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Mercer Raceway Park Honors Champions, Announces Plans for 2012
by Lou Long
Mercer, PA (January 22, 2012): Mercer Raceway Park officially closed the books on the 2011 season with its gala banquet and awards ceremonies held at the Normandy Banquet Center, in Hermitage. In addition, speedway management made several improtant announcements for the 2012 racing season.
Receiving top honors were Bob Felmlee (Luxaire Heating and Cooling Sprint Cars), Guy Griffin (Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors), Jimmy Holden (Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds), Rusty Moore (Precise Racing Products Stock Cars), Darin Gallagher (Big Dog R/C Center Modified Lites), and Pete Blazak (Big Daddy's Speed Center Mini Stocks).
Banquet photos from track photographer Toni Carbone are posted online
Felmlee, of Franklin, claimed his second straight title in the Sprint Car division, topping another veteran, Rod George, of Kittanning, by seventeen points. Behind them, however, three younger pilots showed that the future of Sprint Car racing at the Park will be exciting for many years to come. Brandon Spithaler, of Evans City, burst onto the scene with his first win in the early part of the 2011 season, and the momentum carried him to third place in the standings. Finishing fourth and fifth were a pair of third-generation drivers. Adam "Bomb" Kekich, who also was named the track's Rookie of the Year, led Brandon "the Wheelman" Matus in the final tally.
Rounding out the top ten in the Luxaire Heating and Cooling Sprint Cars were Brent Matus, Scott Priester, Chris Best, Eric Williams, and Gail Ruth, Jr.
The 2011 season was the debut of the track's other Sprint Car class, the Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Guy Griffin, of Greenville, came out on top, the second time in his long career that he was a champion at Mercer Raceway Park. Previously, Griffin topped the track's Modified class. His protege, Justin Whitesell, of Austintown, OH, ranked second, while Dennis Wagner, of Pulaski, finished third. Fourth place went to Michael Bauer, a high school student from Clarion, and fifth was Jim Morris, of Fowler, OH.
Adam Anderson, Jacob Lagestee, Mike Lutz, Harold Braden, Jr., and Jeff Taylor were also recognized for their accomplishments during the 2011 season.
Jimmy Holden also claimed his second consecutive title in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds. The driver from Tiona finished 29 points ahead of his rival, Frank Guidace, of Mercer, but the competition between them all season long was much closer than the final margin would suggest. It seemed as though they traded the top spot on a weekly basis, and the championship came down to the final race of the year. Third was another Mercer driver, Eric Gabany, who logged two outstanding third-place runs when the Big Block Modifieds came to town. Fourth was Matt Reeher, while Kyle Fink completed the top five.
Positions six through ten went to Rick Hall, Dustin Martin, Ron Eperthener, Lonny Riggs, and Kevin Green.
Trusty Rusty Moore, of New Castle, dominated the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars, despite increasing competition as the year progressed. For his accomplishment, Moore also received two other awards. One was the track's special achievement award for his record-setting fourteen wins, while the other was the prestigious Cavalcade Award as the top Stock Car pilot in the region. Russell Byler, of New Wilmington, and Bob McCann, also of New Castle, were second and third, respectively. Darrin Hyde and Brandon Johnston, completed the top five.
Marty Warren, Terry Wheeler, Bryan Wagner, Anthony Bruno a/k/a Tony Spaghetti, and Andy Thompson ranked sixth through tenth in the resurgent class.
Young Darin Gallagher, of Buler, took top honors for the first time in his brief career in the Big Dog R/C Center Modified Lites. Finishing second was Tom Line, of Apollo, while Cody Bova, of Struthers, OH, ranked third. Andy Feil and Shane Pfeuffer completed the top five.
Kotie Kirkbride, Jacob Bova, Andrew Bruce, Mark Marcucci and Brian Miller completed the top ten in this exciting division.
Last but not least, Pete Blazczak of Gibsonia, grabed the crown for the Big Daddy's Speed Center Mini Stock division. Blazczak, who was rebounding from a season-ending injury in 2010, started the season red-hot, but he barely had enough steam to hold off veteran Ed Haylett in the final weeks of the season. Haylett, of Polk, was also named teh track's most improved driver. Troy Lehnortt, of Oil City, was the third-place finisher. Michael Thompson and Rudy Troples were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Joel Wisser, Mike McConnell, Steve Longwell, Sr. Chase Anthony and Steve Longwell, Jr. came in sixth through tenth in the track's other full-fendered division.
After all of the accolades were presented, speedway management announced that five of the six divisional sponsors will be returning for the 2012 season. Joining Luxaire Heating and Cooling, Ti22 Performance, Approved Toilet Rentals, Precise Racing Products and Big Dog R/C Center will be Team USA, the new title sponsor for the Modified Lites.
The first event of the 2012 season was also announced. The annual Chiller Thriller will be held on Saturday, March 31. The headline class will be the UFo Late Models. Support divisions will be released at a later date. Non-wing racing will return to Mercer Raceway Park, with both BOSS Sprints and ARDC Midgets getting to run topless. The FASTRAK Late Models and the BRP/Hoosier Tire Modified Tour will be featured, as will the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars. Watch for an announcement of the full 2012 schedule in the coming weeks.
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.