Mercer, PA (April 1, 2012): Keith Barbara, of South Park, PA, roared to victory in the Chiller Thriller before a large opening night crowd at Mercer Raceway Park. In taking the round one of the UFo Race Championship, the former series titlist scored his first career victory at the track. Greg Johnson, of Busti, NY, capitailized on another driver’s mechanical woes to win the UEMS Modified race. The Open Stocks presented by Precise Racing Products went down to the wire, with Rusty Martz taking the cool thousand dollar victory. Lucas Sprouse topped the Mini Stock finale.
In the middle stages of the race, Barbara was able to stretch his lead by working the inside line. “My visor was fogging up, so I did not know where I was at,” the winner said. “So, I just stayed on the bottom.” Barbara also creditted his tire choice as a key to the victory. “I went soft on tires, and I think the other guys went with harder tires.” That meant that he was quicker on the restarts than his opponents.
Barbara shot out to an early lead, followed by Gregg Satterlee, Greg Oakes and Garrett Krummert, a former competitor in the Mercer 358 Modified class. A caution for Corey Conley set up a series of restarts with two laps down. This seemed to be a good development for Krummert, who had trouble negotiating the outside of turn two each time. Unfortunately for him, damage sustained in one of his excursions soon sent him pitside.
In the middle stages of the race, the man on the move was Russell King. He took third on lap 12, and he gave chase to Barbara and second place runner Satterlee. However, King was never able to overtake them.
With ten laps to go, Satterlee mounted a charge. He closed in on the leader, but he nearly spun out coming through the tricky turn four. It took him several laps to reel in Barbara again. WIth Barbara’s pace slowed somewhat by a pair of lapped cars racing side-by-side, Satterlee closed in. However, with just two laps left in the race, Satterlee bobbled coming off turn two, giving Barbara some breathing room.
At the checkers, it was Barbara, Satterlee and King. Fourth went to Mike Knight, whose car had a damaged rear spoiler from an early race shunt. Jared Miley rounded out the top five.
Positions six through ten went to Chad Valone, from 21st, John Garvin, Ron Delano, Jr., Kenny Schaltenbrand and Dennis Lunger.
Heat wins for the 31 UFo Super Late Models went to Barbara, Garvin, Satterlee and Krummert. The B main winner was Valone.
In the UEMS Modified 25 lapper, Johnson inherited the lead on lap 19 when veteran Alan Dellinger suddenly retired from the race. “I don’t know what happened to him,” Johnson said. “And, I don’t care,” he quickly added with a laugh. “It’s happened to me before.” Like Barbara, Johnson noted that his tire choice was important. “Our tires came on at the end there.”
Dellinger trailed Shawn Shingledecker into turn one at the start, but he emerged from turn two with the lead, as Shingledecker jumped the cushion.
The race was marred by a high number of cautions. The last one came with two laps remaining. That tested Johnson’s mettle. With Carl McKinney nipping at his heels on the restart, Johnson led the field into turn one. McKinney drew in close, but he could not get his nose under the leader.
Johnson took the win, followed by McKinney, Brent Rhebergen, Steve Dixon and Shane Crotty, from 21st.
Mike Kinney, Ben Asel, Shingledecker, Rich Michaels, Jr., and Mike Mcgee completed the top ten.
Dan Davies, Butch Southwell, Dellinger and Johnson won the heats for the 29 UEMS Modifieds. The B main winner was Crotty.
The closest race of the night was the 20 lap Open Stock Car feature. Greg Fenno and Rusty Martz had the fans on their feet as they came off the final turn. Martz won the drag race to the finishline.
Fenno paced the field for the first five laps. Dan Lewis assumed command on a lap five restart, but Fenno fought back on the outside, regaining the lead as the duo raced off turn four. Meanwhile, Martz methodically worked his way to the front. He entered the top five on lap seven and took third on lap ten.
Martz was pressing Fenno as the laps wound down. He went hard into turn three, and Fenno dropped down to take his line away. There was contact and Fenno slid up the track. Martz powered off turn four with the lead as they completed lap 18.
Fenno did not give up though. He rallied on the outside of turn four and, as the pair took the white flag, he was beside Martz. They raced through the first turn side-by-side. Fenno nosed ahead coming off turn two and got completely in front of Martz down the backstretch. But Martz dropped low coming through the final turns and took the win by a single car length.
Behind Martz and Fenno was Colton Gearhart, Lewis and Joe Kelly.
Dave Ferringer, Greg Beach, Chris Schneider, Brent Coleman and Davey Lee finished sixth through tenth.
Martz, Gearhart and Schneider won the heats for the 27 Open Stocks. The B main was waived when an insufficieint number of racers answered the call.
Rusty Moore, who was nearly unbeatable in 2011, was unable to start the feature due to a mechanical problem.
Lucas Sprouse was the winner of the fifteen lap Mini Stock race. Sprouse led most of the way, but defending champion Pete Baczak came on strong in the final circuits. Blaczak’s charge ended when his car slowed coming off turn two on the final lap. He limped across the finish line in fourth trailing heavy smoke.
Sprouse led Larry Mitchell and Steve Longwell to the checkers. Behind Blaczak was Jerry Bratcher.
Tim Callahan, John Shannon, Ed Haylett, Staci Faulhaber and Randy Sprouse completed the top ten.
The heat winners were Lucas Sprouse and Mitchell. There was no B main for the 16 Mini Stocks.
Next week will be the first Saturday Night Live! racing program at Mercer Raceway Park. The Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprint Cars, the ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors and the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds will top the card. The Precise Racing Products Stock Cars and the Mini Stocks will return. Also seeing their first action of 2012 will be the Modified Lites presented by Big Daddy’s Speed Center and Rock Concrete. Gates will open at 4 and racing will begin at 7.
UFo Race Championship Super Late Models (25 laps): Keith Barbara, Gregg Satterlee, Russell King, Mike Knight, Jared Miley, Chad Valone, John Garvin, Ron Delano, Jr., Kenny Schaltenbrand, Dennis Lunger, Tom Decker, Jr., John Hodgkiss, Jordan Eck, Greg Oakes, Dewayne Brooks, Brent Rhebergen, Matt Latta, Loren Sallack, Corey Conley, Garrett Krummert, Clate Copeman, Doug Eck, Dan Schwartzlander.
DNQ: Charles Supplee, Rob Bates, Tom Decker, III, Danny Fenton, Tom Shaffer, Andrew Gordon, Steve Everhart.
UEMS Modifieds (25 laps): Greg Johnson, Carl McKinney, Brent Rhebergen, Steve Dixon, Shane Crotty, Mike Kinney, Ben Asel, Shawn Shingledecker, Rich Michaels, Jr., Mike McGee, John Boardman, Jim Plance, Gary Eicher, Jack Young, Dan Davies, Nathan Hill, Butch Southwell, Alan Dellinger, Justin Carlson, Mike Eschach, Joel Watson, Chad Carlson, Vic Vena, Russ Dunn.
DNQ: Justin Chaddock, Andy Buckley, Chris Myers, Josh Cramer, Bud Watson.
Precise Racing Products Open Stock Cars (20 laps): Rusty Martz, Greg Fenno, Colton Gearhart, Dan Lewis, Joe Kelly, Dave Ferringer, Greg Beach, Chris Schneider, Brent Coleman, Davey Lee, Randy Sterling, Matt Wagner, Ray Reynolds, Brandon Johnston, Skip Lindenath, Travis Walsh, Bill Phillips, Garrett Calvert, Tim Deutsch, Dustin Eck, Gary Fisher, Andy Buckley, Rob Shook, Rusty Moore (DNS).
DNQ: Jamie Price, Dillon Kineston, Carl Johnston.
Mini Stocks (15 laps): Lucas Sprouse, Larry Mitchell, Steve Longwell, Sr., Pete Blaczak, jerry Bratcher, Tim Callahan, John Shannon, Ed Haylett, Staci Faulhaber, Randy Sprouse, Doug Enrenberg, Jordan Ehrenberg, Tyler Fulton, Chase Anthony, Joel Wisser, Rudy Troples (DNS).
About Mercer Raceway Park: Mercer Raceway Park is a 3/8-mile dirt track located minutes from both Interstate 79 and 80 just off Route 19 on Fairground Road in Mercer, Pa. Dirt track racing and quality family entertainment are presented weekly from late March through late September. For more information, check out www. mercerracewaypark.com, www.twitter.com/mercerraceway, or www.facebook.com/mercerracewaypark.