Gabany, Bish, Jones, Fulton, and Bauer also Score
Mercer, PA (April 26, 2014): Jack Sodeman, Jr. grabbed win in the 410 Sprint feature presented by Luxaire Heating & Cooling and McCrudden Heating & Supply at Mercer Raceway Park. Sodeman had to hold off a furious charge by Eric “Turkey” WIlliams in the final six laps. The victory, coupled with the failure of points leader Carl Bowser to start the event, propelled the defending champion to the top of the standings. “It’s way too early to be worried about the points,” Sodeman quipped.
Eric Gabany scored his first Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified feature since last Fall’s Little Guys Nationals preliminary night feature. Curtis J. Bish was declared the winner in the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars when apparent winner Leigh Wheeler came up 20 pounds light at the scales. Rod Jones raced to the win in the Rock Concrete Modified Lites. Tyler Fulton made a last-lap pass of points leader Mike McConnell to earn the checkers in the Mini Stocks offered by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. The finale for the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors went to Michael Bauer.
“We just got way, way too tight after the caution, so I just hit my marks, kept my head, and kept the car straight, and it worked out pretty good,” Sodeman said. He knew that Williams was lurking in the final laps. “I heard him in turn four, so I said I’d better pick it up or else he’s going to show me the way around this place.”
Jack Sodeman, Jr. and Scott Priester had the front row for the 410 Sprint feature under the twin banners of Luxaire Heating & Cooling and McCrudden Heating & Supply. Sodeman took the early lead, with Priester hanging close in second. Eric Williams, Bill Jones, Jr., Dan Kuriger, and Brandon Matus fought for positions in the early going.
Sodeman seemingly had the cruise control set, as he pulled away from Priester. The leaders entered lapped traffic just past the midpoint in the race, and that made things more complicated for the front runners. Priester spun in turn three and that set up a six lap dash for the cash.
Sodeman led the pack to the green, but Williams was a man on a mission. He was closing on Prieseter just before the stoppage. Now, he was chasing the leader. Williams charged around the high side of the speedway, hoping that his momentum would carry him to the lead. It was not to be, though, as Sodeman continued to roll around the bottom of the speedway.
On the final circuit, Williams threw caution to the wind. He got a big charge off turn two, but could not get along side of the leader. Sodeman entered turn three with a slight lead. Williams made another push in turn four, but came up just a few car lengths short at the finish line.
Rod George came from twelfth to third in the final rundown. Brandon Matus was fourth, and Jones held on for fifth in his first race of the new season.
Kuriger crossed in sixth, just ahead of Adam Kekich. A.J. Flick passed Francis Sesco in the final laps to take eighth. Brent Matus was tenth.
Heat winners were Scott Priester and Rod George. There was no B Main.
In the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified division, Eric Gabany led wire to wire. “We’ve been craving this for a couple of weeks, now,” said the happy winner. He confirmed his intentions to compete for the points championship, after being a part-time competitor at the Park for the last couple of seasons.
There was plenty of action behind Gabany, though, as cars fought for positions. The fierce action led to plenty of contact. For example, as the field was completing lap six, Carl Weatherby spun while running in the top five. That set off a six car tangle between turns three and four. Weatherby was able to keep moving and retained his position.
On the restart, Frankie Guidace spun in turn two and collected Weatherby. Guidace was third at the time. That moved Jimmy Holden to second, with Shawn Fleeger holding down third despite heavy damage to his racer. Kyle Fink was now fourth, and young Kyle Martell in fifth.
When the green flag dropped, Guidace was on the charge. He flew up to the fifth spot, and the fans had to think that he was going to advance even further. While he did move forward in the final tally, he never did get back into a position to contend for the win.
Jimmy Holden ran into some misfortune while running in the second spot. He was starting to close in on Gabany, but he was crowded by a lapped machine coming through turn four. Around went the second place car.
That set up the final restart with Gabany, Fink and Guidace in the top three positions. Fleeger soldiered on in fourth, with Rich Whitney back in action after suffering engine damage last week.
Gabany got away cleanly, but Fink was on the charge. He worked the cushion hard, especially in turns three and four. However, Gabany had enough steam to hold him off.
Behind Gabany and Fink came Guidace, Fleeger, and Whitney.
Jimmy Holden rallied for sixth. Brian Schaffer, Makayla Guidace, Martell and Jeff Schaffer, Jr., rounded out the top ten.
Wins in the qualification races belonged to Holden and Guidace. There was no B Main.
In the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars, Pat Fielding and Leigh Wheeler occupied the front row. Fielding got away first. with Wheeler nipping at his heels. Fielding held command for the first five laps, but Wheeler dropped to the inside of turns three and four to grab the lead on lap six. While the lead was changing, Curtis J. Bish took third from Bill Hurrelbrink.
Wheeler led the way, with Fielding running in second. Wheeler used a lapped car to open up a lead of several car lengths as the filed completed lap 12. Fielding made contact with the lapped car, though, and both drivers were sent to the tail for the restart.
That put Wheeler and Bish on the front row for the restart. Wheeler led the final three laps to get the apparent victory, but his car was 20 pounds at the scales. So the win officially went to Bish, his first of the season.
Taking second was Trusty Rusty Moore, the three-time and defending divisional champion. Third was Hurrelbrink. Tim Burns came up to fourth, with Gary Miller taking fifth.
Positions six through ten belonged to Ryan Moyer, Bob Egley, Neil Tristani, Fielding, and Stan Riggle.
The preliminaries went to Burns and Bish. There was no B Main.
Rod Jones claimed the win in the Rock Concrete Modified Lites. He passed former champ Darrin Gallger nine laps into the contest. Gallagher had led from the start. Mark Marcucci and George Englert fought for positions throughout the contest, with Marcucci coming out on top. Jason Darocha placed fifth. Chris Logan, Chris Frank, Don Cain, Mike Flockerzi, and Jacob Bova rounded out the top ten.
The heat victories were scored by Englert, Marcucci, and Gallagher. There was no B Main for the 22 cars on hand.
Points leader Mike McConnell led until turn four of the final lap in the Mini Stock event, hosted by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. McConnell was battling Tim Callahan, and the two made slight contact when they took the white flag. McConnell held the lead, but the skirmish allowed Tyler Fulton to make a charge on the outside. He passed Callahan entering turn one, and he was not done just yet. Fulton continued around the top of the speedway, and he entered turn three next to McConnell. Fulton gained the advantage through the final corner. He was the first racer to earn back-to-back wins this season.
Taking second was McConnell over Callahan. Rudy Troples and Davey Seibert placed fourth and fifth. Shane Shook, Ray Aikins, Ed Haylett, Patricia Riffe, Roger Wigton, and Caleb Hickok, completed the top ten.
In the nightcap for the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Michael Bauer passed early leader Jacob Gomola, and he stretched his lead throughout the event.
The only thing that slowed Bauer’s run to the checkers was a hard crash by Cody Bova in turn one. Bova got over a wheel while fighting for position. Eric L. Williams’ mount also sustained major damage. Fortunately, neither driver was hurt.
Sye Lynch came on strong in the final laps to take second spot. Mike Marano II, recovering from his burns suffered a few weeks ago, was third. Hunter McCraken and Andy Feil completed the top five. George Hobaugh, Darren Pifer, Evan Kornbau, Gomola, and Chad Matthews were the next five finishers.
Bauer, Bova, and Jimmy Morris took the checkers in their heat races. There was no B Main for the 21 cars in the pits.
Next weekend will present another Saturday Night Live! program. In just two weeks, the All Stars Circuit of Champions will invade the Park for their first of three appearances.
Luxaire Heating & Cooling/McCrudden Heating & Supply 410 Sprint Cars: Jack Sodeman, Jr., Eric Williams, Rod George, Brandon Matus, Bill Jones, Jr., Dan Kuriger, Adam Kekich. A.J. Flick, Francis Sesco, Brent Matus, Skip Daugherty, Bob McMillin, Scott Priester, John McCracken, Jr., Dennis Wagner, Charlie Cornelius (DNS), Carl Bowser (DNS).
Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: Eric Gabany, Kyle Fink, Frankie Guidace, Shawn Fleeger, Rich Whitney, Jimmy Holden, Brian Schaffer, Makayla Guidace, Kyle Martell, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., J.R. McGinley, Clyde Gumpp, Carl Weatherby, Max Smoker, Shayne Izzo, Lonny Riggs (DNS).
Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: Curt Bish, Rusty Moore, Bill Hurrelbrink, Tim Burns, Gary Miller, Ryan Moyer, Bob Egley, Neil Tristani, Pat Fielding, Stan Riggle, Curt Bish, Bob Schwartzmiller, Leigh Wheeler (DQ).
Rock Concrete Modified Lites: Rod Jones, Darrin Gallgher, Mark Marcucci, George Englert, Jason Darocha, Chris Logan, Chris Frank, Don Cain, Mike Flockerzi, Jacob Bova, Jason Johnson, Rob Hilliard, Jeff Teeters, Shane Webb, Preston Roach, Teddy Williams, Cory Webb, Shane Pfeuffer, Keith Smith, Matt Cain (DNS), Tim Prelog (DNS), Josh Deems (DNS).
Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks: Tyler Fulton, Mike McConnell, Tim Callahan, Rudy Troples, Davey Seibert, Shane Shook, Ray Aikins, Ed Haylett, Patricia Riffe, Roger Wigton, Caleb Hickok, Pete Blazak, Peter Williams, Richard Wilbert, Jordan Ehrenberg, Steve Longwell, Sr., Brian Felmlee, Chad Fry (DNS), Matt Cwynar (DNS).
Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Michael Bauer, Sye Lynch, Mike Marano II, Hunter McCraken, Andy Feil, George Hobaugh, Darren Pifer, Evan Kornbau, Jacob Gomola, Chad Matthews, Devin Litwiler, Clay Riney, George Frederick, Kotie Kirkbride, Mike Miller, Alex Paden, Jim Morris, Eric L. WIlliams, Cody Bova, Greg Dobrowski, C.J. Jones (DNS).