(Mercer, PA June 25, 2016): Jack Sodeman, jr. carried the colors of his dad’s famous Sprint Car into victory lane for the first time in 2016. The car may have a retro color scheme and graphics package, but it has all of the modern bells and whistles. Sodeman splits his time between his contemporary car and the throw-back machine, but he likes to bring the traditional one to Mercer, in particular. “Mercer is kind of its home, my dad actually made a pretty good career out of Mercer Raceway Park in the exact same car. It must be the theme that everybody likes,” he said.
Also taking wins on Fireworks Night presented by Pizza Joe’s were Kyle Fink (Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds), Gregg McCandless (Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors), Shawn Smith (Precise Racing Products Open Stock Cars), Shane Pfeuffer (Rock Concrete Modified Lites), Todd Hanlon (Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks), and Jordan Simmons (Elder Tractor Sales & Service Junior Sprints).
Jack Sodeman, Jr. took the lead at the drop of the green in the 4 Your Car Connection 410 Sprints, and he methodically built his lead. Before the first caution was displayed, on lap 18, he had a half track lead over Michael Bauer, who had wrestled second away from Jason Dolick. After that first caution, there were a number of other interruptions, including one final caution when Sodeman was a half lap away from victory.
“I was just hoping that they put enough fuel in the car,” Sodeman said about the numerous cautions over the final seven laps. “As long as I hit my marks, I knew that I would be OK.” Sodeman did have enough fuel to go the rest of the way.
“There were a lot of young guns behind us, but I liked the spot that we were in,” Sodeman explained. One of those younger drivers was Michael Bauer, who scored his best finish in a 410 Sprinter, second. Carl Bowser was third, a position that he occupied for almost the entire 25 laps. Brandon Spithaler came on to get fourth, with Brandon Matus a close fifth.
After making an appearance on MRN’s Winged Nation earlier in the week, A.J. Flick was sixth. Dan Kuriger was seventh. It is now officially summer, as Andy McKisson made his first run at the Park to get seventh. Invader Sean Zemunik was ninth, and Scott Priester in tenth.
There were three heats for the 22 cars on hand. The winners were Brandon Spithaler, Zemunik, and Bauer. There was no B Main, as all cars were allowed to start the feature race.
The luck of the draw put the top two point men on the front row for the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified feature event. Everybody was expecting a titanic struggle between Jimmy Holden, who had a slim one-point lead entering the night’s action, and Kyle Fink, who has been remarkably consistent this season. Instead, what they saw was a dominant performance from Fink. “I wasn’t expecting to beat Jimmy tonight, but we had quite a run,” Fink said modestly.
Fink’s run to the checkers was slowed on only one occasion, for a spin by Kevin Green in turn one after the first lap. From that point on, it was green to checkers for the Strattanville Charger. Lonny Riggs grabbed second on lap twelve, and he did start cutting into Fink’s lead. “The top kinda went away, and I went to the bottom and it wasn’t quite as good on the bottom as it was on the top. So, I was kinda hanging on for the last few laps.” Still, Fink had more than enough in reserve to earn the win.
Riggs was second, a few car lengths behind Fink. Third went to Holden. Tommy Kristyak ran in the top five the whole way to claim fourth in the final tally. Frank Guidace was fifth. Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Jeff Schaffer, Sr., Eric Martin, and Kyle Holden completed the top ten.
The pair of heats went to Holden and Riggs.
Gregg McCandless drove a perfect race in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors, and he had to becasuse Darin Gallagher was nipping on his heels for the final seven laps. McCandless had a two second advantage evaporate over the second half of the non-stop twenty lapper. Gallagher did get his nose under McCandless once in turn one, but McCandless went back to the top shelf to maintain the lead. “I saw him, I was just moving around, just making sure that I wasn’t missing anything,”moved my line a couple of times and all of a sudden I saw him and I went back to my line, and I don’t know where he was at the end.” In fact, McCandless did open a few car lengths over the final few laps.
For McCandless, it was his first win in any kind of Sprint Car, and he is showing no signs of rust despite being out of a racer for more than a decade.
After McCandless and Gallagher came two-time winner Andy Preist, Cody Bova, and Jimmy Seger, the new pilot of the potent Lockhart 58. SIxth belonged to Mike Miller. Mike Marano II, George Englert, and Eric L. Williams were the remaining finishers. Early retirees Vincent Daugherty and Rod Jones were next. Harold Braden, Jr. was unable to start any of the races this night.
The heat wins went to Gallagher and McCandless.
Shawn Smith jumped out to the early lead and he withstood a lap seven restart to capture his first victory in the Precise Racing Products Open Stocks. Two-time winner William Hurrelbrink was second, but slowed greatly at the end of the event. Randy Weyant emerged from a three-car battle to get the third position. Ryan Moyer was fourth, and Bobby Heim fifth. Curt Bish held off Pat Fielding for sixth. David Snyder, Gary McGregor, and Brent Johnson were the balance of the top ten. Russ Byler was the first car out of the event. The heat winners were Weyant and Johnson.
The Rock Concrete Modified Lites had a confusing finish, both on the track and in the pit area. Contact between a couple of the top runners led to a one-lap shoot out with a ragged start. Apparent winner Kenny Meadows was too light at the scales, so the win was conferred on Shane Pfeuffer. Vivian Jones had a career best second place finish. Kurt Eckstrom, Jason Johnson, and Bill Stivason rounded out the top five. Keith Smith, Doug Jones, Josh Christopher, Mark Marcucci, and Jacob Bova were the next five. The preliminaries went to Shane Webb and Marcucci.
Todd Hanlon regained his winning ways in the Mini Stocks presented by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. He took the lead away from Alan Perry, who continued on for second place. Taking third was Isaac Paden. Shane Shook and Jacob Rice had fourth and fifth at the finish. Summer PItts, Karleee Longwell, William Haylett, Ed Haylett, and Tyler Fulton completed the top ten. The heat winners were Hanlon and Perry.
In the Elder Tractor Sales & Service Junior Sprints, Jordan Simmons raced to his third consecutive victory. Roman Jones, who led the the first four laps before giving way to Simmons. Chase Metheney ran third the entire distance. Sam Darby, Ayden Cipriano, Maddie Bova, and Austin Cavanaugh followed. Alivia Bish did not start the event. Simmons also won the heat race.
Remember that next week with be the Sprint Car spectacular for the Auto Racers for Kids charity. Joining the track’s 4 Your Car Connection 410 Sprints and the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors will be the Patriot (360) Sprint Tour. All other classes will be on hand also. All proceeds will benefit children’s charities in Northwestern Pennsylvania.
4 Your Car Connection 410 Sprints: Jack Sodeman, Jr., Michael Bauer, Carl Bowser, Brandon Spithaler, Brandon Matus, A.J. Flick, Dan Kuriger, Andy McKisson, Sean Zemunik, Scott Priester, Jason Dolick, Gale Ruth, Jr., Dennis Wagner, Clay Riney, Zach Morrow, John Garvin, Alex Paden, James Pych, George Hobaugh, Jr., Darren Pifer, Brent Matus, Gary Edwards.
Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: Kyle Fink, Lonny Riggs, Jimmy Holden. Tommy Kristyak, Frank Guidace, Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Jeff Schafffer, Sr., Eric Martin, Kyle Holden, Chad Gumpp, Kevin Hoffman, Jason Sines, Kevin Green, Ryan Kemery (DNS)
Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Gregg McCandless, Darin Gallagher, Andy Preist, Cody Bova, Jimmy Seger, Mike Miller, Mike Marano II, George Englert, Eric L. Williams, Vincent Daugherty, Rod Jones, Harold Braden, Jr. (DNS)
Precise Racing Products Open Stocks: Shawn Smith, William Hurrelbrink, Randy Weyant, Ryan Moyer, Bobby Heim, Curt Bish, Pat Fielding, David Snyder, Gary McGregor, Brent Johnson, Russ Byler.
Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites: Shane Pfeuffer, Vivian Jones, Kurt Eckstrom, Jason Johnson, Bill Stivason, Keith Smith, Doug Jones, Josh Christopher, Mark Marcucci, Jacob Bova, Shane Webb, Cody Cooper (DNS), Kenny Meadows (DQ).
Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles Miniu Stocks: Todd Hanlon, Alan Perry, Isaac Paden, Shane Shook, Jacob Rice, Summer PItts, Karleee Longwell, William Haylett, Ed Haylett, Tyler Fulton, Tim Callahan, Rick Feely, Josh Rathbun (DNS).
Elder Tractor Sales & Service Junior Sprints: Jordan Simmons, Roman Jones, Chase Metheney, Sam Darby, Ayden Cipriano, Maddie Bova, Austin Cavanaugh, Alivia Bish (DNS).