mains went to Richner and Jimmy Holden, the current Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified points leader. Provisionals were granted to J.R. McGinley and Rodney Beltz.

The Outlaw Sprint Warrior feature presented by Bonnell’s Rod Shop was the Cody Bova Show as he dominated the race from the drop of the green flag. The 20 lap tilt was only slowed once for a caution on lap 16, when the second place car of George Englert slowed in turn four. At the time of that caution, Bova had over a half track lead on second place and was still pulling away. On the restart, he again jumped out quickly and sailed to the win, his fourth of the year. Crossing in second place was the car that was previously been driven by Tim Callahan as car 54. The car has been renumbered to 86 and is now being driven by Mike Lutz. Ken Rossey, Darin Gallagher, and Andy Priest completed the top five.

Evan Kornbau, George Hobaugh, Greg Dobrosky, Alex Paden, and C.J. Jones rounded out the top 10.

Heat races went to George Englert and George Hobaugh.

Mark Marcucci won the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lite feature despite a lap four tangle with Jacob Bova which saw their cars get locked together. That mishap did not slow either driver, as Bova quickly drove to the lead from the tail on the restart and led for three laps before Marcucci was able to dive under him coming out of turn four and power to the lead on the front stretch. From there, Marcucci cruised to another easy win. Only four of the seven starters finished the feature, as Bova crossed in second, followed by Shane Webb, and Doug Jones. Marcucci won the only heat race.
The Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks were a battle of the 17’s for most of the race as the 17k of Steve Longwell, Jr. and the 17s of Shane Shook went back and forth for the lead throughout the race. In the end, it was the S machine of Shook that came out on top. A last lap bonzai move by Michael Thompson allowed him to slip into second place at the checkers, followed by Longwell, Jr. Tyler Fulton and Steve Longwell, Sr. filled out the first five. The next five finishers were Ed Haylet, Mike McConnell, Rudy Troples, Richie Kyle, and Nick Brown. Heat races were won by Ed Haylet and Michael Thompson.

Also on the card were the PA Vintage Modified Series, and this was no exhibition. These guys put on a great racing show, showcasing the glory days of dirt car racing in a nostalgic look at the way things used to be. Gary Haupt was the winner of the overall feature. The Vintage Series has two divisions that run in the same feature, with the smaller block Sportsmen also competing. The Sportsmen winner was Brian Stivenson. The overall top ten were Gary Haupt, Paul Bacchus, Jim Kurpakus, Rob Casti, Jim Kirkwood, Dave George, Marbles Mohney, Rick St. Pierre, Brian Stivenson, and Bobby Coles. Heat race winners were Gary Haupt and Les Myers.

Next week, Mercer Raceway Park will host the Auto Racers for Kids charity race, which was postponed previously due to rain. All six divisions that make up a Saturday Night Live! card will be on hand. Note that the Stock Cars will be OPEN Stocks. The racers will have extra money on the line, courtesy of Scott Bonnell of Bonnell’s Rod Shop. There will be no points for this race, however. Remember that all proceeds from that event are used to benefit area children and youth programs.

The final night of points will be held on Saturday, August 29. It will be the second Meet Your Heroes Night, presented by Herr’s, the official snack food of Mercer Raceway Park. Double points will be awarded. The first twelve starting positions will be lined up based upon the eligible drivers’ point standings going into that night of racing.

BRP Modified Tour/Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: Dave Murdick, Erick Rudolph, Shane Peirce, Rex King, Jr., Lonny Riggs, Rex King, Sr., Rick Richner, Tommy Kristyak, Jim Rasey, Max Smoker, Kevin Bolland, Gary Smoker, Rich Whitney, Kevin Hoffman, J.R. McGinley, Randy Chrysler, Garrett Krummert, Jimmy Holden, Rodney Beltz, Tom Glenn, Kyle Fink, Jeremiah Shingledecker, Eric Martin, Kyle Holden (DNS).

DNQ: Shawn Fleeger, Mark Frankhouser, Tommy Mattocks, Dillon Barr, Carl Murdick, Randy Chronister, Steve Barr, Brett Clarke, Clyde Gumpp, Eric Beggs, Brad Rapp.

Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Cody Bova, Mike Lutz, Ken Rossey, Darin Gallagher, Andy Priest, Evan Kornbau, George Hobaugh, Jr., Greg Dobrosky, Alex Paden, C.J. Jones, Devin Litwiler, Chris Matthews, Darren Pifer, Andrew Fescemyer, George Englert, Terry Young, Shane Pfeuffer, Mike Marano, II (DNS).

Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites: Mark Marcucci, Jacob Bova, Shane Webb, Doug Jones, Bill Stivason, Jason Johnson, Dusty Frantz.

Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks: Shane Shook, Michael Thompson, Steve Longwell, Jr., Tyler Fulton, Steve Longwell, Sr., Ed Haylet, Mike McConnell, Rudy Troples, Richie Kyle, Nick Brown, Karlee Longwell, Isaac Paden, Mike Derr.

PA Vintage Modifieds/Sportsmen: Cory Haupt, Paul Bacchus, Jim Kurpakus, Rob Casti, Jim Kirkwood, Dave George, Marbles Mohney, Rick St. Pierre, Brian Stivenson, Bobby Coles, Rick Majka, Dan Osmer, Al Bylerly, Dale McCandless, unknown driver # 33S, Al Harju, Les Myers, Roy Rihne.

Home Sweet Home for Holtgraver

Kristyak, Priest, Wheeler, Marcucci, and Thompson also Score

Danny HoltgraverDanny Holtgraver took advantage of a rare week off the road to compete at the tracks where he cut his teeth. He showed everybody that he still knows his way around the Mercer Raceway Park, as he survived a furious attack from the defending track champion Eric Williams to get a much needed victory in the Second Annual Putsy Kekich Memorial, presented by Sunburst Environmental and Bonnell’s Rod Shop, for the 4 Your Car Connection and World of Wheels 410 Sprints.

Also scoring wins were Tommy Kristyak (Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds), Andy Priest (Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors), Leigh Wheeler (Precise Racing Products Stock Cars), Mark Marcucci (Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites), and Michael Thompson (Epertherner’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks).

Holtgraver was relieved to get the win before the highly partisan crowd. “This has been a tough year, we really needed this win. I’m really excited to come back home and get this win in front of the best fans in the world.” He will now head off to the Knoxville Nationals, but he will be searching for a ride when he gets there. “I’m packing everything I need, helmet, suit, whatever. Hoping maybe something works out.”

Holtgraver earned the pole position by winning the Dash held for the evening’s six fastest qualifiers. That enabled him to lead the first 21 laps of the race. However, he never could shake loose from Williams, who was back in his own machine for this race. Williams snuck past Holtgraver on lap 22, but the traveler immediately mounted a counter attack. Holtgraver explained the turn of events thusly. “I was working the high side and really wasn’t getting the grip I needed, but when I saw Eric go by me low, I knew I could make that line work.” And make it work he did, taking the lead back a lap later and then holding off several additional thrusts by Williams.

There were only two cautions to slow the thirty lapper. The first came on lap seven for Mike Flynn. Seven rounds later, John McCracken, Jr. came to a halt.

Brandon Spithaler, Jack Sodeman, Jr., and Lee Jacobs completed the top five. Brandon Matus, Dan Kuriger, Arnie Kent, Brent Matus, and Michael Bauer were the next five to cross the finish line.

Heats went to Scott Priester and Brandon Spithaler, while Holtgraver prevailed in the Dash. The fastest qualifier was Adam Kekich, grandson of the late Putsy Kekich. Adam was an early retiree from the memorial feature that he wanted to win so badly.

In the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds, Tommy Kristyak scored his third win of the season, but it wasn’t easy for the veteran driver. Eric Gabany was right with him throughout the race, and Gabany did take the lead away on lap three. But, by lap nine, Kristyak was back out front to stay. Jimmy Holden was closing fast on the leaders, but ran out of time. Lonny Riggs was also right there at the end, recovering nicely from the first lap melee. J.R. McGinley was fifth. Kyle Fink, Sid Unvezagt, Jr., Shayne Izzo, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., and Brian Schaffer completed the top ten. Heat races went to Kristyak and Kyle Fink.

On the first lap of the 358 Modified feature, there was a four-car pile-up involving Riggs, Max Smoker, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., and Kevin Green. All but Smoker were able to continue. Green would be involved in a red flag incident later, for a brief fire, but it was extinguished safely.

The Outlaw Sprint Warrior feature presented by Bonnell’s Rod Shop was the Andy Priest show. In just his second start in the brand new Ted Hull machine, Priest dominated the race, opening up a 5 second lead at one point. Joe McEwen led the first two laps but Priest took command on lap 3 and never looked back. Cody Bova’s car was a rocket and he worked thru the field and was closing on Priest, but ran out of laps. He was just 1.5 seconds behind at the checkers. McEwen held on for third, with Mike Marano, II and George Hobaugh, Jr. taking fourth and fifth. Devin Litwiler, Darin Gallagher, Terry Young, Chris Matthews, and Shane Pfeuffer rounded out the top ten. Young and Bova won the two preliminaries.

There was only one stoppage in the Outlaw Sprint Warrior feature, but it was a doozie on the first lap, collecting the cars of Darren Pifer, Brandon Spithaler, Darin Gallagher, George Englert, and Evan Kornbau.

The Precise Racing Products Stock Car feature was a disappointing affair, as there were numerous cautions and a red flag, as well as other incidents that prolonged the race. Leigh Wheeler managed to lead the entire distance and was able to avoid all of the mayhem behind him. Trailing Leigh Wheeler across the line were Gary Miller, Jr., Ryan Moyer, Pat Fileding, and Terry Wheeler. The rest of the cars were scored on the basis of laps completed. They were Brandon Wearing, Garrett Calvert, Brent Johnson, and Charlie Baptise. Andy Thompson was disqualified for causing an intentional yellow. Miller prevailed in the only heat for this division. The red was for Brandon Wearing who crashed hard into the spinning car of Ryan Moyer. Both drivers were unhurt.

Due to the unsportsmanlike conduct displayed on and off the track by the Stock Car drivers, the class has been taken off the racing card for the August 15 event.

The Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks were once again dominated by Michael Thompson. Tim Callahan, Shane Shook, Steve Longwell, Sr., and Mike McConnell were second through fifth. Isaac Paden, Rudy Troples, Ed Haylett, Karlee Longwell, and Tyler Fulton ran in the top ten. The only excitement in this race came on lap six when Todd Kougher’s car briefly caught fire. He, too, was not injured. There was just one caution here, on lap seven, when Tyler Fulton’s car broke. Heat races went to Thompson and Callahan, who definitely was back in his comfort zone.

The Rock Concrete Modified Lites closed out the evening, with Mark Marcucci scoring the victory once again. Three cautions slowed the race, but not Marcucci, as he dominated. Levi Spinneweber spun out on lap six, but charged back through the field to finish second. Newcomer Cole Petrelle car finished third. Positions four through ten belonged to Jacob Bova, Shane Webb, Doug Jones, Keith Smith, Bill Stivason, Dusty Frantz, and Josh Christopher. Heat races went to Smith and Marcucci.

Next week, Mercer Raceway Park will host Smackdown! This event pits the visiting Big Block Modifieds of the BRP Modified Tour against the home team, the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds. The BRP Modified Tour has been drawing outstanding fields of cars and the addition of the Mercer faithful should make things very interesting. A Mercer regular, Lonny Riggs, finally broke the long string of domination by the touring Big Block drivers, but the 358 pilots will try to use their familairity with the tricky oval to close the gap. You will not want to miss this Modified sibling rivalry.

4 Your Car Connection/World of Wheels 410 Sprint Cars: Danny Holtgraver, Eric Williams, Brandon Spithaler, Jack Sodeman, Jr., Lee Jacobs, Brandon Matus, Dan Kuriger, Arnie Kent, Brent Matus, Michael Bauer, Scott Priester, Dan Shetler, A.J. Flick, Jimmy Morris, Zach Morrow, Davey Jones, John McCracken, Jr., Adam Kekich, Gale Ruth, Jr., Mike Flynn, Dennis Wagner.

Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: Tommy Kristyak, Eric Gabany, Jimmy Holden, Lonny Riggs, J.R. McGinley, Kyle Fink, Sid Unvezagt, Jr., Shayne Izzo, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Brian Schaffer, Kyle Holden, Rich Whitney, Eric Martin, Dillon Barr, Kevin Green, Max Smoker.

Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Andy Priest, Cody Bova, Joe McEwen, Mike Marano, II, George Hobaugh, Jr., Devin Litwiler, Darin Gallagher, Terry Young, Chris Matthews, Shane Pfeuffer, Evan Kornbau, George Englert, Brandon Spithaler, Darren Pifer.

Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: Leigh Wheeler, Gary Miller, Jr., Ryan Moyer, Pat Fileding, Terry Wheeler, Brandon Wearing, Garrett Calvert, Brent Johnson, Charlie Baptise, Andy Thompson (DQ).

Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites: Mark Marcucci, Levi Spinnewebber, Cole Petrelle, Jacob Bova, Shane Webb, Doug Jones, Keith Smith, Bill Stivason, Dusty Frantz, Josh Christopher.

Epertherner’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks: Michael Thompson, Tim Callahan, Shane Shook, Steve Longwell, Sr., Mike McConnell, Isaac Paden, Rudy Troples, Ed Haylett, Karlee Longwell, Tyler Fulton, Todd Kougher.

Priester Completes Car at the Track, Wins Feature Event at Mercer Raceway Park

Hobaugh, Riggs, Bish, Marcucci, and McConnell Also Score

Just a week after destroying Martha Dionise’s 410 Sprint Car in a heat race at Mercer Raceway Park, Scott Priester and the rest of the crew finished assembling a replacement in the pit area, and he drove it to victory later in the evening.

George Hobaugh continued his hot streak, earning his third feature win of the weekend in his Outlaw Sprint Warrior presented by Bonnell’s Rod Shop. Lonny Riggs captured a thriller in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified feature event after a ding dong battle with Kyle Fink. Curtis J. Bish topped the Precise Racing Products Stock Car go. Mark Marcucci claimed the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lite feature, and Mike McConnell paced the Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks.

“I just had a feeling we were going to be fast,” said a tired but happy Scott Priester. He met his crew early at the track, so they could put the finishing touches on the car. “We were picking up a tiny bit each week, but we only ran 100 feet of a heat race last week, but we were going better the week before that,” he explained. Last week, was when Priester tore the Dionise car apart by striking the inside guard rail entering the first corner. Using a borrowed chassis, the team put this mount together, and Priester admitted that he was “pretty comfortable” by feature time. And, boy, it showed.

He shot out to the lead from the pole position in the 4 Your Car Connection and World of Wheels 410 Sprint Cars. He stayed out front, way out front, for the first 18 laps. Over that long run of green flag racing, Priester developed a five second lead. However, a caution wiped it away, allowing youg Michael Bauer to close to his rear nerf bar. Bauer could not get a run on the veteran Priester on the restart, but he got another shot with just one lap to go. Once again, Priester balsted out to the lead, and Bauer was left to fight off Brent Matus for the third position.

Behind the leaders, there was plenty of action. Brandon Matus and Jack Sodeman, Jr. raced up through the field. They started in eleventh and twelfth, respectively. They displaced Dan Shetler and Adam Kekich in the running order just about halfway through the contest. Sodeman and Matus carried their battle all the way to the checkers, with Sodeman barely edging the fourth generation driver by .006 seconds for the fourth spot.

Shetler held on for sixth. Eric Williams struggled in his second appearance for Jim Chappel, getting seventh. Kekich was next. A.J. Flick and Mike Miller was tenth.

Sodeman and Brandon Matus topped their respective heat races. There was no B Main.

“It’s been a good couple of days for us,” George Hobaugh said modestly. He racked up this third win in less than 24 hours aboard the Lockhart Motorsports Outlaw Sprint Warrior. To do it, he chased down Greg Dobrosky, who had a nose wing failure. Hobaugh was so focused on driving, that he was oblivious to his rival’s problem. “I don’t know what happened to him there, he was slowing down a little bit, but I think we just took advantage of having a little better line,” he added.

Greg Dobrosky and Darren Pifer paced the field for the start of the Outlaw Sprint Warrior feature event, offered by Bonnell’s Rod Shop. Dobrosky held control through a caution and a red flag, the latter due to a flip by Mike MIller in turn one. Miller was unhurt, but he was unable to continue. When racing resumed, Dobrosky took control. His time out front was limited by a collapsed nose wing. That loosened up his machine and it allowed George Hobaugh to take the lead away on lap 17. Cody Bova also passed Dobrosky in the waning laps.

Trailing Hobaugh, Bova, and Dobrosky were Darren Pifer and Evan Kornbau. Andy Priest took sixth in his first start in the Cal Hull number 41. C.J. Jones was seventh, ahead of Mike Marano, II, Darren Gallagher, and Joe McEwen.

The heat winners were Hobaugh and Priest. There was no B Main.

In the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds, Lonny Riggs jumped out front, but Kyle Fink reeled him in. Fink took the lead away on lap six. Immediately thereafter, Riggs fought back, and the two waged a side by side duel for several laps. Remarkably, Riggs was able to recover from interference by a lapped car on two occasions. The next time the leaders encountered lapped traffic though, Riggs found his way to the inside line and he was able to pass both the lapped car and the leader! Jimmy Holden followed him into second, and now the question was whether Holden could sneak past for the win.

However, Riggs was up to the task. Riggs, Holden, Fink, Kyle Holden, and J.R. McGinley completed the top five. Next to cross were Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Tommy Kristyak, Brian Schaffer, Rich Whitney, and Jeff Schaffer, Jr.

The pair of preliminaries went to Fink and Kristyak. There was no B Main.

Gary Miller, Jr. and William Hurrelbrink ran out front early in the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars. But, it was Curtis J. Bish who took command and led the racers to the finish. Ryan Moyer moved through the pack to take second. Hurrelbrink captured the third spot. Garrett Calvert and Curt Bish were next. Then came Tim Burns, Miller, Andy Thompson, Dennis Clark, and Charlie Baptiste. Burns, and Curtis J. Bish took the qualifiers. There was no B Main.

Mark Marcucci came on strong in the late stages of the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lite feature event. He defeated Jacob Bova, Chris Logan, Shane Webb, Bill Stivason, and Dusty Frantz. Bova prevailed in the heat. There was no B Main.

Former track champion Mike McConnell raced to victory in the Mini Stock race sponsored by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. Finishing second was his teammate, Michael Thompson, who has been almost unbeatable since strapping into one of these potent little cars. Steve Longwell, Jr. was third. Shane Shook was the apparent fourth place runner, but he failed a post-race tech inspection. That moved Steve Longwell, Sr. and Ed Haylett into the top five. Rudy Troples, Todd Kougher, Todd Hanlon, and Isaac Paden were the remaining finishers. Todd Gabriel and Thompson copped their heats. There was no B Main.

Next up will be the Third Annual Putsy Kekich Memorial for the 410 Sprint Cars. Adam, his grandson, won the inaugural running two years ago, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. You won’t want to miss this one.

4 Your Car Connection/World of Wheels 410 SPrint Cars: Scott Priester, Michael Bauer, Brent Matus, Jack Sodeman, Jr., Brandin Matus, Dan Shetler, Eric Williams, Adam Kekich, A.J. Flick Mike Miller, Gale Ruth, Jr., John McCracken, Jr., Dennis Wagner, Paul Kish, Davey Jones.

Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: George Hobaugh, Cody Bova, Greg Dobrosky, Darren Pifer, Evan Kornbau, Andy Priest, C.J. Jones, Mike Marano, II, Darren Gallagher, Joe McEwen, George Englert, Gary Kriess, Alex Paden, Kotie Kirkbride, Andy Feil, Mike Miller, Tim Callahan (DNS).

Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: Lonny Riggs, Jimmy Holden, Kyle Fink, Kyle Holden, J.R. McGinley, Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Tommy Kristyak, Brian Schaffer, Rich Whitney, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Jerry Schaffer, Kevin Green, William Schaffer, Shayne Izzo.

Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: Curtis J. Bish, Ryan Moyer, William Hurrelbrink, Garrett Calvert, Curt Bish, Tim Burns, Gary Miller, Jr., Andy Thompson, Dennis Clark, Charlie Baptiste, Bob Schwartzmiller.
Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites: Mark Marcucci, Jacob Bova, Chris Logan, Shane Webb, Bill Stivason, Dusty Frantz.

Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks: Mike McConnell, Michael Thompson, Steve Longwell, Jr., Steve Longwell, Sr., Ed Haylett, Rudy Troples, Todd Kougher, Todd Hanlon, Isaac PadenTodd Gabriel (DQ), Shane Shook (DQ), Karlee Longwell (DNS).