Gabany, Bova, Miller and Darocha also Score
Mercer, PA (August 9, 2014): "Wheelman" is one of several nicknames belonging to third generation driver Brandon Matus, and he showed everybody why he claims that moniker. He held off a couple of furious challenges from Adam Kekich and scored his first 410 Sprint Car feature at Mercer Raceway Park in the Putsy Kekich Memorial sponsored by Sunburst Environmental & Bonnell's Rod Shop. It was his second triumph of the weekend and it came just one day after he celebrated his 20th birthday with a win at another local track.
In the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds, Eric Gabany ran a strong race, and benefited from two different leaders breaking while out front, to score his third win of the season. Cody Bova took his second win of the season in the Bonnell's Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Gary Miller scored an inspirational win in the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars. The nightcap for the Rock Concrete Modified Lites was won by Jason Dracocha for his first Mercer Raceway Park victory. Because of the special event status of the program, no points were awarded in any of the divisions.
Qualifying was held for the 410 Luxaire Heating & Cooling/McCrudden Heating & Supply Sprints during their hot laps sessions, when they went out in groups of 5, with their times being tracked electronically by their transponders. The six fastest times would qualify for an 8-lap inverted dash to set the first six starting positions for the Putsy Kekich Memorial. Adam Kekich led the way with the fastest time, followed by Rod George, Arnie Kent, Carl Bowser, Mike Lutz, and Brandon Matus. Brandon Matus won the Dash over Arnie Kent who made a last second move over Lutz, Bowser, George, and Kekich.
The drivers kicked off the 30-lap feature event with a four-wide salute to the fans that had everyone on their feet, cheering for their favorite driver.
Brandon Matus jumped out to the early lead, while his pal, Adam Kekich, quickly moved from sixth to third by the second lap. The first of four cautions slowed things down on lap five as Dennis Wagner spun out of turn three.
On the restart, Matus again jumped out quickly, and Kekich resumed his quest to capture his "TaTa's" memorial race. (TaTa was the name all the Kekich grandchildren had for their beloved patriarch.) By lap eight, Kekich had moved into the second spot.
Another caution on lap 11, this one for Brent Matus slowing on the back stretch, brought the cars back together and eliminated the lapped traffic that was starting to cause problems up front.
Two more laps spun off quickly before the next caution slowed things once again, this time as Gale Ruth, Sr. rolled to a stop. With the restart, Rod George and Eric "Turkey" Williams had entered the chase for the lead, and it was shaping up to be a tremendous dogfight to the finish when the final yellow flag waved on lap 21 for Dennis Wagner breaking in turn two.
Matus was able to fight off one last, furious charge by Kekich to claim the rich payday. Adam Kekich held on for second followed by George, Williams, and Carl Bowser. Dan Kuriger, Arnie Kent, Andy McKison, A.J. Flick, and Bill Jones rounded out the top ten.
An interesting phenomenon occurred after the race. Chaplain Bill Beck had stated early in the night that since the #2 was his old friend Putsy Kekich's favorite number, he was going to donate $50 to whoever finished second. Others liked the idea and began throwing in money to add to Pastor Bill's $50. By the time the feature was over the total was approaching $200 and suddenly fans started running up to Pastor Bill like parishioners at an old fashioned tent revival, stuffing money into his hat in appreciation of the fine race that young Adam Kekich had run for second place. By the time the dust had settled, $700 had been donated to add to the his winnings.
In addition to Matus winning the Dash, heat races were won by Brandon Spithaler and Bill Jones.
In the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds, things got off to a wild start as Jimmy Holden lost a wheel on the second lap, which ended his night prematurely. After a couple of restart attempts, things finally got going again, and Frank Guidace jumped out to an early lead and Tommy Kristyak quickly moved into 2nd place. Fans were ready for an old fashioned donnybrook between two of the speedway's best known and most revered Modified drivers.
However, on lap 10, the steering box broke on race leader Guidace's car sending him pit-side and giving the lead to Tommy Kristyak. As it has been over decade since Kristyak last won at the Park, excitement and anticipation was building for an emotional victory. But on lap 18 the rear end rod broke on Kristyak's car, and for the second time, the leader had to go to the pits, ending his night.
Eric Gabany inherited the lead, and held off a charge by Lonnie Riggs to snag his third checkered flag of the season. Kyle Fink was next, followed by Brian Schaffer and Shayne Izzo, both scoring quite impressive finishes. Shawn Fleeger, Matt Reeher, Kyle Martell, Makayla Guidace, and Eric Beggs rounded out the top ten.
The preliminaries belonged to Gabany and Holden. There was no B Main.
Cody Bova topped the Bonnell's Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors, and even though he led wire to wire, he had to deal with a serious challenge from Andy Feil two different times during the race. But each time, Bova seemed to turn it up another notch and pull away.
Bova led Feil to the checkers, followed by Mike Miller, Joe McEwen, and Evan Korbaugh. Sixth through tenth went to Greg Dobrosky, George Hobaugh, Jr., C.J. Jones, Mike Marano, II, and Michael Bauer.
Bauer, Marano, and Jones won their respective heats.
Gary Miller's comeback from a devastating automobile accident and then a subsequent nasty racing crash reached its zenith tonight when he won the Precise Racing Stock Cars feature. Miller took the lead at the drop of the flag, and despite two cautions that briefly slowed the action, never looked back. He held off a furious charge from Brent Johnson to score the popular and inspirational win.
Pat Fielding followed Johnson in third, with William Hurrelbrink, and Rusty Moore rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten went to Ryan Moyer, Leigh Wheeler, Curtis J. Bish, Garrett Calvert, and Jacob Billyk.
Fielding and Wheeler were the top qualifiers.
Jason Dracocha led the whole way for the win in the Rock Concrete Modified Lites. A good battle for second waged behind him as Chris Logan edged out Mark Marcucci, with George Englert and Jacob Bova filling in the top five.
Aaron Meister, Glenn Teeters, Mark Marcucci Sr (subbing for Mike Flockerzi), Shane Webb, and Tim Prelog were in positions six through ten at the checkers.
The heat winners were Marcucci, and Englert.
Next week, Mercer Raceway Park will present a regular Saturday Night Live! program, plus Kids Bike Races Sponsored by Rays Racing Collectibles and Approved Toilet Rentals.
Putsy Kekich Memorial sponsored by Sunburst Environmental & Bonnell's Rod Shop for the Luxaire Heating & Cooling/McCrudden Heating & Supply 410 Sprint Cars: Brandon Matus, Adam Kekich, Rod George, Eric Williams, Carl Bowser, Dan Kuriger, Arnie Kent, Andy McKisson, A.J. Flick, Bill Jones, Jr., Mike Lutz, Gale Ruth, Jr., Michael Bauer, Francis Sesco, Tom Huppunen, Brandon Cornelius, Brent Matus, Dennis Wagner, Brandon Spithaler, Gale Ruth, Sr.
Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: Eric Gabany, Lonnie Riggs, Kyle Fink, Brian Schaffer, Shayne Izzo, Shawn Fleeger, Matt Reeher, Kyle Martell, Makayla Guidace, Eric Beggs, Tommy Kristyak, Frank Guidace, Jimmy Parenti Jr., Jimmy Holden, Carl Weatherby, Jeff Schaffer, Jr.
Bonnell's Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Cody Bova, Andy Feil, Mike Miller, Joe McEwen, Evan Kornbau, Greg Dobrosky, George Hobaugh, CJ Jones, Mike Marano, Mike Bauer, Clay Riney, Jason Scoville, Bob McMillin, Mark Rossy, Jim Morris, Matt Gardina, Alex Paden, Chad Matthews, Jake Gomola, Devin Litwiler, Eric Williams, Ken Rossy
Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: Gary Miller, Brent Johnson, Pat Fielding, William Hurrelbrink, Rusty Moore, Ryan Moyer, Leigh Wheeler, Curt Bish, Garrett Calvert, Jacob Billyk, Joe Stajnrajh
Rock Concrete Modified Lites: Jason Dracocha, Chris Logan, Mark Marcucci, George Englert, Jacob Bova, Aaron Meister,Glenn Teeters, Mark Marcucci Sr, Shane Webb, Tim Prelog, Preston Roach, Doug Jones, Josh Deems