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Flick Fans Rejoice at Lernerville; Miley, King Sr., and Zambotti also Score

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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.”

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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.

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Local Racing

Pennsylvania Racing Economic Impact Surveys Released

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania (MCP) is sending out economic impact surveys to Pennsylvania race tracks, teams and racing related entities.

The data collected from the surveys will be compiled by Washington & Jefferson College professors Rob & Leslie Dunn, who along with the MCP, will produce a study on the range and economic impact of the racing industry in the Keystone State.

The economic impact study will be a valuable tool for race tracks, teams and marketing professionals in their efforts to attract partners, sponsors and other assets that may be available throughout the State.

Race teams are needed to take part in the survey!  Here is link to the team survey: https://forms.gle/XWTehM4nsKGfzTC58

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Fans are also asked to help the MCP in the efforts.  Here is a link to the fan survey so take a few minutes of your time to support race tracks and teams in this endeavor: https://forms.gle/vEcZR5XJbQHKPBLLA

Marketing and media professionals have a survey that the MCP is asking them to complete.  Here is a link to that survey: https://forms.gle/EX32bbXubANUaUGr7

Race tracks are also participating in the survey, if a track has not received a survey directly from the MCP, here is a link to that survey: https://forms.gle/fkhuwgg3EDvFTGuR7

The Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania hopes to have the Economic Impact Study completed by the start of the 2021 racing season.

Editors Note: Robert Johnson of the Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania will be one of the guests on the next episode of The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast.

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Local Racing

Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek Is Coming Back

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SHIPPENVILLE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Five local dirt tracks are teaming up to bring back Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek for the 2021 season.

Michael’s Mercer Raceway (Mercer, PA), Thunder Mountain Speedway (Brookville, PA), Lernerville Speedway (Sarver, PA), Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH) and Tri City Raceway Park (Franklin, PA) are the five tracks where the owners and promoters have aligned to bring back the event for the 410 Sprint Cars.

“The ‘410 Sprint Car’ division in the local area has been through many ups-and-downs over the last two decades, but there’s no doubt it’s as strong now as it ever was”, said Dave Willoughby, Sharon Speedway’s General Manager. “You see our guys competing for spots up front everywhere they go, and that even includes out at some of the tougher Central PA tracks.”

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Additional details will be released in the near future regarding the established point fund and other race night details.

Here’s the full schedule:

  • Wednesday, June 2nd – Michael’s Mercer Raceway
  • Thursday, June 3rd – Thunder Mountain Speedway
  • Friday, June 4th – Lernerville Speedway
  • Saturday, June 5th – Sharon Speedway
  • Sunday, June 6th – Tri City Raceway Park

Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek was previously run from 1993-2000 by the All-Star Circuit of Champions.

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Indy Autonomous Challenge Race Car Unveiled

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Indy Autonomous Challenge/Indianapolis Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The world’s first high-speed, head-to-head autonomous race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will feature Dallaras as the race cars.

Energy Systems Network (ESN) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) this week unveiled the official race car that will be autonomously driven by scores of university teams in the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) at the Racing Capital of the World on Oct. 23, 2021.

Dallara has been the sole racecar supplier of the Indy Lights series since 2002, and now the modified Dallara IL-15 is the official IAC racecar.

“Dallara is the best racecar engineering company in the world, yet designing the chassis for autonomous racing was really challenging,” explained Stefano dePonti, CEO and general manager of Dallara USA. “Dallara loves innovation and technological challenges, and we share the IAC’s passion for education and motorsports.”

“The Dallara-built IAC racecar is the most advanced, fastest autonomous vehicle ever developed,” stated Paul Mitchell, president and CEO of ESN, and co-organizer of the IAC. “Our IAC sponsors are providing radar, lidar, optical cameras and advanced computers, bringing the value of each vehicle to $1 million.”

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One of the teams competing in the challenge is the Panther AV RAS-ing team from the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

Panther AV RAS-ing is part of more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students, PhDs and mentors who excel in artificial intelligence software that have responded to the challenge.  The challengers represent 39 universities in 11 countries on four continents and 14 U.S. states.

The IAC is scheduled for October 23, 2021, at the IMS, with a qualifying simulation race during the Indy 500 week in May. The total IAC prize purse is $1.5 million: $1 million awarded to the winning team of the October IAC race, and an additional $500,000 for winners of the hackathons and simulation races.

“The IAC is going to bring the best minds from around the world to solve a very complex problem, right here at the Racing Capital of the World,” said IMS President J. Douglas Boles. “As the birthplace of motorsports’ innovation, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a fitting setting for this event, and we can’t wait to see the winning entry cross the Yard of Bricks into history.”

Two companies headquartered in Western Pennsylvania are sponsors of the event.  Ansys, a global leader in engineering simulation that is headquartered in Canonsburg, and Aptiv, an autonomous vehicle company who is relocating from O’Hara Township to Hazelwood Green.

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