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Murdick Bags Second Win of Weekend in BRP Modified Tour at the Park
by Lou Long
Bauer, Blazak, Schwartzmiller, St. Pierre also WinMercer, PA (August 17, 2013): Dave Murdick continued his hot streak, picking up the big win in the annual visit of the BRP/Hoosier Tire Modified Tour to the shortest track on the circuit, Mercer Raceway Park. Murdick's win continued the domination by the Big Block Modifieds over the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds that race weekly at the speedway.
Michael Bauer sped away from the field to grab a key win in the Bonnell's Collision Center Outlaw Sprint Warriors, as he saw his points lead shrink last week. Pete Blazak dedicated his win to Martha Stearns, the mother of fellow Mini Stock Competitor Wally Stearns. Mrs. Stearns is battling cancer. The Mini Stocks are offered by Eperthener's Auto Wrecking and Ray's Racing Collectibles. Bob Schwartzmiller scored another win in the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars, while Rick St. Pierre carried the day in the PA Vintage Modified class.
Murdick was pleased with his win in the BRP/Hoosier Tire Modified go. His car recently came back from the Troyer shop, and it has been fast eve since. "The track was good and racey tonight, and I enjoyed it." Although Murdick was able to work all over the track, he made the most of the outside groove. "I didn't think there was going to be an outside groove, but we were able to make that work."
"We needed a caution there at the end," said Brad Rapp. He was closing fast, but ran out of laps. "I think we would have had something for Dave, as the car was working really good, but the last 25 going green didn't help me."
One driver who wished things had ended one lap sooner was Chad Brachmann. He lost second by an eyelash to Rapp. "I didn't think he got me at the line, but I guess the transponders don't lie." Brachmann was relieved to get third, though. "I'm happy to come out of this with a top three finish, we didn't have the best car here by far."
With Steve Barr and Joe Kubiniec on the front row for the start of the 30 lapper, presented by Schaffers Oil Company, the field charged off turn four, but several of the machines did not make it to the starting line, as car in the middle of the pack began to check up. Some drivers took evasive action into the infield.
The second time, the field got away cleanly, with Kubiniec seizing the lead over Eric Gabany. As Kubiniec came off turn four to complete lap one, some of the racers behind him got impatient, and New Yorker Phil Vigneri spun to the inside, clipping a utility tire as he left the track. Corner workers had to flee Vigneri's machine, but everybody got away safety.
Kubiniec and Gabany led the way for another circuit before another caution was displayed. That delayed the onslaught of Gabany, who was looking to Kubiniec's inside coming through the turns.
The racers ran one more lap before the red flag waived. This time, it was for five-time BRP/Hoosier Tire Modified Tour champion, Rex King, Sr., who flipped his car twice in turn two. Several other cars were involved. King's mount was finished for the evening, but he walked away unscathed.
Two more laps were finished before the final stoppage of the race. During this short stint, Gabany slipped into the lead. Kyle Fink, who was running in the top five at the time, was the culprit. Several others were collected, with significant damage to Skip Moore, Rob Curtis and others. Kubiniec's night also came to an early end, as he sun alone several yards further down the speedway from the major incident in turn four. Curtis, Fink, and Kubiniec retired from the event.
When racing resumed, the remaining 25 laps were run off without incident. Gabany led the way to the green flag, with the series' points leader, Chad Brachmann, and Dave Murdick lined up in the row behind him. Track favorite Jimmy Holden was fourth.
The leaders were running single file, but from sixth on back, the rest of the cars were two and three wide fighting for positions.
After a handful of laps, Murdick assumed second. He then began to close in on Gabany. When he reached Gabany's rear bumper, Murdick kept looking to the inside for a place to pass. As the leaders were racing through turn four on lap 19, Gabany slipped a little further out of the groove, and Murdick powered off the corner with the advantage.
Brachmann moved into second three laps later, and began to close in on Murdick, who was stuck behind some lapped cars. Meanwhile, Brad Rapp was charging on the high side. He had climbed from 17th on the grid to the top five, and he was looking for more.
With Murdick and Brachmann leading, Rapp worked his way to third. He closed quickly on the lead duo. Murdick pulled away by a car length or two, as Rapp continued to reel in Brachmann.
As Murdick swept under the checker, Rapp was on the charge again, He rolled into turn three on the outside and pulled even with Brachmann. Rapp grabbed the spot at the finish line by just a fraction of a second.
Ron Cartwright crossed in fourth, with Randy Chrysler finishing fifth. Like Rapp, he also came from the middle of the pack at the start.
Gabany slipped to sixth in the final tally. Jimmy Holden placed seventh, taking the honors of being the highest finishing Mercer regular. Kevin Hoffman, J.R. McGinley and Jeremiah Shingledecker completed the top ten.
There were four heats for the BRP/Hoosier Tire Modified Tour. The winners were Rex King, Sr., Jeremiah Shingledecker, Kevin Hoffman, and Frankie Guidace, sporting a "big" Small Block. Brad Rapp and Rob Curtis were victorious in the twin B Mains.
In the Bonnell's Collision Center Outlaw Sprint Warriors, points leader Michael Bauer rode the rim from seventh to first in under one lap. The college student had the lead as they raced through turn four! Behind him, there was an intense three-car battle involving Skip Dougherty, Rob Felix, and Andy Feil. As things got sorted out, Feil worked into second, but Bauer was long gone by then.
A caution brought Bauer back to the rest of the pack. Feil challenged for a lap or two after the green flag waived again, but Bauer pulled away to the win.
Trailing Feil was Mike Miller, Jimmy Morris, and Jason Scoville. Joe McEwen led the next bunch to the checkers. In that pack were Doughtery, C.J. Jones, Walt Tutak, Jr., and Greg Dobrosky.
The Outlaw Sprint Warriors heat winners were Chris Matthews and C.J. Jones.
Pete Blazak led the way in the Mini Stock division, which is sponsored by Eperthener's Auto Wrecking and Ray's Racing Collectibles. Blazak's win was number 56 with the same car in a five-year period.
Placing second was points leader, Jamey Lee, who is closing in on his first track crown. Shane Smith placed third, with Steve Longwell, Sr., and Matt Cwynar completing the top five.
Adam Bulfone, Shane Shook, Rudy Troples, Peter Williams, and Patricia Riffe were finishers six through ten.
Mini Stock preliminaries were scored by Shane Smith and Pete Blazak.
In the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars, Bob Schwartzmiller overcame problems in the hot lap session to capture the feature event. Fortunately for Schwartzmiller, his engine builder was on hand, so the team was able to make the repairs necessary to get him to victory lane.
Andy Thompson raced home in third. Rusty Moore, who is trying for his third consecutive track championship, waltzed in the third position. Curtis Bish placed fourth, with Ryan Moyer in fifth.
Early leader Bob Sloss finished sixth, ahead of Terry Kroner, Derek Wissinger, Jim Flaherty, and Garrett Calvert.
Bob Schwartzmiller and Curtis Bish claimed the Stock Car heat races.
The PA Vintage Modifieds completed the evening's program, with Candian Rick St. Pierre sweeping his heat and the non-stop feature. David George placed second, with Curtis Lias in third. Scott Covert and Rob Casti rounded out the top five. Al Byerly brought his six-cylinder powered car across in sixth, and was the highest placing Sportsman car.
David George and Canadian Rick St. Pierre won the PA Vintage Modified openers.
Next weekend, the UNOH All Stars Circuit of Champions roll into Mercer Raceway Park for their second and final appearance of the season. That will be the 24th Annual Western PA Sprint Car Championship. The track will not be racing over the Labor Day weekend, as the staff and management get prepared for the big season-ending events coming up in the month of September. Check the track website, www.mercerracewaypark.com for details on the Little Guy Nationals, and more.
BRP/Hoosier Tire Modified Tour: Dave Murdick, Brad Rapp, Chad Brachmann, Ron Cartwright, Randy Chrysler, Eric Gabany, Jimmy Holden, Kevin Hoffman, J.R. McGinley, Jeremiah Shingledecker, Jeff Schaffer, Skip Moore, Rex King, Jr., Phil Vigneri, Jr., Rick Richner, Steve Barr, Frankie Guidace, Mark Frankhouser, Matt Reeher, Mike Turner, Tommy Mattocks, Kyle Fink, Rob Curtis, Joe Kubiniec, Rex King, Sr., Steve Feder.
DNQ: Bob Warren, Eric Beggs, Dillon Barr, Rodney Beltz, Tom Glenn, Max Smoker, Carl Murdick.
Bonnell's Collision Center Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Micheal Bauer, Andy Feil, Mike Miller, Jimmy Morris, Jason Scoville. Joe McEwen, Skip Doughtery, C.J. Jones, Walt Tutak, Jr., Greg Dobrosky, Eric L. Williams, Kotie Kirkbride, Cody Braden, Rob Felix, Chris Matthews.
Eperthener's Auto Wrecking/Ray's Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks: Pete Blazak, Jamey Lee, Shane Smith, Steve Longwell, Sr., Matt Cwynar, Adam Bulfone, Shane Shook, Rudy Troples, Peter Williams, Patricia Riffe, Chad Fry, Tyler Fulton, Josh Eakman, Shane Webb, Alex Paden.
Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: Bob Schwartzmiller, Andy Thompson, Rusty Moore, Curtis Bish, Ryan Moyer, Bob Sloss, Terry Kroner, Derek Wissinger, Jim Flaherty, Garrett Calvert, Leigh Wheeler, Josh Seippel, Michael Tonkinson, Brandon Johnston, Shawn Smith.
PA Vintage Modifieds: Rick St. Pierre, David George, Curtis Lias, Scott Covert, Rob Casti, Al Byerly, Kevin Mohney, Paul Bacchus, Howard Duff, Roger Stivenson, Dale McCandless (DNS).