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With perfect weather on hand and fall like temperatures in the air, the annual September Sweep at Eriez Speedway concluded on Saturday night and seemed to feed off the excitement of the previous night. Less than 24 hours earlier, Dave Hess Jr. brought fans to their feet with a dramatic last corner pass for the win over Chub Frank in ULMS Late Model action. Hess was poised to take home a six thousand dollar pay day plus a two thousand dollar bonus if he could deliver the goods on Saturday night, but Jared Miley had other ideas and bested the stout field of competition on hand en route to victory lane.
In UEMS Modified action, Rich Michael Jr. appeared to check out to the easy victory but narrowly escaped a furious charge from Joel Watson to take the victory and increase his series points lead while in the RUSH Late Models, track champion Jason Genco won a thrilling battle with Max Blair that came down to mere hundredths of a second at the line. In Street Stock action Brandon Grotters put the field behind him quickly to collect the $1,500 pay day and John Zeleznik wired the field in the 15 lap Challenger main event.
ULMS Late Models:
Jared Miley didn't a front row starting spot, or a restart, or attrition to put the field behind him with authority on Saturday night. He simply brought a rocket ship to the affair, and maneuvered it with precision and purpose through a tough field of veterans on his way to victory lane.
Charles Powell Jr. and Boom Briggs brought the field to the green flag and in the early going, it was Briggs who jumped out to the early lead. Briggs gained some early separation from the chase pack, consisting of Powell, Greg Oakes, Chub Frank and Max Blair with Miley lurking behind them. While Briggs was setting the pace up front, Oakes made his way underneath Powell to take the second spot with seven laps in the books while Miley and Blair started an intense battle for the fifth position.
But behind all of that was one Dave Hess who started 13th on the grid and was getting through the field like a banshee as Miley made his way around Blair for fifth, overtaking on the outside. Miley and the outside lane worked like a charm through the middle portion of the race as he made his way around Chub Frank for third on lap 19 while Hess took two for the price of one on lap 16, getting around both Powell and Max Blair to join the front runners.
By lap 20, it was clear the race was coming down to a two car showdown between Hess and Miley as the latter went around Briggs for the lead while Hess moved to third on lap 23. With Miley getting into thick lapped traffic, and Hess making his way to the second spot, the tension ramped up, and at first, it appeared that Hess would be able to hunt and battle Miley for the victory. However, Miley very calmly picked through lapped traffic without missing a beat while Hess found himself stuck behind two lapped cars that took too many laps to get around.
As the laps wound down, Miley stretched his advantage to a straightaway over Hess and he cruised to victory lane while Chub Frank made one final pass around Briggs for third in the waning moments. But the night belonged to Miley who was the class of the field on this night.
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"The car was just awesome tonight and the race track was too, you could race all over it," Miley said in victory lane. "Our tires kind of gave out last night coming up through the field so fast but thankfully we got the win tonight though. We always love coming up here, we try to come up for all the big races they have. It's really nice when the track is nice and smooth like it was tonight."
FINISH: (50 Laps; $6,000 to Win)
1. Jared Miley 2. Dave Hess 3. Chub Frank 4. Max Blair 5. Boom Briggs 6. Rob Blair 7. John Volpe 8. Greg Oakes 9. Matt Urban 10. Rich Gardner 11. Darrell Bossard 12. Charles Powell Jr.
13. Doug Eck 14. Jake Finnerty 15. Dutch Davies 16. John Lobb 18.Chris Hackett
19. Breyton Santee 20. Matt Latta 21. John Lacki 22. John Hodgkiss 23. Ward Schell
24. Bob Dorman 25. Bob Roher
Quick Time: Chub Frank- 15.536
Heat Winners: Boom Briggs, Robbie Blair, Jared Miley, Max Blair
BMain Winners: Jake Finnerty, Rich Gardner
Rich Michael Jr. took two laps to get around pole sitter and early leader Brent Rhebergen and never looked back, which is a good thing, because if he'd have focused on a fast closing Joel Watson in the final laps, the outcome of the 30 lap UEMS feature may have been a little bit different.
That is not to say Michael didn't have the field in the palm of his hand for the majority of the race though. Rhebergen and Shane Crotty started on the front row and following Michael's ascension from his third starting spot, Rherbergen retained the second spot while Watson made his way to fourth in the early going. Michael looked to be in strong command early on with a sizable lead on Rherbergen and then an even larger gap developed between the front runners and Crotty, Watson and Dan Sasso running in the fifth spot.
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Lurking behind them all, Eriez track champion, David Scott had started ninth and was working forward when the caution flag came out on with 11 laps in the books for Jeremy Double.
On the ensuing restart, Rhebergen looked to see if he could make his way underneath Michael to retake the lead. Meanwhile Watson was sizing up Rherbergen on the outside in a potential bid for the second spot, but just one lap later, Rherbergen spun in front of the field in turn two while running second, causing a pileup and reshuffling the order. Watson then inherited the second spot and when action resumed, Michael took off like he'd been shot out of a cannon and held a huge lead, aided by Dan Sasso who put pressure on and then made his way around Watson for the second spot while Scott had moved up to fifth. Watson was able to move back under Sasso to take back the spot on lap 20, and in front of him, Michael was looking at a heavy dose of lapped traffic.
Michael got around the back markers as best he could, while Watson gained ground at a furious pace, trying desperately get back into a position to battle for the lead, as the white flag waved, Watson found himself within a second of, erasing a huge advantage, but simply ran out of laps in the end as Michael crossed the line first claiming the $2,000 check and increasing his lead in the point standings in the process.
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"That track was tough there at the end there," Michael Jr. said. "I think I got into Johnny Boyd all down the front straightaway there when I was trying to get around him. The track was nice, a lot better than last night since they got the rutts out of there. I just want to thank my crew and all the sponsors on the car, I couldn't do it without them."
FINISH: ( 30 Laps; $2,000 To Win)
1. Rich Michael Jr. 2. Joel Watson 3. Dan Sasso 4. Shane Crotty 5. David Scott 6. Perry McDonald
7. Dave Hess 8. Kyle Bedell 9. Troy Johnson 10. Carl McKinney 11. Mike Kinney
12. Jeremy Double 13. John Boyd 14. Brent Rhebergen 15. Josh McDonald 16. Steve Sorenberger Jr.
17. #29 18. Billy Henry 19. Butch Southwell 20. Al Brewer 21. Kirk Bradley
22. Ken Zimmer 23. Michael McGhee 24. Dennis Lunger Jr. 25. Dan McDonald
RUSH Crate Late Models:
There might not have been as dramatic a finish at September Sweep weekend as was seen in the 25 lap RUSH Crate Late Model feature. Jason Genco and Max Blair can both attest to that point of view, since they gave fans every reason to stand up coming off the final corner on the final lap in a thrilling drag race to the line. And in the end Genco put his car over the line first to collect the $3,000 pay day, causing plenty of moments of crowd banter in the aftermath.
Genco brought the field to the green and assumed the early lead while Randy Hall and New York invader Wayne Robertson tucked in line behind him in the early going. Moving forward early on with authority was Dennis Lunger who was the first of the front runners to use the top side, and also Blair who was picking up spots left and right in the early going after starting ninth on the grid.
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Following a pair of cautions on lap nine and 13, the action resumed and saw Genco keep the field behind him while Blair got around Lunger for the fourth spot, and then wrested the third spot away from Anderson. By lap 16, Blair was looking underneath Hall for the second spot. Hall slammed the door in the meantime, but following a lap 19 caution and restart Blair started to feel the sense of urgency and went to the outside of Hall on lap 22 just before one final caution set the stage for a classic finish.
On the restart, Blair was all over Genco's back bumper and as the white flag flew, Blair went up high to get around the leader in turns one and two which didn't yield enough momentum to make the pass. Blair gathered himself and dove in low in the final set of turns as the two leaders were door handle to door handle coming off the final corner, but for Blair, it would be too little, too late, as Genco won the drag race the line with no room for error, beating Blair by mere fractions of a second.
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"If we could have gone green flag there at the end we would have been fine but I knew he (Max Blair) would be there eventually, he lets you know when he's there for sure," Genco said. "I started getting loose and losing the rear end and I knew he had a good chance on the top side so I came across the racetrack and I had a feeling that was what was going to happen, but what goes around comes around, it was good racing."
FINISH: (25 Laps; $3,000 To Win)
1. Jason Genco 2. Max Blair 3. Randy Hall 4. Jared Miley 5. Wayne Robertson 6. Dave Lyon
7. Dennis Lunger 8. Kyle Emmer 9.Damon Bidwell 10. Scott Gurdak 11. Eric Wilson
12. Darrell Bossard 13. Wyatt Scott 14. Bruce Hardesky 15. Andy Boozel 16. John Waters
17. Matt Latta 18. Mike Wonderling 19. Ryan Scott 20. Breaten Santee 21. Khole Wanzer
22. Chad Wright 23. Mike Lozowski 23. TJ Navers 24. TJ Navos 25. Jeremy Wonderling
26. Kevin Hill
Brandon Groters saved the best for last on the final night of action for the season, and left the premises with $1500 to put towards his 2017 campaign in the process as he held off the field following a late race caution and restart to take the victory in Street Stock action
Dan Maxim brought the field to the green flag and from the get go, had immediate pressure from Groters to contend with. Groters took the lead with a pass on the bottom of turn four upon which the yellow flag emerged for Gary Fisher's spin with four laps down. On the following restart, Groters maintained the advantage while behind him, track champion Chris McGuire was making his presence felt as he tracked and passed Shawn Fawcett for the third spot. With eight laps in the books, Don McGuire was making forward progress and Groters found himself in heavy lapped traffic, it looked as if Groters could be in trouble with fast cars approaching, but a lap 11 caution for a tangle in turn three reset the scene.
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When action resumed, Groters started getting separation as Chris and Don McGuire battled for second, but progress was halted again for two cautions, the second one coming with 15 laps down. On the restart, Chris McGuire looked underneath Dan for the second spot once again but could not make his way around, while out front Groters stuck to the top side and went unchallenged the rest of the way to collect the win.
"This race is a little more dear to my heart," Groters said following the win. "Bob and Kathy have a great race track, best in the area all year. It's an awesome night to get the win. I took a little breather and went on vacation so I missed the last points night but this is the first September Sweep win I've had and I'm happy to take the money home tonight. We've already got plans to take it down to CRS and super tune it over the winter so you might just be seeing more of us in victory lane next year."
FINISH: (25 Laps; $1500 To Win)
1. Brandon Groters 2. Don McGuire 3. Chris McGuire 4. Gary Fisher 5. Rob Bates
6. Mark Thompson 7. Jim Kennerknecht 8. Garrett Galvert 9. Bill Applebee 10. Mike Moon
11. Tony Maratto 12. Deven Dudenhoeffer 13. Casi Rockwell 14. Brad Church 15. Dana Maybe
16. Chris Couchenour 17. David Warrior 18. Scott Dolattoy 19. Nick Mowhawk 20. Dan Maxim
21. Shawn Fawcett 22. Brent Crandall 23. Matt Lorowski 24. Denny Degelman 25. Brian Crandall
26. Fuzzy Fields (DQ) 27. Michael Reed (DNS)
In a caution marred feature which included wheels coming off and a multiple car pileup, John Zeleznik found himself in victory lane for his biggest career payday in a car which he admittedly brought out of the barn just to best a certain competitor. Zeleznik led from the drop of the green flag and endured multiple restarts en route to the $1,000 pay day in the 15 lap main event, and was never seriously threatened for the lead, running smooth and consistent green flag laps while keeping William Vanguilder and a hard charging Andy Proper at bay.
FINISH (15 Laps $1,000 To Win)
1. John Zeleznik 2. William Vanguilder 3. Andy Proper 4. Kevin Kovell 5. Travis Darling
6. Jeff Nunemaker 7. Cody Schauers 8. Wes Stull 9. Mike Barr 10. Matt Marcy 11. Jessica Harvey
12. Garret Yager 13. Mackenzie Eggleston 14. Pat Dyer 15. Steve Morse 16. Brandon Jenkins
17. Skip Jackson 18. Casey Burch 19. Tim Fisher 20. Spencer Marcy 21. Josh McNaughton
22. Greg Rockwell 23. Brandon Huffman 24. Gary Treyer