(Mercer, PA June 18, 2016): Russell King had a $3,000 payday in the United Late Model Series event at Mercer Raceway Park. Although King and his racing family have scored many victories at the tricky track, it was his first with all of the fenders attached. Speaking of his Late Model performances, King said “it seems like every time we come here, we run good or we crash. Tonight it was checkers, no wreckers.”
Also gracing victory lane were J.R. McGinley (Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds), Andy Preist (Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors), William Hurrelbrink (Precise Racing Products Open Stock Cars, Mark Marcucci (Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites), Isaac Paden (Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks), and Jordan Simmons (Elder Tractor Sales & Service Junior Sprints).
Dave Hess, Jr. jumped out to an early lead in the ULMS go, but King kept Hess in his sights over the first five laps. What was shaping up to be a classic confrontation between the two hard chargers came to an early and disappointing end when Hess’ car suddenly stopped between turns three and four, ending his night. “He was struggling through the center,” King said of Hess before the leader came to a halt. King explained why he was content to follow Hess. “I lost too many by being too stupid too early, so I just tried to be patient.”
That gave the lead to King, and he wasted no time in stretching out his advantage. At one point, King had what appeared to be an insurmountable lead, more than a full straightaway in length. But, as he patiently worked around lapped traffic, Max Blair began to close in.
King had positioned himself to pick his way through the traffic, with the hopes of pinning Blair behind some of the slower cars. “I lost last night, we were leading and I got stuck behind lapped traffic, and I had it in my head that I was going to roll over every lapped car if I had to, ’cause I didn’t want to lose again like that,” King said. However, a caution with just five laps remaining cleared the traffic. The question on everybody’s mind then was whether King was just being patient in traffic, or whether Blair was just that much faster.
When the green light flashed on again, everybody got their answer. King blasted out to a three or four car length advantage, which he maintained the rest of the way to the checkers. Indeed, Jared Miley took a run on Blair for second on the outside of turns one and two, but Blair shot off the inside of turn two to keep him at bay.
King took the win, with Blair, and Miley crossing before John Volpe and Brent Rhebergen. Greg Oakes also nudged ahead of Keith Barbara, who was shuffled out of the top five in the final few rounds. Charlie Powell rebounded from a flat tire to take eighth. Breyton Santee and Scott Alveto rounded out the top ten.
Miley, Hess, and Blair prevailed in their respective preliminaries. The evening’s fastest qualifier for the ULMS Late Models was Blair, a former track champion back in the days of the Crate Late Model division.
J.R. McGinley raced to the win in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds. Jimmy Holden was looking to keep his perfect record intact, as he won every heat and feature entered so far in 2016. But, it was not to be. Holden’s car stopped on lap seven, handing the lead over to popular veteran Tommy Kristyak. Kristyak paced the field for several laps before McGinley made a powerful move on the inside of turns three and fourth to take command.
McGinley had a comfortable lead, but a caution with just one lap remaining allowed Eric Gabany to take one final charge. McGinley admitted to being worried on the final restart, noting “I just hoped we could get this thing to go on the start.” While he did take a lead into turn one, Gabany used the outside line in turns one and two, and then he tried the cross-over move on McGinley coming down the backstretch for the final time. Gabany blasted into turn three on the inside, but McGinley held his line. “I knew he was there, I just held the bottom and hopefully he couldn’t squeeze through,” McGinley said of his last lap strategy.
As McGinley pulled away for the win, Gabany got crossed up coming off the fourth corner. He limped across the finish line after the balance of the cars.
Kyle Fink was the surprise runner-up. It was his third second-place run of the season. Kevin Hoffman advanced to third, with Kristyak coming in fourth. Sid Unverszagt, Jr. was fifth. Tom Holden, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Frank Guidace, Eric Gabany, and Jeff Schaffer, Sr. were the next five competitors.
Guidace celebrated the birth of his grandson with a heat win. Holden won the other to keep that string intact.
Crafty veteran Andy Priest scored his second triumph of the 2016 season in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. George Hobaugh chased him home. Hobaugh had closed in on Preist with about six or seven laps remaining, but Priest found some moisture and pulled away for the win. “I started looking around to make sure that I was using the best part of the racetrack. I just found something a little bit different,” Preist explained.
Versatile Mike Miller finished third, after leading the first seven laps. Dakota Schweikart was fourth, with Gregg McCandless chalking up a top five finish. Justin Peck was sixth. Then came Eric L. WIlliams, Mike Marano, II, and Cody Bova. Harold Braden, Jr. was an early retiree from the contest. The heat winner was Gregg McCandless.
William Hurrelbrink won a thriller in the Precise Racing Products Open Stocks with a daring pass on the inside of turn three of the last lap. Hurrelbrink, who took second at the halfway mark, was able to close in on Russell Byler, who got hung up behind a lapped car. Hurrelbrink dove into turn one with just a couple of laps remaining, but the slower car moved down and blocked his advance, allowing Byler to roll ahead on the outside of turn two. Bler had taken command following a lap three restart. Trailing Hurrelbrink and Byler were defending divisional champion Ryan Moyer, and early leader Terry Young, who was gunning for his second win of the weekend. Rob Bates took fifth. The remaining finishers were David Snyder, Dennis Clark, and Pat Fielding. Curt Bish was unable to start the event. Moyer was the heat winner.
After dominating the Rock Concrete Modified Lites in 2015, nobody would have thought that he would go winless until the month of June. Well, he was again dominant this night, with a margin of victory of more than three seconds. Doug Jones was second, with Jacob Bova, Shane Webb, and Kurt Eckstrom next across the line. Jason Johnson, Dusty Frantz, Cody Cooper, Vivian Jones, and Bill Stivason were sixth through tenth. The qualifiers went to Ken Meadows and Bova.
Isaac Paden swooped into the lead on lap three of the Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks. He lost the advantage to Tyler Fulton for a pair of laps just past the midpoint of the contes, but he worked his way ahead again to lead the final three rounds. Fulton crossed before Terry Feely, Shane Shook, and Summer Pitts. William Haylett plaaced sixth, with Josh Rathbun, Karlee Longwell, Ed Haylett, and Jacob Rice completing the top ten. The heat winners were Feely and Todd Hanlon.
While Chase Metheney and Roman Jones diced for the lead early in the Elder Tractor Sales & Service Junior Sprints, Jordan Simmons waited for his chance to pounce. That came on lap three and he never looked back. Simmons took his second victory of the season, with Jones taking second. Ayden Cipriano moved into third, and Matheney crossed in fourth. Fifth went to Maddie Bova. Austin Cavanaugh, Alivia Bish, and Sam Darby rounded out the field. Simmons was also the heat winner.
June 25 will be the annual Fireworks program, presented courtesy of Pizza Joe’s. The racing will consist of a Saturday Night Live! racing program. The fun will start at 5:30, and that will hold until further notice. Please be aware that there have been numerous changes to the racing schedule. The updated schedule can be viewed at www. mercerracewaypark.com.
Remember, too, that the Auto Racers for Kids charity program will be held on July 2, and that will be a blockbuster for Sprint Car fans. Joining the 4 Your Car Connection 410 Sprints and the Bonnell’s Rod Shops Outlaw Sprint Warriors will be the exciting Patriot Sprint Tour. These 360 powered cars hail mostly from the Empire State, but they are welcome visitors to Mercer Raceway Park. All support divisions will also participate.
ULMS Late Models: Russell King, Max Blair, Jared Miley, John Volpe, Brent Rhebergen, Greg Oakes, Keith Barbara, Charlie Powell, Breyton Santee, Scott Alveto, Chad Wright, Levi Sikora, Matt Latta, Ken Schaffer, Dave Hess, Jr., Bobby Rohrer, Tim Burns, Michael Oakes, Clay Ruffo.
Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: J.R. McGinley, Kyle Fink, Kevin Hoffman, Tommy Kristyak, Sid Unverszagt, Jr., Tom Holden, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Frank Guidace, Eric Gabany, Jeff Schaffer, Sr., Lonnie Riggs (DNS).
Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Andy Priest, George Hobaugh, Mike Miller, Dakota Schweikart, Gregg McCandless, Justin Peck, Eric L. WIlliams, Mike Marano, II, Cody Bova, Harold Braden, Jr.
Precise Racing Products Open Stock Cars: William Hurrelbrink, Russell Byler, Ryan Moyer, Terry Young, Rob Bates, David Snyder, Dennis Clark, Pat Fielding, Curt Bish (DNS).
Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites: Mark Marcucci, Doug Jones, Jacob Bova, Shane Webb, Kurt Eckstrom, Jason Johnson, Dusty Frantz, Cody Cooper, Vivian Jones, Bill Stivason, Ken Meadows.
Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks: Isaac Paden, Tyler Fulton, Terry Feely, Shane Shook, Summer Pitts, William Haylett, Josh Rathbun, Karlee Longwell, Ed Haylett, Jacob Rice, Todd Hanlon, Donny Akins.
Elder Tractor Sales & Service Junior Sprints: Jordan Simmons, Roman Jones, Ayden Cipriano, Chase Matheney, Maddie Bova, Austin Cavanaugh, Alivia Bish, Sam Darby.