PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Two-time Lernerville Speedway track Champion Michael Norris is cherishing the opportunity to run for NASCAR star Clint Bowyer’s Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series team.
Norris started the 2019 season running his family owned Dirt Late Model and was off to a pretty good start.
“We had more races on our schedule than we’ve ever had, and we were having a lot of decent runs,” Norris told Pittsburgh Racing Now in a recent phone interview. “We got a couple of wins early.”
The early season success prompted Norris and his team to travel to Ohio for one of the biggest Dirt Late Model races in the Country. That’s when Norris’ season took a turn for the worst.
“We went to ‘The Dream’ out at Eldora and ended up hurting the motor there, so we hurried back and figured we would go to Lernerville if there was still enough time,” said Norris. “We went there and tore our other car up.”
Norris’ outlook for the season changed that weekend and it looked pretty bleak because of the expense associated with getting the cars back on the track.
“A lot of our funding for our race team comes from our family owned business,” said Norris. “The scrap market went down low and everything’s been kind of slow at our business so we kind of had to pull the reigns back a little bit.”
Norris pulled out his phone and sent out a text message and put in motion a series of events that began to brighten his outlook.
“I actually texted Brian Daugherty of Integra Racing Shocks after Eldora, after I hurt the motor, ‘you know anybody looking for a driver because we’re done’,” explained Norris. “Totally just an off-the-wall text, and he was like ‘you can drive Todd’s car at the Firecracker’.”
Daugherty was referring to car owner Todd Cerenzia of Canonsburg. Norris jumped in his car and started delivering immediate results.
“I actually used to race against that car at Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, when we started racing,” said Norris. “We took it out the weekend before the Firecracker to shake it down because the car hasn’t been ran (in an event), I think it was 2-years, and we won that night and the car was really, really good. It’s really good equipment.”
A week later Norris parked Cerenzia’s car in Victory Lane at Lernerville again, this time in the preliminary to the Firecracker 100.
— Lernerville Speedway (@Lernerville) June 22, 2019
The victory caught the attention of Bowyer and his Dirt Late Model Team. Bowyer’s driver Josh Richards was in the event.
“Mark and Josh Richards put in a good word for me, they’ve always been great to me and Brian Daugherty from Integra Shocks, but I think the Firecracker 100 helped, we ran really well. We won the preliminary night and I know Josh was racing that night, so I know the Bowyer’s were watching and I think that definitely helped me.”
Norris’ season took another turn shortly thereafter.
“The Bowyer’s called me and asked if I could fill-in for the injured Don O’Neal,” said Norris. “My dad, my wife and everybody, I talked to all of them about it, and even if it was just for that first weekend it was such a cool experience and really a dream come true. As long as it lasts it’s alright in my book.”
It looks like the opportunity could last into September.
“It all depends on how he (O’Neal) is making out recovery-wise on his knee,” said Norris. “I think right at the beginning of September is when he’s planning on coming back but it all depends. I’m just going to ride the roller coaster as long as I can.”
The Lucas Oil Late Models race Thursday and Friday nights at Florence Speedway in Kentucky for the 37th Annual Sunoco North/South Shootout and North/South 100.
“If I never do it again one of my lifelong goals was to be able to travel with this guys, at least do it once, so however long it lasts I’m cool with it and grateful for the opportunity,” said Norris.
Western Pennsylvania race fans can check out Norris, Richards and the Bowyer team later this month when the series travels to Mansfield Motor Speedway in Ohio for the Dirt Million.
“I’m kind of hoping maybe this will open doors,” said Norris. “I love this, this has always been a dream of mine.”
Marks Surprise Winner of Morgan Cup at Williams Grove
WILLIAMS GROVE, PA (May 14, 2022): Brent Marks has a knack for winning big money races. But he needed a little luck to get the job done at Williams Grove Speedway. He inherited the lead when Jacob Allen’s mount ran out of fuel following a lap 28 restart. The victory in the Morgan Cup was Marks’ second of the season with the World of Outlaws and they happened to be the two highest paying events to date on the 2022 tour. “The high paying races are very meaningful, especially for a team like mine,” Marks said. He will bank $17,500 for this one.
Marks, of Myerstown, made sure that the perpetual trophy would return to the track office at Williams Grove Speedway for the next year.
He now has scored wins in the three big races staged at Williams Grove, the National Open, the Summer Nationals, and the Morgan Cup.
“We just got lucky there,” he said. Marks commented that he tried to conserve fuel because the cooler temperatures and tacky surface meant that the cars burned off an excessive amount of fuel. “We tried to save as much fuel as we could, we leaned it out under the caution.” But fuel management was not his only concern. He also lost the brakes in his machine. “We lost our brakes with three to go. The car had a vibration.” He explained that, at first, he thought that he had a driveline problem, but then he realized that part of the rear inboard brake came loose.
With those difficulties, Marks explained that he wanted the lapped traffic. “I didn’t want to race the car too hard and get caught up on the cushion.” Instead, he got a late race caution that may have clinched the win for him.
Jacob Allen had the pole and he was gunning for his second victory of the week. He was paired up with Sheldon Haudenschild for the start of the thirty lapper. Rico Abreu and Marks had row two, with Carson Macedo and Matt Campbell in row three. The other two dash competitors, David Gravel and Donny Schatz, made up row five. Logan Schuchart and Brad Sweet made up the rest of first half of the starting field. Track favorites were further back in the line-up. Anthony Macri rolled away in fifteenth, Lance Dewease in seventeenth, and Danny Dietrich in twenty-fourth.
Allen seized control at the drop of the green, with Haudeschild following. Macedo was up to third, then came Marks, Gravel, and Abreu. Allen, racing mostly in the middle and the low groove, maintained the advantage despite cautions on laps eight and nine. A second caution on the lap nine restart gave him a single file restart that allowed him to pull away slightly from Haudenschild.
By lap seventeen, the leader caught the rear of the field and he had to switch lines to put some of the slower cars a lap down. That enabled Haudenschild to close in. Unfortunately, the lapped traffic also cost Haudenschild second place.
“I made one mistake racing behind Jacob,” he said. “He threw a slider on a lapped car and boxed me in and Brent (Marks) got by.” Marks did dip inside of Haudenschild in turns one and two to grab the position.
Nonetheless, Jacob Allen was firmly in control and it appeared as though he would take his first career win at another track where his famous father, Bobby, enjoyed much success. However, things changed after Campbell’s car slowed to a stop off turn two.
The field realigned with Allen on the point, Marks in second, Haudenschild third, Macedo fourth, and Abreu fifth. When the green flag was displayed, Allen’s car sputtered and Marks had to swerve to the outside to avoid running over him. Allen picked up some speed when his car reached turn one and he was able to hold Marks off. But coming off turn two, Allen faltered again and Marks drove by to take the lead. Other divers had to take evasive maneuvers this time. Allen limped along and slid his car into the pit exit at turn one.
Meanwhile Marks completed his rounds and sailed under the checkers.
Macedo was second, but he lost the position at the scales, as his car came up light due no doubt to fuel consumption. Macedo’s misfortune also stripped him of points that would have moved him ahead of Sweet in the current Outlaws championship standings.
Macedo’s disqualification moved Haudenschild up to second in the final rundown. Abreu was credited with third. Fourtha and fifth were Schatz and Schuchart.
Gravel, Sweet, Spencer Bayston, James McFadden, and Giovanni Scelzi completed the top ten.
The heat winners were Allen, Haudenschild, Abreu, and Schatz. McFadden captured the B Main. Allen was victorious in the Dash. Track provisionals were claimed by Dylan Norris and Devon Borden. Borden advanced from twenty-sixth on the grid to twelfth to earn the hard charger award. Macedo was the evening’s fastest qualifier, topping Group B with a lap of 16.517 seconds. Allen led Group A with a lap of 16.673 seconds. There were 41 cars on hand.
Williams Grove Speedway will be back in action Friday night with a 410 and 358 Sprint Car doubleheader. It will close out the month of May with the All Stars Circuit of Champions paying $10,000 for the Randy Wolfe Tribute Race.
Allen Wins At Lincoln
ABBOTTSTOWN, PA (May 11, 2022): “Allen wins at Lincoln” is a headline that started more than seventy race reports written about the fabulous Lincoln Speedway. But, this story had a plot twist. The winner was JACOB Allen, son of legendary Bobby Allen.
“This is so amazing” exclaimed the second generation driver from nearby Hanover. “It’s great to look around and see all of these people cheering for me,” he added. Allen, who considered leaving the tough World of Outlaws tour during the off season, said, “‘Never give up,’ that’s the story of my racing career. I could have given up . . .” his voice trailing away. He added that he was encouraged to keep going by his “great family and great supporters” and he has been rewarded with two victories so far this season.
It was not an easy win for Allen, who started fifth in the feature event. Ahead of him were the winningest Sprint Car driver in the country, Anthony Macri, and Justin Peck, who has shown speed in his numerous Central PA outings so far this season. In row two were Spencer Bayston and fan favorite Rico Abreu. Next to Allen in the third row was another hot shoe, Carson Macedo. Behind him were David Gravel and three-time WoO champion Brad Sweet. Row five had Sheldon Haudenschild and Buddy Kofoid paired up. In row six were Allen’s teammate, Logan Schuchart, and Robbie Kendall. Lance Dewease and Freddie Rahmer, Jr. were in row seven. Sprinkled further back in the field were Brent Marks (seventeenth), four-time Lincoln winner Danny Dietrich (eighteenth), and ten-time WoO kingpin Donny Schatz (twenty-first).
At the drop of the green, Macri assumed control and Peck was giving chase. However, the start was waived off because Marks nosed his car into the inside guardrail on the backstretch. The damage was too severe for repairs to be made, so the field realigned without Marks.
Macri repeated his effort on the second try and Peck again raced along in second. Bayston slipped in front of Allen, and Abreu and Macedo followed.
Macri held control until lap nine. He began to have some difficulty picking his way through lapped traffic, but Peck had no such trouble running the high groove. He swept around the leader and a slower car.
Macri stayed close to the leader, but he could not find a way to get by. He lined up next to him for a restart with eleven in the books, but Macri got too wide coming through turn four and Bayston and Allen both got by him. Macri was able to regain a position before the next caution, which came on lap fifteen.
Peck and Allen led the way when the green light flashed on again. But Macri had trouble once again and lost several positions in the running order. Macedo and Bayston scooted by him and Abreu, Kofoid, and Haudenschild were challenging.
But the fans were intently watching the lead duo. While Peck flogged the cushion, Allen was working the inside line, much like his famed father would have done. He was closing in on the leader and he made his move in turns three and four to grab the lead on lap twenty-four.
Allen slowly began to build a lead, but a caution with five to go gave Peck one last chance to overtake him. Under series rules, this restart was single file, so Allen was able to get away from his adversary coming off turn four.
Allen led the final five rounds. The capacity crowd was standing as he took the white flag and there was a thunderous ovation when Allen took the checkers.
Fittingly, the car carried a throwback paint scheme resembling the car that Bobby Allen drove to victory in the Knoxville Nationals.
Behind Allen and Peck were Macedo, Bayston, and Macri. Abreu, Gravel, Danny Dietrich, Sweet, and Dewease completed the top ten.
“I thought that I could carry enough speed around the top,” Peck said. “I think that I should have moved around a little bit once we got into traffic.” Peck surmised that Macri had a similar problem, not knowing if there was a faster line available because he too did not search around when he encountered the lapped cars. But, Peck confided that Allen was running a line that he could not have done.
Third place finisher Macedo thought that he had a good car before the last restart. However, he got hooked up in a battle for position with Bayston after the final green flag and the leaders got away from them.
The four heat winners were Peck, Gravel, Abreu, and Macri. The B Main went to Schatz, and the C to Kyle Reinhardt. The non-qualifiers race belonged to NASCAR racer Alex Bowman. Peck was the fastest qualifier of the night, turning in a lap of 13.027 in Group A. Abreu topped Group B with a lap of 13.220. There were 55 cars on hand, the largest field so far this season for a World of Outlaws event.
Lincoln Speedway will not race on Saturday becasue of the World of Outlaws contest at Williams Grove Speedway. Instead, there will be a Jalopy exhibition held during the day for the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing. Action will resume on May 21 with the 410 and 358 Sprint Cars and Big Wheel races for the children. The Bob Leiby Memorial will close out the month with a Sprint Car doubleheader and the Central PA Legends Cars.
Two first-time winners at PA Motor Speedway opening night
IMPERIAL, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway (PPMS) is celebrating two first-time winners after Saturday’s season opener at ‘Dirt’s Monster Half Mile”.
Oakdale’s Matt Bernard held off several challengers to pick up his first career win in the Hobby Stock division. Bernard started on the outside of the front row along side Jacob Wiser and used the high line to his advantage to take the lead after the drop of the green flag. Bernard battled Stephen Shelpman when the green dropped but it didn’t last long as the caution flag flew again. Contact between Shelpman and Gary Koteles sent both cars spinning and the yellow flag flying. Shelpman expressed his displeasure by hitting Koteles under caution, drawing a black flag from officials. Shelpman was forced to retire to the pits. Several cautions slowed the race, which came down to a 2-lap shootout between Bernard and Gary Koteles with Bernard taking the checkered flag followed by Gary Koteles and Cody Koteles.
Lucas Weaver grabbed his first career win in the Four Cylinder division. Weaver, from California PA, started on the outside of the front row alongside Susie Rudolph, who was making a return to racing following a year off. Weaver was able to get the jump and beat Rudolph to the checkered flag.
Defending RUSH Late Model track Champion Daryl Charlier picked up in 2022 where he left off in 2021 by picking up his first win of the year. Zach Morrow started the feature on the pole with Kyle Lukon on the outside of the front row. The green flag was still waving when Tom Duratz and Eric Hamilton got together as the field raced into Turns 1 & 2. The restart saw Morrow and Lukon lead the field again until another caution flew on Lap 3. On the restart Lukon grabbed the lead as Morrow fell off the pace and went to the pits. Lukon grabbed control until a Lap 9 caution bunched-up the field again with Charlier now in second place. Charlier made his move on the restart and grabbed the lead from Lukon, opening up a straightaway lead. Charlier survived a late caution and drove away to take home the checkered flag.
Justin Shea is your winner in the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds division. Shea stated on the pole position and had Tony Tatgenhorst, who started fifth, in his mirror by lap 2. Shea expertly navigated traffic and somehow managed to keep Tatgenhorst behind him to pick up his first victory of 2022. Tatgenhorst finished second with Benjamin Easler coming home in third.
In the Penn Ohio Pro Stocks, Chris Schneider picked up his first win of 2022 by holding off AJ Poljak for the victory. Schneider started fifth in a race that was barely a lap old when the first caution flag flew for contact between Noah Brunell and Nick Kocuba. Brunell continued but Kocuba had to be towed to the pits. Schneider grabbed the lead on the restart and survived yet another caution and restart to come home with the victory.
Emmerson Laboon started on out the outside of the front row in the Young Guns division alongside Sadie Snatchko, who was on the pole position. Laboon got a great start and beat Snatchko to the lead into Turn 1. Travis Clark managed to get around Snatchko on Lap 2 and the three held those positions for the remaining laps of the race. The victory was Laboon’s first of 2022 and second of her career.
This Saturday at PPMS will feature a $500 to win Hobby Stock feature as well as the RUSH Sprint Car Series, the RUSH Late Models, the Penn Ohio Pro Stocks, the Four-Cylinders, and the Young Guns. Gates open at 5 p.m., hot laps begin at 6 p.m., and the racing action will begin at 7 p.m. Information and tickets are available at PPMS.com.