George Survives to Sprint Car Feature at Mercer

Story Content Provided by Jim Dutko

Mercer, Pa (August 7, 2011): The action on the speedway was hotter than the mid-summer tempratures Saturday at Mercer Raceway Park. Rod George survived a “Flip Fest” in the Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprint Car feature, while Jimmy Holden and Ron Eperthener split the two Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified finals. Ed Haylett won his second consecutive Big Dog R/C Center Mini Stocks feature ever, and Guy Griffin picked up the ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors main event. Mark Marcucci did the double, taking both features in the Big Daddy’s Speed Center Modified Lites. Meanwhile, Russ Byler pulled off the upset by winning the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars.

The eight feature program started with two make-up features from the rain-shortened July 23 event. Two more feature remain to be completed, and that will happen on August 20, when the Big Dog R/C Center Minis Stocks and the ti22 Outlaw Sprint Warriors will double down.

In Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified feature, it was looking as though the 1G of Frank on the Gas Guidace was going to run away and hide. That was until Dan Fink broke down the front stretch, leaving Guidace nowhere to go. After Giudace hit Fink’s disabled racer, he relinquished the lead to Ron Eperthener. The jovial Eperthener went on to claim his first win of the season at the Park. Rounding out the top five was Kyle Fink, Eric Gabany, Lonnie the Tugboat Riggs, and new points leader Jimmy the Jet Holden.

Next to take the track were the Big Daddy’s Speed Center Modified Lites with Cody Bova and Shane Pfeuffer leading them to the green. Bova broke out to a good lead but the 8m of Mark Marcucci started to make his move to the inside. After a thrilling side by side for the lead, Marcucci pulled nahead. With the laps winding down, Bova’s good run ended as he retired to the pits with mechanical issues. Following Marcucci to the finish were Andy Feil, Tom Kline, Darin Gallagher and Kotie Kirkbride.

The first feature of the night’s regular action was for the ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Jim Morris and Michael Bauer lead the field to the green, but on the initial start of the race, Gary Edwards would strike a tire in turn 4. His car went flipping down the front stretch, but, fortunately, Edwards was unharmed. On the restart, Morris jumped to the lead and held command in the opening laps. His lead was short lived, as Guy Griffien took over on lap 4. The final yellow of the event would come out when Morris made contact with Harold Braden, Jr. At the finish, it was Griffin followed by Bauer, Mike Lutz, Dennis Wagner and Justin Whitesell. Wagner picked up the lone heat race win for the 11 car field.

The Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds then made their encore appearance. Mopar Matt Reeher and Dustin Martin lead the field to the green for the 20 lapper. The first yellow came out right away as Eric Gabany broke on the front stretch. On the ensuing restart, the cars started to make contact, with Rick Hall and Martin spinning in turn four bringing out the yellow. After the the field was realigned and underway, it was Frank Giudace running hard and taking the lead by lap four on the outside of turn four. Jeff Schaffer, who led the first three laps, started to fall back in the field before he brought out the next caution on lap 11 after hitting the tire in turn one. Giudace was not about to let this race slip away, as he broke out to a half track lead. However, something in the drive line let go with the white flag waving. This gave the lead to the Strattanville Charger, Kyle Fink. On the restart, Fink and Jimmy Holden battled hard on the last lap with Holden making the pass on the high side of four for the win. Fink finished a close second, followed by Chris Myers, Rick Hall, and Lonnie Riggs. Fink and Myers picked up the heat race wins over the 17 car field.

Next to the track was a very wild and eventful Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprint Car feature. Russ Sansosti took the early lead until the first yellow would come out for Eric Turkey Williams. On the ensuing double file restart, Mike Lutz made a bold move to try to get the lead on a bad restart and took a flip in turn one collecting Carl Bowser. Both would go off on the hook. On the restart, the Kittanning Comet, Rod George, started to make some noise moving into third and chasing down leader Sansosti. The red flag would come out for the second time for the flipping Williams in turn four on lap 14. On the restart, Rod George pulled a slide job in turn two to take the lead. Sansosti immediately pulled the front end of his racer, resulting in a flip over. That sent Brandon Spithaler flipping wildly down the back stretch. Dan Kuriger and Fransis Sesco were also collected up in the wreck. Kuriger returned to action. On the restart, George broke away from the pack and set the cruise control, but the parking brake would be applied for the very high flipping Kuriger who hit the wall off turn four. George survived the “Flip Fest,” followed by Scott Priester, Chris Best, Andy McKisson, and Bob Felmlee. Williams and Felmlee snagged the heat races for the 18 car field.

The next feature was Precise Racing Products Stock Car feature and everybody was anticipating another Trusty Rusty Moore show. But, this time, he was stuck on the tail of the 19 car field. Russ Byler and Andy Thompson got to lead them to the green. Byler took the early lead, but lost it briefly to Terry Wheeler. Byler regained the lead on lap 3. Meanwhile, in the back of the pack, it was Moore slicing and dicing his way to the front. He got to sixth by lap eight. The first yellow of the race came out for the spinning Matt Wagner and then for Bryan Wagner and Tony Spaghetti. The final caution came out for the wrecked car of Marty Warren in turn two. On the ensuing restart Byler and Moore lined-up side by side and raced that way the rest of the distance. Moore would drive hard to the outside of Byler, but he came up half a car short at the finish line. Trailing Byler and Moore were Gary Miller, Terry Wheeler, and Bob McCann. Byler and Bob Schwartzmiller picked up the heat race wins.

In the Big Daddy’s Speed Center Modified Lite feature, Mark Marcucci was looking for the daily double. On the initial start Tom Kline drove away from the field until the first caution for Darin Gallagher with steering problems. On the restart, Marcucci took the lead away and he never looked back. Rounding out the top 5 werer Kline, Andrew Bruce, Shane Pfeuffer, and Andy Feil. George Englert and Gallagher picked up the heat races for the 13 car field.

The final event of the evening went to the Big Dog R/C Center Mini Stocks. Joel Wisser and Pete Blazczak occupied the front row. During the first couple of laps Blazczak and Carl Keller would trade the lead back and forth, with Blazczak coming out on top. A caution on lap nine for Mike Thompson losing a wheel slowed the pace and bunched up the field. On the restart Blazczak suffered a flat tire forcing him to the pits and gave Keller the lead. Mr. Never Give Up, Ed Haylett, lived up to his nickname, reeling in the leader little by little. Coming out of turn four for the checkered, Haylett dove to the bottom and won the race. Following Haylett to the finish were Keller, Mike McConnell, Tyler Fulton, and Wisser. Blazczak and Keller won the heat races for the dozen cars.

Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds (completion of July 23 race): 1. Ron Eperthener, 2. Kyle Fink, 3. Eric Gabany, 4. Lonnie Riggs, 5. Jimmy Holden, 6. Chris Myers, 7. Dustin Martin, 8. Rick Hall, 9. Matt Reeher, 10. Kevin Green, 11. Frank Guidace, 12. Dan Fink, 13. Don Brown, 14. Rich Whitney.

Big Daddy’s Speed Center Modified Lites (make-up of July 23 race): 1. Mark Marcucci, 2. Andy Feil, 3. Tom Kline, 4. Darin Gallagher, 5. Kotie Kirkbride, 6.Taylor Smith, 7. Jacob Bova, 8. Cody Bova, 9. Andrew Bruce, 10. Shane Pfeuffer. DNS: Dan Demyan, Cody Dye.

ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors: 1. Guy Griffin, 2. Michael Bauer, 3. Mike Lutz, 4. Dennis Wagner, 5. Justin Whitesell, 6. Adam Anderson, 7. Dean Ruth, 8. Joel Trent, 9. Jim Morris, 10. Harold Braden, Jr., 11. Gary Edwards

Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: 1. Jimmy Holden, 2. Kyle Fink, 3. Chris Myers, 4. Rick Hall, 5. Lonnie Riggs, 6. Matt Reeher, 7. Kevin Green, 8. Dustin Martin, 9. David Cogswell, 10. Frank Guidace, 11. Ron Eperthener, 12. Rob Curtis, 13. Jeff Schaffer, 14. Clyde Gumpp, 15. Eric Gabany DNS: Andy Paden, Dan Fink

Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprint Cars: 1. Rod George, 2. Scott Preister, 3. Chris Best, 4. Andy McKisson, 5. Bob Felmlee, 6. Brent Matus, 7. Adam Kekich, 8. Brandon Matus, 9. Wes McGlumphy, 10. Shawn Minor, 11. Dan Kuriger, 12. Russ Sansosti, 13. Brandon Spithaler, 14. Fransis Sesco, 15. Eric Williams, 16. Mike Lutz, 17. Carl Bowser, 18. John McCracken

Big Daddy’s Speed Center Modified Lites: 1. Mark Marcucci, 2. Tom Kline, 3. Andrew Bruce, 4. Shane Pfeuffer, 5. Andy Feil, 6. Kotie Kirkbride, 7. Cody Bova, 8. Bill Stivason, 9. Taylor Smith, 10. Jacob Bova, 11. George Englert, 12. Darin Gallagher, 13. Brian Miller

Precise Racing Products Stock Cars: 1. Russ Byler, 2. Rusty Moore, 3. Gary Miller, Jr., 4. Terry Wheeler, 5. Bob McCann, 6. Andy Thompson, 7. Bob Hein, 8. James Flaherty, 9. Bob Schwartzmiller, 10. Brett McDonald, 11. Darrin Hyde, 12. Rodney Thomes, 13. Brandon Johnson, 14. Tim Burns, 15. Marty Warren, 16. Matt Wagner, 17. Tony Spaghetti, 18. Bryan Wagner, 19. Steve Hall

Big Dog R/C Center Mini Stocks: 1. Ed Haylett, 2. Carl Keller, 3. Mike McConnell, 4. Tyler Fulton, 5. Joel Wisser, 6. Chase Anthony, 7. Pete Blazczak, 8. Mike Thompson, 9. Dillon Kineston, 10. Maria Nevin, 11. Rudy Toples, 12. Wally Stearns