FRANKLIN, PA (August 16, 2020): The Penn-Ohio Pro Stock Series made its first visit of the season to Tri-City Raceway Park for the third annual Ray’s Race held in memory of R.K. Virgile. Mr. Vigile was the founder of a successful scrap metal business in nearby Oil City, but race fans will remember him as a loyal supporter of the Pro Stock class, especially at Tri-City. His name was splashed across the body panels of countless cars over the years and quite a few of his former drivers were on hand to support the event. However, it was an invader of sorts, Greensburg area driver Noah Brunnell, who came away victorious in the special race.
Also getting wins on this night were Brandon Matus in the 410 Sprint Car division, Greg Martin in the 358 Modifieds, and Dillon Speer in the Mini Stocks.
Matus, a third generation driver from Wampum, PA, took advantage of his front row starting position, as he jumped out to the lead. Veteran Gary Kriess, Jr. had the pole, and he was mighty strong in his heat race, but something was amiss in his machine come feature time. Jack Sodeman, Jr. also moved ahead of Kriess on the opening lap and it was not long thereafter that Kriess retired from action.
While Matus motored along in the lead, Sodeman had to deal with a number of challenges for the second spot. First it was George Hobaugh, Jr. and later it was Brandon Spithaler who tried to take the spot away. Neither were successful.
Other positions in the top ten changed hands frequently over the course of the 25 lapper. Michael Bauer, Carl Bowser, and New York Modified driver Matt Farnham were among the most active. Each took turns racing into the top five at various stages of the race.
At the checkers, it was Brandon Matus ahead of Sodeman and Spithaler. Bowser made a late race charge to get fourth amd Hobaugh held on for fifth. Bauer, John Garvin, Farnham, Leyton Wagner, and Chase Matheny completed the top ten. It was quite an accomplishment for young Matheny, who started at the rear of the field after being unable to compete in his heat race due to an engine problem.
Three heat races were contested earlier in the night, with Kriess, Spithaler, and Brandon Matus getting the wins.
A major wreck early in the 358 Modified race completely changed the complexion of that event. Eric Beggs and Steve Barr were fighting for the lead, but they tangled in turn one with just a couple of laps in the books. A number of other top cars were collected, with several of them being eliminated for the rest of the night. This development moved Jeff Schaffer, Jr. to the front row, with last week’s winner, Greg Martin on his right.
When the green light flashed on again, Schaffer took the lead. But it was Kyle Fink who assume command just a lap or two later. Fink’s time out front did not last as long as he would have liked, as Martin found a comfortable groove and he raced into the lead. Fink remained close throughout the remainder of the race, but he was unable to regain is advantage.
Two racers put in impressive performances. One was Steve Barr, who came back through the field to get third in the closing laps. The other was Ryan Riffe, who ran in the top five for most of the race. Although he was edged out by Schaffer for the fourth spot, Riffe had to be happy with his fifth place finish, as it was his best run of the season. Riffe had a number of mechanical issues in earlier races at Tri-City.
Another hard luck driver, Sid Unverzagt, Jr., took sixth, followed by Andy Jankowiak, Beggs, Max Smoker, and D.J. Schrader.
The preliminaries went to Schaffer and Riffe.
In Ray’s Race, Noah Brunnell took the early lead, but the action was intense behind him. Rod Laskey made contact with series points leader Andrew Gordon while fighting for position, setting off a wild crash in turn four. Gordon’s car went over several times, and was heavily damaged, but he was not hurt.
Curtis J. Bish and Josh Seippel chased Brunnell, but neither could make a challenge for the lead. Tim Bish came home in fourth, followed by Jackson Humanic in fifth.
Heat wins went to Rusty Martz, Tim Bish, and Laskey. Seippel took the dash held for drivers who enjoyed Mr. Virgile’s backing during his long involvement in the Pro Stock class.
The nightcap once again was held for the Mini Stocks. While the winner was a familiar one, Dillon Speer, the twist was that he was driving his four cylinder car rather than the more potent six cylinder machine that graced victory lane several times already. Pat Hanlon was making his first start in the car normally driven by his father, Todd, who recently announced his retirement from the sport. Hanlon was excited about his second place finish. J.R. Shaner was third, followed by Rick Feeley and Bondy Stoyer. Speer and Stoyer took the checkers in their respective heat races.
Next week, Tri-City Raceway Park will have another round of Sunday Night Thunder.
All Star Circuit of Champions returning to Lernerville Speedway for 2-events including Don Martin Memorial
SARVER, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The All Star Circuit of Champions (ASCoC) is returning to Lernerville Speedway in 2022 for two nights of action including the Don Martin Memorial XXXI.
The All-Stars will make their first appearance at ‘The Action Track’ on Friday, April 29. The appearance will mark the series return to Lernerville for the first time since 2019 as COVID-19 cancelled their 2020 appearance and rain washed out this year’s visit.
On July 6th the All-Stars will return for the $25,000-to-win ‘Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup XXXI’, one of the most prestigious Sprint Car events in the history of the sport.
“We’re very excited to bring in the All-Stars and their thrilling brand of high-level Sprint Car racing” said Lernerville Speedway General Manager Mike Lysakowski said in a statement. “I have always been a fan of the All-Stars and for 2022, we had more freedom in choosing a date for this year’s Silver Cup. We believe we have chosen a date that is very conducive to bringing both national and regional Sprint Car aces to Lernerville.”
Western PA Speedweek to return in 2022
SHIPPENVILLE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Western PA Speedweek is returning for 2022 following a successful reboot earlier this year.
The five consecutive nights of winged 410 Sprint Car action will see the best regional drivers vying for an A-Main feature purse that is increasing to $14,000 with $3,000 going to the winner each night and a $300 minimum to start!
The action takes place Wednesday, June 1st through Sunday, June 5th at 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), with the round-trip total clocking in at exactly 259 miles from beginning to end.
The group time trial format used last season was extremely popular with both drivers and fans alike, and will also be utilized again in 2022.
Ryan Smith of Fleetwood, PA is the defending Speedweek Champion after winning two features and a podium in three events in 2021.
Lernerville Speedway not on World of Outlaws schedule in 2022
SARVER, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Lernerville Speedway, a fixture on the World of Outlaws tour since their inception in 1978, is not on the Outlaws schedule for 2022. The fate of the Don Martin Silver Cup is unknown at this time.
Lernerville officials were planning for two NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car events as well as a World of Outlaws Late Model event for 2022 and were shocked and surprised when the schedule was released on Monday.
Pittsburgh Racing Now has reached out to World Racing Group, the parent company of the World of Outlaws, for comment but have not received a response as of publication.