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

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Heath Lawson / heathlawsonphotos.com

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.”

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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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Local Racing

Sye Lynch Partnering With Baughman Motorsports

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APOLLO, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Sprint Car driver Sye Lynch is partnering with Baughman Motorsports for the 2021 racing season.

Lynch, the third generation 410 Sprint Car driver, and his team plan to enter around 80-events as part of this partnership with Josh Baughman and Baughman Motorsports.  Longtime Lynch partner Mosites Motorsports joins new marketing partners Fischer Body Shop of Missouri and Hollywood Blasting and Coating of Odessa, Texas as part of the arrangement.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Lynch. “To have Fischer Body Shop and Baughman Motorsports join our efforts at Sye Lynch Racing is pretty special. We’ve been working on these plans for over four months. I’m not sure how we were able to keep it a secret this long, but it’s out there now. I’m ready to get started.”

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Lynch’s schedule is still being finalized but highlights include some of sprint car racing’s premier showcases like the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway (July 15 & July 17) and the Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville Raceway (August 11-14).

“We are still working out the logistics side of things,” said Lynch. “I hope to have a complete plan of attack released in the coming weeks. I just want to thank all of my partners for their dedication and support. Our goal is to go out every night and put on a show. I’m confident we have what it takes to do that.”

Baughman is stepping back from full-time competition in 2021 but plans to run 10-15 events in 2021.

“We are excited about this new venture with Sye Lynch,” said Baughman. “He’s a talented kid with the hunger to win and we’re proud to be affiliated. I think it’s safe to say that we are all anxious to get the year underway.”

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Dirt Racing

Schatz Scores Jean Lynch Classic Win at East Bay

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Photo: Chad Warner

GIBSONTON, FL (February 2, 2021): Donny Schatz scored an impressive win over the Madsen brothers, Ian and Kerry, in the second running of the Jean Lynch Classic for the All Star Circuit of Champions at East Bay Raceway Park. The All Stars’ visit to the ‘Clay by the Bay’ was cut to one night due to heavy rain that hit the track Sunday and continued into Monday. The speedway looked more like the fish farm that Jimmy Mingo and others converted into a racy oval over four decades ago. A substantial pond remained inside turn one on Tuesday but, fortunately, no Sprint Cars made a detour into that area.

“It’s been a long time since I was at East Bay,” Schatz said. He estimated that his last appearance at the track was in the early ’90s. “It’s really neat, tricky; it has some slick spots, some shiny spots.” Nonetheless, Schatz had no difficulty mastering the unfamiliar surface.

Ian Madsen and Cory Eliason paced the field for the 30 lap feature event named for the lady who was a former co-owner of the series and track manager at East Bay. Schatz lined up third, with Justin Peck beside him. Tony Stewart and Anthony Macri were in the third row, and Steve Buckwalter and Tyler Courtney in the fourth. The final dash participants, Kyle Reinhardt and Tim Shaffer, made up row five. Then came Jamie Myers and Gio Scelzi.

Eliason assumed command on the opening lap and he began to distance himself from Schatz, Ian Madsen, Peck, and Macri. However, just five laps into the race, Eliason collided with a slower car driven by Chris Windom. Eliason got a flat right front tire, but there was no other apparent damage to his car, so he was able to resume the race at the rear of the field.

Peck, who had slipped by Schatz on the last completed lap, took off at the drop of the green. Schatz raced along in second, followed by Ian Madsen, Courtney, Shaffer, and Macri. The man on the move, though, was Kerry Madsen, who was up to seventh from 17th on the starting grid.

A caution bunched things up at lap eleven. While the front runners did not change, Kerry Madsen made some aggressive moves to enter the top five.

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With fourteen laps in the books, Schatz was hounding Peck for the lead. He got a strong run off of turn two, but Peck moved up a lane to block his advance. Schatz deftly turned under Peck halfway down the back stretch and he was the new leader entering turn three. Peck no longer had the steam to race with the leaders and he slowly started to drift back in the running order after that.

The final caution was displayed on lap 17. Schatz continued to lead over Ian Madsen when racing resumed, but now the battle was for third. Courtney and Kerry Madsen were the contestants, with Shaffer looking for an opening. Madsen wrestled the spot away from Cortney in a few laps, and he set out after his brother.

The sibling rivalry intensified as the pair of Aussies picked their way through lapped traffic. “I didn’t know it was him,” Ian said of the driver pressing him for second. “I knew that he started pretty far back.” For his part, Kerry Madsen had to wonder how things would have played out differently if he had started closer to the front. “It was a great run, I had a great car and could go anywhere I wanted.”

Schatz maintained his lead to the finish. Ian held off his older brother for second. Courtney was fourth and Scelzi benefitted from a miscue by Shaffer on the final lap to gain the fifth spot. Shaffer, Peck, Stewart, Brent Marks, and Hunter Schuerenberg completed the top ten.

Kerry Madsen was the hard charger, advancing 14 positions.

Ian Madsen was the fastest qualifier of the night, turning in a lap of 12.680 seconds. Buckwalter, Courtney, Shaffer, and Schatz scored heat wins. The dashes belonged to Ian Madsen and Eliason. Terry McCarl captured the B Main.

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Local Racing

Western PA Sprint Speedweek Adds Another Sponsor

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SHIPPENVILLE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Western PA Sprint Speedweek is adding another partner to the growing list of companies stepping up to support the five-race series this June.

J.S. Bova Excavating LLC has signed on to be a presenting sponsor of this summer’s upcoming five-race speedweek, scheduled to run from Wednesday, June 2nd through Sunday, June 6th.

J.S. Bova is a family-owned excavating company and general contractor known for its outstanding service, extensive expertise, steadfast reliability, and commitment to safety. J.S. Bova proudly serves the Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania area out of their central Struthers, Ohio location.

“We’re excited to get behind the revival of Western PA Speedweek” said owner Joe Bova. “We believe the area sprint car competition and racetracks are underrated and on the upswing, and we want to be associated with the excitement that this event brings.”

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Joe and Sherri Bova founded their business in 2013 and worked together to build their organization from the ground up. In less than a decade they have expanded their portfolio to offer a wide range of services and have earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants signed on to be the title sponsor of Western PA Sprint Speedweek last week.

Western PA Sprint Speedweek returns from a 20-year hiatus June 2nd-6th. Western Pennsylvania’s ‘410 Sprint Cars’ will compete for five straight nights with each show featuring a strong $3,000-to-win, $250-to-start purse.

Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants Western PA Sprint Speedweek presented by J.S. Bova Excavating Schedule:

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