mercer raceway park
mercer raceway park

By Mike Leone

Celebrating in the Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic victory lane was Danny Holtgraver-Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprint Cars.
Three years ago Danny Holtgraver opened the 2007 season winning two of the first three Sprint Car features. Since then, Holtgraver hasn’t had much luck at the tricky 3/8-mile oval. That changed Saturday night, when the 20-year-old racer ran the race of his life holding off the best Sprint Car racers western Pennsylvania has to offer for the 20-lap victory in the Luxaire Heating & Cooling feature. Holtgraver’s third career Mercer Sprint win was worth $1,500 plus a certificate for a new Goodyear Tire.

Luxaire Heating & Cooling (410) Sprint Cars (20 laps, $1,500 to-win): 1. DANNY HOLTGRAVER (D4) 2. Ed Lynch, Jr. (2L) 3. Rod George (4) 4. Carl Bowser (10) 5. Bob Felmlee (6) 6. Mike Lutz (Chappel 8) 7. Ralph Spithaler, Jr. (56) 8. Brandon Spithaler (Burkey 57B) 9. Todd Bauer (45) 10. Chris Best (66) 11. Lindsay Enscoe (96) 12. Charlie Holben (Dionise 15) 13. Andy Paden (11W) 14. Pete Miller III (3) 15. Dan Kuriger (08)-DNS 16. John McCracken, Jr. (79)-DNS.

“I saw the whole car,” described the Pittsburgh, Pa. racer when asked about Ed Lynch, Jr. all over him in the closing laps. “He was definitely good and came from somewhere in the back so I knew he was on. We got the jump on the start and took off and I just tried to run my race, take it easy, and it worked. When I saw him I stood up in the seat a little bit and started driving a little harder, but tried not to over drive it.”

The event’s only stoppage came on the opening lap when Pete Miller III tried ducking under leader Carl Bowser and spun off turn two, did a 360, and an easy flip. He was okay, but done from the event. When racing resumed, Holtgraver used the outside to power around Bowser in turn two for the lead. Sixth starting Rod George quickly moved into contention taking Chris Best for third on lap three.

Lynch, who started eighth, passed both Brandon Spithaler and Chris Best for fourth on lap three. Holtgraver continued to maintain a fairly comfortable lead over Bowser when he caught lapped traffic on lap nine, while George and Lynch began closing on Bowser. By lap 11, it was a three-car race for second with Bowser trying to hold off George and Lynch, while Holtgraver’s lead shrunk to a half-straightaway. Lynch then shot under George for third on lap 13 and used the bottom again to take second from Bowser this time in turn two on lap 15. George followed Lynch one lap later getting under Bowser in turn four for third.

The breathtaking action continued for the final three laps as Lynch got under and alongside Holtgraver. The duo ran side-by-side to the finish with Holtgraver up top and Lynch on the bottom. On the last lap, Holtgraver got a strong enough run to move to the bottom in turns three and four to block Lynch’s advances. Lynch then slung his #2L to the outside and it was a drag race to the finish with Holtgraver holding on by a half-car length. Holtgraver’s fourth career Mercer came in the West View Motors/Spinneweber’s Auto Sales/Ti22 Performance-sponsored #D4.

“I want to thank Bill (Altman) for doing on this and stepping up and paying us more money and Goodyear Tires,” stated Holtgraver. “It draws the best whenever everyone’s here. You got to beat the best to be the best, and I think we beat the best tonight. My dad has this car so hooked up. We struggled at the beginning of the year and were no good on these new Goodyear Tires, but we got them hooked up now. We changed some stuff and we’re definitely going in the right direction. We’ve been in the top five every night for the past three weeks or so.”

Lynch’s runner-up moved him back into the point lead and also earned him the second hard charger of the year, which was worth a certificate for a Goodyear Tire. George, who won Friday night at Lernerville, settled for third over Bowser and ninth starting Bob Felmlee, who has yet to finish out of the top five in a heat or feature this season.

Two-time winner Mike Lutz came from 12th to finish sixth. Ralph Spithaler, Jr. was seventh in his first Mercer start since August 6, 2006. Brandon Spithaler was eighth in his debut and earned a certificate for a Goodyear Tire for being the last car on the lead lap. Todd Bauer was ninth in his first Mercer race of 2010 and Best completed the top 10. Random Goodyear Tire certificate winners were Charlie Holben and Andy Paden. Bowser and George won the heats.