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Mercer, PA
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Sodeman Wins Kekich Memorial

(Mercer, PA August 6, 2016): Jack Sodeman, Jr. added his name to the list of winners of the Paul “Putsy” Kekich Memorial at Mercer Raceway Park. The win, Sodeman’s fourth of the season in the 4 Your Car Connection Sprints at Mercer Raceway Park, was worth $3,000, courtesy of Bonnell’s Rod Shop and Sunburst Environmental.

Also taking wins on this special night were Lonny Riggs (Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds), Darin Gallagher (Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors), William Hurrelbrink (Precise Racing Products Open Stocks), Mark Marcucci (Rock Concrete Modified Lites), Tyler Fulton (Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks), and Roman Jones (Elder Tractor Sales & Service Junior Sprints).

Bringing the field to the green for the Kekich Memorial was last weeks’ winner, Michael Bauer, and current point leader, Jack Sodeman Jr. On the start Bauer went around in turn two and brought out the first caution of the race. Bauer’s car sustained some damage and had to be removed on the hook. Under the caution, Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions series driver Andrew Palker would have trouble with his top wing. He stopped on the track, and his crew tried to make a hasty repair. However, it was to no avail, as Palker was disqualified for the rules infraction of having crew members working on the car on the track.

On the restart, Sodeman took off from the rest of the field. By lap six, he was getting into lapped traffic and Brandon Spithaler closed in. Spithaler’s advance was slowed when Gale Ruth, Sr. stopped on the track. On the ensuing restart, it would be Putsy’s Grandson, Adam Kekich, moving up into the fourth position with Dan Kuriger hot on his heels. Kuriger seemed to be shot out of a cannon coming off the corners. He moved through the field with ease, passing cars and gaining the third position by lap 10.

On Lap 15, Spithaler caught Sodeman in traffic, but could not pull off the pass. That allowed Kuriger to close in on them. Kuriger passed Spithaler four laps later to take over the second position and then he tried to reel in Sodeman. But Kuriger would have to settle for second over Kekich, Brandon Matus, and Dan Shetler rounding out the top five.

Positions six through ten went to Dennis Wagner, John Garvin, Jr., Brent Matus, Alex Paden, and Davey Jones.

Heat race winners were Bauer, Brandon Matus, and Kuriger. Shetler set fast time with a lap of 14.439 over the 21 car field.

Then next to the speedway was the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds, with Rich Whitney and Lonny Riggs on the front row. On the green flag, Riggs broke out to early lead and was not challenged until lap ten. Jimmy Holden closed fast on Riggs in lapped traffic.

The first caution came out for the stopped car of Tommy Kristyak on lap 15. On the restart it was ninth place starter Jeff Schaffer, Jr. making noise as he moved into the fourth position. He then challenged Kyle Fink for third.

The final yellow of the race came out on lap 18 for the spinning cars of Erik Martin, Gerald Bowser, and Mike Gilliland. But, nothing seemed to phase Riggs. He passed under the checkers over a half a second, .519 to be exact, ahead of Holden. Fink, Schaffer, and Sid Unverzagt, Jr. were next. Rich Whitney, Ryan Kemery, Kevin Green, Jason Sines, and Gerald Bowser completed the top ten.

Riggs and Holden won the heats for the 14 cars.

The final race of the night was for the Bonnel’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Darren Gallagher and George Englert paced the eleven car field to the green. Not to be out done by his teacher, Jack Sodeman, Jr., Gallagher raced out to a significant lead and was never really challenged for the win.

The race was slowed once when C.J. Jones lost a wheel in turn two. He was done for the night.

At the finish, Gallagher won by 3.050 seconds over Cody Bova, Andy Priest, Jimmy Seger, and Englert. Gregg McCandless, Mike Marano, II, Mike Miller, and Eric L. Williams were the remaining finishers. Jones was scored in tenth based upon laps completed.

Picking up the heat race wins were Englert and McCandless.

The Precise Racing Products Stock Cars had the first feature for the second half of the evening’s program. Leading the 13 car field to the green were William Hurrelbrink and Andy Thompson for the 15 lap feature event. Hurrelbrink grabbed the lead over Leigh Wheeler until the first and only caution of the race came out for debris in turn four. On the restart, Russ Byler resumed his charge, reaching third on lap four. Byler, who started last, would have to settle for fourth.

Hurrelbrink cruised to the win over Shawn Smith by a margin of nearly five and a half seconds Smith made a last lap pass of Wheeler off turn 4 to get the second spot. Byler and Curt Bish rounded out the top five. Ryan Moyer, Andy Thompson, Charlie Baptiste, Pat Fielding, and Troy Norman had the next five positions.

Hurrelbrink and Smith captured heat race victories.

In the Rock Concrete Modified Lites, Mark Marcucci benefited from the misfortune of race leader Doug Jones, to inherit the lead. Marcucci led the final seven laps for the win. Shane Pfeuffer came on in the final five laps to take second, ahead of Jacob Bova, Kenny Meadows, and Jones, who came back to get fifth. Keith Smith, Vivian Jones, Jason Johnston, Jason Dye, and Shane Webb rounded out the top ten. Jones and Bova were the heat winners.

Tyler Fulton passed Alan Perry on the second lap and led the next eleven rounds in the Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks. Perry was second. Tim Callahan passed Shane Shook on the final lap to take third. Isaac Paden was fifth, followed by Summer Pitts, Tyler Young, Donny Akins, Ed Haylett, and Karlee Longwell. Shook and Callahan topped the preliminaries.

Roman Jones continued his hot streak in the Elder Tractor Sales & Service Junior Sprints. Jordan Simmons was second, followed by Sammy Darby, Ayden Cipriano, Chase Matheney, Maddie Bova, Austin Cavanaugh, and Jaren Dye. Jones also prevailed in the heat race.

Next week, Mercer Raceway Park will hold Smackdown!, the rivalry between the Big Blocks of the BRP Modified Tour and the nimble 358 Modifieds under teh Approved Toilet Rentals banner. The first round, held in the Spring, went to BRP star Rex King, Jr. Can he repeat, or, will one of the Mercer regulars pull off the big win? Five other classes will be on the racing card. Racing for the three stars–Mod Lites, Mini Stocks, and Junior Sprints–will begin at 5:30. The Modifieds, Outlaw Sprint Warriors, and Stock Cars will go to the post around 7:00 p.m.

Also, next week two bicycles will be given to lucky children courtesy of Coca Cola.

Remember that registration is now open for the season-ending Little Guy Nationals. The seventeenth edition will be held on September 23 and 24. By entering now, racers can save $15 off the fee.
Registration forms can be obtained at the Pit Board on any race night, or they can be downloaded from the internet. Just go to www. mercerracewaypark.com, and click on driver info for the link to the form. Or, registration forms can be obtained by calling the track office at 724-662-1310.

Jimmy Dutko contributed to this report.

4 Your Car Connection 410 Sprints: Jack Sodeman, Jr., Dan Kuriger, Adam Kekich, Brandon Matus, Dan Shetler, Dennis Wagner, John Garvin, Jr., Brent Matus, Alex Paden, Davey Jones, Brian Saulsbery, George Hobaugh, Jr., Gale Ruth, Jr., Paul Kish, Gale Ruth, Sr., Michael Bauer.

Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: Lonny Riggs, Jimmy Holden, Kyle Fink, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Kyle Holden, Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Rich Whitney, Ryan Kemery, Kevin Green, Jason Sines, Gerald Bowser, Mike Gilliland, Erik Martin, Tommy Kristyak (DQ).

Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Darin Gallagher, Cody Bova, Andy Priest, Jimmy Seger, George Englert, Gregg McCandless, Mike Marano, II, Mike Miller, Eric L. Williams, C.J. Jones, Harold Braden Jr. (DNS).

Precise Racing Products Open Stock Cars: William Hurrelbrink, Shane Smith, Leigh Wheeler, Russ Byler, Curt Bish, Ryan Moyer, Andy Thompson, Charlie Baptiste, Pat Fielding, Troy Norman, Steve Allison, Dan Fedorchak, Lee Wheeler.

Rock Concrete Modified Lites: Mark Marcucci, Shane Pfeuffer, Jacob Bova, Kenny Meadows, Doug Jones, Keith Smith, Vivian Jones, Jason Johnston, Jason Dye, Shane Webb, Charlie Armstrong, Bill Stivason, Jereme Bean, Cody Dye, Dusty Frantz, Kurt Eckstrom.

Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking/Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks: Tyler Fulton, Alan Perry, Tim Callahan, Shane Shook, Isaac Paden, Summer Pitts, Tyler Young, Donny Akins, Ed Haylett, Karlee Longwell, William Haylett, Rick Feely (DNS).

Elder Tractor Sales & Service Junior Sprints: Roman Jones, Jordan Simmons, Sammy Darby, Ayden Cipriano, Chase Matheney, Maddie Bova, Austin Cavanaugh, Jaren Dye.