BECHTELSVILLE, PA (June 30, 2020 Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Kyle Larson finally broke through the barriers that kept him from reaching victory lane so far in the 30th Annual Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek. He scored his third win in four years on the high banks of Grandview Speedway, earning $10,000 in the process. Larson also left the speedway with the points lead heading into round six at Port Royal Speedway. He took the lead with just two laps remaining in the contest foiling the bid by third generation driver Freddie Rahmer, Jr.
“Owen (Larson’s son) has been giving me a lot of crap the last few nights about finishing second and then sixth,” the happy victor said. “I guess he won’t have too much to say on the ride tonight,” he added with a laugh. When asked why he has had so much success at Grandview, Larson noted “well, it IS the shortest track in PA, and that helps coming from California.”
Larson was chasing Rahmer as the laps wound down. He tried two sliders entering turn one on successive restarts, but he was unable to make them stick. “I knew that I couldn’t pass him because he was setting such a good pace,” Larson said. “On the restarts, I didn’t want to follow him off the top and go over the shelf and I could come off two (on the bottom) and leave myself some room,” he explained. Larson then added that he was concerned that if he left the bottom line open, Sammy Swindell might have been able to pass him.
The front half of the field was laden with talent for the 35 lap race. Christopher Bell drew the pole and Rahmer was next to him. Larson lined up third with Swindell beside him. Then came Aaron Reutzel and Danny Dietrich. Brock Zearrfoss and Ryan Smith were in row four, followed by Logan Wagner and Anthony Macri. Lucas Wolfe and Lance Dewease, two pre-race favorites, were mired in rows six and seven, respectively.
As expected, Bell blasted into the lead when the green light flashed on. He immediately opened up a comfortable margin over Rahmer, Swindell, Larson, and Dietrich. Smith and Reutzel kept Zearfoss and Wagner at bay.
Bell had everything going his way for the first five laps. That is, until Kyle Reinhardt slowed in turn one immediately ahead of him. Bell had nowhere to go and clipped Reinhardt’s disabled racer as he went by. Bell sustained a flat right rear and pitted for a new tire. However, other damage was too severe to be fixed, so he was out for the rest of the race.
That handed the lead over to Rahmer for the restart. Swindell lined up behind him, followed by Larson, Dietrich, and Smith. When the green came out Swindell looked to the inside but he was unable to get by Rahmer. The wily veteran was looking for an opportunity to make the pass, but another caution slowed the pace. Reinhardt was involved in a turn three shunt with Rico Abreu and both were eliminated. Robert Ballou also spun but he was able to resume the race.
The racers got six more laps recorded before the next stoppage for Brett Michalski slowing in turn four. Rahmer held sway throughout while Swindell and Larson were starting to mix things up. Dietrich and Smith likewise were racing side by side when the caution was displayed.
The top five stayed in that order for the next twelve circuits. However, at the end of that run, Larson zipped by Swindell for second and Smith worked his way past Dietrich for fourth. It was during this portion of the race that Dewease started his march forward. He reached seventh before the caution came out.
Larson’s dive bombing runs into turn one did not pay off on the restarts. He chased Rahmer until lap 33, when he was able to make the low side work to his advantage. He slid up ahead of Rahmer and it was all over but the victory celebration.
Rahmer followed Larson across the finish line. Swindell turned in his best run of the week so far, nabbing third. Smith held off Dietrich for fourth. Dewease made one more pass to earn the sixth spot in the pay-off line. Zearfoss, Reutzel, Macri, and Logan Wagner completed the top ten.
Smith, Swindell, Zearfoss, and Dietrich copped the preliminaries. Rico Abreu dominated the B Main. Bell was the night’s fastest qualifier turning in a lap of 11.552 seconds.
The track’s 358 Modifieds provided the support tonight, and it was outstanding. Ryan Watt battled the early leader, Kevin Hirthler, for nineteen laps. Lurking close behind were the likes of Craig von Dohren, Jeff Strunk, and Ryan Kressley. Unfortunately, Kressly got hooked up with a lapped car coming off turn four and they came to a stop entering turn one bringing out the first caution of the race. Another quick caution set up the stretch run for Watt with no traffic ahead of him. Strunk muscled by Hirthler, but he was no match for Watt. Von Dohren crossed in third, followed by Hirthler and Doug Manmiller.
Grandview Speedway will be in action Saturday night with the Freedom 40 for the Sportsmen Stock Cars. The 358 Modifieds will also be on the card. Speedweek will resume at Port Royal Speedway for round six on Wednesday. Joining the 410 Sprints will be the 360 Sprints of the United Racing Club.
Michael Norris Wins “Jook George Steel City Classic”
IMPERIAL, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Michael Norris passed Ben Policz on lap 25 and survived a late restart to win the RUSH Late Model Series “Jook George Steel City Classic” Presented by Zarin Truck & Auto Saturday night at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway.
“That was a lot of fun,” said Norris in Victory Lane. “I was hoping the track would get like that all night. (Kyle) Lukon and the 14 (Policz), we didn’t really touch at all. I tip my hat to those guys, they are good in this deal. I’m just happy to come out on top of them.”
Norris was talking about the battle between himself, pole-sitter and PPMS track champion Policz and last year’s Jook George winner Kyle Lukon.
Norris started fourth in the 26-car field and Lukon started second with Daryl Charlier starting third. The intense battle took a few minutes to get going as there was a quick caution with 2-laps down for Josh Ferry. Policz chose the outside for the restart and before the lap could be completed there was a huge, multi-car crash that involved nine cars including Robbie Scott, who was driving a second Zarin Motorsports entry and Cole Petrelle in the team car to Lukon. Fortunately no injuries were reported.
Once the race restarted Policz took the lead with Lukon in second and Norris in third after getting around Charlier.
Lukon chased down Policz on lap 12 and used a slick move to the outside to grab the lead. Norris got to second place with Policz falling to third.
Policz and Norris waged a battle for second but Lukon couldn’t get away as he was dealing with lap traffic. Norris was third on lap 23, less than a second out of the lead and two laps later he passed both Policz and Lukon to take the top spot.
“The Crusher Kid” was able to navigate lap traffic masterfully from that point, building a 7.8-second lead and appeared to be cruising towards a victory when John Mollick, who passed Policz for third place on lap 30, slammed into the outside wall between turns 1 and 2 on lap 39. Mollick walked away from his heavily damaged car.
Norris got a great restart and quickly pulled out to a 1-second lead over Lukon, who cut to a half-second but couldn’t get back to Norris.
“I love coming here, especially when it (the groove) gets up by the wall like that,” said Norris. “I figured Lukon would be close because this is his cup of tea as well. The temperature was getting pretty hot and I’m like ‘well, I’ll just keep going and hopefully if we win, I’ll buy him a new one’.”
The ‘him’ was Norris’ brother-in-law Nico Dabecco, who usually drives the #F1.
“I’ve got to thank my brother-in-law Nico Dabecco for letting me run his car,” said Norris. “It takes a big man to step out of your car and watch somebody else beat the crap out of it so I really appreciate it and I’m glad to get this win for him and my sister. This was kind of a whole family deal, so it’s really special.”
Norris won the $6,010 purse as well as the $1,000 bonus for contributing to the purse making the night’s haul a total, including contingencies, of $7,260 for the win. Not bad for a driver’s first time ever in a crate late model.
“I know this is a big deal and I appreciate ‘Cleetus’ (event coordinator Branden Lockwich) for everything he did putting this on. To bring up this much money in this day and age with everything going on that shows you how hard he worked. It’s awesome to race for this an hour from the house.”
Finishing Position – Starting spot – Driver name (car number) – Hometown
1 – 4 – Michael Norris (F1) – Sarver, PA
2 – 2 – Kyle Lukon (184) – Burgettstown, PA
3 – 1 – Ben Policz (14B) – Rices Landing, PA
4 – 15 – Kyle Hardy (14C) – Linden, VA
5 – 7 – Michael Duritsky (90J) – Masontown, PA
6 – 8 – Jeremy Wonderling (3J) – Wellesville, NY
7 – 25 – Joe Martin (10S) – Punxsutawney, PA
8 – 3 – Daryl Charlier (12) – Midway, PA
9 – 6 – Logan Zarin (1Z) – Moon, PA
10 – 13 – Levi Crowl (5C) – Clear Springs, MD
11 – 10 – Jake Gunn (14G) – McDonald, PA
12 – 14 – Dusty Waters (14W) – Portville, NY
13 – 5 – John Mollick (60M) – Toronto, OH
14 – 16 – Tommy Schirnhofer (8S) – Dormont, PA
15 – 20 – Garrett Paugh (03) – Elkins, WV
16 – 24 – Justin Lamb (93X) – Findlay Township, PA
17 – 12 – Max Blair (111) – Centerville, PA
18 – 22 – Josh Ferry (33) – Cochranton, PA
19 – 18 – John Waters (18) – Whitesville, NY
20 – 26 – Bill Kessler (09) – Freedom, PA
21 – 9 – Zach Gunn (17G) – McDonald, PA
22 – 11 – Keith Barbara (64K) – South Park, PA
23 – 19 – Christian Schneider (1ST) – Warren, OH
24 – 17 – Steve Dixon (65D) – Smethport, PA
25 – 21 – Robbie Scott (18) – Shinnston, WV
26 – 23 – Cole Petrelle (184P) – Weirton, WV
Danny Dietrich Does It Again at Lincoln Speedway
ABBOTTSTOWN, PA (August 8, 2020): Danny Dietrich’s 50th career victory at Lincoln Speedway will go down in the books as a controversial one. He passed Freddie Rahmer, Jr. at the exit of turn two with five to go, and there was hard contact between them. Rahmer was running the high side and Dietrich crowded him coming off the corner. Both cars bobbled and swayed, but they managed to keep going. The incident was just the latest in a series of recent events involving the two protagonists.
Dietrich acknowledged the rivalry building between the two. “Love me or hate me, I just hope the fans keep coming back. They should with action like that at this track.” He admitted to the contact, but he was unapologetic. Instead, he seemed to blame Rahmer. “We got together down there, he (referring to Rahmer) could have backed off.”
The line-up was determined using the Pennsylvania Speedweek format. That meant that the three heat winners and the fastest qualifier from each heat re-drew for the top six starting positions. Dietrich, who had to charge to get second in his heat, rolled off from the seventh position. “I knew that we would be OK starting seventh, I sure didn’t want to finish third in that heat, it would have put me in tenth.”
The top six positions belonged to Gerard McIntyre, Jr., Billy Dietrich, Rahmer, Lucas Wolfe, Tim Wagaman, and the fastest qualifier, Chad Trout. Next to Dietrich in row four was Brandon Rahmer. Then came Matt Campbell, who was subbing for vactioning Brian Montieth this night, and Jeff Halligan. Row six belonged to Adam Wilt and Jimmy Siegel.
McIntyre bolted out to the early lead, followed by Billy Dietrich, Rahmer, and Campbell. before the racers could settle in, there was a caution for Tyler Esh, who stopped in turn one with one lap complete.
On the restart, McIntyre resumed the lead, but now Rahmer was in hot pursuit. Billy Dietrich raced in third, with Wagaman and Campbell trailing him. Things remained steady until lap five, when Rahmer slid under McInityre to take the lead in turn one.
Rahmer would lead the next five laps until Jay Galloway brought out the caution. The scorers went back to the last completed lap for the restart.
Rahmer built up a considerable lead over the next eight rounds. McIntyre continued in second, but that would not last much longer. Danny Dietrich was coming. He cracked the top five on lap fifteen. Two laps later he was third and in two more circuits, he passed McIntyre for second.
While Dietrich started to close in on Rahmer, it looked like the Gettysburg driver might run out of time. He caught a break, however, when the final caution was displayed on lap 21 due to the slowing car of Tyler Ross in turn four.
Rahmer got away cleanly on the restart, but it was apparent that this had become a two-horse race. Dietrich remained close over the next couple of laps. He was moving around on the track searching for a quicker line. He found something down low, especially in turns one and two, where Rahmer was riding the rim.
Dietrich rolled in hard on the bottom and started to drift across the track. Rahmer maintained his line and did not burp the throttle. As the duo came off turn two, they touched and there was an audible gasp from the crowd. Both cars got sideways, but the skilled drivers saved them. Dietrich got going first, and he entered turn three with a lead that he would never surrender.
Rahmer followed him into the corner but he was too far back to retaliate. Dietrich completed the final five rounds without incident to get his second consecutive victory at the Pigeon Hills oval. In addition, it was his fourth in-a- row overall, as Dietrch went three-for-three the previous weekend.
“It is great to get rolling like this, we are leaving Wednesday for Knoxville,” he explained.
Following Dietrich and Rahmer across the finish line was Wagaman, who wrestled third away from McIntyre. Chase Dietz crossed in fifth. Campbell was sixth. Wilt, Billy Dietrich, Trout, and Brandon Rahmer completed the top ten.
Heat winners on Hank Gentzler memorial Manufacturers Appreciation Night were Freddie Rahmer, Jr., Wolfe, and Billy Dietrich. Brie Hershey won the B Main. Trout’s fast time was 13.271 seconds.
In the 358 Sprints, Brett Strickler survived two reds and a flock of cautions to pick up his first career Sprint Car win at Lincoln Speedway. He held off veteran Doug Hammaker, who rapped the turn one wall early in the race but was able to keep the car moving. Kody Hartlaub, Jeff Rohrbaugh, and Chris Arnold rounded out the top five. Zachary Allman, Cody Fletcher, Chris Frank, Brett Wanner, and Travis Scott were the next five finishers. Scott, Rohrbaugh, Chad Criswell, and Frank were the heat winners. Zane Rudisill won the B Main.
Lincoln Speedway will be back in action Saturday with 410 and 358 Sprints, joined by the Mid Atlantic Modifieds.
On August 22, there will be twin features for the 358 Sprints and 410 Sprints. Sandwiched in between will be a special for the World of Outlaws and ULMS Late Models, the Billy Vacek and Huey Wilcoxon Memorial. The winner on August 20 will earn $12,000.
Flick Fans Rejoice at Lernerville; Miley, King Sr., and Zambotti also Score
SARVER, PA (August 7, 2020): A.J. Flick dominated the 25 lap 410 Sprint Car race at Lernerville Speedway on Big Rig Night. It was his second consecutive win at the track and third of the year on the Western Pennsylvania circuit.
Three others followed Flick to victory lane this night. Jared Miley survived to win the Late Model feature, and Rex King, Sr. held off his son for the Big Block Modified triumph. Joey Zambotti came out ahead in a wheel to wheel battle with Tyler Dietz in the Pro Stock A Main to end the night.
“I was a little worried about what those big trucks would do to the track,” Flick said about the exhibition held right before the Sprint Cars took to the speedway. “But, they pretty much stayed in the middle and we were able to get around the outside pretty well.”
Indeed, Flick rolled into the third position on the opening lap. It took him seven more rounds to chase down and pass the initial leader, George Houbaugh, Jr. From there, Flick was able to stretch the lead with ease. The two cautions caused by Jeremy Hill, on laps 14 and 22, erased those advantages, but Flick was unstoppable. He amassed almost a four-second lead in just the final three laps.
While Flick was quite satisfied with the performance of his car, he knew that he would have his work cut out for him Saturday night, at Port Royal Speedway. “It was awesome because I know we really beat them pretty good tonight.” But, he observed, “those people out there don’t care what I did at Lernerville the night before.”
Hobaugh had to fight off a stiff challenge from Jack Sodeman Jr. to maintain the second position. Carl Bowser came on in the final laps to grab fourth. Clay Riney turned in a creditable performance to get fifth.
Dan Shetler was nipping on Riney’s heels, though. Positions seven through ten went to Brandon Spithaler, Sye Lynch, Brandon Matus, and Brent Matus.
George Hobaugh, Gary Kriess Jr and John Garvin Jr won the heat races in the 410 Sprint division. Brandon Spithaler copped the B Main.
In the Late Model feature, Jared Miley benefited from a mid-race restart to surge ahead of the battle-scarred racer of Russell King. King led from the start in Colton Flinner’s spare car, but it was physical. Most notably, King made contact with Mike Pegher Jr while fighting to regain his lead. After restarting his car, Pegher drove into the side of King while the field rolled past him under caution. After those incidents, King was no match for Miley.
“It was definitely a crazy race,” Miley said. “I don’t know if we were the best, but we were the smartest. We didn’t get into any of that stuff.”
King had a couple of chances on restarts, but he was not able to muster up the power to drive by Miley.
Drake Troutman made a charge to get third, followed by Mike Miller and Tyler Dietz. Kelvin Kohan, Clayton Kennedy, Joshua Powell, Levi Yetter, and Ron Hall completed the top ten.
Mike Pegher Jr and Colton Flinner won the heats for the Super Late Models. There was no B Main.
It was a generational contest in the Big Block Modifieds, with Rex King Sr emerging victorious over his son, Rex King Jr. “It was a real good night, we’re going to drive everything into the trailer,” the Ohio patriarch said.
King Sr overhauled Garrett Krummert near the midpoint of the race. Krummert had built a substantial lead in the early going after his crew worked feverishly to get his car to fire in the pits after his heat race. But a caution proved to be Krummert’s undoing, as King Sr was able to line up on his flank when the action resumed.
King Jr followed his father in the high groove to take second, as Krummert began to fade. Brian Swartzlander made the same move in the final laps for fourth. Krummert held on for fifth.
Sixth went to Dave Murdick, followed by Colton Walters, Steve Feder, Rick Regalski, and Eric Gabany.
Rex King Jr. and Garrett Krummert won their preliminaries for the Big Block Modifieds. There was no B Main.
Joey Zambotti chased down Mike Miller early in the Pro Stock feature. Miller bobbled on the backstretch to hand over the lead and then he spun on the frontstretch to eliminate himself as a contender. Tyler Dietz then took up the chase and he fought Zambotti wheel to wheel for over half the race. While Dietz had the momentum going up top. Zambotti kept chugging away at the bottom of the track. He was able to put several good laps together at the end to take the win by a scant 0.010 seconds!
Corey McPherson was lurking in third, looking for any opening. But nothing came his way. He was followed by Chase Lambert and Mike Bordt. Then came John Hartman, Brett McDonald, Ryan Maglione, Gary Churchfield, and Mike Miller.
Tyler Dietz and Mike Miller took heat wins for the Pro Stocks. There was no B Mian.
Lernerville Speedway will have another Fab 4 Friday next week. It will be Go Kart Night at the Action Track.