(Mercer, PA August 25, 2016): The table is set for Championship Night at Mercer Raceway Park. This Saturday, August 27, racers will compete for double points in the final night of regular season competition and, after the final checkered flag waives, there will be seven proud racers ready to claim their rightful spots at the head table for the annual awards banquet coming up in January. But, Saturday is not just about the racing. It will also be the second Meet Your Heroes Night, presented by Herr’s snacks, so the fans will get to mingle with their favorites to give them plenty of encouragement and to thank them for jobs well done.
On Championship Night, the racers in the top eight or nine positions (the exact number depends on the number of entries) in the point standings competing this night can lock themselves into a preferred starting spot for the feature event by getting a top finish in their respective heat races. If one of them should miss the cut, another driver gets the preferred starting spot. And, importantly, that would also open up a preferred spot for another racer. So, for example, Jack Sodeman, Jr. could earn the pole position for the 4 Your Car Connection 410 Sprint Car feature if he happens to do well in his heat race. But, if he were to drop out and finish last, he would forfeit that starting spot and another racer, most likely Brandon Matus, would take it. That would open up position number eight or nine for another driver.
These preferred starting positions could make or break a driver’s chances to win the points championship. Because the points for the night depend on the driver’s finishing position at the end of the feature event, it is to his or her advantage to start as close to the front of the field as possible.
Sodeman is one of the racers who will not be overly concerned whether he makes the cut or not. He has a 182 point lead over the younger Matus. In fact, Sodeman can clinch his third championship at the Park by showing up and pulling a pill for the night’s action. That is because he has a 182 point lead over Matus. The most points that Brandon Matus can earn Saturday will be 270. Sodeman will get 112 just by pulling into the pit area. The 158 point differential will not be enough for Matus to pass him in the standings.
But, other positions in the 4 Your Car Connection championship standings will still be up for grabs and anything could happen. Matus leads Michael Bauer by only 44 markers. So, a good night for Bauer and a bad one for Matus could see a change take place. Arnie Kent, who will likely be substituting for the injured Scott Priester, could also move the Martha Dionise car ahead in the rankings with some luck. A.J. Flick is another driver who could move ahead with a good showing.
And positions six through ten could also change significantly. Alex Paden currently holds the sixth spot, but divisional rookie John Garvin is only three points behind, and veteran Brent Matus is only seven points shy of sixth. Davey Jones may not be able to vault ahead of them, but he must watch over his shoulder because Brandon Spithaler is within easy reach. Even a couple of drivers currently outside the top ten, Dennis Wagner and Gale Ruth, Sr., could move into one of the top ten positions.
In the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Andy Priest will need to perform well to ensure his title. He leads Jimmy Seger by only 65 points going into the event. Mike Marano, II will likely salt away the third position, but Gregg McCandless, Darin Gallagher, Mike Miller, Rod Jones, Cody Bova, and Eric L. Williams could shuffle around depending on how they fare. Greg Dobrosky will probably hold onto his tenth place spot in the standings.
Three drivers still have a mathematical shot at being the champion in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds. Jimmy Holden has the edge, but Lonny Riggs trails by 68 points and Kyle Fink by 70. These guys have been at the head of the list all season long, so it is no surprise that the championship will go to one of them. Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Sid Unverzagt, Jr., and Tommy Kristyak will wrestle for positions four through six. Kevin Green and Kyle Holden are pretty secure in positions seven and eight. Five others have a chance to get the other positions in the top ten, including Frank Guidace, Rich Whitney, Jeff Schaffer, Sr., Jason Sines, and Ryan Kemery.
William Hurrelbrink is another racer who has little to worry about on Saturday. Like Sodeman in the 410 Sprints, Hurrelbrink can lock up the title for the Precise Racing Products Open Stocks when he arrives at the track. His 171 point margin over 2015 champion Ryan Moyer will hold up. Shawn Smith is also likely to keep his third place ranking. Curt Bish, Pat Fielding, and recent winner Russ Byler could move around in the standings depending on where they finish the final points race. Terry Wheeler has seventh locked up, but Andy Thompson, Leigh Wheeler, Steve Allison, and Richard Chess could take the next three positions.
In the Rock Concrete Modified Lites, Doug Jones is in the catbird seat, but it is not a foregone conclusion that he will get the title. Shane Webb and Mark Marcucci could in theory pass him, but it is possible that Jones could lock it up with a strong run in his heat race. Vivian Jones has fourth, but Jason Johnson and Jacob Bova are both within a twelve point range.
Tyler Fulton heads up the Mini Stock class, presented by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. Isaac Paden is his closest rival. Shane Shook, William Haylett, and Tim Callahan are next, but Jacob Rice, Karlee Longwell, and Summer Pitts could crack the top five.
The closest point battle will be in the Elder Tractor Sales and Service Junior Sprints. Roman Jones will be gunning for the first championship ever in this division. His buddy, Jordan Simmons trails by 36 points. Ayden Cipriano and Sammy Darby should hold their spots. However, only three points separate Chase Metheney and Austin Cavanaugh for the fifth spot.
The pit gates will open at 3 and the spectator gates will open at 4. The first green flag will fly at 5:30 for the Modified Lites. The Mini Stocks and Junior Sprints will complete the three-star segment. Their cars will be on display at the conclusion of the matinee. The four-star divisions, that is both Sprint classes, the 358 Modifieds, and the Stocks, will take to the track around seven p.m. They will have their meet and greet during the evening intermission.
Regular event ticket pricing will apply. That is, $13 for adults, $11 for seniors, and $5 for students (9-15). Children (8 and under) will be free. The economical Family Pass will be just $28, and that will apply for two adults and up to four minors of any age. Pit Passes will be $30.
Remember that there will be no racing on the oval in September until the 17th Annual Little Guys Nationals, coming up on the 23rd and 24th. However, the pulling pit will be the focus of attention on September 17, when the Final Fall Nationals come in. Watch the website and media outlets for more information on that event!
Remember, too, that you can get alerts regarding the cancellation of any racing event at Mercer Raceway Park sent directly to your smartphone or other electronic device. To register, please go to the track’s website, www. mercerracewaypark.com, click on the icon for RainedOut.com, and follow the easy steps.
Marketing partners of Mercer Raceway Park include Hovis Auto & Truck Supply, Mercer Hardware, Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants, Scheidemantle Motors, Greenhill Farms Equipment, Inc., the Normandy Banquet Center of Hickory VFW Post 6166, Flynn’s Tire & Auto Service, Pizza Joe’s, Sharon Auto Wrecking, Inc., AMSOIL, Noga Ambulance Service, Inc., Pyrotechnico, Watson’s, Inc., Big Dog Indoor Racing & Hobby, Ritenour Equipment Co., Herr’s Foods, the American Cancer Society, Sunburst Environmental, and Lias Tires.
About Mercer Raceway Park: Mercer Raceway Park is a 3/8-mile dirt track located minutes from both Interstate 79 and 80 just off Route 19 on Fairground Road in Mercer, Pa. Dirt track racing and quality family entertainment are presented weekly from late March through late September. For more information, check out www. mercerracewaypark.com, www.twitter.com/mercerraceway, or www.facebook.com/mercerracewaypark.