Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Stampede Story From Lernerville Part 2; Mollick Snags 2nd Consecutive RUSH LM Tour Victory; Scott Puts Emods Behind Him; Kugel Bests RUSH Modifieds; Boozel takes Mini Stocks

Cheryl Fleming Photo

Support division racing has been a part of the Steel City Stampede tradition from it's inception in 2009. It has become part of the atmosphere surrounding the annual event and a huge part at that. It is a time for drivers, teams and fans to take their game to the action track for perhaps the only time of the season, in front of the large grandstand of fans and spacious red clay surface.  And on Saturday night, the action continued well into the evening as John Mollick won his second RUSH Late Model Series touring event in a row while Mr. "Slow Ride" himself, David Scott collected the honors in the UMP Modified main event.  Rocky Kugel bested a complete full field of RUSH Sportsman Modifieds for the victory that saw his season end on a high note, and Eric Boozel destroyed the mini stock field on hand by lapping up to the sixth place car.

In case you missed Part 1 in our Steel City Stampede weekend coverage, you can click here to revisit it.

But for now, we'd like to reset the scene, and tip our hat to the drivers, crew and families that make up the back bone of dirt racing, the ones that do it for the love, putting in hours of hard work every week to give us some great action and entertainment on the track week in and week out. And we thank them very much for being a huge part of the racing this weekend!

To see our own Patrick Miller's complete photo series from the weekend: click here!

RUSH Late Models

John Mollick had been riding the crest of a wave coming into the weekend having beaten a stout field of competitors the previous Saturday night at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania's Motor Speedway, a surface that he's become fairly familiar with over the years.  Flash forward a week later, and Mollick was up against much the same stout field, but at Lernerville and with a touring series championship running simultaneously behind him as Bryce Davis and John Waters were both putting forth their best effort for all the marbles on Saturday night.  Mollick was not phased by either aspect though as he kept focus in a tight battle with Waters en route to the $2,000 pay day in the 25 lap main event.

Mollick and Justin Lamb brought the field to the green flag and in the early running, Mollick looked to be in good command of the field as third starting Waters dispatched of Lamb to move to the second spot as sixth starting Ryan Montgomery got a good jump on the initial green flag to take up the third position.  Behind all of them was one Bryce Davis who came into the night with a nine point lead in the season standings. Davis started eighth on the grid, needing to merely keep Waters within sight to take home the championship honors and immediately made his way toward the front of the field with Dave Lyon running a strong fourth place in the early going. Davis made his way to fifth by the fourth lap while out front, Waters was going for broke, looking underneath Mollick for the lead as the top two made some separation from the rest of the field.

Pat Miller Photo

The first caution of the night then came out with eight laps down for a front stretch melee involving several cars in a tangled mass. With the field now re racked, Mollick elected to restart the race on the top side and when action resumed, Waters went back about his business of looking for the lead as the caution flag waved once again on lap nine. Waters again put forth a stiff challenge for the lead pulling alongside Mollick at different points while Davis made his way around Montgomery for third. The battle for the lead was saw Mollick taking the high side with Waters running a line just a few feet below him and for a brief second it looked as if there would be a 12 lap battle for the win that might see both competitiors challenging side by side with green flag conditions and lapped traffic playing a major factor. But a series of cautions kept the action to more of a restart chess match between the two front runners.

Mollick elected to restart down low on a lap 14 restart that marked an important part of the story for the championship battle as fourth running Kyle Lukon and third running Davis made contact causing Lukon to go spinning off the backstretch. It would also mark the moment that Davis's chance for the title took a major blow as he appeared to cut a tire in the contact.  Meanwhile, out front, the restart game between Mollick and Waters saw the latter take the lead as Davis brought out a yellow flag on lap 20, ending his chance for the title.

With the title more or less decided, the focus came back to the exciting battle up front between Waters and Mollick. Following one more caution for debris, the two competitors embarked on a furious battle for the win with clean air and not lapped traffic to settle affairs on the night once and for all. Mollick got a great jump on the restart and retook the lead while Montgomery took a look under Waters for the second spot, allowing Mollick to drive away to victory while Waters was declared tour champion at the end of the 25 lap battle.

Pat Miller Photo

"I'll tell you what, his (Waters) car is very good," Mollick said in victory lane. "He's one of the best guys I've ever raced with. He'll leave you room and he takes room and he just does a hell of a job. If I got second, I was sure hoping he won. It seemed like his car was changing a little bit and I had to keep our tires cool.  My car was getting way too tight with trying to keep heat in our tires so I just went to the bottom and tried to keep everything cool and tried to keep it smooth.

Top 10:

1. John Mollick
2. John Waters
3. Ryan Montgomery
4. Kyle Zimmerman
5. Jason Knowles
6. Justin Lamb
7. Alan Dellinger
8. Brian Knowles
9. Dave Lyon
10. Greg Beach

UMP Modifieds:

Former Super Late Model standout David Scott has had a season to remember on the UMP/UEMS modified trail in 2016, and his considerable skills were on display once again. It had been a long time since his last visit to the action track, but many in attendance were well aware of his skills, and were eager to see watch him knife through the field with precision and purpose in 20 lap, $1,000 to win E-Modified feature on Saturday night. And Scott didn't disappoint, keeping a fairly stout field of competitors behind him in the process en route to the victory.

Pat Miller Photo

Shawn Shingledecker and Matt Lux, pulling double duty on the weekend, started on the front row and in the early going, Lux set the pace as Russ Dunn made his way around Shingledecker for third. Johnathan Taylor brought out the first caution with four laps int he books and on the ensuing restart, Lux elected the top side where he didn't quite get the jump here was looking for, allowing Dunn to take advantage and seize the lead.

Lurking behind all the action up front was Scott who worked from his ninth starting spot with authority, making the pass under Shingledecker for third on lap five. Scott used the bottom of the surface to his advantage and found it's bite to his car's liking as he made his way underneath Lux for the second spot, then moved under Dunn for the lead on lap nine just before a caution reset the field.

Pat Miller Photo

On the restart, the red flag came out for Carmen Perigo who flipped onto his roof in turn two. Perigo would be okay, leaving just one question for those in attendance. Would anybody have anything for Scott in the second half of the main event?

Once action resumed, Dunn gave it his best chance, putting his car right behind Scott's as Shingledecker and Lux started battling hard for the third spot while area standout Carl McKinney joined the party at the front, looking to the outside of Shingledecker for the fourth spot, making for a three way battle for position between himself, Shingledecker and Lux.

Kevin Ruhlman brought out the final caution with 16 laps in the books, giving Dunn and company one last crack at the leader, but Scott was too strong on the bottom and cruised to the victory while Lux held off a furious charge from Shingledecker to win the heated battle for the final podium spot.

Cheryl Fleming Photo

"I think I snookered Dunn with the bottom being so good, he kind of got to where he was doing that and just moved a car length up that hub," Scott said. "This is a new car and this is the second time we raced it and this thing is pretty badass. It's been so long since I've been to Lernerville that I couldn't remember how to get here. I love this place, it's too bad it's two and a half hours from home. This is a great facility and the fans are awesome here, the racing is always good here and I'm glad to be back. This is our 20th win of the season which is my biggest year ever. We were hoping for 20 and looking to come here to Lernerville to get it done and it worked out, we did it!"

Top 10:

1. David Scott
2. Russ Dunn
3. Matt Lux
4. Shawn Shingledecker
5. Troy Johnson
6. Mike Kinney
7. Carl McKinney
8. Bruce Takach
9. Kevin Miller
10. Dan Davies

RUSH Sportsman Modifieds:

Rocky Kugel almost didn't make the second half of the 2016 campaign, but during his second half of the season run with a new carr and victory on Saturday night at Lernerville, Kugel has to be one happy camper. The RUSH Sportsman Modified standout held off stiff challenges from Jeff and Brian Schaffer en route to the win in the $800 to win, 20 lap feature even that brought an end to the season and saw Brian and promising young driver Chas Wolbert settle the touring season championship.

Pat Miller Photo

Kugel and Brian Schaffer started on the front row as Kugel set the pace early on as former touring champion and favorite to win Greg Martin suffered a flat tire on the opening lap and was forced to the pits. Martin changed rubber and came rejoined the field but was two laps down as the caution flag came out on lap two following a Nick Ritchey spin.  Once action got underway Kugel retained the lead as Brian Schaffer and Kyle Martell engaged in a battle for the second position, while behind them, points leader Wolbert was working to the front from his fifth starting spot, as he swapped the fourth position with Jeff Schaffer in the early going.

The yellow flag re-emerged on lap seven for Jessica Kriegisch, and when the field got underway again Jeff managed to wrest the second spot from Martell who had dispatched Brian Schaffer moments earlier. Kugel was being pursued by Jeff Schaffer for the lead when the tour points title battle became an open question as Wolbert, looking at taking the third spot, spun in turn four to bring out the caution on lap 10.

Pat Miller Photo

On the ensuing restart, Jeff Schaffer was penalized for premature acceleration and was penalized as Tiffany Williams, who'd started sixth on the grid, inherited the position for the meantime. With clean air and no lapped traffic in front of him, Kugel went to work on keeping the field behind him, running smooth and consistent laps while behind him, Brian Schaffer moved to the topside with authority in an attempt to better his final result while engaging in a tight three car battle for positions two through four with Williams and Jeff Schaffer taking the focus off Kugel who ran away with the victory in the waning laps. Brian Schaffer capped of the night with a third place finish, sealing the deal as RUSH Sportsman Modified tour champion for 2016. But the night belonged to Kugel who's second half run has seen him amass three wins and won with almost a straightaway to spare.

Cheryl Fleming Photo

"I got this car from Tom Glenn and it's been fast ever since," Kugel said. "We junked one early in the year at Tri City, but this is the seventh race for this car and the third win, I don't think we've finished outside the top five anywhere we've raced it. This thing was on a rail tonight. I have to thank my dad, I told him I was basically done racing after I junked the other one and he put this car together in a week, called me and said let's go race."

Top 10:

1. Rocky Kugel
2. Jeff Schaffer
3. Brian Shaffer
4. Kyle Martell
5. Tiffany Williams
6. Kole Holden
7. Josh Deems
8. Jeremy Weaver
9. Shayne Izzo
10. Greg Martin

Mini Stocks

Eric Boozel came to race, and that he did, putting the field of 19 mini stocks behind him with relative ease in the 15 lap, $500 to win main event.

Bill Fuchs and Tanner Lansberry brought the field to the initial green flag, and following a complete restart for an opening lap caution, it took Boozel a mere two laps to assume command of the field, making the pass underneath Fuchs down the back stretch for the lead while Pat Brehm held tight command of the third spot. Meanwhile, the battle behind them between Tanner Lansberry, Bob Pease and Noah Swank heated up as the three cars swapped positions four through six several times over the course of the main event with Pease emerging to overtake Brehm with two laps to go.

Pat Miller Photo

But out front, Fuchs was too strong to be matched as he battled lapped traffic on lap seven and did not miss a beat, leaving Fuchs with not much choice but to settle for the second spot. Boozel lapped up to position number six over the course of 15 laps as he sliced through cars with ease en route to the victory.

"We do a pile of travelling, we race with the best in the country," Boozel said. "We race everywhere from Georgia to Ohio to New York and we do well with all of them. It's a lot of hard work, a lot of research and a lot of dedication, but it shows."

Top 10

1. Eric Boozel
2. Bill Fuchs
3. Bob Pease
4. Pat Brehm
5. Noah Swank
6. Tanner Lansberry
7. Bill Hassenplug
8. Logan Keney
9. Brent Bickerstaff
10. Tyler Young

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