SARVER, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – History was made Friday night at Lernerville Speedway with Brian Swartzlander picking up his eighth track Championship and two drivers picking up their first.
Swartzlander entered the night tied with Rex King Jr in the Diehl Automotive Big Block Modified standings so every position had an impact on the title fight. Jeremiah Shingledecker set the early pace with Swartzlander behind him in second place. Swartzlander took a couple of looks underneath Shingledecker but couldn’t make the pass allowing Shingledecker to remain out front to grab his fourth win of the season. Swartzlander’s second place finish locked up the big championship prize, the eighth of his Hall of Fame career, the most of any driver in the 50-years of racing at Lernerville Speedway. King Jr couldn’t match the pace of Shingledecker or Swartzlander and came home with a sixth-place finish.
“It was nerve-wracking tonight,” said Swartzlander. “You’d think after winning some championships, I think we’ve won 15 or 16 (total), it wouldn’t be nerve-wracking. I was nervous all night tonight. One little thing can cost you. I had to be a little careful, but Jeremiah was pretty good. The Championship was first. This is pretty exciting. It doesn’t get old that’s for sure.”
In the Peoples Gas DIRTcar Sprint feature, it didn’t take Sye Lynch long to get his Mosites Motorsports machine out front, grabbing the lead and setting the early pace. Championship contender Carl Bowser was flexing his muscle as well, quickly moving up to second place with his sights set on Lynch. Points-leader Jack Sodeman Jr and AJ Flick, who was third in points coming into the evening, made steady progress up through the field into the top 5. Midway through the feature Bowser caught Lynch and the pair traded slide jobs, even making slight contact at one point. Lynch managed to hold off Bowser, who at that point had to contend with Flick. Flick got around Bowser for second as Lynch took home the checkered flag. Sodeman Jr came home with a solid fourth place finish to pick up his second championship, his first coming in 2016.
“We did what we needed to do there in the feature,” said Sodeman, a second-generation racer whose father Jack was a wheelman in his day. “We weren’t the fastest car. We didn’t win the battle, but I guess we won the war. We had a little bit better luck than some of the other guys. It always feels good when you end (the season) on good terms.”
In the Millerstown Pic-A-Part DIRTcar/RUSH Pro Stocks main event, Tyler Dietz held a four-point lead over defending champion Corey McPherson, who started on the pole position. McPherson bolted out to the early lead as Dietz methodically worked his way through traffic. Dietz caught McPherson and passed him for the lead on lap 9. McPherson was able to get close a couple of times but never mounted a serious challenge as Dietz took home the victory and his first track championship.
“It means a lot to me,” said Dietz from Terry Bowser Excavating Victory Lane. “I grew up down the road and now I’m a Champion.”
Ken Schaltenbrand also picked up his first track championship, locking up the title last weekend, so Friday night was all about the race win. Colton Flinner must have got the message as he led all 25-laps to pick up his second victory of the season.
“I’m just happy and so glad it’s all over and the pressure is off me now,” said Schaltenbrand. “Early in the year we broke a driveshaft and I thought we were done right there as far as points and it started turning around and we came and back here we are. It feels awesome.”