Monday, August 29, 2016
Hey there folks. Tis' Monday, so it's time top catch ya'll up on these here rankings. This week, I'm also gonna add a short preview for the Working Man weekend at Lernerville.
But first, we'll talk about this past weekend's racing action and it's implications on the rankings. We've got one weekend left before I declare a champion. Obviously, Max Blair is still on top with a fairly substantial lead. Alex Ferree is the only other driver with a shot at catching him going into the last week. It's going to take a miracle, though. Basically, Alex would have to win one of the WoO features on Friday at Lernerville and go up to Eriez and finish at least two spots in front of Max. In all honesty, I can't see that happening. I can definitely see him winning one of the features at Lernerville, but I don't think he's ever been to Eriez, and I know his car owner isn't into traveling. So for all intents and purposes, Max is our champ.Considering the year he has had, this should not be a surprise.
This week, all of the tracks I score weekly got their shows in except Selinsgrove. They had the lights go out before any features ran, and the blackout caused the track to postpone all the features. Considering they were supposed to be regular weekly shows, I will score the makeup feature next week. PPMS had a special, so they scored on the >5k level. Roaring Knob still doesn't feel a need to update results, ever, so again, one driver scored points there because the only thing I can ever find is the winner.
Let's get to those rankings.
1. Max Blair*******, 78 points. Max won at Eriez Sunday.
2. Alex Ferree*******, 70 points. Alex ran third at PPMS Saturday. In non-scoring action, he was thirteenth at Lernerville Friday.
3. Jeff Rine******, 60 points. Jeff didn't score any points this week. In nonscoring action, he ran ninth at Bedord Friday.
4. Russ King**, 51 points. Russ didn't score any points this week. In non-scoring action, he was 15th at Lernerville Friday.
5. Jared Miley****, 50 points. Jared came home third at Lernerville Friday.
6. Dylan Yoder*****, 45 points. Dylan ran fifth at PPMS Saturday.
6. Rob Blair****, 45 points. Rob was second at Eriez on Sunday.
8. Michael Norris***, 42 points. Michael ran second at PPMS Friday and won Staurday at PPMS.
9. Andy Haus**, 38 points. Andy didn't score any points this week. In non-scoring action, he was eighth at Port Royal Saturday.
10. Joe Martin**, 37 points. Joe was fourth at Marion Center Saturday. In non-scoring action, he was sixth at Lernerville Friday.
And that's the top ten with one weekend to go. Next week I'll post the full standings on the year for everybody.
Now, let's get to talking about the re-imagined Working Man at Lernerville this coming weekend. It's quite the departure from what the race has been the last couple years. Where it used to just be a straight 50 lap 10k to win feature, It's become a two day show with hot laps, time trials and 3 2500 to win qualifying features on Friday, and 75 laps for 20k on Saturday for the World of Outlaws late models. It should attract most of the regional touring drivers and a national driver or two. Should be a fantastic show, and if you're a late model fan, you should absolutely head to Lernerville Friday night.
And that's it for this week. Check back next week for the final standings for 2016 in these here rankings.
Sometimes the events worth saving and in need of uplifting are helped most, by the people that they mean a great deal to personally, and it's not always the person that immediately comes to mind. Mr. Branden Lockwich...who goes by the nickname "Cleetus" operates a small promotional support group called CLEETUS INC. in the western Pennsylvania area and found an opportunity to raise such an event to another level, the annual Jook George Memorial at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania's Motor Speedway.
"I've never been in a position financially where I could go out there myself and race," Lockwich said in a recent interview. "So I figured if I can't race myself, the next best way to stay involved in the sport is to help my friends out. Just helping them stay on the track"
What started as simply way to help drivers that might need a tire or two once in a while, or a little lift by way of some necessary part or financial support to get them through the year, has now turned into his first endeavor at promoting a race.
"I pretty much came forward and volunteered to help, two of my good friends, Daryl Charlier and Tommy Schirnhofer were running in the crates and I took a special interest in the division. I started going to PPMS when I was just a young child with my parents and I remembered Jook, he was quite a character, he always had good drivers in his car. So I remembered when I was younger when it started, it was the biggest race of the year for what was then called the semi late division and it stayed that way for way while. But it seemed like it kind of fell off in the 90's and early part of the 2000's. When it first started it payed about $2,000 to win and it was 40 laps and there were always full fields. I don't want to say it was neglected, but it just kind of went on the back burner where it became just another normal race, just 20 laps and the normal purse to win. So since some of my friends were in it, you could say I had a vested interest in it. I pretty much approached Matt Miley last year with it and told him that Vince Laboon does such a great thing for his dad's race and that I'd be interested in doing something like that for the Jook George Memorial for the crate guys and that's pretty much what started the whole deal."
|Lockwich w/Daryl Charlier- Photo -Jody Halbedl|
The dirt racing landscape has seen many drivers throughout the sport promote special shows, and sometimes corporations or area business have come through to help lift an event. However, to raise an event's status, not to mention it's purse by virtue of a local fan is behavior that is often not touted enough. The industry is the one where fans can not only take an active part in, but helping build at the same time. Even if they can't fully support such an endeavor out of their own pockets, they can still work to raise the funds and raise awareness to support an event, an act that driver's have come to appreciate. But the burden of time and expertise can be hurdles that many don't often realize or are willing to overcome. Lockwich had no intention of being tripped up by any such inconveniences and has worked diligently to help put together the richest crate late model purse of the season within it's geography, while honoring the person who the race is named after. To do so, took some help, and he's had some great support from people who have been there before.
"Matt's been great to deal with. I bounce a lot of ideas off him and he does likewise. He's even reached out to other companies to get some contributions for the race. All the Miley's, they've been in the racing game for so long and they're a good resource to go to. There's really no restrictions, they put out the base purse and said that anything you collect goes straight to the purse on top of what we're offering. There was no amount that I had to give to them, everything we could collect went straight to the drivers. It's definitely been a big learning experience. And I couldn't have done it without my friend Ben Policz who was a huge help and and a lot of work to get some of the sponsors we have for this race.
I've gone to the races my whole life so I knew a lot of the people that I approached and asked to contribute to the race and that makes it a little bit easier. But at the same time, everyone has to watch what they spend so you have to be careful in how you approach it, you don't want to come off too pushy. I've met a lot of great people that I've really never talked to before and made some new friends along the way. I think it gave me a whole new level of respect for the track promoter because this is just one race and it's been a lot of work in the last two months. I couldn't imagine doing it on a weekly basis.
"The George family has been fantastic, not only did they put money into the race, but it was through them that we had an anonymous individual step up and contribute $8,000 for the purse in memory of Jook which was unbelieveable. Without that, what we've put together would not have been possible. Normally a weekly crate show at PPMS pays $700 to win, this week, that's what the ninth place driver will take home, and it goes like that on down the line"
|Jody Halbedl Photo|
And now that the bulk of the work is finished, with the exception of race night itself, Lockwich can undertake the fan side of the show at the same time. And what a show it promises to be, offering many of the area's biggest crate late model stars, regional and local drivers and touring drivers a chance at a $4110 payday, plus numerous contingency awards. Quite literally, no driver will go home empty handed, and with Lockwich's purse funds drive, many of them will go home with more than they would have had on a regular night. The drivers in attendance will make it seem like a true all star race for drivers in the PA/OH/NY region and even beyond.
"We can expect to see Wayne Robertson, John Waters, Bryce Davis and Will Thomas coming down for this if the weather works out, they've all indicated that they plan on attending. One good thing about the Jook George is that it does start 32 cars. I think most of the RUSH tour races start 24 to 26 cars so everybody has a good chance to make the race right off the bat. And the purse pays out through the field really well too. My goal would be to walk into the pits that night and be looking at 50 cars, but in this day and age there's so many events going on and people do things with their families and it's a holiday weekend too. I'm hoping for at least 40 for the kind of payout we were able to put together. This isn't a RUSH touring event per se, but it is sanctioned by them and it is the highest payout of any sanctioned event touring or weekly. So we can expect all the heavy hitters to be there."
|Jody Halbedl Photo|
Even though he's on the promotional side of the Jook George, Lockwich still retains the fan side, and offered up who to expect in the mix to take home the trophy.
"When it's all said and done it should be a mix of touring guys and locals for the win. You look at drivers that have experience in the longer races and know how to manage tires and navigate lapped traffic, guys like Charlier and perhaps John Mollick who's done really well in a crate at PPMS this year and you definitely have to look at guys like Waters and Davis who won a race at Lernerville earlier this year, they guys that come from the touring side. Or an Eric Wilson who does really well at Wayne County Speedway. There's so many good cars that are going to be here and the guys that race there week in and week out are so tough."
Sometimes it takes a special fan, to raise a special event. Sometimes they're the best caretakers of them, because it means very much to them. Lockwich is such an individual, and Saturday night at PPMS will have that much more to race for because of the care and passion he brings.
What: The Annual Jook George Memorial at PPMS
When: Saturday September 3rd; Gates Open at 5PM; Hot Laps at 6 PM; Racing at 7PM
Tickets: $20 Adult
Why: The area's highest paying RUSH sanctioned crate late model race promises to bring together the cream of the crop from the area. Also on the card, 410 Sprints and RUSH Sportsman Modifieds
Nationwide Insurance - Chris Carilli
Schwartzmiller Ground Maintenance
In Loving Memory of Jook
Taylo Auto Body
Vince Laboon in Memory of Ed Laboon
Jook George Family
Tri State Motorsports
Dirt on Dirt
Ben Policz in memory of Mark Policz
Kim Charlier Bouchon
RebelYell Motorsports Graphics
Vince Laboon in memory of Ed Laboon
Kurt Thompson Howard Hanna Real Estate Agent
Rush Racing Series
Bobby Lake Motorsports
Producers Supply Co
Daryl Charlier Racing
The Dirt Network
Imperial Tire and Auto
Schwartzmiller Ground Maintenance
D & T Autobody
Taylor Auto Body
Saturday, August 27, 2016
The Story From Lernerville; Sodeman Jr. Adds Name to Record Books; Champions Crowned; King Jr. Lux and Spithaler Find Victory Lane
All good things must come to an end. And so it was with the fab four regular season at Lernerville Speedway on Friday night as the final championship to be determined was collected by Jack Sodeman Jr. capping a tremendous season in the Peoples Natural Gas DIRTCar Sprints. Corey McPherson earned all the glory in the Millerstown Pic-A-Part Sportsman by virtue of his previously earned track championship and a thrilling feature win in the closing laps. Coming into the night, Mat Williamson and Russ King had already punched their track championship tickets punched and there respective features saw Rex King Jr. and Matt Lux take the honors in the Diehl Automotive Modified and Precise Racing Product Late Models, while Brandon Spithaler held off a hard charging Carl Bowser to take his second feature win of the season.
Diehl Automotive Big Block Modifieds
Rex King Jr. came into the evening not in contention for any end of season honors, but he was hungry for a high note to end the regular season on. So hungry in fact, that he battled and passed his father who was in need of a win of his own en route to his second victory of the season. And what a battle it was, as evidenced by a top four that were separated by mere tenths of a second for the majority of the race.
The father/son tandem started on the front row and when the green flag waved, King Sr. got out to the early lead while behind them both, Mat Williamson had made his way to the third spot from his seventh starting position. The conditions looked ripe for Williamson to collect his eighth feature win of the season in the early laps following a pair of early cautions that re-stacked the field.
Once action resumed, King Sr. and King Jr. both made for the top side of the surface with King Jr. taking looks to the inside, sizing up a potential pass while Williamson was looking to King Jr's inside. Meanwhile, Brian Swartzlander had been moving through the field with authority in the early going, and following a caution for a Travis Walsh spin with six laps in the books, moved into the fourth spot by virtue of a well timed restart. However, King Sr. was still in control once action got underway again and Williamson was having more difficulty than normal running both front runners down. Catching the two was one thing for Williamson, but getting around appeared to be more difficult than normal.
|Pat Miller Photo|
Swartzlander had no trouble passing though, and he made his way around Williamson going down the backstretch on lap 10 when the caution flag waved again for a Chelsie Kriegisch spin in turn four. Williamson used the ensuing restart to get around Swartzlander and dive under King Jr. taking the second spot away briefly, and at that particular moment, a blanket could be thrown over all four drivers as just one lap later, King Jr. and Swartzlander both made their way back around Williamson and began serious pursuit of King Sr.
And on lap 17, King Jr. found a way to get around his father, sliding by him coming out of the last set of turns. Lapped traffic came into play for the leader with six laps to go, but King Jr. was not phased in the least bit and cruised the rest of the way as King Sr. held off Swartzlander over the final laps to keep it a family affair in positions one and two.
"Me and dad looked like we had the same problem, we were both real tight up on the top and he just missed it in turn three and I had enough momentum to get by. I felt the pressure from Mat and Brian and I knew it was go time and I'm happy it worked out the way it did. In this area we have some great guys. In the top five you know you can run side by side and I've never really had a problem running with any of them."
1. Rex King Jr.
2. Rex King Sr.
3. Brian Swartzlander
4. Mat Williamson
5. JR McGinley
6. Dave Murdick
7. Jeremiah Shingledecker
8. Steve Feder
9. Jimmy Weller III
10. Rick Regalski
"It's pretty awesome, there's a lot of competition in that pit area we have to beat every night and it says a lot about our program to be standing here at the end," Williamson said. "I'm happy for my guys, I'm happy for my sponsors and hopefully we can do it again next year. We'll be back for the Stampede in October, it's always a good party so we can't miss that and we'll be doing some tour racing before and after then."
Top 10 Points FINAL:
1. Mat Williamson- 471
2. Rex King Jr. - 419
3. Brian Swartzlander- 405
4. Dave Murdick- 340
5. Jeremiah Shingledecker- 336
6. Steve Feder- 301
7. JR McGinley- 274
8. Jimmy Weller III- 260
9. Garrett Krummert- 259
10. Tom Winkle- 252
Peoples Natural Gas DIRTCar Sprints
The book ended victory seasons continued in the sprints as opening night feature winner Brandon Spithaler followed suit with a win on the final night. But if fans in attendance saw that outcome happening after witnessing Dan Shetler's opening pace, you may want to ask them for lottery numbers soon.
Having the issue of who would be the 2016 track champion settled before the start of the race, Alex Paden and Shetler lead the field to the green flag following an early caution, and from the get go, Shetler looked unstoppable, pounding the top side of the speedway with precision and purpose while behind him, Spithaler had moved into second from his fifth starting spot. John Garvin Jr. brought out the next caution with five laps down, and on the restart Shetler was once again in command with clean air in front of him.
|Pat Miller Photo|
But it was a scenario too good to be true for Shetler who had been among the fastest cars over the second half of the season and had victory fall through his fingers on more than one occasion. On lap nine Shetler suffered a mechanical failure that sent his car out of the surface behind turn two and upside down, ending his bid to collect a feature win in 2016. Shetler was able to get out of the car on his own, as Spithaler inherited the lead with none other than his father Ralph right behind him when action resumed.
Behind them, a formidable chase pack consisting of Carl Bowser, Jack Sodeman Jr. Brandon Matus, AJ Flick and Bryan Sebetto formed and looked prime to strike. However none of them seemed to be having much luck chasing down the leaders, with the exception of Carl Bowser who was the fastest car on the track over the second half of the race. With lapped traffic coming into play, Bowser managed to hunt down Ralph Spithaler, but it took just a little to long for him to overtake as he made the pass for the second spot on lap 22, leaving not enough laps to make his way around Brandon who stood in victory lane for the second time in 2016.
"We've had an up and down season, we've had fast cars almost every night and something seemed to happen, " Spithaler said. "Two weeks ago we thought we had it and the car was great, but we got one tonight."
1. Brandon Spithaler
2. Carl Bowser
3. Ralph Spithaler
4. Brandon Matus
5. Jack Sodeman Jr.
6. Bryan Sebetto
7. AJ Flick
8. Alex Paden
9. Dan Kuriger
10. Brent Matus'
"It's one of the tracks that you definitely want to win a championship at," Sodeman said. "I looked up to my dad my whole life. He always had that track championship and Lernerville was his favorite place. So I've always wanted to get one. We set the goal at the beginning of the year and we knew we just had to finish all the races, stay healthy, we'd have as good a shot as anybody and it just worked out for us."
Top 10 Points FINAL
1. Jack Sodeman Jr.-424
2. AJ Flick- 392
3. Carl Bowser- 343
4. John Garvin Jr. - 329
5. Dan Kuriger- 323
6. Dan Shetler- 306
7. Brandon Matus- 304
8. Brent Matus- 298
9. Scott Priester-278
10. Alex Paden- 270
Precise Racing Products Late Models
It's a good thing that Russ King had clinched the season championship in the late models before the night even started. If he hadn't, it might not have gone his way. King retired before one lap had been completed in the 25 lap main event and mechanical gremlins in his heat caused Alex Ferre to start at the tail, opening the door for a new winner. Matt Lux seized the opportunity, and made certain not to let it out of his sight over the course of the race, his first of the 2016 campaign.
Lux and Joe Martin started on the front row, and once Martin was dispatched by Mike Pegher Jr., the two drivers then put some substantial distance between themselves and the remainder of the field with Kenny Schaltenbrand running third. Behind them, Michael Norris, Jared Miley and Dave Hess Jr. had their sights set on making their way around Schaltenbrand. Norris was first to make his way around, and then with Lux and Pegher making their way around their first bout of lapped traffic, Miley followed and overtook Norris for the third spot with nine laps in the books.
Miley was in need of a caution to overtake the leaders, but wound up being the cause of it when he spun on the following lap. On the subsequent restart Lux looked to be the man to beat, while Alex Ferree joined the party coming from the back of the field to join Hess and Miley who had worked his way forward again. At the halfway point, with most drivers electing to run upstairs, the race turned into a battle of attrition as one by one, drivers fell by the wayside, including Pegher and Ferree on lap 15 as both slowed on the speedway.
On the following restart, Norris and Hess made contact which sent Hess over the cushion in turn four to provide one last chance for Norris to take the lead on the last restart of the race. But Lux was too strong and kept everyone at bay for the remainder to cruise to his first victory of the season.
"After the heat race I told Jim, this car is awful," Lux said. "It wouldn't do what I wanted it to do so we kind of threw everything at it. I didn't know the top was still going to be that dominant and everybody was running up there in the sprints. So you knew you had to get to the top to be quick. I tell you, Mike Norris, I give him all the credit in the world. I knew I kind of pinched him getting to the top in turn one but he gave me room up there."
1. Matt Lux
2. Michael Norris
3. Jared Miley
4. Gary Lyle
5. Kenny Schaltenbrand
6. Joe Martin
7. Mike Miller
8. Ed Ferree
9. John Myers
10. Clayton Kennedy
|Pat Miller Photo|
"It means a lot to be standing here, I'm just glad we had enough of a lead. I told everybody to give it time because we'd been so consistent, so I said give it time because I'll crash this thing up at some point and sure enough on the first lap I went in there and ran over Hess and probably ruined his night. But as far as the championship goes, it's a great thing, they're a good group of guys and when I started racing modifieds, just coming here and watching Alex Ferree and Flinner and all these guys, it's unbelievable."
Top 10 Points FINAL:
1. Russ King- 434
2. Alex Ferree- 380
3. Michael Norris- 357
4. Matt Lux- 356
5. Mike Pegher Jr. - 315
6. Gary Lyle- 277
7. Kenny Schaltenbrand- 251
8. Brandon Wearing- 209
9. Mike Miller- 205
10. Tommy Schirnhofer- 168
Millerstown Pic-A-Part Sportsman
And then, there was the exclamation point. Over the course of the past five seasons, there has been no driver more dominant in his division than Corey McPherson, amassing four track championships in the past five years. And on this night, his performance displayed why he has been so dominant as he took yet another victory, coming form deep in the field and on the high side where he's seen so much success over the years.
Aaron Easler and Colin Burke led the field to the green flag as Easler cook control of the early portion of the race cruising his way to a ten car length advantage over the second running car of Joey Zambotti. Behind them, Joe Kelley, McPherson and Bob Egley would be the closest pursuers, but none were too threatening. In fact, nothing threatened Easler much at all in the early going. But at the half way point, it became clear that Zambotti was running down Easler bit by bit on each lap.
The action slowed with 11 laps in the books as Sadie Siegel spun in turn four and once racing resumed, Easler was being hunted furiously by Kelley , McPherson and Zambotti. With five laps to go, McPherson decided he'd had enough of following Kelley and moved to the top of the speedway where he gained valuable time on the leader with the laps winding down, passing Kelley in the process. And them with just two laps remaining, McPherson blew by Easler down the front stretch and never looked back en route to the victory.
"I was told by my crew in the lineup area before the feature, to not share victory lane with anybody else tonight," McPherson said. "At first I looked up top and there wasn't much bite there but as the race went on, I think all the dirt from everyone running down low made it's way up top and it wasn't really packed down but I was able to get enough traction that I could get a run off of two and four to get some good straightaway speed."
1. Corey McPherson
2. Aaron Easler
3. Joe Kelley
4. Joey Zambotti
5. Terry Young
6. Bob Egley
7. Butch Lambert
8. Paul Schreckengost
9. Greg Beach
10. John Hartman
Top 10 Points FINAL:
1. Corey McPherson- 522
2. Joey Zambotti- 456
3. Aaron Easler- 452
4. Tyler Dietz- 422
5. Bob Egley- 390
6. Terry Young- 389
7. Joe Kelley- 380
8. Brett McDonald- 356
9. Paul Schreckengost- 344
10. Brandon Wearing- 320
Thursday, August 25, 2016
When the 2016 season began, not everyone would have bet on the two drivers currently vying for the People's Natural Gas Sprint Car Championship title on the final fab four Friday night at Lernerville Speedway to be the two drivers going after the crown Not that they're not talented enough. Oh no!
Jack Sodeman Jr. and AJ Flick have had much success in their time racing at the action track. Sodeman currently ranks in a nice place on the all time sprint feature wins list while Flick in just a brief period of time both at Lernerville and in a sprint, took home the honors as the 2015 sprint champion. Once again...why would anyone be surprised either are where they are?
For Sodeman who currently sits 28 markers ahead of Flick going into the final night, the chances winning on any given night are always right up there with the best of them. But the luck factor. That's been a different story. Besieged by far too many mishaps over the years, Sodeman has been injured, had too much damage to continue from week to week and has been bitten by a turn two monster a few too many times. If you can name a way to lose a race over the years, odds are Sodeman's experienced it. But not this year. In 2016, Sodeman has avoided those mishaps, stayed consistent, and won features when he needed to. The pieces of a championship puzzle have come together for him, and it has been thrilling to see!
For Flick, it was supposed to be a year with a little more travelling, and perhaps a little less emphasis on perfect attendance. A recipe which normally dictates that a track championship would not be a complete top priority. And yet, here he is, just 28 points away on the final night. And if it hadn't been for a few tumbles here and there, the fight for the fourth crown would be much closer. He might not have anticipated he'd be close to repeating as track champion when the year started, but will find himself in position...but will need some help for sure.
How They Can Pull Off The Title:
For Sodeman, it appears easy. Simply race clean and avoid catastrophe. But at the same time, it also means racing and not gliding around the track. The easiest way to bring it home, is simply to treat it as any other night. He needs to keep racing to win and not to lose. If he can do that, the trophy will be his and comfortably so, when all is said and done.
For Flick, he'll need some luck, and if he gets it early on by way of helping himself to a heat win with a good draw, he'll be off to the start he'll need. If he can get lucky again and redraw near the front of the feature, or if Sodeman should have issues in his heat and miss the redraw, it becomes intriguing. 28 points basically lists as 14 positions during the feature. But remember, heat wins get you 10 and minus one point for all following positions. If Flick can shave say three or four points down early in the night, he may only need 10 positions come feature time and that's not out of the realm of possibility. However, it's not very likely. Flick fans might need every good luck charm they can bring in through the gate. But stranger things have happened.
Other things to look for...
- In the Diehl Automotive Modifieds, Mat Williamson has already taken care of business as the 2016 Champion, but will be down to make an attempt at an 8th feature victory. Behind him though, Rex King Jr. and Brian Swartzlander are separated by a mere 10 points. And whomever can snag second place can look forward to that much more of the point fund in March. Plus, every driver wants one more spot better, it's the nature of the beast.
- In Precise Racing Products Late Model action, Russ King has sealed the deal, and Alex Ferree looks to be unchallenged for second on the year. However, there's a tie for third between Mike Norris and Matt Lux with 319 points each and Lux has yet to visit Dlubac Victory Lane in 2016.
- In the Millerstown Pic-A-Part Sportman Stocks, Corey McPherson sealed the deal with the rain out last week but would love one more win to put an exclamation point on things before years end. Behind him just eight points separate Tyler Dietz, Joey Zambotti and Aaron Easler meaning the final feature of the fab four season might will have added importance in the final standings.