There were heavy hearts both in the grandstands and the pits as the weekly Fab Four divisions took to the action track on Friday night, without it's legendary announcer, Dow Carnahan. Fans, drivers, and track officials took part in a touching pre-race ceremony to remember it's former man behind the microphone before the action took place.
And once the night on the track unfolded, one thing was perfectly clear, it was a night Carnahan would have been proud to call as the action in the four feature events provided moments of intensity, and fantastic finishes . Perhaps his spirit looking over the speedway made the difference, it could be felt virtually everywhere.
Jared Miley looked to be well on his way to his 24th feature victory only to watch Russ King's last chance bid for the win come up short by a very close margin in the Precise Late Models while Mat Williamson went the opposite direction for his first victory of the season, coming from deeper in the pack to barely nip Jimmy Weller III at the line by .004 seconds in the Diehl Automotive Group Modifieds. AJ Flick scored his first feature win of 2016 by holding on during a fierce battle with Adam Kekich until a mid race accident gave him a clear path to victory in the Peoples Natural Gas Sprints, and Corey McPherson drove away from a hungry pack of pursuers to take his second feature win of the year in the Millerstown Pic-A- Part Sportsman.
Precise Late Models
Making only their second appearance of the season, the Precise Late Models looked like a rusty bunch in parts of their feature event as evidenced by steady stream of cautions that plagued the first half of the race. But once the rust wore off, the race became smoother and the action became thrilling as Jared Miley managed to hold off a furious last second charge from Russ King.
Michael Lake, who'd looked extremely impressive in his only Lernerville appearance this year led the field to the green flag flanked by Miley. Lake won the drag race to the first set of turns while behind him, former track champion Dave Hess Jr. floated above the cushion coming out of turn two causing him to fall back several spots from his fourth starting position. Ed Ferree brought out first of several caution flags in the early going, and on the first restart, Lake made for the top side of the speedway followed by Miley, John Flinner, Matt Lux, and a hard charging Russ King.
|Pat Miller Photo|
Following a caution for a Dan Swartzlander spin eight laps into the main event, Miley found his way to the inside of and past Lake while King jumped into the top three. Lake would not give up and made a desperate attempt to re take the lead while behind them, 18th starting Michael Norris had worked his way up ten spots in less than ten laps. On the eleventh circuit, Lake's car stopped on the backstretch, and Hess Jr's hopes were dashed when Tony Musolino made hard contact to bring out yet another caution, which was followed with a caution for the hat trick for Swartzlander on lap 12. Norris would slide off the surface in turn four on the ensuing restart to end his forward progress for the night, and the table was then set for a frantic finish.
The final restart on lap 13 saw Miley take command of the race followed by King, Flinner, Ferree and Lux. The top five all stayed up top in nose to tail fashion as Miley started to pull away from his closest pursuers, but behind himself and the second running King, Flinner, Ferree and Lux battled hard for positions three through five as Lux tried desperately to take the fourth spot away from Ferree. The first lapped traffic started to emerge on lap 19 and Miley floated through it with ease, putting distance between himself and King. Flinner slowed on lap 23 and exited the surface, sparing the yellow flag, but just as it seemed Miley was destined for victory lane, King made up ground in a hurry and was in position to make one last effort for the win in the last set of turns when he went to the bottom to try to move up in front of Miley at the last second, but he would come up short as Miley crossed the line first to take his 24th career Lernerville victory.
"It was pretty treacherous out there on the cushion," Miley said. "It was really rough. It was frustrating tonight with all the cautions especially when you have to start on the the outside in the rough stuff. I want to dedicate this win to Dow, he was a great guy and a great announcer."
1. Jared Miley
2. Russ King
3. Alex Ferree
4. Matt Lux
5. Gary Lyle
6. Chuck Sarver
7. Tommy Schirnhofer
8. Brandon Wearing
9. Eric Andrus
10. Ed Ferree
Diehl Automotive Group Modifieds
Jimmy Weller III drew the pole, and was almost not caught in 25 laps...almost. And at the start of the Diehl Automotive Group Modified feature, it looked as if it might be Garrett Krummert's win to take. The two drivers put on a great show in the early going with Weller III flexing his muscle on the top side of the surface while Krummert elected to use the bottom. Behind them, Brian Swartzlander, Mat Williamson and Kevin Bolland rounded out the top five in the early going. Weller then entered lapped traffic on lap eight which Swartzlander used to catch up to the back bumper of Krummert.
But Krummert was able to follow through the lapped cars cleanly, using all three grooves, and Swartzlander followed suit, followed by Williamson who looked to be patiently waiting for his perfect moment. In front of him, Krummert and Weller were door handle to door handle as the two began to trade the lead on lap 13. But the party came to a stop on lap 16 when Dave Murdick spun on lap 16 to bring out the only caution of the feature event.
Through those 16 laps, Weller had hung on for dear life, and a hungry pack of pursuers had been keeping him within reach. On the restart, Mat Williamson proved to be the hungriest. He made his way around Swartzlander and Krummert to put himself firmly behind Weller. Williamson had lived on the top of the speedway in the early going, but found the bottom much more to his liking as the laps would down as he started to focus all his attention on catching and passing Weller. It would be no easy task as Weller's car carried a great deal of momentum out of turns two and four which were also the only places that Williamson could gain any significant ground. It looked as if it was going to be Weller's night until the final set of lapped traffic came into play.
|Pat Miller Photo|
As the two leaders weaved in and out of the traffic, Williamson began to pick up tenths of a second on every lap while Krummert watched the action in front of him from the third spot. The leaders appeared to be out of the lapped traffic with just two laps to go when the lapped car of Dave Reges would become a factor. On the final lap with Williamson and Weller running neck and neck, Reges found himself in turn three with the leaders approaching. Williamson made a hard dive for the bottom which put Weller directly behind Reges in the final set of turns, and the well timed strategy paid off as Weller had to slow much more than he wanted to avoid hitting Reges while Williamson hugged the bottom, gathered some momentum and made slight contact with Weller in turns three and four. But the contact was not enough to alter trajectory completely as both cars stayed upright and deadlocked in a drag race for the win which Williamson would receive as he edged Weller the line to take his first Lernerville trophy of the year.
"That was a close race," Williamson said. "You never want to touch on the last lap on the last corner, it was definitely one of those bonzai moves. We certainly don't like to race like that, this car comes home clean every night. It was just a racing deal, Jimmy ran a great race. I could see him starting to get tight towards the end of the race and I had to do something, I knew we were coming up on a lapped car so I kind of pinned him up against him and he was trying to go around him and it was just a great race."
1. Mat Williamson
2. Jimmy Weller III
3. Garrett Krummert
4. Kevin Bolland
5. Brian Swartzlander
6. Jeremiah Shingledecker
7. Rex King Jr.
8. Eric Gabany
9. Steve Feder
10. JR. McGinley
People's Natural Gas Sprints
For the better part of 14 laps, Adam Kekich and AJ Flick dazzled the crowd with a slide job show that was breathtaking to behold. But a slide job gone wrong put an end to the party and when the dust settled, Flick found himself holding the trophy at the end of twenty five laps.
Kekich and Flick started on the front row and traded their first round of sliders in the first two laps until Zach Morrow brought out the caution flag. On the ensuing restart, Kekich stretched out modest lead over Flick while Scott Priester, Ralph Spithaler and Dan Kuriger occupied positions two through five in the early going. Kekich entered his first taste of lapped traffic on lap six which opened the door for Flick to make up ground as the two chased each other through the slower cars. Flick was able to use the high side to get around Kekich on lap eight and he immediately put two lapped cars between himself and Kekich at the lap nine mark, but Kekich was able to deal with those efficiently and made a desperate attempt to get the lead back closing in on the halfway point.
|Pat Miller Photo|
On lap 12, Carl Bowser and Zach Morrow got together coming out of turn two and both ended up going over the backstretch to bring out the caution flag. Once action resumed, Kekich resumed chasing Flick while behind them, the seventh starting car of Brandon Matus began making his presence known. Matus had been the hard charger of the race to that point and the lap 12 caution had given him new life, but on lap 14, Matus drove in deep into turn four and caught Kekich while he was emerging onto the front stretch. Both cars went upside down, causing an extended red flag period and dashing both of their hopes.
When the race got back underway, Flick was in clean air and he used it to stretch out his lead with Priester still running second and Jack Sodeman Jr. who'd come from his eighth starting spot, had entered a possible podium finish position. With more lapped traffic coming into play, it appeared the battle between Priester and Sodeman Jr would be an intense one to the end. But Sodeman Jr. came to a stop at the top of turn two on lap 21 to bring out the yellow flag.
On the ensuing restart, Flick checked out for good as all eyes turned to the emerging second place battle between Priester and the now third running Dan Kuriger. The caution flag then waved for the final time on lap 24 when Michael Wagner came to a stop setting up a green-white-checkered finish. Flick remained calm, and drove away for his first Lernerville feature win of the season.
"Adam made me earn this one for the first twelve laps," Flick said. "I don't know what happened behind me. We were going through lapped traffic and we had to pull sliders and the cushion got real high up top and I knew if I could at least keep him in my sights when we reached lapped traffic I knew I had a chance."
1. AJ Flick
2. Scott Priester
3. Dan Kuriger
4. Ralph Spithaler
5. Brent Matus
6. Brandon Spithaler
7. John Garvin Jr.
8. Dan Shetler
9. Alex Paden
10. Cale Grubb
Millerstown Pic-A-Part Sportsman
Corey McPherson may have drawn the pole, but some changes he made to the car this week may have been what made the performance he turned in on Friday night look so easy. McPherson kept a stout challenge from Terry Young behind him en route to his second feature win of the season.
On the initial green flag, McPherson went straight to his office at the top of the surface while Young looked for a way around in the early going. A lap two caution re-stacked the field, and when action got back underway, McPherson went back up top and resumed command as Young was able to keep him in sight. Behind them, Brandon Wearing and Aaron Easler started up an intense battle for the third spot that would eventually go to Easler in the early going.
McPherson entered lapped traffic on lap eight and while he was making his way through it, Young caught back up as if he'd been shot out of a cannon. But to catch Cory McPherson and to pass him are two different things. By lap 14, Young was applying serious pressure to take the top spot away, eventually drawing almost even to the leader coming out of turn two. Young had found the bottom and found it to his liking as he made a feverish attempt make the pass for the lead by diving low going into the turns, but his bid came up short, and on lap 16, Young hit the front stretch wall, ending his night.
|Pat Miller Photo|
McPherson then more or less checked out for good, but behind him, the action was just heating up as Bob Egley made his way around Wearing and Easler for the second position. All looked to be said and done, but a lap 19, four car melee in turn three involving last week's winner, Joe Kelley, put some uncertainty back in the mix as a green-white-checkered finish was in order. On the final restart, McPherson drove away from the field to collect his second Lernerville win of the season. Behind him, Egley finished his battle with Easler to wind up second.
"We totally changed our car from last year over the winter," McPherson said. "We won opening night but I kind of got lucky there because I felt like my car wasn't that great. The past few weeks we've been struggling, changing stuff and this week we spent a ton of hours in the garage and found some stuff that wasn't right and we tweaked it and it feels like I've got a great car right now."
1. Corey McPherson
2. Bob Egley
3. Aaron Easler
4. Brandon Wearing
5. Joey Zambotti
6. Brett McDonald
7. Tyler Dietz
8. Jeff Miller
9. Paul Schreckengost
10. Brian Stivenson