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George Tops Williams in Thriller at Mercer Raceway Park
by Lou Long
Andy Feil and Jacob Bova Score Career Firsts; McGinley, Schwartzmiller and Blazak also VictoriousMercer, Pa (August 3, 2013): Rod George, the Kittanning Comet, raced to the win in the 410 Sprint Cars, presented by Luxaire Heating & Cooling, New Wilmington Motors, and Ralph Butch, Inc. J.R. McGinley scored in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds. Andy Feil chalked up his career first in the Bonnell's Collision Center Outlaw Sprint Warriors, and Jacob Bova did likewise in the Mod Lites offered by Big Daddy's Speed Center and Rock Coincrete. Pete Blazak and "Badger Bob" Schwartzmiller took top honors in the Eperthener's Auto Wrecking/Ray's Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks and the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars, respectively.
With Dan Kuriger and Eric Williams on the front row for the start of the 410 Sprint feature, presented by Luxaire Heating & Cooling, New Wilmington Motors, and Ralph Butch, Inc., everybody knew that it would be a barn burner of a race and it did not disappoint. Kuriger broke out into the lead early until the caution came out for the spinning car of John McCracken Jr. on lap 4. On the restart, Kuriger really started to show that he was there for the win by breaking out to a big lead but things would change on lap ten when contact with a lapped car coming off turn four would end his strong night. The restart put the point leader, Williams, out front with Andy McKisson and hard charging Rod George on his tail and ready to pounce. Another caution appeared on lap 13 for the stopped car of Gale Ruth, Sr. That proved to be the break that George needed. When racing resumed, Williams and George battled back and forth, side by side, for the next five laps, with George finally coming out on top.
Following George and Williams were Andy McKisson, Adam Kekich, and Jack Sodeman, Jr., who surprised all by racing with two fractured vertebrae. Russ Sansosti cracked the top ten in a rare start, with Carl Bowser, Scott Priester, Gale Ruth, Jr., and Chris Best next in the running order.
Sodeman and Priester were the heat winners.
J.R. McGinley lead every lap from the pole position, but it was not an easy win in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified feature. The race got off to a rough start when Makayla Guidace slammed into the turn one wall on the start. She was unhurt, but the car was done for the event. McGinley held control until a spin by Max Smoker allowed Jeff Schaffer to pull along side of McGinley for the restart. They raced that way for several laps, allowing Jimmy Holden to close in. Holden had started last due to problems in his heat race. After another spin on lap 12 by Max Smoker, Frank Guidace went to the top side of the track and flew from fourth into second. Guidace, who leads the point standings, then put pressure on McGinnley.
The race was slowed for the final time on lap 16, this time for a multi-car pile-up in turn 3 involving Clyde Gumpp, Carl Weatherby, and front row starter Matt Reeher. On the ensuing restart, Frank Guidace tried the high side once again, but he got a little too high and dropped back a few spot. Holden slipped by for second.
McGinley turned up the wick, and pulled out to a half second win over hard charging Holden. Schaffer, Kyle Fink and Frank Guidace rounded out the top five.
Lonny Riggs finished sixth, just ahead of Weatherby. Shawn Fleeger slipped in for eighth, with Matt Reeher also rebounding from the lap 16 skirmish to grab ninth. Gary Smoker was tenth.
The heat winners in the class were McGinnley and Andy Paden.
The Bonnell’s Collision Center Outlaw Sprint Warriors feature came down to a battle into turn one between Andy Feil and Jimmy Morris. Feil drove it hard into the corner and never looked back, earning his first ever Sprint Car win in the non-stop feature. In victory lane all he could say was “Wow, we have been working so hard for this first win and it feels great!”
By the halfway point of the race, Feil worked lap traffic like he had been driving a sprint car forever, although it has only been two years. Point leader Michael Bauer found the track a little tricky making contact with a lapped car on lap 11 and he would finish seventh.
At the stripe, it was Feil followed by Morris. Then came Rob Felix, who drove a consistent race for third. Mike Miller and C.J. Jones were fourth and fifth, respectively. Dalton Daniels, Bauer, Skip Dougherty, Mike Marano, II, and Kotie Kirkbride rounded out the top ten.
The heat wins belonged to McEwen and Morris. McEwen was the first driver out of the race, when his car slowed in turn two of the opening lap.
The Precise Racing Products Stock Cars got off to a rough start with a four-car pile-up on the first lap involving Brent Johnson, Curt Bish, Ryan Moyer, and Brad Schaffer. The field was realigned, with Terry Wheeler and Bob Schwartzmiller on the front row. Schwartzmiller set sail on the field and tried to check out. The field was bunched up after the only other stoppage, a Schaffer spin in turn four. But that was all the closer that anyone could get to Schwartzmiller. It was a subpar night for Trusty Rusty Moore, who never gave up. He came to life late in the race, but it was not enough to get past Leigh Wheeler for second. Dillion Kinneston finished fourth and Andy Thompson was fifth.
Bobby Hein, Bucky Buchanan, Terry Kroner, Ryan Moyer and Brad Schaffer held postitions six through ten. Last week’s winner, Brandon Johnson, encountered a mechanical difficulty and was unable to start the feature.
The heat winners were Schwartzmiller and Moore.
If you like crashes, then the Big Daddy’s Speed Center/Rock Concrete Modified Lite feature was the one for you. With seven cautions and a red flag slowing down the race, the drivers were challenged to complete the race before the curfew. When all the smoke cleared, it was another young gun on the top of the mountain as Jacob Bova recorded his first career win.
George Englert and Dan Cain led the field to the green, with Englert taking the early lead. The big scare of the night came when Andrew Bruce and Chris Logan made contact resulting in Logan flipping wildly off turn two. He was unhurt, but the car was done for the night. On the restart, Mark Marcucci, Sr. set off an incident with Cain, Tim Prelog, and Cory Webb getting collected.
On lap five, point leader Shane Pfeuffer broke out on top, but he came up lame in turn two the following lap and he, too, was done for the evening. That put Englert back on top for the restart. Big George could not hold off Jacob Bova, who had worked through the field like a true veteran. The younger pilot finally got the lead from Englert on lap eight, and he held it to the end.
At the finish it was Jacob Bova followed by Englert, Cody Bova, Jason Darocha, and Darrin Gallagher rounding out the top five. Cody Bova was able to rebound from a mid-race incident that sent him to the rear of the field.
Cory Webb, Matt Cain, Jason Johnston, Josh Deems and Tim Prelog were the next five to cross the stripe.
Preliminaries went to Pfeuffer and Logan.
Steve Longwell, Sr. took the early lead in the Mini Stock feature for Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. His time in the spotlight was short, though, as tenth starting Pete Blazak took over the race lead on lap 3. After a caution would for contact between Alex Paden and another car in turn one, Paden was sent off the track for rough driving. The same penalty was levied on Josh Eakman for rough driving earlier in the event. he field was slowed one last time on lap five for the stopped car of Tyler Blake. On the restart, Tyler Fulton began to press Blazak, but it was not enough to upset the veteran driver.
Blazak went on to win the race comfortably, followed by Steve Longwell, Jr., Caleb Hickok, Point leader Jamey Lee, and Longwell,Sr. rounding out the top five. Fulton faded to sixth, with John Shannon, Adam Bulfone, Matt Cwynar and Shane Webb crossing next.
Heat wins were scored by John Shannon and Blazak.
Next week, the Mercer Raceway Park will host the FASTRAK Northeast Touring Late Model Series along with all the other Saturday Night Live! divisions including the 410 sprints. Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC will be presenting sponsor for that blockbuster night.
Luxaire Heating & Cooling/New Wilmington Motors/Ralph Butch, Inc. 410 Sprints: Rod George, Eric Williams, Andy McKisson, Adam Kekich, Jack Sodeman Jr, Russ Sansosti, Carl Bowser, Scott Priester, Gale Ruth Jr, Chris Best, Jason Dolick, Bob McMillin, Fransis Sesco, John McCracken, Kris Davis, Gale Ruth, Sr., Dan Kuriger, Mike Flynn
Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: J.R. McGinley, Jimmy Holden, Jeff Schaffer, Kyle Fink, Frank Giudace, Lonny Riggs, Carl Weatherby, Shawn Fleeger, Matt Reeher, Gary Smoker, Clyde Gump, Eric Beggs, Max Smoker, Andy Paden, Makayla Guidace, Rich Whitney
Bonnell’s Collision Center Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Andy Feil, Jimmy Morris, Rob Felix, Mike Miller, CJ Jones, Dalton Daniels, Michael Bauer, Skip Daugherty, Mike Marano II, Kotie Kirkbride, Eric L Williams, Joe McEwen
Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: Bob Schwartzmiller, Leigh Wheeler, Rusty Moore, Dillion Kineston, Andy Thompson, Bobby Hein, Buck Buchanan, Terry Kroner, Ryan Moyer, Brad Schaffer, James Flarherty, Garrett Calvert, Michael TonKinson, Curt Bish, Brent Johnson, Brandon Johnson (DNS)
Big Daddy’s Speed Center/Rock Concrete Modified Lites: Jacob Bova, George Englert, Cody Bova, Jason Darocha, Darrin Gallagher, Cory Webb, Matt Cain, Jason Johnston, Josh Deems, Tim Prelog, Jordie McClaine, Mike Flockerzi, Cory Stivason, Andrew Bruce, Tyler Frankenberry, Mark Marcucci Sr., Shane Pfeuffer, Dan Cain, Chris Logan
Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks: Pete Blazak, Steve Longwell, Jr., Caleb Hickok, Jamie Lee, Steve Longwell, Sr., Tyler Fulton, John Shannon, Adam Bulfone, Matt Cwynar, Shane Webb, Rudy Troples, Chad Fry, Tricia Riffe, Tyler Blake, Ed Hazlett, Wally Stearns Jr., Josh Eakman (DQ), Alex Paden (DQ), Ryan Carroll (DNS)