Saturday, June 21, 2014

Murdick Continues Hot Streak; Matus Gets Rewarded; The Wizard Returns;-The Story From Lernerville

About halfway through the feature action Friday night at Lernerville Speedway, fellow TDN contributor Jerin Steele came up for a visit and asked "Is there a full moon out tonight?" I've never been one to follow the lunar phases and had no idea that it was actually the weekend before. But it might as well have been last night.
The action track got doused with a fairly light but persistent rain shower just as the bulk of the fans started arriving for another dose of Fab Four Friday racing. And just as it appeared that it might be enough to force a cancellation, the showers vanished while leaving behind a heavy track that would remain so throughout the night.
There was carnage (all drivers okay), there were some hot tempers on display in front of the grandstand, and there was the image of young Brandon Matus climbing the front stretch fence in celebration of his first Lernerville win of the season. And also, the image of 11 cars finishing a lengthy attrition derby in the super late models.
Drivers that were prepared for a slicker surface then normal, were in for a complete surprise, and a rather large cushion to navigate but for fans in attendance, the action on the track was well worth the wet clothes and delays as the night produced some of the best action of the year.


Dave Murdick's early season struggles must
seem like a blur at this point. He's simply
been on fire the last few weeks as he took home his second feature win in as many Friday's and before that had been making himself a top 3 fixture again.

Murdick started on the front row but it would be no easy victory as the veteran modified driver had to keep a pack hungry drivers at bay for the greater part of 25 laps. He was able to gain some breathing room in the first few laps following a lap 3 restart but behind him, Brian Swartzlander, Mat Williamson and Rex King Jr were finding their way around the track and started reeling in the eventual feature winner. Swartzlander appeared to be making up the most ground until he got in trouble on lap 7 while running second. Then King Jr emerged from the dogfight behind Murdick and even swapped the lead back and forth in a great battle for the win until he jumped the cushion on lap 21 and Murdick kept on cruising to a 1.7 second victory margin for his 30th career modified win at Lernerville which moved him into 8th place on the all time modified win list.

Top 10

1. Dave Murdick
2. Mat Williamson
3. Brian Swartzlander
4. Rex King Jr
5. Rex King Sr
6. Tom Winkle
7. Brad Rapp
8. Chris Haines
9. Steve Feder
10. Jeremiah Shingledecker

Late Models:

Friday night, the wizard returned! Following a period of time off from racing, former two time track champion Dave Hess Jr returned to his former weekly stomping ground. And did so with determination, winning a not for the feint of heart feature in the super late model division that saw a multitude of cautions and a hard flip by Michael Norris which prompted two unwelcome sights, the red flag and a flatbed truck.  Norris was alright but more than a few drivers will be hurried to get their cars prepared for the upcoming Firecracker 100 next weekend.

Garrett Krummert and Russ King brought the field to green as King took the early lead and set a torrid pace generating a three second advantage from the get go. Krummert was slowed by a flat tire early on but looked as if he might have been headed for a top 5 finish and had a particularly strong looking car.

King would then have issues on lap five when he hung his car off the back straightaway a little too far opening the door for John Garvin Jr and point leader Alex Ferree to get by. But on lap nine, Norris had a brush with the inside berm in turn three which vaulted his car into the air in a nasty looking crash would bring out an extended stoppage.

On the ensuing restart, Garvin Jr and Rick "Boom" Briggs tangled on the front stretch causing Garvin Jr to sustain damage as he slid off the track before turn one just past the wall. He then proceeded to let Briggs know his true feelings on the matter as he took the long walk down to the pits in front of the main grandstand, stopping several times to point at Briggs and demonstrate other signs of frustration.

With Ferree in control, it looked as if the race had finally settled into a predictable outcome. But others would have a say in the matter such as Mike Benedum who patiently climbed to second and Hess Jr who started 13th and proceeded to march through the cars in front of him taking second from Benedum on lap 13. Hess then used the topside to get around Ferree on lap 21 to collect the victory and a starting spot in the Firecracker 100.

Top 10:
1. Dave Hess Jr
2. Alex Ferree
3. Chub Frank
4. Mike Benedum
5. Brian Swartzlander
6. Mike Pegher Jr
7. Rick Briggs
8. Dave Murdick
9. Chuck Sarver
10. Gary Lyle


The notion of luck favoring those who stay patient and keep working hard was tested and found true by one Brandon Matus in the sprint division. Matus had brought a strong car and all the skills necessary to win all season long, but hadn't tasted victory lane yet in 2014 at Lernerville.

But his patience and hard work were rewarded on this particular night...

The red flag of dread was displayed just after the green flag dropped when front row starting Cory Good and Dan shelter tangled just a few seconds past the flagstand, both drivers were okay. Carl Bowser, seeking his third straight feature win wasted no time at all jumping out to the early lead and looked unbeatable in doing so.

But halting his progress was another red flag on lap 2 for Scott Priester who went on a wild ride in turns one and two with a terrifying end over end flip. Thankfully, Priester was unhurt in the accident. 

Bowser then went back to work with most of the cars picking up the high side of the track where a cushion had developed to lean on. he'd just started picking through lapped traffic when a flat tire on lap 8 dashed his hopes of completing the hat trick.

Matus then inherited the lead and after surviving a lap 11 restart, he was clearly the best car on the track the rest of the way.  Runner up Jack Sodeman Jr did his best to reel Matus in and behind them, Mike Wagner and Billy Dietrich waged a tight battle for third, but at the end of 25 laps, Matus had sealed his first Lernerville win of 2014, climbing the fence to the fans delight following the checkered flag.

"Carl had a little misfortune obviously and I benefitted from it tonight" Matus said. "I've been in his (Bowser's) position more than I can count on two hands so I'll take this one for sure."

With the win Matus assured himself of a starting spot in the World of Outlaws Don Martin Silver Cup in July.

You can hear Brandon talking after the race about the win and more about the season and upcoming Don Martin Silver Cup here: Brandon Matus from Lernerville

Top 10:

1. Brandon Matus
2. Jack Sodeman Jr
3. Billy Dietrich
4. Logan Wagner
5. Mike Lutz
6. Brandon Spithaler
7. Lance Moss
8. Brent Matus
9. Dan Kuriger
10. George Hobaugh Jr


When a car and driver the caliber of Corey McPherson starts up front it usually means that only a misfortunate turn of events could ruin the night. No such events took place Friday night and McPherson towed the field behind him for 20 laps en route to his third feature win of the season.

The track offered up a bit of a challenge for the sportsman stock drivers who normally have to deal with a skating rink instead of a tacky surface. The "slower is faster" methodology certainly didn't apply on this night though, and McPherson was good wherever he ran, sprinting out to a 6 to 7 second lead.

Terry Young, Rob Shook and Joe Kelley offered up what resistance they could as Young moved forward from his fifth starting spot to second. And Brett McDonald returned to his familiar number 25 car for the first time in several weeks following a crash at PPMS, and didn't miss a beat turning in a strong top 10 performance.

But the night belonged to McPherson. The victory tightened up the points battle between himself and Jim Fosnaught and will be one to watch closely in the coming weeks.

"There wasn't much of a cushion coming into turn three, but coming out of four there was a berm and the car wanted to push a little coming out of it" McPherson said. "The car worked really well in one and two though."

With the win, McPherson earned a starting spot in the Sportsman Stock Spectacular as part of the September Autumn Motive Fest at Lernerville.

Top 10:

1. Corey McPherson
2. Terry Young
3. Joe Kelley
4. Rob Shook
5. Mark Sanders
6. Mike Miller
7. Jim Fosnaught
8. Brett McDonald
9. Aaron Easler
10. Bob Egley


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