- Grove City, Pennsylvania


July 10, 2013

THE CHECKERED FLAG: Rain continues to stall racing at local tracks


OPINION — Singleton. It was three-wide for second down the backstretch and entering turn three as Singleton came out on top over Ryan Montgomery and Justin Tatlow on the opening lap. Montgomery though would drive under Singleton in turn four to grab second on lap two.

Max Blair, who won Wednesday’s Sweeney Weekly Series event at McKean, was making just his second Sweeney Tour start of the season. Blair started ninth and made a great move to get by both Pegher and Tatlow to take over fourth on lap three. The top four of Double, Montgomery, Singleton, and Blair quickly began to distance themselves from the field.

Chad Ruhlman started eighth, but nearly spun on the opening lap. Ruhlman gathered himself back up and found the topside to his liking. Ruhlman passed Dan Angelicchio, Pegher, and Tatlow all on the outside as he cracked the top five on lap nine. Singleton began putting the heat on Montgomery on lap 10 trying to find a way by on the racey 4/10-mile track; meanwhile, Ruhlman continued running the highline as he closed in on Blair for fourth on lap 12.

At the halfway point, Double had a 1.9 second lead as the battle for runner-up continued. Singleton drove hard in turn four and slipped under Montgomery for second on lap 14, while Ruhlman simultaneously made the pass of Blair. Singleton and Montgomery began chewing into Double’s lead, while Ruhlman was running the fastest laps of the race.

With five laps to go it was a three-car race for the lead. Just as it seemed like Double’s lead was shrinking away and heavy traffic loomed ahead, Double did a great job on laps 21 and 22 through traffic. Those moves through traffic would be the deciding factor as he opened up a more comfortable advantage in the final laps and took the checkered flag first by a margin of 2.724 seconds.

Double’s non-stop time was 7:36.729.  Singleton edged out Montgomery for runner-up as it was his seventh finish in the top seven this season and closed to within one of Pegher for the Sweeney Tour point lead. Montgomery’s third gave him three straight top four finishes as he moves into third in points. Ruhlman simply ran out of the time without any cautions as his fourth place finish was his third top five of the season. Blair was fifth.

On Saturday, Sharon Speedway was to have the BOSS/RUSH “Off with the Tops” doubleheader.  Sharon was able to complete 12 straight racing events without a rain out, but on Saturday night Sharon suffered their third straight as heavy rain hit shortly after 6 p.m. after dry conditions were present all day just like the Saturday before and the Ohio Speedweek event on June 25.  The identical show is scheduled for August 17.  Sharon will be off this Saturday due to the Trumbull County Fair. 

Mercer Raceway Park waited out the rain and was able to complete their All Star Sprint Car show on Saturday night.  The local All Star shows have been plagued by bad weather as the May Lernerville/Mercer weekend was washed out as was the Ohio Speedweek event two weeks ago at Sharon.  Saturday brought in 34 cars and it was All Star regular and local Danny Holtgraver getting the win.  The Pittsburgh racer led the entire way for the $5,000 victory- the fourth of the season for him at Mercer. 

The All Stars of Cap Henry and Tim Shaffer were second and third.  Local Rod George had a fine run placing fourth over Dale Blaney.  New Castle native Andy Priest, who earlier this year moved to Grove City, made his season debut and had a solid eighth place finish.  It was good to see another local Andy McKisson of Strattanville make his season debut Saturday, but he failed to qualify for the feature.

In other action, Chicora’s Mike Miller won the Limited Sprints, Stoneboro’s Leigh Wheeler ended a dry spell taking the Stocks over 22nd starting Rusty Moore, and New Wilmington’s Alex Paden continues to be the Mini Stocks’ only multiple winner as he won his third of the year.

On Sunday, I headed north to Eriez Speedway for my first visit of the season.  Storms stayed to the south of the speedway and they were able to get their entire program in.  Sunday’s featured the BRP Big-Block Modified Tour in their only appearance of the season along with a full program.  BRP brought a strong field of 28 cars including several New York racers.

The 30-lap Modified feature was a good one despite six cautions and taking 48 minutes to complete.  Ricky Richner has been making the tow down from Niagara Falls to compete at Sharon every Saturday night.  Richner has been very competitive placing between third and sixth place just about every night, but hadn’t been able to find victory lane.  Sharon was off Saturday so Richner made a shorter tow to Erie on Sunday and it paid off as the “358” small block racer captured the win.

Richner started fourth and passed Brad Rapp on the opening lap for third.  Richner moved to second past Sandy Lake’s Chris Haines on six then took the lead from Grove City’s Steve Barr on lap eight.  Richner survived four restarts and was never seriously challenged for his first ever BRP win! 

Sixth starting Kevin Hoffman placed second after passing Barr on lap 26.  Point leader Chad Brachmann of New York came from the tail after pitting to get third as Haines, New York’s Ron Cartwright, and Slippery Rock’s Dave Murdick also got by Barr in the final laps for the fourth through sixth place positions respectively. 

One of the hardest hits I’ve seen this year was when Brachmann and Brad Rapp got hooked together entering turn one and Rex King came flying in and hit them full speed.  The impact knocked Brachmann and Rapp free and did little damage somehow to them, but King ended upside down.  He was okay.

In other action, the Blairs had another sweep.  A week ago, Robbie won the ULMS Super Late Models and Max the RUSH Late Models at McKean County then four days later the duo swept the program for the Super Late Models and Crate Late Models at Eriez.  Ron Davies dominated the E-Mods by a straightaway over Steve Dixon, who drives for Franklin car owner Tim Engles.  Dan Maxim picked up the Limited Late Model win, while the Stocks fell to Chris Withers for the second time this year.

Don’t forget coming up Tuesday at Lernerville is the Don Martin Memorial/Silver Cup for the World of Outlaw Sprint Cars featuring Twin 30s paying $15,000 to-win each!

Sad to report on another speedway closing as Allegheny Mountain Raceway in Kane ran its final race last Sunday.  There is some hope of an individual leasing the track. 

Mike Leone is motorsports columnist for The Allied News. Follow his updates on Twitter @mikevleone.   

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