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Pittman Western PA Sprint Champion; Morris, Fox and Longwell Sr. also Score
by Lou Long
Mercer, PA (August 25, 2012): Daryn Pittman led wire-to wire to capture the 23rd Western Pennsylvania Championship sanctioned by the UNOH All Stars Circuit of Champions.
Jimmy Morris romped home with the Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warrior feature, while invader Tommy Fox dropped in to take the Open Stock tune-up for the season-ending Little Guys Nationals, coming up on September 21-22. Steve Longwell, Sr. scored the Mini Stock win.
"We've been struggling in Central PA, so it's just good to come out here and get a win," said Pittman. He was ready to get to victory lane a little sooner than the officials would allow, however. He had miscounted the laps and was surprised to see 28 on the scoreboard when he thought the checkers should have fallen.
It took three attempts to get the 30 lapper under way. The initial start was nullified by a flip by Dr. Steve Collins in turn four. The second was set aside because Brandon Matus came to a halt on the backstretch.
When the green flag waived for good, Pittman bolted into the lead form his pole position. Tim Shaffer, the durrent series points leader, slipped into second, with Rod George, Danny Holtgraver, Dale Blaney and David Gravel in hot pursuit. Behind them, there was a three-wide battle for positions just outside the top ten, involving Jack Sodeman, Jr., Scott Priester and Paul McMahan.
Pittman held a slim margin over Shaffer as the leaders entered lapped traffic with nine laps down. It took Pittman a lap or so to get by Bobby Howard, but Pittman did not get the relief he was seeking, Shaffer remained close, and Holtgraver was nipping on his heels, too.
Blaney worked his way past George just before the halfway mark, and he started to close on Holtgraver, who was holding down the third position. A caution on lap 16 for debris was the final stoppage of the race. The former champ was now within striking distance of the leaders.
The restart had Pittman on the point, with Shaffer, Holtgraver, Blaney and George right behind. At the drop of the green, Shaffer ducked to the inside of Pittman as they raced into turn one. Pittman had the momentum and he rode the cushion through the corners to pull ahead of his challenger.
Over the next ten laps, Pittman started to open up a lead, and the others in the top five also began to achieve some separation. However, with five laps to go, Pittman was in lapped traffic again, and Shaffer closed to his rear bumper. Holtgraver followed suit, reaching Shaffer's tail.
Pittman drove by the slower machine and got some much needed breathing room with just two laps top go.
"I wasn't getting around the lapped cars as good as I would have liked at the end, so when you'r behind a lapped car, you kinda figure that somebody must be coming behind you," Pittman explained.
However, it was Shaffer, who was not so fortunate. A lapped car slowed his charge, allowing Holtgraver to take the second spot away on the final lap.
"I was kinda lucky, Shaff got behind that lapped car, but you gotta take what you can get," Hotgraver observed. Holtgraver was aware of Pittman's difficulty getting past lapped machines, too, "but I don't know, even if we had a few more laps, if I could have gotten by him, he's pretty tough to pass, but at least we would have had a shot at him."
"It's been one of those years," a disheartened Shaffer noted. "It just don't seem to be working out."
Still, he was able to pad his points lead a bit, as he did finish a notch ahead of Blaney.
Rod George completed the top five, driving a car he's borrowed from Steve Lucas to finish out the year.
Brandon Spithaler held his own throughout the race, crossing in sixth. David Gravel was seventh and Paulie Mac in eighth. Cap Henry drove a remarkable race, passing twelve cars on his way to the ninth spot. Jack Sodeman, Jr., the new dad, completed the top ten.
There were 27 UNOH All Stars on hand. The fastest of the bunch was Danny Holtgraver, at 13.875. Erin Crocker still holds the track record, which she set in 2003.
Heat race wins were chalked up by Jack Sodeman, Jr., Paul McMahan, and Brandon Matus.
Eric Williams was victorious in the MSD Ignitions B Main.
The Outerwears Performance Products Dash winner was Daryn Pittman.
Goodyear provided tire certificates to Rod George, Eric Williams, Dan Kuriger, Brandon Spithaler and Scott Priester.
In the Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Jimmy Morris grabbed the lead at the start and never looked back. The race was slowed on a pair of occasions for Justin Whitesel, with the second one being terminal due to front suspension damage. Michael Bauer rode second throughout the contest, with Chris Mathews in third. Jacob Lagastee held fourth at the start, but faded as the race wore on. Rob Felix climbed to fourth, and Dennis Wagner copped the fifth spot.
Andy Feil, Jason Scoville, Dalton Daniels, Lagastee and Jeffrey Goodman, Jr., were sixth through tenth. Points leader Joe McEwen fell out of the event with just five laps in.
The pair of heats went to Scoville and Bauer. There were 20 cars in the event.
The Precise Racing Products Stock Cars were operating in Open Stock mode that brought in a number of new faces looking for track time to get ready for the big blow-out next month. Chad O'Brien jumped out to the early lead, but Tommy Fox snatched the lead away after a restart early in the race. Despite an inordinate number of cautions, and one red, Fox held control and took the victory. Rusty Moore climbed up to second, with Curtis J. Bish taking the other podium spot. Bob McCann was forth and Jeff Bucella fifth.
Positions six through ten belonged to Joe Kelley, Andy Thompson, O'Brien, Brandon Johnston, and Chris Schneider.
The two heat winners were Bish and Dan Lewis. There were 20 cars in action.
In the Mini Stock nightcap, Steve Longwell, Sr. passed early leader Ed Haylett, and bested his son, Steve, Jr. Haylett held on for third, ahead of Joel Wisser and Leo Hanlon. Rudy Troples, Matt Cwynar, Caleb Hickok, Alex Paden and newcomer John Gray rounded out the top ten.
Heat winners were Steve Longwell, Jr. and Troples. There were 14 cars in this class.
Next week, there will be the Patriot Sprint Tour 360s, along with five other classes. Come out to get your racing fix over the long Labor Day holiday weekend!Mercer Raceway Park - 8/25/2012
All Star Circuit of Champions (27 Cars)
Qualifying - Kistler Engines
1. D4-Danny Holtgraver, 13.875
2. 83-Tim Shaffer, 14.028
3. 27-Daryn Pittman, 14.032
4. 2-Dale Blaney, 14.068
5. CIII-Rod George, 14.089
6. 22-Brandon Spithaler, 14.223
7. 15-Scott Priester, 14.228
8. 10-Carl Bowser, 14.238
9. 89G-David Gravel, 14.255
10. 23JR-Jack Sodeman Jr., 14.256
11. 45-Paul McMahan, 14.279
12. 40-Caleb Helms, 14.384
13. O8-Dan Kurriger, 14.395
14. 8-Mike Lutz, 14.398
15. 3-Pete Miller III, 14.417
16. 66-Chris Best, 14.447
17. 5K-Adam Kekich, 14.468
18. 13-Brandon Matus, 14.487
19. 7-Eric Williams, 14.509
20. 4-Danny Smith, 14.510
21. 56-Ralph Spithaler, 14.517
22. 54-Cap Henry, 14.628
23. 67-Steve Collins, 14.902
24. 4AU-Jack Lee, 15.021
25. 49-Bob Howard, 15.204
26. 33-Brent Matus, 15.222
27. 2S-Francis Sesco, 15.530
Heat 1 - Kears Speed Shop (8 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature)
1. 23JR-Jack Sodeman Jr. ; 2. 2-Dale Blaney ; 3. D4-Danny Holtgraver ; 4. 54-Cap Henry ; 5. O8-Dan Kurriger ; 6. 15-Scott Priester ; 7. 7-Eric Williams ; 8. 49-Bob Howard
Heat 2 - All Pro Aluminum Heads (8 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature)
1. 45-Paul McMahan ; 2. CIII-Rod George ; 3. 83-Tim Shaffer ; 4. 4-Danny Smith ; 5. 10-Carl Bowser ; 6. 67-Steve Collins ; 7. 8-Mike Lutz ; 8. 33-Brent Matus ; 9. 5K-Adam Kekich
Heat 3 - Dragon Race Fuel (8 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature)
1. 13-Brandon Matus ; 2. 3-Pete Miller III ; 3. 40-Caleb Helms ; 4. 89G-David Gravel ; 5. 27-Daryn Pittman ; 6. 22-Brandon Spithaler ; 7. 56-Ralph Spithaler ; 8. 4AU-Jack Lee ; 9. 2S-Francis Sesco
Dash - Outerwears Performance Products (6 Laps, finishing order determined first 6 starting positions of A-feature 1. 27-Daryn Pittman ; 2. CIII-Rod George ; 3. 83-Tim Shaffer ; 4. D4-Danny Holtgraver ; 5. 2-Dale Blaney ; 6. 22-Brandon Spithaler
B-Main - MSD Ignition (12 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature)
1. 7-Eric Williams ; 2. 8-Mike Lutz ; 3. 5K-Adam Kekich ; 4. 56-Ralph Spithaler ; 5. 4AU-Jack Lee ; 6. 49-Bob Howard ; 7. 33-Brent Matus ; 8. 2S-Francis Sesco
UNOH All Stars A-Main - University of Northwestern Ohio (30 Laps): 1. 27-Daryn Pittman; 2. D4-Danny Holtgraver; 3. 83-Tim Shaffer; 4. 2-Dale Blaney; 5. CIII-Rod George; 6. 22-Brandon Spithaler; 7. 89G-David Gravel; 8. 45-Paul McMahan; 9. 54-Cap Henry; 10. 23JR-Jack Sodeman Jr.; 11. 8-Mike Lutz; 12. 15-Scott Priester; 13. 7-Eric Williams; 14. 4-Danny Smith; 15. 10-Carl Bowser; 16. 3-Pete Miller III; 17. 40-Caleb Helms; 18. 13-Brandon Matus; 19. O8-Dan Kurriger; 20. 4AU-Jack Lee; 21. 5K-Adam Kekich; 22. 49-Bob Howard; 23. 56-Ralph Spithaler; 24. 67-Steve Collins
Hard Charger: 54-Cap Henry[+12]
Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Jimmy Morris, Michael Bauer, Chris Mathews, Rob Felix, Dennis Wagner, Andy Feil, Jason Scoville, Dalton Daniels, Jacob Lagastee, Jeffrey Goodman, Jr., Mike Miller, Gale Ruth, Sr., C.J. Jones, Bob McMillin, Tom Sanders, Joe Siembida, Harold Braden, Jr., Joe McEwen, Justin Whitesell, Walt Tutak, Jr.
Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: Tommy Fox, Rusty Moore, Curtis J. Bish, Bob McCann, Jeff Bucella, Joe Kelley, Andy Thompson, O'Brien, Brandon Johnston, Chris Schneider, Michael Tonkison, Dan Lewis, Charlie McMillen, Greg Unrue, Travis Walsh, Shaun Fawcett, Jim Hooks, Dave Ferringer, Buck Buchanan, Brent Coleman.
Mini Stocks: Steve Longwell, Sr., Steve Longwell, Jr., Ed Haylett, Joel Wisser, Leo Hanlon, Rudy Troples, Matt Cwynar, Caleb Hickok, Alex Paden, John Gray, Patricia Riffe, Clay Wansor, Chase Anthony, Tyler Fulton (DNS).