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June 30, 2014

THE CHECKERED FLAG: Singleton sweeps weekend RUSH events

OPINION — THIS PAST weekend I did the RUSH Late Model Tour events in their first ever appearances to Potomac Speedway in Mechanicsville, Maryland and Winchester Speedway in Winchester, Virginia.  Both tracks are in their first year of running the class weekly at their high-banked red clay small ovals, and attracted record car counts with 22 on Friday and 27 Saturday.  A total of 34 different racers competed over the two days from nine different states. 

Former Seattle Seahawk Rick Singleton dominated the weekend winning both events and pocketing $5,250 in cash plus contingencies.  On Friday, the Front Royal, VA driver led the entire way in his first ever start at Potomac.  Potomac is located an hour south of Washington, DC.  On Saturday, Singleton passed third-generation racer Tyler Bare on a restart on lap 12 and cruised to the 30-lap win for Pennsylvania car owner Clint Enyeart.  Cody Dawson, who is in his second year on the tour, finished second for his career best finish.  Cortland, Ohio’s Eric Wilson, a Sharon Speedway regular, was eighth on Saturday.

This was my second visits to both speedways owned by honey guru Greg Gunter.  For more information on his speedways, check out www.potomacspeedway.com and www.winchestervaspeedway.com. 

Lernerville Speedway held their final regular show before this weekend’s three-day “Firecracker” for the World of Outlaw Late Models.  Tonight’s (Saturday) main event pays $30,000 to-win!  Dave Hess, Jr. made his season debut a success as the Waterford racer picked up the Super Late Model win for the 15th time of his career.  

Third generation racer Brandon Matus of Wampum captured the “410” Sprint Cars for the first time this season.  Brandon’s dad Brent still competes in the Sprint Car division and his grandfather Jerry was a standout racer in his day.  Jack Sodeman, Jr. was second over central Pa. driver Billy Dietrich, who has been driving for Skip Dougherty this season at Lernerville while racing his own car on Saturday nights at Lincoln Speedway.  Billy’s brother Danny is one of the top central Pa. racers and Friday night was Billy’s best career Lernerville finish.  He had never raced at Lernerville before this season.  Billy has a pair of wins at Dog Hollow Speedway in 2012 for his only western Pa. victories.

After having a disappointing start to the season, Dave Murdick made it two straight wins in the Big-Block Modifieds.  The Butler racer now has 30 career wins at the Sarver oval!  Tarentum’s Corey McPherson bagged his third win in the Stock Cars and 17th of his career tying him for ninth on the all-time win list in his relative short career so far.   

It was Mid-Season Championship at Mercer Raceway Park on Saturday night.  Jack Sodeman Jr. of North Jackson, Ohio won the Sprint Car feature for the second time this season.  Fairmont City’s J.R. McGinley won the “358” Modifieds.  Hartford, Ohio’s Jimmy Morris captured his second in the Limited Sprints.

After going many years winless at Mercer, Greenville’s George Englert won for the second time in three weeks in the Mod Lites.  New Castle’s Rusty Moore continues to add wins in the Stocks Cars, and Jackson Center’s Mike McConnell padded his point lead in the Mini Stocks.

Sharon Speedway completed the fifth straight night of short-track auto racing excitement as part of their 85th anniversary season last Saturday night.  It was a night for the veterans as the average age of the winners was over 42 years of age.  The entire program was done shortly after 10 p.m.

Brian Swartzlander claimed his first feature win of the year at Sharon in the Big-Block Modifieds after it appeared Jim Weller Jr. had the race locked up.  The 54-year-old Leechburg, Pa. driver was making just his second start of the season at Sharon and ended the domination by the Kings and Weller this season.

Weller paced the 20-lap Hovis Auto & Truck Supply feature field to the green flag and immediately took control of the event.  Swartzlander advanced into second on lap three, but Weller was in control.  Rex King Jr. moved to third from sixth, over Rick Regalski, Jr. and Rex King Sr., up from 10th starting slot.  It appeared the race was going caution-free until Chris Haines stopped on turn two with only two laps remaining. 

Weller chose the inside lane on the restart, and with both inside and outside grooves working well at the track, Swartzlander used the outside to his advantage taking the lead on the restart.  Swartzlander held off Weller by just 0.620 of a second for his 13th career win.  Weller, King Jr. and King Sr. were third through fifth as they continue to battle tooth and nail for the championship.  

After missing a week, defending champion Dennis Lunger Jr. of Albion, Pa. has stormed back with a vengeance winning for the second straight week and division-leading fourth time of the season in the RUSH Late Models.  The 46-year-old took the lead from race-long leader Alan Dellinger on the lap 18 restart from the outside for his 10th career win, which have all come since the season finale in 2012!  Sharpsville’s Will Thomas III was second over Dellinger of Hermitage.

Dwayne Clay swept to the lead at the outset of the E-Mod feature from his outside pole position to lead the entire 20 laps.  It was his first win at Sharon since 2010 in the Econo Mod division for the 49-year-old Mineral Ridge, Ohio racer.  Clay's seventh career E-Mod win was the 38th overall at Sharon.

The Stock Cars may have had the smallest field registered at the track, but their 15-lap feature was one of the best of the evening, as 53-year-old Paul Davis of Fowler, Ohio captured his second feature win of the season after a see-saw battle with three-time winner Mike Clark.  

Brandon Blackshear became just the second driver of the season to repeat in the Econo Mods.  The 23-year-old Brookfield, Ohio driver was the youngest winner of the night as the 15-lap feature.  Blackshear became just the division’s second repeat winner of the season as his victory was the all-time division-leading 13th of his career.

Travis Creech continued his two-year domination of the Mini Stocks claiming his track leading sixth feature win of the year.  Shane Smith took the lead at the outset of the feature from his outside pole starting slot, but Creech quickly sped forward from sixth.  The 26-year-old Niles, Ohio driver got by Smith on lap three for the lead with an inside pass on the backstretch and went on for his 12th career win, which ties him for second on the division's all-time win list with Mike Scharba and Scott Gilliland.  

Ohio Speedweek has gotten off to a rough start losing three of the first five events to Mother Nature including last Friday night at Attica Raceway Park, Monday at Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, and Tuesday’s event at Sharon.  Pittsburgh’s Danny Holtgraver captured his first career Eldora win on Saturday night taking the $5,000 opener.  It was Holtgraver’s second All Star win of the season and eighth of his young career!  Hartfo6rd, Ohio’s Dale Blaney notched the Waynesfield $5,000 win on Sunday night. 

There were 49 Sprints at Wayne County on Monday night.  Former track regular, Andrew Palker, who is competing full-time with the All Stars this year for the first time, set fast time before the rains came.  The track worked hard and had the track ready to go.  The Late Models came out for their first heat and rain hit again while under caution ending the night.  The All Stars have been added to the July 5 event.  Sharon meanwhile suffered a rainout of Speedweek for the second straight year. 

On Wednesday, a huge field of 62 cars was on hand at Atomic and it was Jac Haudenschild picking up the win getting by Dale Blaney.  Speedweek was to be at Fremont on Thursday, Limaland on Friday night, and tonight’s finale back at Fremont for $10,000 to-win! 

 

Mike Leone is motorsports columnist for The Allied News. For his latest updates, go to Twitter @mikevleone.

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