mercer raceway park
mercer raceway park

By Mike Leone

Mercer, PA…After a sunny start, thunderstorms and heavy rain developed just south of the Mercer Raceway Park Saturday evening. In fact, severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings were posted for Mercer County; however, despite quite a lightning show and some ominous clouds hanging over the courthouse, nary a drop of rain fell as the sixth straight show was completed after five rainouts in a span of seven races.

Celebrating wins in the Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic victory lane was Brandon Spithaler-Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprint Cars.

The last time the Sprint Car ran on July 3 it was Carl Bowser and Pete Miller III getting their first wins in the twin 15 format; Saturday night, Brandon Spithaler became the newest winner as the 18-year-old captured his career first “410” victory driving the race of his life holding off Danny Holtgraver to win the 20-lap Luxaire Heating & Cooling feature. Spithaler became the eighth different winner in 10 races in 2010 as the victory was worth $1,500 plus a certificate for a Goodyear Tire!

“It fell on its face in the heat race,” explained the ecstatic Evans City, Pa. racer. “We didn’t know what was wrong with it and we still don’t, but it stayed running. I saw Holtgraver move up (on the scoreboard) and (Bob) Felmlee came from the back. I was worried about lapped traffic. I thought I saw a glimpse of Holtgraver coming on the bottom of (turn) three so I put it to the wood around the top and hoped I beat him to the line.”

Todd Bauer and Jack Helget were on the front row as Bauer took off in the early lead with Spithaler trailing. Arnie Kent moved from seventh to fourth on the opening lap, but all eyes were on Danny Holtgraver. After getting off to slow initial start, Holtgraver got in a rhythm and powered around Kent for fourth on lap three and around Helget off turn two for third one lap later.

Bauer continued to lead, but Spithaler closed in on lap five. Lapped traffic came into play on lap six as Spithaler drew even with Bauer and made the winning move ducking under the leader in turns three and four. Miller halted action when he took a scary flip in turn two. He was okay.

When racing resumed, Holtgraver continued his march to the front driving around Bauer off turn two on lap eight. Following a caution for a spin by Francis Sesco, Kent and 10th starting Bob Felmlee both dropped Bauer back to fifth. Spithaler did an excellent job running a consistent line as Holtgraver stayed within striking distance. A spin by Chris Best with 11 laps completed and another caution for Sesco with 17 laps scored slowed action.

Spithaler got tested many times, but stood up to the challenge of five restarts, pressure from Holtgraver, and lapped traffic to capture the popular win. Though he has a few years of experience in the Limited Sprints, 2010 is Spithaler’s first full season in a “410” as his victory came in the Frank Spithaler-owned, Superior Tank & Trailer-sponsored #22.

Holtgraver was second and won the random Goodyear Tire certificate drawing. Felmlee was able to pass Kent racing off the outside of turn two on lap 16 to place a strong third, which earned him the Goodyear Tire hard charger certificate and also moved him into the point lead as Ed Lynch, Jr. was competing in the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway. Mike Lutz came from 10th to finish fourth after getting around Kent on lap 19. Kent dropped to fifth. Bauer was sixth and won the other random Goodyear Tire certificate drawing. New Jersey’s Jeff Taylor and Helget were seventh and eighth. Best was ninth over Brian Steinman. Lindsay Enscoe finished 11th and earned a Goodyear Tire certificate for being the last car on the lead lap. Heat winners were Best and Felmlee.

Luxaire Heating & Cooling (410) Sprint Cars (20 laps, $1,500 to-win): 1. BRANDON SPITHALER (22) 2. Danny Holtgraver (D4) 3. Bob Felmlee 4. Mike Lutz (Chappel 8) 5. Arnie Kent (Dionise 15) 6. Todd Bauer (45) 7. Jeff Taylor (17T) 8. Jack Helget (Taylor 71c) 9. Chris Best (66) 10. Brian Steinman (24s) 11. Lindsay Enscoe (96) 12. Davey Jones (76) 13. Francis Sesco (2s) 14. John McCracken, Sr. (63) 15. Pete Miller III (3) 16. Dan Kuriger (08)-DNS 17. John McCracken, Jr. (79)-DNS.