Mercer, PA (June 17, 2012): Danny Holtgraver saved his best for last, as he barely edged out Rob Chaney to take the Sprint portion of the Auto Racers for Kids benefit race held at Mercer Raceway Park. Not to be outdone, Kyle Fink also made an amazing last lap pass to capture the win in the 358 Modifieds.
Mike Miller was a first-time winner in the Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Alan Knepper scored his first victory of the season in the Modified Lites, while Curtis J. Bish and Pete Blazak returned to winner’s circle in the Street Stocks and Mini Stocks.
The luck of the draw put Holtgraver on the pole, but, much to the surprise of the large crowd, Eric Williams bolted out to the early lead. Williams was strong on the outside, and Holtgraver was constantly working the inside. However, Williams held control through the first nine laps of the event.
Holtgraver made his first strong move to take the lead away on lap ten. The very next circuit, Paul McMahan repeated the maneuver on Williams. McMahan closed rapidly on Holtgraver and took the lead away from him on lap 13.
While McMahan began to stretch a lead on Holtgraver, Rob Chaney started to move ahead. McMahan, who ran in the top five throughout the race, snuck by Holtgraver on lap 20.
When McMahan’s car suddenly came to a halt, that put Chaney and Holtgraver side by side for the restart. McMahan assumed command, but Holtgraver never let him get too far away.
Bob Ferlmlee entered the fray and a three car battle was on for the top spot. Felmlee displaced Holtgraver for second on lap 26, Holtgraver regained the position on the next lap.
With the final laps counting down, Holtgraver went to the whip in order to reel in Chaney. When the pair entered turn one on the last lap, Holtgraver was within striking distance.
Chaney led the way down the backstretch. He entered turn three in the middle, but he left a little too much room on the inside as he came through the final corner. Holtgraver saw his opportunity and he pounced. He dove to the inside and pulled even with Chaney. They touched wheels coming down to the finish line, but both drivers were able to maintain control. When the checkers flew, Holtgraver had a slim .102 margin of victory!
In the final laps, Williams came back for third. Felmlee was fourth, and Andy McKisson completed the top five.
Sheldon Haudenschild, Rod George, Brandon Matus, Arnie Kent and Aussie Marty Perovich were sixth through tenth.
Holtgraver, McKisson and Perovich scored the heat wins for the 32 Sprints on hand. The B Main winner was Brandon Matus. The dash belonged to Haudenschild.
In the 358 Modifieds, Kyle Fink charged from third to first on the opening lap, but he had the pole-sitter, Lonny Riggs, nipping at his heels through the first five laps of the race. Eric Gabany passed Riggs for second on lap six and he went by Fink just one lap later.
Although Gabany held the lead for the next seven laps, Fink was lurking in his shadow. The duo raced side by side for several laps, and Fink barely nudged ahead to lead lap 15. Gabany got the inside line working again and he too the lead back on the next round.
Frank Guidace, making his return after missing a few races with engine problems, joined in the fun in the middle stages of the race. He passed Fink for second and new he was working on Gabany for the lead.
However, with five laps left in the race, Fink mounted a charge on the outside. He passed Guidace and started to close in on Gabany.
As the leaders moved through turn one, Gabany moved into the middle of the track to try to block Fink’s advance. When the cars came through the second turn, though, Fink switched lines and he dove to the inside of Gabany. The raced side by side down the backstretch and entered turn three dead even. Now Fink had the better line and he pulled away from Gabany coming off the final corner.
Rob Curtis snuck by Guidace on the final lap to claim third. Fifth went to J.R. McGinley.
Ron Eperthener finished sixth. Matt Reeher, Dave Cogswell, Shayne Izzo and Richard Whitney were the balance of the top ten.
Heat winners for the 16 cars were McGinley and Jimmy Holden. Holden suffered a driveshaft failure in the feature. He received medical attention, but did not require a transport to a local hospital.
Rob Felix took the early lead in the Outlaw Sprint Warrior feature, but his bid for a first win of the season came to an end just past the halfway mark. That put Mike Miller into the lead, but Miller had to contend with Jimmy Morris and, later, Justin Whitesell. While Miller led the remainder of the 20 lap distance, the action behind him was furious.
Whitesell crossed in second, followed by Andy Feil, Chris Matthews and Michael Bauer, Jeffrey Goodman, Jr., and Joe Siembida rounded out the top ten.
Morris led the next group to the checkers. Bob McMillin was seventh. Dalton Daniels, Jeffrey Goodman, Jr., and Joe Siembida rounded out the top ten.
C.J. Jones, one of the heat winners, flipped his Outlaw Sprint Warrior early in the feature, but he was unhurt. The other heat winner was Matthews. There were fifteen cars pit-side.
Making his first start at Mercer Raceway Park in 2012, Alan Knepper breezed to victory in the Modified Lites. Teammates Rod Jones and Jeff Teeters battled for second throughout the race, with Jones coming out on top. Mark Marcucci, who has been the dominant force in the class all season long, finished an uncharacteristic fourth. Rick Ament placed fifth.
Andrew Bruce, Bill Stivason, George Englert, Taylor Smith, and Braeden Dellinger were the next five to cross the finish line.
Kotie Kirkbride sustained major damage in a heat race crash and was unable to start the feature. Fortunately, she was uninjured.
Heat wins were scored by Stivason and Teeters. There were 19 cars.
The Stock Cars had a tough time getting their feature started, but once it got going, there was no stopping Curtis J. Bish. He led the entire way to grab his second win of the year. Brent Coleman climbed through traffic for second. Brandon Johnston picked up the third position. Andy Thompson and Matt Wagner were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Buck Buchanan, Matt Keith, Bill Bannick, Jr., Andy Buckley, and Dillon Kineston were sixth through tenth.
The two heat victories went to Buckley and Jim Miller. There were 17 cars in the class.
The Mini Stock nightcap went nonstop. The twelve lapper went to Pete Blazak. Steve Longwell, Sr., Joel Wisser and Ed Haylett battled hard for the next three positions. Rudy Troples was fifth.
Caleb Hickok, Chase Anthony, Rob McElhaney, Alex Paden and Josh Eakman completed the top ten.
Tyler Fulton and Blazak won the heats for the 14 car field.
Next Saturday will be Saturday Night Live! action, with gates opening at 4 and racing at 7.
Sprint Shoot Out: Danny Holtgraver, Rob Chaney, Eric Williams, Bob Felmlee, Andy McKisson, Sheldon Haudenschild, Rod George, Brandon Matus, Arnie Kent, Marty Perovich, Adam Kekich, Jimmy Light, Tim Kelly, Brent Matus, Brandon Spithaler, Chris Best, Dan Kuriger, Steve Collins, Paul McMahan, Jack Sodeman, Jr., Gary Edwards, Carl Bowser, Scott Priester, Craig Folmar.
DNQ: Gale Ruth, Sr., George Suprick, Adam Anderson, Paul Kish, Mike Lutz, Clint Ide, Brian Steinman, Francis Sesco.
358 Modifieds: Kyle Fink, Eric Gabany, Rob Curtis, Frank Guidace, J.R. McGinley, Ron Eperthener finished sixth. Matt Reeher, Dave Cogswell, Shayne Izzo, Richard Whitney, Jimmy Holden, Lonny Riggs, Carl Weatherby, Clyde Gumpp, Rick Kress, Kevin Green.
Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Mike Miller, Justin Whitesell, Andy Feil, Chris Matthews, Michael Bauer, Jimmy Morris, Bob McMillin, Dalton Daniels, Jeffrey Goodman, Jr., Joe Siembida, Harold Braden, Jr., Rob Felix, Skip Daugherty, Joe McEwen, C.J. Jones.
Modified Lites: Alan Knepper, Rod Jones, Jeff Teeters, Mark Marcucci, Rick Ament, Andrew Bruce, Bill Stivason, George Englert, Taylor Smith, Braeden Dellinger, Daniel Demyan, Tyler Frankenberry, Steve White, Cody Bova, Richard Lawson, Jacob Bova. DNS: Kyle Eckstrom, Tim White, Kotie Kirkbride.
Stock Cars: Curtis J. Bish, Brent Coleman, Brandon Johnston, Andy Thompson, Matt Wagner, Buck Buchanan, Matt Keith, Bill Bannick, Jr., Andy Buckley, Dillon Kineston, Bob Schwartzmiller, Rusty Moore, Jim Miller, Russ Byler, Charlie McMillin. DNS: Bob McCann, Darrin Hyde.
Mini Stocks: Pete Blazak. Steve Longwell, Sr., Joel Wisser, Ed Haylett, Rudy Troples, Caleb Hickok, Chase Anthony, Rob McElhaney, Alex Paden, Josh Eakman, Todd Hanlon, Patricia Riffe, Tyler Fulton. DNS: Carl Keller.