(Mercer, PA May 13, 2017): “The Professor,” Michael Bauer, taught the Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Cars a lesson on how to run the inside line at Mercer Raceway Park. The honors graduate of Clarion University with degrees in Mathematics and Physics easily figured out that the inside was not only the shortest way around the speedway, but the fastest as well.
The Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modified go belonged to Kyle Fink, who assumed the lead when the pole man, J.R. McGinley had problems on lap six. Then, Fink had to hold off Lonny Riggs in a one-lap dash for the cash. Cody Bova dominated the Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprints, finishing a full straight ahead of Mike Marano, II. Mark Marcucci scored in the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites, and Isaac Paden prevailed in the Mini Stocks presented by Ray’s Racing Collectibles and Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking.
“That was the most fun that I’ve had in a Sprint Car in a while,” said the happy winner, Michael Bauer. “Brent and Brandon Matus, there, we were running in a tight pack, there, and really clean racing, a lot of fun to be out there.” It did not look like the night was going to be much fun for Bauer, though. “We had a little bit of a problem and weren’t able to get a qualifying lap in thee, but we were fortunate enough to be able to move up through the heat race, and, then, we got a large inversion, and that really helped a lot.”
In the Precise Racing Products 410 Sprints, an invert eight pill gave the front row to veterans Davey Jones and Brent Matus, with Bauer and Brandon Matus in row two, and points leaders Jimmy Seger and Jack Sodeman, Jr., in row three. At the drop of the green, the elder Matus surged into the lead, with Bauer and the younger Matus in tow. Jones settled in for fourth, a notch ahead of Sodeman.
Matus was showing the way on the outside through the early going, but Bauer was cutting into the lead using the low line around the tricky oval. A caution put Bauer right behind Matus for the restart, but that did not phase Matus, who has been following the All Stars tour so far this season. While he continued to lead, his son, Brandon, came on to battle Bauer for the second spot. It was a spirited duel between the two younger pilots who swapped positions for several laps before the final caution flew. Ironically, it was for Brandon Matus, who had jumped the cushion coming off turn two and came to a stop midway down the back stretch.
While Brent Matus still held the point for the restart, Bauer now had an open track. On the restart, he showed his nose to the veteran, but Matus was able to power ahead coming off turn two. Bauer charged hard into three, and the car stuck. He held the inside line perfectly, and raced off turn four with the lead. “Brent was still ahead of us on that restart, there, I thought that I could get under him, but every time I got him, he got a little bit of a run coming off the corners. I just got lucky on one lap, and I was able to get by,” Bauer said modestly.
Bauer would never relinquish the top spot, although Sodeman did close in on him as the final laps clicked off.
At the finish, it was Bauer by more than a half second over Sodeman. A.J. Flick returned to the speedway to grab a third place this night. Brent Matus held on for fourth, with the Kittanning Comet, Rod George, flashing across in fifth. Dan Kuriger, Vince Daugherty, Jimmy Seger, Joe McEwen, and Davey Jones rounded out the top ten.
Preliminaries belonged to Dan Kuriger and Rod George. Jack Sodeman, Jr. set the fastest time of the night, lapping in just 14.024 seconds.
In the Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds, J.R. McGinley and Jeff Schaffer, Sr. had the front row to themselves, with Riggs and Sid Unverzagt, Jr. next. Fink was inside Richard Whitney for the start, while point leader and three-time winner Jimmy Holden was in the last row after suffering a mechanical problem in his heat race.
McGinley jumped ahead of Riggs and led the first six laps despite several interruptions, one of which was for himself. That turned the lead over to Riggs. Fink overhauled Riggs on the restart, and went on to lead the remaining laps, with Riggs in his shadow. Meanwhile, Holden clawed his way to third before the final stoppage of the event.
The one-lap shootout worked to Fink’s advantage, with Riggs taking second. However, Schaffer nosed out Holden for third. Jeff Schaffer, Jr. was fifth in his maiden voyage for this season. Sixth went to Cory Riffe, with Whitney, McGinley, Unverzagt, and Kevin Green earning top tens based upon laps completed.
The heat winners were J.R. McGinley and Jeff Schaffer, Sr., who was also making his first start of the season. Lonny Riggs was the fastest man in time trials, at 17.377 seconds.
In the Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprints, Marano and Bova had the front row locked up, and they were out front when the caution was displayed for the second row cars of Darin Gallagher and Gregg McCandless. That moved Andy Priest and Jeremy Kornbau ahead for the restart.
Bova stretched his lead over the next 19 laps, which spun off without any further problems. Marano raced home second, ahead of Priest. Gallagher regrouped to take the fourth position, and McCandless did the same for fifth. Joe Sylvester was the final car to complete the race. Kornbau was scored in seventh based on laps completed and rookie Zachery Hawk was scored in eighth. Another rookie, Nevon O’Donnell, was unable to start the contest.
The heat winners were Gregg McCandless and Darin Gallagher. The evening’s fastest qualifier was Cody Bova, who turned a lap of 15.129 seconds.
The Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lite feature went to Mark Marcucci, who easily outdistanced Shane Webb. Bobby Springer raced home in third, ahead of Jason Johnston and rookies Larry Bevivino and Logan Lewis.
The heat winner was Bobby Springer. Mark Marcucci set the fast time in this class, at 19.665 seconds.
The Mini Stocks presented by Ray’s Racing Collectibles and Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking belonged to Isaac Paden, who wrestled the lead away from Bill Fuchs. That was part of an amazing four-car battle that also included Tim Callahan, and Terry Feely. Paden surrendered the lead briefly to Fuchs when the youngster slid off the back chute, but he regained his momentum to get the lead and the win. Fuchs, Callahan, Tyler Fulton, and Pat Hanlon were the next finishers. Rick Feely, Logan Keney, Terry Feely, Karlee Longwell, and Joe Keney completed the top ten.
Heat winners were Terry Feely, Logan Keney, and Rick Feely.
Remember that next week, Mercer Raceway Park will host another Saturday Night Live! racing program. It will also be Pittsburgh Circle Track Club Night, with all members in good standing being admitted to the grandstands for free! Then, there will be two consecutive weeks of Sprint Car specials. The B.O.S.S. Sprints will back ’em in on May 27 when they race without wings. Tony Stewart’s All Stars Circuit of Champions will be the featured act on June 3. The Meet Your Heroes Night will be pushed back to June 10.
Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Cars: Michael Bauer, Jack Sodeman, Jr., A.J. Flick, Brent Matus, Rod George, Dan Kuriger, Vince Daugherty, Jimmy Seger, Joe McEwen, Davey Jones, Darren Pifer, Brandon Matus, Gal Ruth, Sr.
Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds: Kyle Fink, Lonny Riggs, Jeff Schaffer, Sr., Jimmy Holden, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Cory Riffe, Rich Whitney, J.R. McGinley, Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Kevin Green, Frank Guidace, Jason Sines.
Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprint Cars: Cody Bova, Mike Marano, II, Andy Priest, Darin Gallagher, Gregg McCandless, Joe Sylvaster, Jeremy Kornbau, Zachery Hawk, Nevon O’Donnell (DNS).
Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites: Mark Marcucci, Shane Webb, Bobby Springer, Jason Johnston, Larry Bevivino, Logan Lewis.
Ray’s Racing Collectibles/Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks: Isaac Paden, Bill Fuchs, Tim Callahan, Tyler Fulton, Pat Hanlon, Rick Feely, Logan Keney, Terry Feely, Karlee Longwell, Joe Keney, J.R. Shaner, Jamie Tasker, Shane Shook, Justin Bailey, Jim Jones, Patrick Drennan, Pat Harold Winner, Josh Rathbun, William Haylett, Mike Porterfield, Dillon Speer, Ed Haylett (DNS).