Mercer, PA (June 19, 2011) – It was a beautiful night at Mercer Raceway Park for the Mid-Season Championships, and there were plenty of fans in the stands to enjoy it as Jack Sodeman, Justin Whitesell, Frank Guidace, Rusty Moore, Darin Gallagher and Pete Blazczak collected victories. With double points on the line, feature lineups for the top 12 drivers in each division were set by the points standings coming into the night provided that the teams qualified in pill draw positions through their heat races.
Justin Whitesell jumped to an early lead from his second place starting position in the ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warrior feature with veterans Guy Griffin and Mike Lutz nipping at his heels. But Whitesell guided his car through 15 circuits without a bobble, giving him his first career victory and making him the only driver in the class to best Lutz or Griffin this season.
“I knew Guy [Griffin] and Mike Lutz were coming,” Whitesell said. “Those guys are incredible. They’re so fast.”
The lapped car of Harold Braden slowed the front of the field, giving Griffin and Lutz, who were battling each other for position, the opportunity to close in on Whitesell. But the young driver quickly shut the door on the veterans to collect the win. Griffin, Lutz, Jason Scoville and Skip Daugherty rounded out the top five.
“This is just amazing,” the 19-year-old driver described. “I couldn’t ask for a better night than this. I have to thank the Kekich’s for [the car’s setup]. They are the best. They’ve been helping me with everything.”
In the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds, Frank Guidace pulled off a close victory over Jimmy Holden, who held the points lead coming into the night’s racing and started in the pole position. Holden took the lead on the start over Guidace, the outside polesitter, and lead the initial 15 laps of the 20-lap feature. But Guidace breathed down Holden’s back in every turn, and made his move with five laps to go as the leaders approached lap traffic.
Although Guidace snagged the lead on lap 15, the two cars were neck and neck in the final circuits. A caution with one lap to go gave Holden another chance, but Guidace beat him to the line to collect his third victory in the last four races over Holden, Eric Gabany, Mike Stine and Jeff Schaffer.
Jack Sodeman was the lucky driver of the night, picking up his first victory of the year in the Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprint Car division from his 11th place starting position over Scott Priester, Rod George, Adam Kekich and Brent Matus.
“It’s better to be lucky than good,” Sodeman said.
Bob Felmlee and Brian Ellenberger dominated the race, with Felmlee taking the lead on the opening lap from the pole position over second place starter Kekich. Felmlee quickly pulled away from the field while Ellenberger, who started third, battled with Brent Matus. Ellenberger had moved into second by the tenth circuit, however, and lap traffic put him in position to challenge Felmlee for the lead.
A battle ensued between the drivers, with Felmlee coming across the line first until Ellenberger pulled a wicked slide job on lap 15 to take the lead. A lap 21 caution slowed the field down and gave Felmlee a chance to return the favor. Ellenberger held onto his lead on the restart, but Felmlee slid him coming out of turn four. The two racers were wheel-to-wheel with Ellenberger on the outside as the cars made contact on the front stretch, sending Ellenberger flipping into the wall and ending his night. Felmlee was cited for rough driving and sent to the rear of the field.
With the leaders eliminated, Priester and Sodeman were able to pick up where they left off. Priester took the lead on the restart, but Sodeman was able to get by him on the next lap and hold on for the win.
“I know we weren’t the fastest car,” Sodeman said. “Ellenberger and Felmlee had us covered there. Fortune just fell our way.”
Goodyear tire certificates went to Sodeman, Brandon Spithaler (hard charger), Albrecht (last car on the lead lap), Priester (random), and Chris Best (random).
Point leader Rusty Moore walked away with the Precise Racing Products Stock Car feature from his first place starting position to capture his fifth victory of the season. Bob McCann jumped into second place early in the race to challenge Moore, but Moore was unbeatable. McCann settled for second place over Terry Wheeler, Dan Lewis and Darrin Hyde.
Darrin Gallagher picked up his second career victory in the Big Daddy’s Speed Center Mod Lites. Polesitters Gallagher and Shane Pfeuffer battled early in the race, with Gallagher regaining his opening lap lead on lap 10. Brian Miller advanced into second and looked to have the position wrapped up but a last lap pass from Ontario native Shawn Sliter cost him the runner-up finish. Lynn Knepper and Andy Feil rounded out the top five.
Pete Blazczak won his fifth Big Dog R/C Mini Stock race this season after starting on the pole position as the current points leader. Tim Gillette was able to charge from his tenth place starting position to earn second place over Steve Longwell, Jr., Wally Stearns and Mike McConnell.
Next week, the BRP Modified Tour will roll into town with the Big Block Modifieds. The 410 Sprint Cars, Outlaw Sprint Warriors and Stock Cars will also be on the program, and the annual Kaboom! 100 Enduro will follow the racing action!
ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors (15 laps): 1. JUSTIN WHITESELL (17) 2. Guy Griffin (11) 3. Mike Lutz (86) 4. Jason Scoville (8D) 5. Skip Daugherty (27) 6. Dennis Wagner (38) 7. Jim Morris (16) 8. Jake Lagestee (72) 9. Michael Bauer (35) – DSQ 10. Harold Baden (9) – DSQ 11. Jeff Taylor (17t) – DNS; Heat Race Winner: Jason Scoville
Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds (20 laps): 1. FRANK GUIDACE (1G) 2. Jimmy Holden (28H) 3. Eric Gabany (3E) 4. Mike Stine (7s) 5. Jeff Schaffer (14) 6. Lonny Riggs (58) 7. Matt Reeher (711) 8. Shawn Fleeger (88) 9. Dustin Martin (29D) 10. Rich Whitney (19w) 11. Don Brown (71B) 12. Kevin Green (74) 13. Rick Hall (B2) 14. Kyle Fink (66F) – DNS 15. Ryan Hall (B4) – DNS; Heat Race Winners: Mike Stine and Kyle Fink
Luxaire Heating & Cooling 410 Sprint Cars (25 laps): 1. JACK SODEMAN (23JR) 2. Scott Priester (15) 3. Rod George (4) 4. Adam Kekich (5K) 5. Brent Matus (33) 6. Brandon Spithaler (22s) 7. Ed Lynch, Jr. (94) 8. Eric Williams (7) 9. Brandon Matus (13) 10. Gale Ruth, Jr. (1R) 11. Aaron Shaffer (97s) 12. Bob Felmlee (6) 13. Shawn Minor (3m) 14. Chris Best (66) 15. Adam Anderson (5B) 16. A.J. Albrecht (7x) 17. John McCracken, Sr. (63) 18. Brian Ellenberger (ti22) 19. Jason Dolick (D12) 20. Brian Steinman (24s) 21. John McCracken, Sr. (79) 22. Jeff Taylor (17t); Heat Race Winners: Bob Felmlee, Brandon Matus and Chris Best
Precise Racing Products Stock Cars (20 or 15 laps): 1. RUSTY MOORE (17M) 2. Bob McCann (33) 3. Terry Wheeler (2w) 4. Dan Lewis (64) 5. Darrin Hyde (4) 6. Bobby Heim (92) 7. Bob Schwartzmiller (28s) 8. Ryan Moyer (13x) 9. Tony Spaghetti (97) 10. Ron Richter (31x) 11. Marty Warren (05) 12. Russ Byler (06R) 13. Chad O’Brien (77) 14. Chris Haines (35H) 15. Brian Wagner (56) 16. Brandon Johnston (14J) 17. Matt Wagner (12) 18. Travis Walsh (1) 19. Bill Banick, Jr. (07H); Heat Race Winners: Bob McCann and Rusty Moore
Big Daddy’s Speed Center Mod Lites (15 laps): 1. DARIN GALLAGHER (12) 2. Shawn Sliter (27s) 3. Brian Miller (726) 4. Lynn Knepper (10) 5. Andy Feil (08) 6. Josh Sliter (17) 7. Tom Kline (68) 8. Cody Bova (20B) 9. Andrew Bruce (70×7) 10. Kotie Kirkbride (97N) 11. Jason Johnston (55) 12. Brian Kaszubski (5) 13. Matt Patterson (13) 14. Daniel Demyan (8D) 15. Taylor Smith (23TT) 16. Jacob Bova (28J) 17. Shane Pfeuffer (717) 18. Bill Johnson (7) 19. Richard Lawson (77) 20. Lance Smith (GT1) – DNS; Heat Race Winners: Josh Sliter and Tom Kline
Big Dog R/C Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. PETE BLAZCZAK (77) 2. Tim Gillette (43) 3. Steve Longwell, Jr. (17K) 4. Wally Stearns (33) 5. Mike McConnell (31) 6. Steve Longwell, Sr. (16K) 7. Michael Thompson (82t) 8. Todd Gabriel (33G) 9. Rudy Troples (28) 10. Chase Anthony (26) 11. Anthony Shetter (33A) 12. Tyler Fulton (409) 13. Troy Lehnortt (46) 14. Joel Wisser (15K) 15. Jerry Batcher (7) 16. Ed Haylett (8-Ball); Heat Race Winners: Jerry Batcher and Pete Blazczak
6/25: BRP Big Block Modified Tour with 410 Sprints, Outlaw Sprint Warriors, and Stock Cars plus Kaboom 100! Enduro. Pits and grandstands open at 4:00pm. Hot Laps at 6:15pm. Racing at 7:00pm.
7/2: Saturday Night Live with 410 Sprints, 358 Modifieds, Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Mod Lites, Stock Cars, Mini Stocks. Pits and grandstands open at 4:00pm. Hot Laps at 6:15pm. Racing at 7:00pm