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Thomas Tames Mercer in FASTRAK Return; Fink, Bish, Fulton, Miller and Pfeuffer also Win
by Lou Long
Mercer, PA (July 15, 2012): Former asphalt racer, Will Thomas, III, took the top honors in the return of the FASTRAK Northeast Regional Touring Series to its former home track, Mercer Raceway Park. Kyle Fink roared to his second win of the season in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds.
Curtis J. Bish led wire to wire in the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars, while Tyler Fulton held off Wally Stearns in the Mini Stocks.
The TI22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors winner was Mike Miller, for the second time this season. Also chalking up win number two was Shane Pfeuffer in the Modified Lites presented by Big Daddy's Speed Center and Rock Concrete.
Dan Angelicchio rode the cushion into the lead on lap one and dominated the early going. However, Josh Double was nipping on his heels. Double pulled even once, on lap seven, but he bobbled, allowing Angelicchio to slip away. Taking advantage of the miscue was Thomas, who had running a close third.
Thomas closed in on Angelicchio, and used a power move in turn four to grab the lead on lap 10 just before the caution flew for Brad Kling. The double file restart allowed Angellicchio to draw even and he got the run off turn four to lead lap eleven. He maintained control through a pair of cautions on lap twelve.
The final thirteen laps went non-stop. While Angelicchio and Thomas went head to head, Double ran third. Behind them, Max Blair and Brian Ruhlman wer swapping the fourth and fifth positions. Josh Holtgraver was watching the action unfold, but he could not join the fun.
Thomas made his move to regain the lead with four circuits to go. He looked beneath Angelicchio in turn two, but could not get the job done. But he goit a good run down the backstretch, and went hard into turn three. The car stuck, and he came off turn four with the lead. Once out front, Thomas opened up a comfortable lead.
Angelicchio rode home second, followed by Double, and Blair. Holtgraver snuck past Ruhlman for fifth.
After Ruhlman came Mike Pegher, Jr., Matt Latta, John Over and Andrew Wylie.
Three heats for 24 cars went to Over, Angelicchio and Thomas. Brian Booher, a former Mercer Stock Car ace, took the dash.
When the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifeds took to the track, everbody was expecting a monumental battle between points leader Rob Curtis, who had the pole, and defending champion, Jimmy Holden, who was on the outside. Curtis and Holden did go at it for the first few laps, but engine problems sent Curtis to the pits with just eleven laps in the books. He was running in fifth at the time.
Holden held control through the middle stage of the race. Meanwhile, last week's winner, J.R. McGinley, was running in his shadow and Kyle Fink was a close third. On lap 12, Fink raced by McGinley and, one lap later, he used the outside to take the lead away.
Holden held second to the finish. Eric Gabany, who spun on lap one, recovered to earn third. Jeff Schaffer was fourth. McGinley crossed in fifth.
Matt Reeher came from last on the grid to take sixth. Dave Cogswell, Clyde Gumpp, Jerry Schaffer and Shayne Izzo rounded out the top ten.
McGinley and Ron Eperthener took the preliminaries for the fifteen cars.
Curtis J. Bish used his front row starting spot to get the early lead over Bob McCann in the Precise Racing Products Stocks, which were running under open stock rules. While they led the way, Rusty Moore was working his way to the front from eight at the start.
Moore reached third on lap four and he displaced McCann on lap nine. He would chase Bish for the next six laps, but he could not get close enough to pose a serious challenge.
Trailing Bish, Moore and McCann at the finish were Russ Byler and Brandon Johnston.
Andy Thompson, Dan Lewis, Charlie McMillen, Bucky Buchanan, and Darrin Hyde were the next finishers.
Eleven cars raced in a pair of heats, which were won by Bish and McCann.
The Mini Stock race was the closest contest of the night. Tyler Fulton grabbed second on the opening lap and on the next trip around, he passed Tim Callahan for the lead. Callahan then quickly left the speedway with an apparent engine failure. Meanwhile, Fulton got out to a good lead, but Wally Stearns kept whittling away at it. Stearns reached Fulton's bumper with just a few laps remaining. He made the big move coming through three and four on the final lap, but his bid for the win came up short by just a foot.
Third place went to Steve Longwell, Sr., just a notch ahead of his son, Steve Jr. The third team car, driven by Joel Wisser, was fifth.
Matt Cwynar led Adam Bulfone, Rudy Troples, Chase Anthony and Alex Paden to the checkers for positions six through ten.
There were sixteen Minis on hand. Fulton and Callahan were the heat winners.
Mike Miller cruised to the win in the Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors, but Rob Felix was never more than a couple of car lengths behind at any point in the race. Joe McEwen raced from ninth up to third in just a handful of laps, but he could not challenge the lead duo. Jimmy Morris ran fourth and Chris Matthews completed the top five.
Andy Feil took sixth, while Dalton Daniels was seventh. Walt Tutak, Jr. claimed eighth, Jacob Lagastee ninth and Joe Siembida tenth.
Heat winners for the sixteen cars were Lagastee and Justin Whitesell.
The Modified Lite nightcap was taken by Shane Pfeuffer, who snatched the lead away from Cody Bova on lap six. Mark Marcucci took second on the same lap, but the leading winner in the division had nothing this night for Pfeuffer. Bova held third to the finish.
Jason Johnston was fourth, and Bill Stivason fifth. Kotie Kirkbride was next. Braeden Dellinger took seventh. Darin Gallagher was eighth, Richard Lawson ninth and Chris Whan tenth.
Fourteen cars were sorted into two heats, taken by Cody Bova and Pfeuffer.
Next week will be an open wheel enthusiast's delight. The ARDC Midgets will be in for their first of two appearances at the Park. Joining them will be the Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprints, the Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors, and the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars. Points will be on the line for both Sprint classes and handicapping will apply for them. There will be no points and no handicapping for the Stocks, which will compete under the open rules package once again.
FASTRAK Northeast Regional Late Models: Will Thomas, III, Dan Angelicchio, Josh Double, Max Blair, Josh Holtgraver, Brian Ruhlman, Mike Pegher, Jr., Matt Latta, John Over, Andrew Wylie, Garrett Mott, Steve Dixon, Ryan Montgomery, Jason Knowles, Jamie Brown, Shane Weaver, Rusty Cade, Justin Kreider, Bryan Saulsbury, Eric Wilson, Bobby Whitling, Brad Kling, Clay Ruffo, Bryan Booher.
Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: Kyle Fink, Jimmy Holden, Eric Gabany, Jeff Schaffer, J.R. McGinley, Matt Reeher, Dave Cogswell, Clyde Gumpp, Jerry Schaffer, Shayne Izzo, Kevin Green, Rob Curtis, Dillon Barr, Ron Eperthener. Lonny Riggs (DNS).
Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: Curtis J. Bish, Rusty Moore, Bob McCann, Russ Byler, Brandon Johnston, Andy Thompson, Dan Lewis, Charlie McMillen, Bucky Buchanan, Darrin Hyde, Matt Wagner.
Mini Stocks: Tyler Fulton, Wally Stearns, Steve Longwell, Sr., Steve Longwell, Jr., Joel Wisser, Matt Cwynar led Adam Bulfone, Rudy Troples, Chase Anthony, Alex Paden, Tricia Riffe, Rob McElhaney, Tim Callahan, Ed Haylett. MikeMcConnell,Josh Eakman (DNS).
Ti22 Performakce Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Mike Miller, Rob Felix, Joe McEwen, Jimmy Morris, Chris Matthews, Andy Feil, Dalton Daniels, Walt Tutak, Jr., Jacob Lagastee, Joe Siembida, Tom Sanders, C.J. Jones, Dennis Wagner, Justin Whitesell. Harold Braden, Jr., Michael Bauer (DNS).
Big Daddy's Speed Center/Rock Concrete Modified Lites: Shane Pfeuffer, Mark Marcucci, Cody Bova, Jason Johnston, Bill Stivason, Kotie Kirkbride, Braeden Dellinger, Darin Gallagher, Richard Lawson, Chris Whan, Jacob Bova, Jordie McClaine, Tyler Frankenberry, Dan Demyan.