Mercer, PA – After a long winter and two weeks of cancellations, Mercer Raceway Park finally opened the 60th anniversary season with an exciting night of racing. Eager race fans filled the grandstands to watch 96 race teams kick off the 2011 western Pennsylvania racing season with the first Saturday Night Live program of the year.
Track conditions were excellent for the debut of improvements made over the winter, with drivers praising the new clay and configuration throughout the night. Winners were Brandon Spithaler (Luxaire Heating & Cooling 410 Sprints), Jimmy Holden (Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds), Guy Griffin (ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors), Jeff Teeters (Big Daddy’s Speed Center Mod Lites), Chad O’Brien (Precise Racing Products Stock Cars), and Pete Blazczak (Big Dog R/C Mini Stocks).
Brandon Spithaler captured his first victory of the season in the Luxaire Heating & Cooling 410 Sprints for his second career win at Mercer Raceway Park. Brian Ellenberger started on the pole and took an early and commanding lead while Spithaler jumped into second from this third place starting spot in the 25-lap feature. Ellenberger looked as if he had it all wrapped up until he took a tumble in turn two on lap 22, putting Spithaler into first position.
“I kind of just went, ‘Wow, that just happened,’” Spithaler, the 19-year old out of Evans City, said. “This is an old bent car. It’s nothing special.”
Spithaler went on to clinch the $1,500-to-win feature, leading the last three laps over a hard-charging Bob Felmlee. Felmlee started 14th after a DNF in his heat and climbed through the field early, but a spin on lap 14 forced him to restart at the tail of the field. That didn’t stop the Franklin, PA native as he charged to the front once again to pick up a second place finish. Carl Bowser picked up a solid third place finish after starting sixth and battling with Rod George and Jason Dolick throughout the race. Fourth and fifth places went to Jason Dolick and Gale Ruth, Jr.
The Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified race was a nail-biter as well, with defending track champion Jimmy Holden picking up a convincing win. Holden took the early lead from pole sitter Rick Hall on the opening lap and never looked back.
“It was unbelievable,” Holden laughed. “I can’t say enough for my starting spot.”
Frank Guidace and Randy Chrysler took up an early battle for third place behind Rick Hall, while Holden quickly began navigating the tricky lap traffic in the 19-car field.
“The car would just go anywhere I needed it to go,” the Tiona, PA native said.
Chrysler, of Lewiston, NY, didn’t give Guidace an inch in his debut appearance at Mercer Raceway Park but Guidace wasn’t to be beat. The pair passed Hall on lap 13 and finished with Guidace in second and Chrysler in third. Mike Stine posted a solid fourth place from his sixth place starting position while Hall picked up fifth.
Jeff Teeters of Loren, OH nabbed a well-deserved feature win in the Big Daddy’s Speed Center Mod Lites for his first victory at Mercer Raceway Park since 2006. 2009 points champion Mark Marcucci snagged second place over Shane Pfeuffer, George Englert and Alan Knepper.
“It’s been long winter…my building burned down, my car burned up,” Teeters said. “But this has just been perfect.”
After a much anticipated debut, Guy Griffin took the inaugural feature win in the ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Starting on the pole position, Griffin led every circuit of the 15-lap feature over Adam Anderson, Skip Daugherty, Justin Whitesell and Rob Felix. Fans enjoyed getting a taste of this new class, and the track is expecting a strong field to grow throughout the season.
Everything pointed to Tim Bish picking up his first Precise Racing Products Stock Car victory at Mercer Raceway Park, as the Ringgold, PA native led every lap of 15-circuit feature from his outside pole starting spot. Bish, however, was disqualified after failing to go through technical inspection. Second-place finisher Chad O’Brien was thus able to pick up his first ever stock car victory over Russ Byler, Chris Haines, Rusty Moore and 2010 Lernerville Speedway Track Champion Joe Kelley.
Pete Blazczak put on a dominating performance in the Big Dog R/C Mini Stocks to take his first victory of the season over “Crashing Through the Snow” winner Jerry Batcher, Tim Gillette, defending track champion Wally Stearns and Mike McConnell.
Next week, the Saturday Night Live program will be back in action with six rousing divisions of racing! Mercer Raceway Park will also host the Pittsburgh Circle Track Club with free grandstand admission for all Club members. Join us for another night of family fun!
Luxaire Heating & Cooling 410 Sprint Cars (25 laps): 1. BRANDON SPITHALER (22s) 2. Bob Felmlee (6) 3. Carl Bowser (10) 4. Jason Dolick (D12) 5. Gale Ruth, Jr. (1R) 6. A.J. Albrecht (7) 7. Brent Matus (33) 8. Brandon Matus (13) 9. Lindsay Enscoe (96) 10. John McCracken (79) 11. Brian Ellenberger (22) 12. Adam Kekich (5k) 13. Jeff Taylor (17t) 14. Rod George (4) 15. Scott Priester (15) 16. Jimmy Light (23) – DNS 17. Paul Kish (69x) – DNS
Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds (20 laps): 1. JIMMY HOLDEN (28H) 2. Frank Guidace (1G) 3. Randy Chrysler (21k) 4. Mike Stine (7s) 5. Rick Hall (B2) 6. Eric Gabany (3e) 7. Matt Reeher (711) 8. Kyle Fink (66F) 9. Ron Eperthener (333) 10. Tom Holden (15H) 11. Brian Fink (77) 12. Clyde Gumpp (51) 13. Rich Whitney (19W) 14. Don Brown (71B) 15. Dustin Martin (29D) 16. Joe Gibson (119) 17. Bill Myers (43m) 18. Lonnie Riggs (58) – DNS 19. Dan Fink (0) – DNS
Big Daddy’s Speed Center Mod Lites (15 laps): 1. JEFF TEETERS (23) 2. Mark Marcucci (8m) 3. Shane Pfeuffer (717) 4. George Englert (11x) 5. Alan Knepper (20) 6. Kenny Meadows (10T) 7. Lynn Knepper (10) 8. Darin Gallagher (12) 9. Cody Bova (20B) 10. Derek Wagner (61) 11. Tom Kline (68) 12. Max Wilkinson (21) 13. Andrew Bruce (70×7) 14. Bill Johnson (7) 15. Brian Kaszubski (5) 16. Jacob Bova (28J) 17. Andy Feil (08)
ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors (20 laps): 1. GUY GRIFFIN (11) 2. Adam Anderson (5B) 3. Skip Daugherty (27) 4. Justin Whitesell (17) 5. Rob Felix (21) 6. Cory Theiss (30) 7. Jim Morris (16) 8. Jake Lagestee (72) – DNS
Precise Racing Products Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. Chad O’Brien (77) 2. Russ Byler (06R) 3. Chris Haines (35H) 4. Rusty Moore (17M) 5. Joe Kelley (100) 6. Bob McCann (33) 7. Jim Fosnaught (20J) 8. Jim Flaherty (38SPL) 9. Brett McDonald (25) 10. Shawn Hooks (65) 11. Matt Wagner (12) 12. Brandon Johnston (14J) 13. Travis Walsh (1) 14. Bobby Heim (92) 15. Darrin Hyde (4) 16. Jace Ferringer (02) 17. Gary Miller (1M) 18. Tim Bish (1B) – DSQ 19. Brian Wagner (56) – DNS
Big Dog R/C Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. PETE BLAZCZAK (77) 2. Jerry Batcher (7) 3. Tim Gillette (43) 4. Wally Stearns (33) 5. Mike McConnell (31) 6. Todd Gabriel (33G) 7. Jeff Little (42) 8. Troy Lehnortt (46) 9. Steve Longwell, Sr. (16K) 10. Tim Callahan (54) 11. Rudy Troples (28) 12. Kris Anderson (3D) 13. Joel Wisser (15K) 14. Dan Bish (4x) 15. Ed Haylett (8-ball) 16. Michael Thompson (82T) – DNS
4/16: Saturday Night Live with 410 Sprints, 358 Modifieds, Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Mod Lites, Stock Cars, Mini Stocks. Pittsburgh Circle Track Club Night. Pits and grandstands open at 4:00pm. Hot Laps at 6:15pm. Racing at 7:00pm.
4/23: Saturday Night Live with 410 Sprints, 358 Modifieds, Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Mod Lites, Stock Cars, Mini Stocks. Pits and grandstands open at 4:00pm. Hot Laps at 6:15pm. Racing at 7:00pm