By Mike Leone
(Mercer, PA)…After two excellent nights of racing and big crowds, Mercer Raceway Park is anxiously awaiting Saturday night as week number three draws near. Another “Saturday Night Live” program of Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprint Cars, Approved Toilet Rentals Modifieds, 4 Your Car Connection FASTRAK Late Models, E-Mods, and M&D Paving Mini Stocks will be on the card. Race time is 7 p.m.
Prospective new track owner Bill Altman stepped up and raised the Sprint Car purse featuring a $1,500 weekly top prize, which is tops in the region. The gesture brought out the best of the best in western Pa. last Saturday night for the Sprint Car season opener.
Mike Lutz has always been a hungry racer and he quickly made a statement he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with this season. The Mercer driver passed Jason Dolick on the final lap to capture his seventh career Mercer win topping a field of racers that included Ed Lynch, Jr., World of Outlaw driver Brian Ellenberger, four-time champion Rod George, three-time champion Bob Felmlee, along with a strong cast of competitors that are expected to return Saturday night. Many other Mercer regular Sprint Car drivers are expected in the near future.
The Modifieds continue to thrill the fans with their competitive wheel-to-wheel racing. After being shutout of victory lane last year, Volant’s Lonny Riggs stormed back to nail down the opener. Young Jimmy Holden, three-time champion Frank Guidace, Gary Smoker, New York racers Ron Cartwright, Jr. and Joe Kubiniec were right there and hope to change the outcome this Saturday night. Lots of additional cars are expected in the coming weeks like Jeff and Jerry Schaffer, Eric Gabany, Rick Hall, Mike Stine, Kyle Fink, Dillion McElrath, and many more as the Modified division should not only be strong in quality, but in numbers as well.
The FASTRAK Late Models opened their season Saturday night with a strong field of 23 cars on hand. Defending champion Max Blair got his season off to a strong start winning the 20-lap feature, but he’ll have to come from 12th to repeat that feat this Saturday night. FASTRAK racers are not only competing for Mercer points and dollars, but also on the national level in the National Weekly Series Championship. FASTRAK continues to be a great breeding ground for young racers moving up the racer ladder and a great place for veteran racers to compete affordably.
The E-Mods will return Saturday night and again on April 17 competing for $400 to-win. The E-Mods opened the season at the “Chiller Thriller,” which was won by Joel Watson from the 21st starting position. United E-Mod Series rules will be in effect with any 8” American Racer, Hoosier, or Goodyear Tires permitted. The E-Mods have contested 26 features all-time at Mercer led by Hermitage’s Alan Dellinger with four wins.
Completing the program will be the Mini Stocks, which will actually be competing in their fourth show of the 59th anniversary season. The Mini Stocks were part of “Crashing Through the Snow” on January 9, which was won by Wally Stearns, Jr., part of the “Chiller Thriller” on March 27 won by Kevin Kilgore, and began their championship point race last Saturday and was won by Dan Bish. Ironically both Stearns and Bishs’ wins were their career firsts.
“We’ve been blessed with some great weather and excellent racing to start off our season,” stated 12th year promoter Vicki Emig. “Saturday is looking like another nice day and we invite everyone out to experience some exciting grassroots racing at its finest. We couldn’t have asked for any better racing the first two weeks with three and four-wide battles, last lap passes, and quality fields of competitors.”
Pit gates open at 3:30 p.m. with grandstands at 4:30. Hot laps begin at 6:15 and the first green flag waves at 7.
Adult admission is $12. Mom and dad can bring up to four kids 15 and under for just a buck with the $25 family pass. Students 6-15 are just $5 and kids five and under are always free. Pits passes are $25. Fans can take advantage of the “SPEEDPASS” by upgrading their admission ticket to the pit area at intermission for just $5 or $10 for the entire family.
Mercer Raceway Park is a 3/8-mile dirt track located minutes from both Interstate 79 and 80 just off Route 19 on Fairground Road in Mercer, Pa. Dirt track racing and quality family entertainment are presented weekly late March through early October. The office in New Bedford, Pa. is open year-round late mornings and after 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information call the office at 724-964-9300 or the track on race day at 724-662-1310. Check out our website at www.mercerracewaypark.com for the latest. Go to www.twitter.com/mercerraceway or Mercer Raceway Park at www.facebook.com/mercerracewaypark to stay up to date.