From Mike Leone, Mike Campbell Photo

Mercer, PA — After rain postponed Saturday’s Western PA Sprint Championship/BRP Mod Tour doubleheader, sunshine returned on Sunday allowing the Ehrlich Your Local Pest Control Experts event to be completed. Celebrating in the Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic victory lane were Brian Ellenberger-DIRTcar Challenge Series for the Luxaire Heating & Cooling 410 Sprint Cars, Rex King-Rock Concrete BRP Modified Tour, Max Blair-4 Your Car Connection FASTRAK Late Models, Steve D’Apolito-Big Daddy’s Speed Center Stock Cars, and Tim Callahan-M&D Paving Mini Stocks. A total of 121 cars competed over the two days.

Brian Ellenberger was the beneficiary of Dan Kuriger’s misfortunate on lap 16 and went on to dominate the 21st running of the Western PA Sprint Championship for his second victory in the event. Ellenberger’s 25-lap DIRTcar Challenge Series win was worth $2,000 and was his first at Mercer in 2010 making him the 10th different winner in 15 races!

“I’ll tell you what, I can’t say enough for this brand new racecar,” described the Butler, Pa. driver. “This Ti22 Performance chassis got built last week. We brought it home at 7 PM Friday evening and my guys worked all night long to get this car ready for last night. We didn’t know what to expect, but man that thing was fast. It started coming in about halfway through the race. I was actually tight at the beginning of the race, but boy once that fuel load started to work out of the car and the track widened out that thing was locked down and was bad fast. George Fisher is here tonight helping out. I can’t thank him enough. He designed this chassis. I felt bad for Danny Kuriger. He got caught up in that wreck and it was hard to see down there with the sun, but we were coming. It was getting better every lap.”

Kuriger started alongside pole-sitter Ellenberger and made a nice crossover move coming off turn two to lead the opening lap. Sixth starting Jack Sodeman, Jr. got off to a great start passing Arnie Kent and Danny Holtgraver on the first lap for fourth. Sodeman continued his way to the front getting by two-time winner Mike Lutz driving down the backstretch on lap three.

Action was brought to a halt when Kent and two-timer winner, Ed Lynch, Jr., both went for a wild ride in turn four with six laps completed. Both drivers were okay, but done for the night. When green replaced yellow, Kuriger continued to set the pace out front. Kuriger caught lapped traffic on lap 11 allowing Ellenberger to close in on the leader, but Ellenberger got stuck behind the lapped car of Chris Best, which allowed Kuriger to expand his lead.

Kuriger looked strong as he was looking for his first win of the year, but that ended when Andy McKisson, Carl Bowser, and Todd Bauer got caught up in a melee in turn two on lap 15. Kuriger was fast approaching and had nowhere to go as he slammed the turn two fence ending his night on the double hook.

Ellenberger was handed the lead and he was never challenged over the course of the last 10 non-stop laps as he pulled away for the dominating victory in his Car*Mate Trailers/K&N Filters/Ti22 Performance-sponsored #22, which also earned him a Goodyear Tire certificate. Ellenberger’s win was the eighth of his career at Mercer and just his second win on the 2010 circuit (April 2 at Lernerville Speedway) after following the World of Outlaw tour for much of the season.

After winning $5,000 in his last two races at Mercer, Sodeman brought the Jeff Rudzik #94 home a strong second worth another $1,000. Holtgraver was third over Lutz and Bob Felmlee, who captured his fourth Mercer championship in four different decades! Completing the top 10 were Rod George, Eric Williams (last car on the lead lap Goodyear Tire certificate), Ralph Spithaler, Jr., Brent Matus (hard charger Goodyear Tire certificate), and Chris Pochiro. Kuriger and Chris Best won the random drawing Goodyear Tire certificates. Ellenberger, Holtgraver, and Felmlee won the heat races over the 29-car field on Saturday.

Rex King chalked up his fifth BRP Modified Tour win in the past seven races at Mercer after holding off a late race charge by 25th starting Dave Murdick. Back on June 19, King lost a race on the final lap to Jeremiah Shingledecker and the other race in the last seven he didn’t win saw his car go to victory lane with his son Russell winning in a substitution role! King’s 30-lap win was worth $1,500 and was the 14th of his career at Mercer.

“That was a duration race,” stated the Bristolville, Ohio . “I don’t know about that; guys not getting in line when they’re supposed to on the yellow. You could hear them on the RACEceiver. They’re going to have to talk to some of these guys. You know who you’re racing behind- fall in line. I apologize, but that got a little bit lengthy. I got a lot of great sponsors and I want to thank everyone for coming back here on a great Sunday night. We had a good time.”

Despite starting on the pole, King’s victory was far from easy as he had to fend off an early battle by Mercer’s own “358” small-block of Lonny Riggs, survive Murdick’s run to the front, withstand nine caution flags, and maintain the lead with a tire that was losing air at the end.

Riggs led the opening lap before King took over on lap two. Riggs and King ran side-by-side on lap four and five with Riggs retaking the lead on lap five. King came right back driving around Riggs off turn four to lead lap six. King began to pull away on lap eight

Murdick entered the picture on lap 14 when he worked his way past Chad Homan for third. Murdick then drove past Riggs racing off turn two on lap 15. Behind Murdick it was three-wide for third with Homan taking the spot from Riggs. Murdick tracked King down and was on the leader with five laps to go looking for the improbable win after taking a provisional to qualify for the feature. Riggs would slow to bring out the event’s final caution with 27 laps scored.

King’s Midway Garage Doors/Bristol Disposal/King Bros. #65 took off on the restart and Murdick, who appeared faster than King during the 12 non-stop laps, was never able to contest King over the final three circuits. Brad Rapp had a strong run in third after taking the spot from Homan on lap 28. Homan was fourth in his first ever appearance. Guidace came all the way from 26th to finish fifth as the highest Mercer “358”. Rounding out the top 10 were Jimmy Holden (“358”), Eric Gabany (“358”), Skip Moore, Del Rougeux, Jr., and Andy Priest. Saturday’s heat victors were Gabany, Rougeux, Riggs, and King. Kevin Hoffman and Tommy Kristyak won the two B mains. The 42-car field fell short of the June 19 record 45 car count as 52 different cars competed over the two events.

Max Blair took another big step toward the $10,000 FASTRAK National Weekly Series Championship with his sixth Mercer win of the season. Once in front, Blair left his competition behind winning by one-half of a lap in the 20-lap 4 Your Car Connection Late Model event.

“When you’re racecar drives as good as that does…wow…that’s the best I think I’ve ever felt in a racecar since I started racing,” expressed the 20-year-old Centerville, Pa. driver. “You couldn’t find a rut in that race track if you looked all night, which is part of it too. Without dad I couldn’t do anything. It’s a dream come true when I can race against him. I have to thank all my sponsors and everyone that helps out on the car. This FASTRAK deal is a good thing and I just hope it keeps on growing and growing.”

Sean Puz raced to the lead from the pole position, while Kyle Zimmerman passed Leigh Wheeler and Tyler Barris for second on the first lap. Sixth starting Blair made a great move on lap two to get by both Tyler Barris and Leigh Wheeler for third. Blair followed that up one lap later with an even better move as he split Zimmerman and Puz racing off turn two for the lead.

With the last 18 laps going green-to-checkered, Blair pulled away every lap and took the checkered flag by a margin of victory by eight seconds in the Specialty Products/4 Your Car Connection/Moody & Son Welding/Bossard’s Sales & Service-sponsored #111 for his all-time leading 13th win at the track.

Puz and Zimmerman battled the final 18 laps for second with Puz getting the runner-up nod for his career best finish. Zimmerman’s third was his ninth top five in 11 races this season, which easily earned him his first ever track championship. Zimmerman’s only two finishes out of the top five were a sixth and an 11th, which came in the $6,000 to-win National event on July 3. Bud Watson came from ninth to place fourth as his strong runs continue as the new driver of the John and Janet Powell #100. Dan Karalagas was fifth in his first appearance of 2010. Completing the top 10 were Josh Double, Barris, Josh Holtgraver, Wheeler, and Garrett Mott. Winning the heat races were Blair and Watson over the 15-car field.

Steve D’Apolito celebrated his first career Mercer championship by winning on the final night of points after quite a duel with early leader Russ Byler. D’Apolito’s track-leading seventh victory of 2010 came in the 15-lap, $300 to-win Big Daddy’s Speed Center Stock Car feature.

“I feel pretty good,” said the 32-year-old Boardman, Ohio racer when asked about winning the feature and championship. “I have to thank my dad and brother, Brad Hibbard, the body guy- Bob DeJulio, my cousin Brian, and my good friend Stacy. Every week we have more and more body work, but that’s the way it goes. We had a pretty year.”

Making his first appearance in seven years, Bill Banick. Jr. raced to the early lead with Byler getting past Keith Walsh, Jr. and Clay Ruffo for second. It was three-wide for the lead on lap two with Byler coming out on top over Walsh and sixth starting D’Apolito. D’Apolito drove around Banick off turn two to grab third on lap three.

D’Apolito and Byler raced side-by-side on lap five. D’Apolito tried to sneak by Byler off turn four, but Byler shut the door as the two made contact. Byler was able to lead the lap before Travis Walsh spun to bring out the caution with six laps completed.

On the ensuing restart, D’Apolito made the winning move off turn four to lead lap seven. D’Apolito would survive two more cautions in his D’Apolito Christmas Tree Farm/Utsinger’s Towing/Race 1-sponsored #84, GM 602-powered crate engine to collect his 12th career win. Tenth starting Clyde Roberts made a three-wide pass of Shaun Hooks and Byler on lap 13 to finish a career best second. Byler was third over Bryan Wagner and Hooks. Byler and D’Apolito won the heat races over the 16-car field.

After going more than 13 months without a win, Tim Callahan continued his hot streak capturing his third M&D Paving Mini Stock victory in the past four races! Callahan started second and had to hold off two of Sharon Speedway’s top runners in John Shannon and Bill Fuchs for the 15-lap win, which was worth a season high $250 thanks to a $100 bonus put up by Kargo Quality Used Cars.

“I almost didn’t make it here tonight,” revealed the Grove City, Pa. resident. “If it wasn’t for Wally Stearns I wouldn’t have. He helped me fix the car this morning. He put a whole new rear suspension in it after getting crashed last week at Sharon Speedway.

Callahan passed rookie Jeremy Double on the first lap, but would lose the top spot to Shannon on lap three. Callahan regained the lead following a restart with four laps completed and went on for his fourth career win in his Interstate Towing & Transport-sponsored #54. Shannon edged Fuchs for second. Wally Stearns, Jr. came from eighth to finish fourth and claimed his first career track championship. Mike McConnell was fifth. Heat winners were Shannon and McConnell over the 19-car field.

21st Annual Western PA Championship Luxaire Heating & Cooling (410) DIRTcar Sprint Car Challenge Series (25 laps, $2,500 to-win): 1. BRIAN ELLENBERGER (22) 2. Jack Sodeman, Jr. (Rudzik 94) 3. Danny Holtgraver (D4) 4. Mike Lutz (Chappel 8) 5. Bob Felmlee (6) 6. Rod George (4) 7. Eric Williams (7) 8. Ralph Spithaler, Jr. (56) 9. Brent Matus (33) 10. Chris Pochiro (24) 11. Russ Sansosti (23s) 12. Brandon Matus (13) 13. Chris Best (66) 14. Dean Ruth (7x) 15. Gale Ruth (1R) 16. Jack Whitmore (21) 17. Dan Kuriger (08) 18. Andy McKisson (0) 19. Carl Bowser (10) 20. Todd Bauer (45) 21. Nate Stein (93) 22. Arnie Kent (Dionise 15) 23. Ed Lynch, Jr. (2L) 24. John McCracken, Sr. (63) Did not return: Jason Dolick (D12), Chris Shuttleworth (11), Aaron Shaffer (97s), Brandon Spithaler (Burkey 57B), Robert VanTassel (69x).

BRP Modified Tour (30 laps, $1,500 to-win): 1. REX KING (65) 2. Dave Murdick (61) 3. Brad Rapp (11R) 4. Chad Homan (91) 5. Frank Guidace (1G) 6. Jimmy Holden (28H) 7. Eric Gabany (3E) 8. Skip Moore (17M) 9. Del Rougeux, Jr. (20D) 10. Andy Priest (Hull 41) 11. Jeremy Paup (X) 12. Mike Turner (96) 13. Jeff Schaffer (10) 14. Mark Frankhouser (03) 15. Gary Smoker (516) 16. Tommy Kristyak (26z) 17. J.R. McGinley (66) 18. Lonny Riggs (Black 58) 19. Rex King, Jr. (165) 20. Kevin Hoffman (17H) 21. Dean Pearson (8J) 22. Kyle Fink (66F) 23. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 24. Steve Barr (25B) 25. Steve Feder (45) 26. Tom Mattocks (69) DNQ: Rick Ryder (Snider 189), Carl Murdick (6), Don Brown (71B), Rod Jones (820), Rich Whitney (19W), Tom Shaffer (34), Dillon Barr (15B), Jeff Miller (75), Shawn Fleeger (88), Boyd MacTavish (21), Greg Unrue, Jr. (5), Chris Haines (35H), Ron Cartwright, Jr. (2B), Ted Ryan (76), Kevin Green (74), Clyde Gumpp (51).

4 Your Car Connection FASTRAK Late Models (20 laps, $600 to-win): 1. MAX BLAIR (111) 2. Sean Puz (33) 3. Kyle Zimmerman (z17) 4. Bud Watson (Powell 100) 5. Dan Karalagas (G1) 6. Josh Double (38) 7. Tyler Barris (32B) 8. Josh Holtgraver (00) 9. Leigh Wheeler (Smith 717) 10. Garrett Mott (43x) 11. Mike Anderson, Jr. (72) 12. Rusty Cade (47) 13. Justin Kreider (29) 14. Rod Laskey (1R)-DNS 15. Ben Black (27B)-DNS.

Big Daddy’s Speed Center Stock Cars (15 laps, $300 to-win): 1. STEVE D’APOLITO (84) 2. Clyde Roberts (Snyder 65E) 3. Russ Byler (06R) 4. Bryan Wagner (56) 5. Shaun Hooks (Janovick 65) 6. Clay Ruffo (14R) 7. Dwight Boice (528) 8. Brandon Johnston (14J) 9. Jeff Walters (35) 10. Bill Banick, Jr. (07) 11. Tony Bruno (97) 12. Travis Walsh (1) 13. Keith Walsh, Jr. (44JR) 14. Chris Haines (35H)-DNS 15. Terry Wheeler (2W)-DNS 16. Chip Walsh (36)-DNS.

M&D Paving Mini Stocks (15 laps, $250 to-win): 1. TIM CALLAHAN (54) 2. John Shannon (14) 3. Bill Fuchs (10) 4. Wally Stearns, Jr. (33) 5. Mike McConnell (31) 6. John Ford (34) 7. Rudolph Troples III (28) 8. Steve Longwell, Jr. (17K) 9. Ed Haylett (8-ball) 10. Jeremy Double (83) 11. Elmer Brown (313) 12. Brad Shaffer (17) 13. Jeff Little (42) 14. Merle Black (76) 15. Tim Klingensmith, Jr. (11) 16. Max Smoker (409) 17. Jordan Ehrenberg (JD57) 18. Clay Wansor (197) 19. E.J. Rarer (3J).

Upcoming Events:

09/15 Open Practice from 4 PM til dark.

09/24-25 “Little Guy Nationals” presented by American Racer/Lias Tire. Racing begins at 7 PM on Friday and 4 PM Saturday. Rain date is September 26.

10/02 “Fall Brawl” featuring Night 1 of the FASTRAK Late Model Grand Nationals, Super Late Models ($2,000), United E-Mod Series ($2,000), & Mini Stocks. Racing begins at 6 PM.

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.