Let’s Go Racing!
“Let’s Go Racing!” was heard loud and clear at Mercer Raceway Park. Heeding the call was Brandon “the Wheelman” Matus, who captured the 4 Your Car Connection 410 Sprint Car feature. He earned $3,000 courtesy of Bonnell’s Rod Shop. Also taking wins were Jimmy Holden (Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds), Andy Priest (Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors), Leigh Wheeler (Precise Racing Products Open Stocks), Shane Pfeuffer (Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites), Todd Hanlon (Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks).
The night marked the debut of the speedway’s unique, new two-tiered format, with racing starting at 5:30 for certain classes, and the remainder scheduled to go off at the usual 7 p.m. starting time. “We have a few bugs to work out,” said track owner Bill Altman, “but we met our desired objective of completing the program by 10 p.m.” And, “the track was in great shape all night long,” he said proudly. Indeed, there was even a brief intermission before the final two action-packed features.
Brandon Matus Wins 410 Sprint Opener
For Brandon Matus, it was a rare early-season triumph. He usually heats up some time after the Mid-season Championships. “This was my first opening night win anywhere.” However, Matus had a bit of a scare during the feature when he thought that he had broken a shock. “The car was terrible, I tried using the whole track.” Although Matus thought he was in trouble, it was really the rest of the field that suffered.
Matus jumped out to the early lead, with Dan Kuriger in second. Jack Sodeman, Jr. had the retro look on his Sprint Car in tribute to his father, but there was no doubt that it had all of the latest technology. While those three racers maintained their positions throughout the contest, other spots in the top ten were changing hands early and often.
Despite a couple of interruptions, Matus raced to the win, with Kuriger and Sodeman in tow. Scott Priester climbed into fourth and Michael Bauer followed him to fifth. Dan Shetler nipped Carl Bowser and A.J. Flick. Andy Feil and Alex Paden were ninth and tenth.
The evening’s fastest qualifier was Eric Williams, with a lap of 13.822. Brandon Matus captured the heat for the six fastest qualifiers. Other heat winners were Bauer and Bowser. There was no B Main.
Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds
Jimmy Holden, the defending champion of the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds, was a bit apprehensive at the start of the night. “The heat race had me concerned a little, this was a new car, and we did not know what it would do.” Fans may remember that he passed up the Chiller Thriller a few weeks ago, and the the new format does not allow for hot laps on race night. His fears went for naught, as the veteran team made all of the right adjustments for the feature.
Holden jumped out front and led the entire twenty laps to gain the win. Lonny Riggs gave chase early, but he faded near the midway mark. Over the final stages of the race, Kyle Fink narrowed the gap, and was just a car length or two behind Holden at the checkers. “He’s a good racer,” Holden said, “and, I figured that he would be reeling me in at the end.” Still, Holden had enough of an advantage that Fink was not a serious threat this night.
Tommy Kristyak turned in a steady run to take the third position, followed by Riggs and Frank Guidace. Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Rich Whitney and Kevin Green were the remaining runners. Green was heartbroken after the feature. He had just made a couple of strong moves to take fourth when his new engine broke. “I think it was the crankshaft,” he said dejectedly.
The solo heat win went to Fink. There was no B Main.
Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors
Andy Priest romped to victory in the first race of the season for the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. He climbed from last to first in a mere 8 laps. Taking second was C.J. Jones, ahead of George Hobaugh. Vincent Daugherty had a career-best fourth, after leading in the early going. Taking fifth was Ralph Engel, Jr. Positions six through ten were occupied by Darin Gallagher, Gregg McCandless, making his first start in eight years, Mike Marano, II, Eric L. Williams, and Dakota Schweikart. The pair of preliminaries were scored by Daugherty and Bova. There was no B Main.
Precise Racing Products Open Stocks
Leigh Wheeler passed early leader Shawn Smith on lap six and maintained control of the Precise Racing Products Open Stocks the rest of the way. Defending track champion Ryan Moyer came on for second. William Hurrelbrink held off Pat Fielding for third. Shawn Smith was fifth. Garrett Calvert, Tyler Dietz, Dave McMannus, Terry Wheeler, and David Baker had top ten runs. The heats went to Leigh Wheeler and Hurrelbrink. There was no B Main.
Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks
Mini Stock feature was the first of the afternoon, and it was presented by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. Todd Hanlon was back in his familiar car, the number 7H, but he picked up where he left off in the Chiller Thriller. Hanlon cruised to victory, leading all twelve laps. Isaac Paden was second, with Tyler Fulton in third. Jacob Rice, and Shane Shook completed the top five. Sixth went to Rick Ferry, Karlee Longwell, William Haylett, Pat Hanlon, and Summer Pitts rounded out the top ten. Heats went to Todd Hanlon and Paden. There was no B Main.
Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites
In the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites, former champion Shane Pfeuffer captured the win. He benefited from the misfortune of Mark Marcucci, who dropped out while holding a commanding lead. Levi Spinnewebber took second, with Doug Jones, Shane Webb, and Jacob Bova next to finish. Glenn Teeter, Kurt Eckstrom, Jason Johnston, Vivian Jones, and Dusty Frantz were in the top ten. The heat winners were Pfeuffer and Marcucci were victorious in the preliminaries. There was no B Main.
April 23 Saturday Night Live!
Next week will be another Saturday Night Live! event. All seven divisions will be in action, with the Elder Tractor Sales and Service Junior Sprints taking the first green flag of the night at 5:30 p.m. Joining them will be the Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks and the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites. Then, at 7 p.m., the four star thunder will take over, featuring the 4 Your Car Connection 410 Sprints, the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds, Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors, and Precise Racing Products Open Stocks. April 30 will be another Saturday Night Live! event, but all members in good standing of the Pittsburgh Circle Track Club will be admitted free in the grandstands courtesy of Elder Tractor Sales and Service.
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 include Hovis Auto & Truck Supply, Mercer Hardware, Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants, Scheidemantle Motors, Greenhill Farms Equipment, Inc., the Normandy Banquet Center of Hickory VFW Post 6166, Flynn’s Tire & Auto Service, Pizza Joe’s, Sharon Auto Wrecking, Inc., AMSOIL, Noga Ambulance Service, Inc., Pyrotechnico, Watson’s, Inc., Big Dog Indoor Racing & Hobby, Ritenour Equipment Co., Herr’s Foods, the American Cancer Society, Sunburst Environmental, and Lias Tires.
4 Your Car Connection 410 Sprint Cars:
Brandon Matus, Dan Kuriger, Jack Sodeman, Jr., Scott Priester, Michael Bauer, Dan Shetler, Carl Bowser, A.J. Flick, Andy Feil, Alex Paden, Brent Matus, Bill Jones, Jr., Davey Jones, John Garvin, Jr., Eric Williams, Darren Pifer.
Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds:
Jimmy Holden, Kyle Fink, Tommy Kristyak, Lonnie Riggs, Frank Guidace, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Rich Whitney, Kevin Green.
Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors:
Andy Priest, C.J. Jones, George Hobaugh, Vincent Daugherty, Ralph Engel, Jr., Darin Gallagher, Gregg McCandless, Mike Marano, II, Eric L. Williams, Dakota Schweikart, Rod Jones, Eric Persch, Devin Litwiler, Cody Bova (DNS), Gary Kriess (DNS), Mike Miller (DNS).
Precise Racing Products Open Stocks:
Leigh Wheeler, Ryan Moyer, William Hurrelbrink, Pat Fielding, Shawn Smith, Garrett Calvert, Tyler Dietz, Dave McMannus, Terry Wheeler, David Baker, Richard Chess, Jake Cunliffe, Gary Fisher, Curt Bish.
Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks:
Todd Hanlon, Isaac Paden, Tyler Fulton, Jacob Rice, Shane Shook, Rick Ferry, Karlee Longwell, William Haylett, Pat Hanlon, Summer Pitts, Josh Rathbun, Ed Haylett (DNS), Donny Adkins (DNS).
Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites:
Shane Pfeuffer, Levi Spinnewebber, Doug Jones, Shane Webb, Jacob Bova, Glenn Teeter, Kurt Eckstrom, Jason Johnston, Vivian Jones, Dusty Frantz, Mark Marcucci, Keith Smith, Bill Stivason, Cody Cooper, Josh Christopher (DNS).