(Mercer, PA April 9, 2017): A.J. Flick took advantage of the Sunday raindate to chalk up his first career feature win and first ever opening night win in the Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Cars at Mercer Raceway Park. Racing was delayed a day to allow for the track and grounds to dry out from the heavy rains and light snow that fell Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Jimmy Holden romped to the win in the turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds. For the defending track champion, it was career win number 30. Andy Priest claimed the victory in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprint Cars. Alan Dellinger took his first Rock Concrete Supply Modifed Lite victory at Mercer Raceway Park, after scoring in several other divisions in his storied career. Tim Callahan took the nightcap for the Ray’s Racing Collectibles and Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks.
A.J. Flick was happy to get the monkey off his back at Mercer Raceway Park. “It was a long time coming, the way we’ve run here in the past. But, we had the perfect car set up tonight. This track is such a different surface, and such a different configuration than what we’re used to.” Flick gave credit to his crew, saying that recent travels have led to better communications. “It’s only the beginning of April, and I’ve had them on the ropes already, we’ve been to all kinds of races all over PA so far, and I think it’s sharpening up their game. They know what I’m feeling in the car.” Although his car was clearly superior, Flick expressed some doubt about whether he could have held off Michael Bauer. “I don’t know if we would have had enough to hold off Michael Bauer,” Flick said. “He was coming, and I don’t know what happened to him down there.” Flick was referring to a lap 19 incident in turn one that eliminated his primary threat for the win.
Flick was also glad to see his friend, Rod George, score a second. “God bless Rod and his family,” Flick said in reference to the recent passing of Rod’s father. “I’m so happy he ended up with a second place finish. This was his first night in that car. That dude’s going to be around for the entire season and he’s going to be fast no matter what speedway he goes to, especially here at Mercer. This is one of the places he made himself what he is.”
It took three tries to get the Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Car feature started. A.J. Flick had the lead on the first, but polesitter Rod George had the advantage the second time. When it ultimately counted, the duo came to the starting cone in turn four side by side and it was not until the exit from turn two that Flick got his nose ahead of the multi-time track champion. From that point on, there was no looking back for the third generation racer from Apollo, PA.
Michael Bauer had a fast machine too, but lady luck was not on his side this night. Bauer took third on the opening lap, and moved into second following a restart on lap five. Bauer was chasing Flick, but not making much headway, when the second caution was displayed for Jimmy Norris sitting crosswise in the groove in turn two. Bauer was slow to react, and clipped the nose of the disabled car. Bauer was the worse for wear, shearing off the right rear tire in the process.
Rod George was restored to second spot for the final restart of the race. Flick quickly opened up a three car length advantage, and continued to stretch it out until the checkers flew six laps later.
Veteran Gary Kreiss made a successful return to the speedway, earning the third position. Jason Dolick was fourth, after holding down the third position for most of the contest. Jimmy Seger was on the charge in the final six rounds, cracking the top five with just a lap or two remaining.
Gale Ruth Sr., George Hobaugh, Jr., Ralph Engel, Shawn Valenti, and Cody Bova completed the top ten.
Twenty Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Cars signed in for the evening’s action. Michael Bauer was the fastest on the night, turning in a lap of 14.285 seconds in qualifying, Bauer went on to win his heat, joined by Jimmy Morris and Jason Dolick.
Jimmy Holden of Tiona, PA blasted from third to first on the opening lap of the 358 Modified feature, presented by Turn 4 Toilets. Richard Whitney held down the second position until J.R. McGinley came to life following the only stoppage on lap two of the race.
McGinley closed on Holden a couple of times in the first half of the twenty lapper, but Holden was patient and maintained his advantage. As the laps clicked away, Holden’s car got better and better on the outside, and he was able to separate himself from McGinley.
Kyle Fink ran third most of the distance, and was caught behind some lapped cars in the final stages of the race. Lonny Riggs was fourth, with Frank Guidace returning to the speedway for fifth position.
Kyle Holden was the final car on the lead lap, keeping his cousin at bay as they raced toward the checkers. Sid Unverzagt, Jr. had some misfortune on the final lap, with his car catching fire as he headed toward turn three. Unverzagt, who was not hurt in the blaze, spun and was unable to cross the finish line, but was scored in seventh based on laps completed. Rich Whitney was eighth, Kevin Green ninth, and Josh Deems in tenth.
Lonny Riggs topped the speed charts in the Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds, with a time of 17.469 seconds. He was victorious in the first heat race, with Kyle Fink winning the other preliminary.
Andy Priest was the class of the field in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprint Cars. The veteran from New Castle, PA led wire to wire, finishing nearly two and a half seconds ahead of former Modified Lite champion Darin Gallagher. C.J. Jones finised third, ahead of invader Seth Schneider and Gregg McCandless. Jeremy Kornbau, Brad Klecker, Nevan O’Donnell, and Mike Marano, II completed the top nine.
The fastest of the ten Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprint Cars was Andy Priest, who went on to take the first heat race. Joining him in victory lane was Josh Schneider.
Alan Dellinger, who has won in just about every class imaginable at Mercer Raceway Park, won a close one over former champion Mark Marcucci in the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites. They were chasing Doug Jones, last year’s champion, until Jones broke while leading. Dellinger and Marcucci put on a thrilling contest thereafter. Following them across the line were Aaron Meister, Tyler Winger, and Cole Petrelle. Kurt Eckstrom, Chris Logan, Shane Webb, Bobby Siegel, and Dusty Frantz completed the top ten.
Mark Marcucci set the quick time for the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites and he backed it up with a triumph in the first heat race. Alan Dellinger was the other heat race winner.
In the finale of the evening Ray’s Racing Collectibles and Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks, Tim Callahan and Tyler Fulton fought to the finish, with Callahan edging out the defending champion. Rick Feely, Isaac Paden, and Bill Fuchs were the others in the top five. Justin Bailey, Jamie Tasker, John McCracken, William Haylett, and Karlee Longwell rounded out the top ten.
Bill Fuchs and Tim Callahan were the winners in the heats. The Ray’s Racing Collectibles and Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking division had 18 cars on hand.
Next weekend, Mercer Raceway Park will host the ULMS Late Models for their only appearance of the season. Also on the card will be the Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds, the Bonnell’s Rod Shops 305 Sprint Cars, and the Open Stocks. Points will be awarded for the 358 Modifieds and 305 Sprints.
Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Cars: A.J. Flick, Rod George, Gary Kreiss, Jason Dolick, Jimmy Seger, Gale Ruth Sr., George Hobaugh, Jr., Ralph Engel, Shawn Valenti, Cody Bova, Vincent Daugherty, Davey Jones, Bob McMillin, Zach Morrow, Michael Bauer, Jimmy Morris, Bryan Saulsberry, Jimmy Fitzgerald, Eric L. Williams, Sadie Siegel (DNS).
Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds: Jimmy Holden, J.R. McGinley, Kyle Fink, Lonny Riggs, Frank Guidace, Kyle Holden, Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Rich Whitney, Kevin Green, Josh Deems, Greg Martin, Brian Sadler, Ryan Riffe, Jonathan Myers, Jason Sines.
Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprint Cars: Andy Priest, Darin Gallagher, C.J. Jones, Seth Schneider, Gregg McCandless, Jeremy Kornbau, Brad Klecker, Nevan O’Donnell, Mike Marano, II, Kyle Peters (DNS).
Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites: Alan Dellinger, Mark Marcucci, Aaron Meister, Tyler Winger, Cole Petrelle, Kurt Eckstrom, Chris Logan, Shane Webb, Bobby Siegel, Dusty Frantz, Justin Eddy, A.J. Barris, Jay Dye, Jeff Davis, Doug Jones, Vivian Jones.
Ray’s Racing Collectibles/Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks: Tim Callahan, Tyler Fulton, Rick Feely, Isaac Paden, Bill Fuchs, Justin Bailey, Jamie Tasker, John McCracken, William Haylett, Karlee Longwell, Jared Jones, Logan Keney, Pat Hanlon, Shane Shook, Nick Steiger, William Aley, Tyler Young (DNS), Andy Proper (DNS).