Mercer, PA (April 19, 2014): Danny Holtgraver loves racing in front of the hometown fans, and it shows. The Pittsburgh Kid cut his teeth at Mercer Raceway Park before hitting the road with the All Stars Circuit of Champions. The $4,000 special event win for 410 Sprint Cars was his second of the weekend, and it makes him the odds-on favorite when the touring stars return to the Park for the first of three events.
Frankie Guidace rebounded from a disappointing opening night to score his first victory of the season in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds. Andy Feil led wire to wire to earn the laurels in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Tyler Fulton did likewise in the Mini Stocks, presented by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. Trusty Rusty Moore regained the winning form in the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars.
The program was delayed by a transformer failure that darkened the third and fourth turns, and by track manicuring to cure a weeper in turn three. But once racing resumed, track management pushed the program through to a respectable conclusion.
“It’s awesome to come back home and get to see all of the fans I grew up racing around, and when we can pull off two wins in the weekend, it’s a lot of fun,” Holtgraver said. His new team, fielded by Rob Hunter, and wrenched by Andrew Barman, and Dan Holtgraver, is starting to jell. “We’ve been making a little bit of changes here, and I think we found some stuff the past couple of weeks and we’ve been going pretty good.” Holtgraver was hopeful that he can carry the momentum into the All Stars events coming up in the weeks ahead, as there will be an Eastern Swing, followed by a return to Western Pennsylvania, including the Park on May 10.
Jack Sodeman, Jr. and Danny Holtgraver had the front row for the start of the 410 Sprint Car feature presented by Luxaire Heating & Cooling and McCrudden’s Heating & Cooling. Sodeman and Holtgraver fired simultaneously, and raced hard into turn one. However, the start was waived off due to an incident towards the rear of the field. Last week’s winner, Rod George, did not get away cleanly, and that stacked up the cars behind him. Adam Kekich flipped exiting turn four and Arnie Kent collided with the overturned machine. Jac Haudenschild was also involved. While none of the racers were hurt, only the Wild Child was able to continue in the event.
The next attempt at a start saw the dynamic duo charging hard into turn one once again. They ran side by side for the lap, but Holtgraver took command as they passed beneath the flag stand. As they did, John McCraken flipped his Sprinter in turn three. Scott Priester was collected as well, and neither driver could continue.
The single file restart had Holtgraver on the point, a position that he would not surrender in the 29-lap run to the checkers. Sodeman ran second throughout, trailing by as much as a full straightaway midway through the contest. When Holtgraver reached heavy traffic with a handful of laps remaining, Sodeman began to close in, but he ran out of time.
Sheldon Haudenshild was racing in third when he retired from the fray on lap 22. That moved Jared Zimbardi up a notch. He held off the fast-closing Lee Jacobs in the final few circuits for third. Taking fifth was Carl Bowser.
Cole Duncan crossed in sixth. Tim Shaffer climbed to seventh, with Eric Williams, Brent Matus, and Brandon Matus completing the top ten.
Heat winners for the 26 car field were Jacobs, Zimbardi, and Holtgraver. The B Main went to Brandon Matus.
Frankie Guidace jumped out to the early lead in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds, with Brian Schaffer, Steve Barr, Eric Gabany, and Jimmy Holden in tow.
While Guildace romped to the thousand dollar paycheck, it did not take Holden long to work into second, as he, too, was looking for some redemption on the speedway. Barr held the third spot until a restart with ten laps down. When the action resumed, he got shuffled out of the top five.
Last week’s winner, Kyle Fink, came on strong in the second half of the program to earn the third position. J.R. McGinley was fourth, with Shawn Fleeger taking another top five finish.
Gary Smoker, who was filling in for Andy Paden, ran sixth. Barr placed seventh, with Eric Gabany, Makayla Guidace, and Jeff Schaffer, Jr., taking the other spots in the top ten. Schaffer’s run was all the more remarkable considering the fact that his father was hospitalized midweek due to severe injuries sustained while felling a tree.
Preliminaries for the 17 cars on hand went to Holden and McGinley. There was no B Main.
Andy Feil, a graduate of the Modified Lites, scored an impressive victory in the Outlaw Sprint Warriors, offered by Bonnell’s Rod Shop. Feil led the entire distance to claim his second career win, holding off the two ringers in the field, Brandon Matus and Adam Kekich. Matus was subbing for the injured Mike ?Marano II, who was burned in the previous week of racing. Kekich was driving the machine normally piloted by Bob McMillin. McMillin dropped a 305 engine into his car, looking to grab the extra money on the line this night. However, it was Feil who took home the cool thousand dollars.
Behind Feil, Matus, and Kekich came Jimmy Morris and Michael Bauer. That duo placed first and second in the prior outing for this division. Cody Bova, another graduate of Modified Lite racing, placed sixth. Eric L. Williams turned in a good performance, taking seventh after running with the lead pack much of the race. Mike Miller, George Hobaugh, and C.J. Jones completed the top ten.
Pacing the heats were Kekich, Morris and Bauer. Jones topped the B Main.
Tyler Fulton dominated the Mini Stocks, offered by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. The racers had some difficulty getting the program underway, but once they got going, there was no stopping them. Fulton circled the speedway with ease, with Mike McConnell running second. Ed Haylett climbed to third, with Caleb Hickok, and Tyler Blake rounding out the top five.
The next five finishers were Shane Shook, Rudy Troples, Richard Wilbert, Pete Blazak, and Patricia Riffe.
Tim Callahan and McConnell topped the heats for the 19 racers in the division. There was no B Main.
In the Precise Racing Products Stock Car nightcap, it was Rusty Moore taking the win. Leigh Wheeler and Pat Fielding put on a spirited due for second, with Wheeler coming out on top. Joey Zambotti, a late arrival, finished in fourth, just a spot ahead of Ryan Moyer.
Bob Schwartzmiller debuted his beautiful Stocker and drove it to sixth, Curtis J. Bish placed seventh. William Hurrelbrink, Rodney Thoms, and Jesse Brock were next across the finish line.
The pair of heats belonged to Wheeler and Fielding. No B Main was necessary for the 16 cars assembled.
Next weekend will be another Saturday Night Live! program. It will be Pittsburgh Circle Track Club Night, with all members in good standing admitted free of charge to the grandstands.
Luxaire Heating & Cooling/McCrudden’s Heating & Cooling 410 Sprint Cars: Danny Holtgraver, Jack Sodeman, Jr., Jared Zimbardi, Lee Jacobs, Carl Bowser, Cole Duncan, Tim Shaffer, Eric WIlliams, Brent Matus, Brandon Matus, Jac Haudenschild, Brandon Spithaler, Steve Collins, Ralph Spithaler, Jimmy Seger, Todd Hoddick, C.J. Jones, Dennis Wagner, Rod George, Adam Kekich, Arnie Kent, Scott Priester, John McCracken.
Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: Frankie Guidace, Jimmy Holden, Kyle Fink, J.R. McGinley, Shawn Fleeger, Gary Smoker, Steve Barr, Eric Gabany, Makayla Guidace, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Kyle Martell, Brian Schaffer, Kyle Holden, Shayne Izzo, Max Smoker, Lonnie Riggs, Richard Whitney (DNS), Kevin Sevacko (DNS).
Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Andy Feil, Brandon Matus, Adam Kekich, Jimmy Morris, Michael Bauer, Cody Bova, Eric L. WIlliams, Mike Miller, George Hobaugh, C.J. Jones, Ralph Engel, Jr., Evan Kornbau, Darren Pifer, Hunter McCracken, Kotie Kirkbride, Devin Litwiler, Chad Matthews, Sye Lynch, Jason Scoville. DNS: Rob Felix, Jacob Gomola, Alex Paden, Ken Rossey, Matt Gardina.
Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks: Tyler Fulton, Mike McConnell, Ed Haylett, Caleb Hickok, Tyler Blake, Shane Shook, Rudy Troples, Richard Wilbert, Pete Blazak, Patricia Riffe, Roger Wigton, Shane Smith, Alan Perry, Steve Longwell, Jr., Steve Longwell, Sr., Matt Cwynar, Tim Callahan, Chad Fry, Jordan Ehrenberg (DNS).
Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: Rusty Moore, Leigh Wheeler, Pat Fielding, Joey Zambotti, Ryan Moyer, Bob Schwartzmiller, Curtis J. Bish, William Hurrelbrink, Rodney Thoms, Jesse Brock, Curt Bish, Rob Bates, Joe Stajnrajh, Josh Seippel, Garret Calvert (DNS), Tim Bish (DNS).