Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Story From Mercer- The Wizard Finds Way to Victory Lane; Patience Pays Off For Gallagher; Holden Holds off Riggs; Johnson Bests Stocks

Racing was in the cards on Saturday night at Mercer Raceway Park as periods of rain showers spared the facility in the late afternoon hours, providing an evening of action packed racing for the sizable crowd on hand to enjoy.

Pat Miller Photo

On the track, the ULMS Late Models fired off their 2017 opener and when the dust settled, Dave Hess Jr. had picked up right where he left off in 2016, in the front of the field and looking like a force to be reckoned with in the coming season as he took home the $3,000 pay day.  In the 358 Modifieds, Jimmy Holden kept the train rolling towards his second win of the season while in the 305 Sprints, Darrin Gallagher picked up the trophy.  In the Open Stocks, Brent Johnson kept Tim Bish behind him throughout 15 caution marred laps to collect the victory.

ULMS Late Models

Dave Hess finished the 2016 ULMS campaign with two very stout performances at Eriez Speedway in October that included a win and a runner up finish. And on Saturday night, it looked as if he only got better in the off season. Hess started the 30 lap, $3,000 to win feature from the third starting spot, surrounded by formidable competition with Brent Rhebergen and Doug Eck on the front row in front of him and Russ King, Alex Ferree, Mike Pegher Jr. and Keith Barbara set to hunt the front runners behind him.

Pat Miller Photo

From the drop of the green flag, Rhebergen put himself in early command, when a caution for a Matt Lux spin slowed the action and reset the field.  On the restart, Rhebergen elected the outside and got a good jump while King fell back a few spots as Eck and Ferree stayed close behind Hess, who had been taking looks under the leader for a pass in the early going.

A pair of cautions with four laps in the books, one involving Tommy Beck and Charles Powell, and the other which saw Pegher take themselves out of the running, broke the momentum of the early going. However, once action got back underway, the stage was set for a classic battle for the win as Hess put the pressure on Rhebergen while Russ King put his car on the top side of the speedway and made up ground with authority to put himself back into contention.  Hess made the pass for the lead on lap seven and then found himself being pursued by King, who managed to shave Hess's lead with each green flag lap, assisted by the first round of lapped traffic that Hess had found as he kept his blistering pace. Hess and King picked their way through with relative ease as the two driver battle for the win jumped to another level around the halfway mark.

Pat Miller Photo
At the lap 16 mark, King had reached the bumper of the leader and began taking looks underneath for the lead and for the next seven laps looked as if there might be leader, but Hess managed to hold off King until a caution on lap 23 changed the progress for King and the entire field.  King and another car made contact as John Weaver and Kyle Knapp wound up entangled on the front stretch while King slowed at the other end.  During the green flag run, Ferree and Daminan Bidwell had been making impressive runs towards the front and had made their way around Eck and Rhebergen.

When the green flag waved, nobody had any answers for Hess who crossed the line first at the end of 30 laps with a 1.1 second margin over Ferree who turned the fastest lap of the feature.

Pat Miller Photo

"The track was just awesome, you could race all over it,there at the end of the night," Hess said. "It was an awesome car. I can't thank these guys enough. We went a little soft on tires and during the long run I ran out of tire and I knew they'd be coming because I was getting worse and worse and that caution helped out a little but we started losing breaks there at the end too and I was just hoping to find a way to hold on, I knew they were coming.

Results- 30 Laps- $3,000 to win ULMS Late Model Feature:

1. Dave Hess Jr.  2. Alex Ferree  3. Damion Bidwell  4. Brent Rhebergen  5. Bob Dorman
6. Kenny Schaltenbrand  7. Skip Lindemuch  8. Doug Eck  9. Brayton Santee  10. Russ King
11. Kyle Knapp  12. John Weaver  13. Bobby Rohrer  14. Mike Pegher Jr.  15. Keith Barbara
16. Tommy Beck  17. Charles Powell  18. Billy Dixon  19. Robert Mitcham  20. Levi Sikora
21. Khole Wanzer  22. Matt Lanza  23. Max Blar- Did Not Start

Heat Winners: Russ King, Max Blair, Mike Pegher Jr.

305 Sprints:

For only his second time out in a full sized car, 270cc Micro Pilot Will Fleming looked completely comfortable in his machine on Saturday night.  Fleming took the early lead in the 20 lap-305 Sprint main event and set a quick pace in the early laps.  Lurking behind him though were a pair of drivers that had other ideas as Darrin Gallagher and Andy Priest looked to be the closest competition that Fleming would face.

Pat Miller Photo

Gallagher was patient with the process though and felt the car and track out before starting his assault on the leader around the lap seven mark.  Fleming began to feel the pressure being applied, and held onto his car and the lead, putting up some stout defense for Gallagher to contend with until he ran out of ways to keep the action behind him as Gallagher made his way underneath on lap 14, while Priest wrested the second position away from Fleming with just two laps to go.  Gallagher remained unchallenged the rest of the way to collect the win, his fourth career win at Mercer.

"It was racy wherever you go tonight," Gallager said referring to the multi-groove surface. "I can't be more proud of my crew tonight, they did a hell of a job,  I'd raced with Will before at other facilities, he's a good competitor and I have fun racing against him."

Results- 20 Lap-305 Sprint Feature

1. Darrin Gallagher  2. Andy Priest  3. Will Fleming  4. Gregg McCandless 5. Nevon O'Donnell
6. Jeremy Kornbau

358 Modifieds

Jimmy Holden left no doubt on Saturday night as to who the fastest car has been at Mercer Raceway Park so far in 2017.  Holden went virtually unchallenged in the 20 lap main event, while behind him, veteran pilot Lonny Riggs kept some stiff resistance behind him to come home second.

Pat Miller Photo

Holden got out to the early lead while Riggs took his looks underneath Richard Whitney for the second spot. Behind them, Frank Guidace joined the action with Riggs and Whitney as the three drivers traded positions in the early going.  Riggs emerged from the three car battle with a turn four pass of Whitney while Guidace and Sid Underzagt made their way around to take up the third and fourth spots.

Meanwhile, out front, Holden made it look easy en route to his second win in as many races in 2017.

"I can't say enough about the track tonight," Holden said. "We're looking forward to the next tour race and having a better run there and showing what we're capable of." 

Results- 20 Lap-358 Modified Feature

1. Jimmy Holden  2. Lonny Riggs  3. Frank Guidace  4. Sid Underzagt  5. Richard Whitney
6. Kevin Green  7. Clyde Gumpp  8. Jerry Bowser  9. Cory Riffe

Open Stocks

Pat Miller Photo

Once the action got rolling, in a caution laden open stock feature, Brent Johnson managed to be fast, and survive en route to the victory.  Early leader Rusty Martz succumbed to misfortune early in the going after wresting the lead away from a determined and hard charging Fuzzy Fields.  Johnson inherited the lead on lap three and never looked back after battling door handle to door handle with Fields just before the halfway mark.  Behind them, Tim Bish was able to run fast and consistent laps to finish on the podium while Chris Schneider rounded out the top three.

Results- 15 Lap-Open Stock Feature

1. Brent Johnson  2. Tim Bish  3. Chris Schneider  4. Bruce Harzfield  5. Fuzzy Fields  
6. Justin Humanic  7. Hunter Exley  8. Troy Norman  9. Pat Fielding  10. Richard Chess Sr. 
11. Rob Shook  12. Rusty Martz  13. Andy Buckley  14. Randy Wyant  15. Richard Chess
16. Terry Wheeler  17. Bill Phillips  18. Jesse Brock  19. Terry Brock  20. Curtis J Bish
21. Russ Byler  22. Charlie McMillen


  1. The car looks awesome. Thanks for sharing the results, I was looking for them the other day but could not find them. Keep up the good work!

  2. awesome cars.and also attractive.keep sharing more models