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2-Time Lernerville Champ Michael Norris Living The Dream Driving For Clint Bowyer

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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.”

Three Rivers Karting

A week later Norris parked Cerenzia’s car in Victory Lane at Lernerville again, this time in the preliminary to the Firecracker 100.

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.”

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Jennerstown Crowns Champions

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JENNERSTOWN, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Jennerstown Speedway is celebrating after crowning its 2020 Champions Saturday night.

Barry Awtey started the Late Model division feature from the pole position with Albert Francis, the points leader going into the race, starting tenth and Teddy Gibala (third place in points) starting 12th.  All three Championship contenders were lined up 1-2-3 by lap 20 with Gibala and Francis chasing Awtey but they did not have enough and Awtey picked up his second win of 2020.  Despite the valiant effort of winning the race and leading the most laps, Awtey fell short in the title fight as Francis earned the title by four points.

Tom Golick picked up his second win of 2020 in the Modified division feature.  John Fama scored a career-best second place finish followed by Jason Busch in third.  Anthony Aiello finished fourth to clinch the Championship, his third consecutive Modified title.

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Casey Fleegle started on the pole position in the Street Stocks feature and never looked back, holding off Josh Coughenour and championship contender Aaron Van Fleet. Fleegle earned the title of 2020 Champion by a slim margin of ten points over Van Fleet on the strength of a division-leading six wins.

Rookie Kyle Burkholder earned his first victory on a paved track by taking the checkered flag in the Chargers 15-lap feature.  Dale Kimberly finished second followed by Steven Singo in third place.  Kimberly took home the Championship for the third year in-a-row.

Evan Nibert captured the checkered flag in the 4-Cylinders feature.  Jeff Vasos finished second with Steve Settle coming home in third place. Vasos took home the Championship, finishing 57-points ahead of his closest competition.

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Gallagher Aces Applefest Sprints, Rudolph Doubles in Mods at Tri-City Raceway Park

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Tri-City Raceway Park

FRANKLIN, PA (September 20, 2020): Darin Gallagher picked a perfect time to score his first career 410 Sprint Car victory. After sliding his mentor, Jack Sodeman, Jr., for the lead, Gallagher had to fend off a strong challenge from Dan Shetler to earn the $5,000 Applefest payday At Tri-City Raceway Park. But, Erick Rudolph had the most profitable weekend, scoring $4,000 wins in both the Big Block Modifieds and the 358 Modifieds.

Other victories were scored by Jeff Schaffer (Crate Modifieds), Zack Morrow (RUSH Sprint Cars), Chris Schneider (Pro Stocks), and Pat Hanlon (Mini Stocks).

“This feels great, I’m ecstatic,” Gallagher gushed after his impressive victory. “I had to slide Jack to get the lead, and I’ve never done that before.” Gallagher then commented, “I was running so hard. Dan (Shetler) and I have a lot of respect for each other and I knew that we could run close like that.”

Indeed, Shetler chased Gallagher down and he did take the lead away, but Gallagher rallied and ran the outside line to regain the lead after a few laps racing side by side. “That’s an old Dash 12 that I bought last year and I think that I lost a cylinder,” Gallagher said. “I dont know if it was a bad spark plug or something internal,” but on the slick surface the lack of horsepower could have been his ace in the hole. “I wasn’t spinning my wheels, I was able to use everything it had.”

Sodeman, who was gunning for a track championship, started on the pole for the 30 lapper. Next to him was A.J. Flick. Gallagher and Shetler were in row two, with Dan Kuriger and Carl Bowser in row three. Brandon Spithaler, who entered the final points race trailing Sodeman by just six markers, was in row four, along with George Hobaugh, Jr. Sye Lynch and Brandon Matus made up row five.

At the drop of the green, Sodeman took the lead, with Flick, Gallagher, Shetler, and Kuriger in tow.

While Sodeman led, Spithaler began to work his way to the front. He reached second by lap nine, when the race was slowed for debris in turn one. Spithaler was pressing Sodeman for the lead after the restart, but on lap ten, his title hopes took a major blow. Spithaler spun in turn two and had to start at the rear of the field.

The drama began to build soon thereafter. Sodeman was being challenged by his protege. Just after Gallagher slid Sodeman in turn two to grab the lead, Kuriger powered into second. Sodeman started falling back through the field, while Spithaler was marching forward.

Gallagher began to put some distance on Kuriger in the middle stage of the race. Kuriger’s run came to an end on lap 22, when he spun in turn four. By that time, Spithaler had passed Sodeman, but he needed some help. He was only two positions ahead when the race resumed.

In the final nine laps, Gallagher and Shetler battled for the lead. Shetler started cutting into
Gallagher’s advantage and the engine in Gallagher’s machine started to sputter. Shetler took the lead, but Gallagher stayed close. They ran side by side for a few laps, while Flick started to close in as well.

Gallagher would not give up, though, and he drove by Shetler in turns one and two with just a couple of laps remaining. Shetler continued to give chase, but Gallagher was flawless.

At the finish, it was the young Butler pilot raising his hand in victory. Shetler was second, followed by Flick, Bowser, and Spithaler. Brandon Matus was sixth and Sodeman seventh, good enough to clinch the championship by a slim margin of two points unofficially. Jeremy Kornbau, Hobaugh, and Brent Matus completed the top ten.

Gallagher, Flick, and Sodeman won heats held on Saturday. There was no B Main.

In the Big Block Modified feature, Empire State drivers Chad Brachmann and Erick Rudolph had the front row. Shawn Kozar and Rex King, Sr. were in row two, with Garrett Krummert and Jeremiah Shingledecker in row three. Jim Rasey and Rick Regalski were in row four. Steve Barr and J.R. McGinley were in row five.

Rudolph slid under Brachmann entering turn one on the opening lap. Brachmann skid across the slick surface and lost six positions as Rudolph pulled away. King Sr. move into second, followed by Shingledecker and Kozar.

Rudolph was cruising out front,. but there was a spirited battle for second between King Sr. and Shingledecker. They banged wheels going through turns three and four and then they got together coming down the front stretch. Shingledecker got out of shape and his car began to tumble toward the first turn. King Sr. was penalized for his role in the incident, moving Brachmann into second for the restart.

The two New Yorkers continued racing out front, while Rasey, Brad Rapp, and others fought for spots in the top five. Kozar rolled in turn two with 18 laps complete to bunch things up again. Nonetheless, Kozar was able to restart the race as his car was battered but not broken.

In the final laps of the race, Rudolph and Brachmann pulled away from the rest of the pack. Rasey and Rapp continued their struggle, but Garrett Krummert entered the picture. along with King Sr. and Rex King Jr. who pitted for two new tires while Kozar was being turned back onto his wheels.

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At the finish, it was Rudolph, Brachmann, Krummert, King Jr. and King Sr. Rapp faded to sixth.Regalski, Barr, Kyle Fink, amd Mike Turner rounded out the top ten. Rasey spun in between turns three and four on the final lap and he was scored eleventh based upon laps completed.

Regalski and Krummert won the qualifying rounds on Saturday. There was no B Main.

Rex King, Jr. had the pole for his first 358 Modified start. Two-time winner Greg Martin was on his flank. Rudolph and Tim Holden, another two-tine victor, were in row two. Brachmann and Brian Sadler were in row three, with Ryan Riffe and Shingledecker in row four. Ryan Susice and Brandon Michaud were in row five.

King Jr. led the opening lap, but Rudolph was stalking him. Martin hovered in third, with Brachmann, Holden, Riffe, and Susice following. Rudolph powered by King J. on lap two and was never headed.

King Jr. continued on in second through the halfway mark. However, Susice took the position away soon thereafter. Shingledecker and Kevin Hoffman cracked the top five as Martin began to slide back.

A pair of cautions on lap 17 set up an eight lap run to the checkers. Rudolph completed them without incident. Shingledecker came on strong to get the second spot. Suicice helpd on for third. King Jr. was fourth followed by Martin. J.R. McGinley, Jimmy Holden, Brian Sadler, Tom Holden, and Jeff Schaffer, Jr. were sixth through tenth.

Suicise, Riffe, and Rudolph scored the preliminaries on Saturday. There was no B Main.

Zack Morrow started on the pole for the RUSH non-wing Sprint Car feature and he would go wire to wire for the emotional victory. He dedicated the win to his father, who passed on about a week before the race. Shaun Smith moved from third into second early in the contest, but he was no match for the high-flying Morrow in this one. Jeremy Weaver chased him home. Steve Pedley and Gale Ruth, Jr. rounded out the top five.

Nolan Graves, Brian Hartzell, Rick Regalski, , Andy Feil, and Amelia Clay made up the second group of five finishers.

Morrow and Ruth were the heat winners in Saturday’s action. There was no B Main.

The Pro Stocks ran for 50 laps. Noah Brunell earned the pole Saturday based on his heat and dash wins. He led the first 19 laps, but he could not break free from Chris Schneider, who also was a heat winner. Schneider made the pass and went on to lead the remaining 31 laps.

Bobby Whitling gave chase for a significant portion of the second half of the race, but he surrendered the runner-up spot to Randy Wyant. Wyant closed in on Schneider, but never posed a threat for the win.

At the finish, it was Schneider, Wyant, Whitling, Jimmy Fosnaught, and Jackson Humanic who came from the last row on the starting grid. Joe Stajnrajh, Blaze Myers, Pat Fielding, Rod Laskey, and Josh Seippel completed the top ten.

Joining Brunell and Schneider in heat wins Saturday was Doug Iorio, II. There was no B Main.

Jeff Schaffer, Sr. was back behind the wheel of a Modified for the first time in a couple of years and he made the most of the opportunity leading the entire twenty laps for the Crate Modified win. His teammate, Garrett Krummert was second. Kyle Martell was third, followed by Kole Holden and D.J. Schrader. David Kalb, Jr., Todd Gabriel, Kevin Hoffman, Jessica Kriegisch, and Gage Priester completed the top ten.

Krummert won the only heat race held on Saturday. There was no B Main.

Pat Hanlon stormed from twenty-third to second in less than a handful of laps in the nightcap for the Mini Stocks. He inherited the lead when Dillon Speer could not get his mount to shift out of first gear after a critical restart. J.R. Shaner was second. Austin Fedder, Patrick Lane, and Justin Bailey were the next three finishers. Jesse Armstrong, Joseph DeWoody, Kelly Clark, Mike Barr, and Zack Swartz held down positions six through ten.

Dillon Speer and Bill Fuchs were heat winners Saturday. There was no B Main.

Based upon their performances all season long, Sodeman (410 Sprints), Fink (358 Modifieds) and Dillon Speer (Mini Stocks) were named as champions for the three core classes at Tri-City Raceway Park.

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Carl Bowser Takes Applefest Win At Tri-City Raceway Park; Sunday Lineups Set

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FRANKLIN, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Carl Bowser is back in Victory Lane following his win Saturday at “Applefest Race Weekend” at Tri-City Raceway Park.

The 25-lap race was a makeup feature that was postponed on August 23 and came one night after Bowser was taken out of the feature race at Lernerville.

Bowser became only the second driver to win more than once at Tri-City in 2020, joining Brandon Spithaler as a two-time winner. Spithaler finished in second place with Jack Sodeman, Jr. crossing the finish line third. Dan Shetler placed fourth and 2020 winner Brandon Matus finished fifth.

Sunday the Sprint Cars will race a 30-lap feature event paying $5,000 to the winner. Sodeman, Jr. enters the Sunday season finale with a six point lead over Spithaler in the quest to earn the title of Tri-City Champion.

The Big Block Modifieds set the starting lineup for their $4,000-to-win, 30-lap, feature on Sunday with a pair of preliminary Heat Races. Rick Regalski beat Rex King, Sr. to win the first heat. The second Heat Race was won by Garrett Krummert, who held off Erick Rudolph.

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A trio of heat races set the starting grid for Sunday’s 30-lap, $4,000-to-win Small Block Modified feature. Ryan Susice, Rudolph and Ryan Riffe captured the checkered flags.

The Pro Stocks set their field for Sunday’s 50-lap, $2,250-to-win race.  Heat race victories went to Chris Schneider, Doug Iorio II, and Noah Brunell. Brunell also won a special “Dash Race” for the division.

The RUSH Sprint Cars ran two heat races on Saturday to set the field for their 20-lap, $1,000-to-win feature on Sunday.  Zach Morrow and Gale Ruth, Jr. each took prelim wins.

Garrett Krummert was also victorious in the heat race for the Crate-Engined Modified division. The Mini Stock division Heat Races were won Dillon Speer and Bill Fuchs.

Fans coming to Sunday’s events are encouraged to bring all 2020 ticket stubs to the race as they will be used for Grand Prize drawings, which include two Jeep-replica go-karts are among the top prizes.  Winners must be present and have matching ticket stub numbers in hand to claim prizes.  Sunday’s event also includes a fireworks display after the races.  Gates open at 2 p.m. with racing to begin at 4 p.m.

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