PORT ROYAL, PA (October 17, 2020): Mat Williamson picked the perfect time to score his first win in the Short Track Super Series for Modifieds. The driver, who earned the nickname “Money” after scoring some big victories in the rival DIRTcar Super Series, carried $53,000 out of Port Royal Speedway. His share of the bounty would go back to St. Catharines, ONT, where he and his fiance are planning to build a home.
COVID travel restrictions kept Williamson on the northern side of the Canadian border for most of the 2020 racing season. While he did get to race several times (successfully), the purses were much smaller, and he never got into a rhythm like he could do when he was able to cross the border at will. Williamson, who said that he was “tired of eating Ramen noodles,” came into the United States for a few weeks, starting with OctoberFAST (the Super DIRTweek substitute) and concluding with the Eastern States 200. “It sucks that we cannot celebrate with family and friends after a win like this,” Williamson said. He and his two traveling companions planned to party hearty and then start to prepare the car for the upcoming Eastern States race. He plans to serve out his quarantine deer hunting upon his return to Canada.
Second place finisher, Stewart Friesen, who is also Canadian by birth, did not face such restrictions, as he is now a permanent resident of Sprakers, NY.
Both drivers overcame some mechanical difficulties to get to the front of the highest paying race of the 2020 Modified season. Friesen’s problems came during Friday night’s qualifications. He blew the engine in his primary car, which was powered by a 430 cubic inch open small block. He switched to a back-up car that was equipped with a 360 cubic inch small block, and used a provisional to start 39th in the talent-laden field. While the car was down on power, series rules allowed it to race at a light 2300 pounds, and Friesen was able to get the most out of the machine. Williamson’s difficulty came during the open red at the halfway mark of the big race. The team decided to change front shocks to improve forward bite. They broke a critical part in the process and they had to scramble to find a replacement in the infield hot pit area, as crossing the track to retrieve one from the hauler was not allowed. They found the piece in Anthony Perrego’s toolbox. Perrego was leading at the break and would go on to finish fourth in the final tally.
The first ten starters were lined up by the luck of the draw. Alex Yankowski started on the pole and Danny Bouc was next to the rapid teen. Aussie Peter Britten and Mike Gular were in row two. Erick Rudolph and Matt Sheppard, a pre-race favorite, were in row three. Max McLaughlin and Mike Maresca were in row four, with Maresca driving a borrowed car after suffering a terminal engine failure at the checkers in his Friday heat race. Williamson lined up next to Billy Pauch, Jr. in row five. Perrego and Mike Mahaney were in row six.
Yankowski blasted out to the lead over Bouc and Britten while Maresca and Rudolph were fighting for position. Just as the leaders crossed for lap one, veteran Billy Van Pelt brought out the first caution of the double century contest.
Yankowski held the advantage through lap 16, when Williamson surged to the front. Although Sheppard and Bouc would also pass Yankowski, the youthful driver held his own reamining in or just outside the top five for most of the first half of the race.
Meanwhile, Friesen was methodically passing cars using the highest groove possible. He was able to roll up beside cars and pass them off the corner before they even realized that he was out there. He reached 13th by lap 20 and was positioned to assault the top ten when drama unfolded.
Billy Pauch, Jr., who was biding his time riding just outside the top ten, had his throttle stick going down the long back chute. Although he tried desperately to shut the car down, he was unable to do so, and he collided massively with the turn three fence. He punched a hole in that as the car burst into flames and then tumbled to a stop yards away. The car lost its roof and the top of the cage was exposed to oncoming traffic, but all others were able to avoid contact with Pauch. Pauch climbed from the demolished car unscathed. It took track crews over an hour and fifteen minutes to make repairs to the fence.
After that break, Williamson continued to lead, but the car was not performing up to its full potential. Perrego, who would become Williamson’s savior a short time later, rode the rim to the front on lap 86. Soon thereafter, a caution came out, and Friesen surrendered P4 to pit for tires and fuel. This enabled him to play out a strategy that would give him track position over Perrego, Williamson, Sheppard, and others.
Perrego led to the halfway mark, with Williamson, Sheppard, McLaughlin, Britten, Ryan Godown, Yankowski, Alan Johnson, Ryan Susice, and Billy Dunn making up the top ten.
Dramatic interlude number two began with drivers declaring their intentions with regard to the mandatory pit stop. Drivers that elected to stay on the track could get fuel only. Drivers entering the hot pits could make any adjustments they wanted, including changing tires. Perrego stayed on the track, while almost all others came into the pits. After his crew looked over the tires, Perrego chose to enter the pits, losing only a minute or two of worktime. The racers who stayed out got the preferred starting positions, while those that went into the hot pits lined up behind them according to running order. So, Fiesen and his cohorts got track position with tires only 14 laps old, while Perrego, Williamson, et al. were ninth on back, albeit with fresh tires.
“We had a plan going into the race, but we threw it out the window,” Williamson said. Because the car was hot handling properly, his team switched the front shocks and almost took the car out of the race. Perrego’s team came through for them in the pinch, though, and Williamson was able to rejoin the field for the second half. “We made the right calls,” Williamson said with a sigh of relief.
It only took Friesen six laps to take the lead. He began to stretch his advantage while Perrego, McLaughlin, Sheppard, and Williamson began their march to the front. Perrego reached second on lap 128, with Andy Bachetti sitting in third. He, like Friesen, opted for the earlier pit stop to gain track position. Then came McLaughlin, Sheppard, and WiIlliamson.
With Friesen and Perrego racing the high groove, Williamson moved forward by running about a car width off the inside fence. He reached third by lap 150. Sheppard was also moving forward, but he suddenly stopped on the track with 168 completed. He pitted for a pair of fresh rear tires. “I’m sure that the fresh tires helped,” he noted. “We had a tire going down so I pitted and put two new ones on.” Indeed, in the remaining laps, Sheppard had one of the fastest cars on the track, but he did not have enough time to catch Williamson and Friesen.
Friesen continued to lead Perrego, but they had another racer to contend with as the laps wound down. Williamson took second on lap 175 and the issues became whether and when he would make a move on Friesen.
It only took eleven more circuits for the fans to know. Williamson drove by the leader on lap 186. While Williamson did open up a several car length advantage, Friesen continued to flog the cushion in an effort to chase him down. Aided by a yellow on lap 194, Friesen did get his shot at the leader. However, Williamson held his line and rode home with the lucrative win.
“I tried to beat the heck out of it,” Friesen explained. “I was starting to come back before the last yellow. I may have been able to come back if we had some traffic. I think my tore cooled off and it didn’t come back after that last caution.”
At the finish, it was Willaimson over Friesen, Sheppard, Perrego, and Larry Wight. McLaughlin, Godown, Bachetti, Yankowski, and Billy Decker rounded out the top ten. Decker’s machine bore the battle scars of an early race skirmish, but it continued to function satisfactorily.
Just over half of the field completed all 200 laps.
Port Royal and STSS officials announced that the Modifieds would return in 2021, with a Spring race contemplated. No announcement was made whether the big Fall classic would be on the docket. That decision may await further developments as STSS boss Brett Deyo also promoted Fonda Speedway where the 2019 edition of the 200 was held. COVID limitations in the Empire State forced him to move the race to Port Royal.
Port Royal Speedway will hold its final race of the season on October 24. It will be the Ninth Annual Keystone RaceSaver Challenge for 305 Sprints. Limited Late Models and Mini Stocks will also be on the card. General admission will be a mere $5, as the speedway celebrates a fan appreciation day. Racing will start at 3 p.m.
Mother Nature Wins The Weekend In Western PA
PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Mother Nature is putting a damper on the early portion of the Western Pennsylvania dirt track racing season as both Lernerville Speedway and Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway were forced to cancel their racing programs on Friday and Saturday night.
The inclement weather has forced Lernerville to postpone the Lernerville Grand, the 1,000th Sprint Car race in The Action Track’s storied history, two weeks in a row. Lernerville will host Military Appreciation Night on Friday, May 15, 2021 where Fab4 Racing will be on track.
PPMS was able to get in a full slate last weekend but has already made the decision to cancel Saturday night’s action. Racing will resume on Saturday, May 15, 2021, for an Action Event featuring the Rohrich Automotive RUSH Late Model Dirt Series, the Hobby Stocks, the Penn Ohio Pro Stocks, the Crawford Auto Repair Four Cylinders, and the All Ways Safe Young Guns.
UPDATE: Add Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio to the cancellation list thanks to the weather. An identical “Super Series” show will be coming up next Saturday night (May 15) as the “410” Sprint Cars return for $3,000 to-win along with the Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stocks, HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, and the Whelen Econo Mods. Pits open at 4 p.m. and grandstands at 5. Sprint Car group qualifying will take place at 6:30 p.m. with heat races at 7.
Hafertepe Hammers All Stars At Tri-City Raceway Park; Ruhlman Rush Sprint Star
FRANKLIN, PA (May 2, 2021): Sam Hafertepe, Jr. scored his first win with the FloRacing All Stars Circuit of Champions in thirteen years of competition with the series. The All Stars program was presented courtesy of Krill Recycling LLC of Fennelton, PA.
Taking the Gary Glass Automotive/Washington House RUSH Sprint Car feature was Chad Ruhlman aboard the Tim Engels machine from Franklin, PA.
“Running out front was the place to be,” Hafertepe said. He explained that track position gave him better opportunities to navigate around some difficult track conditions.
Sam Hafertepe, Jr. and Ian Madsen led the All Star field to the green flag. Row two belonged to Tyler Courtney and Matt Farnham. Starting in the third row were Cap Henry and Bill Balog and they were followed by Hunter Schuerenberg and Justin Peck. Cale Conley and Sye Lynch started in row five with Carl Bowser and Kyle Reinhardt in row six.
Hafertepe bolted into the lead followed by Courtney, Madsen, Farnham and Peck. Before the racers could settle in, however, Reinhardt flipped his machine in between turns one and two. He was not hurt, but neither he nor track favorite Jack Sodeman, Jr. were able to continue.
Hafertepe assumed the lead again with Madsen, Farnham, and Henry in tow. Peck was applying the pressure and he began his move to the front. He reached fourth by lap four and third by lap five.
A caution for the lazy spin by Lynch in turn four bunched the field up and gave Peck an opportunity to challenge the leaders. He was hounding Courtney while Hafertepe ran out front by himself. Peck moved into second on lap seventeen before the pace was slowed due to Cory Eliason stopping in turn two.
On the ensuing restart, Peck made a bold move in turn one, but he snagged a rut and flipped his machine ending an impressive run up from the eighth starting spot.
Hafertepe completed the remaining eight laps without further ado. Courtney posted his best All Stars finish to date, second. Madsen crossed in third and gained enough points to take command of the All Stars series championship. Balog and Henry were fourth and fifth. Schuerenberg was sixth followed by Conley, Paul McMahan, Paige Polyak and Wise.
McMahan was the All Stars Hard Charger with thirteen positions advanced. Brandon Matus took the Fisher and Father NAPA Auto Parts Pro Performer Hard Charger award at plus five.
Balog, Farnham, Schuerenberg, and Henry were victorious in the heat races for the All Stars. Bob Felmlee nailed the second turn wall in his heat race, inflicting major damage on the car. Felmlee was unhurt. Lynch spun while racing second in his heat, but he was able to restart and made the transfer to the A Main.
Hafertepe, Jr. and Madsen captured the twin Dashes for the All Stars.
The B Main winner was McMahan. Dan Shetler was unhurt in his crash in turn one during the B Main.
The evening’s fastest qualifier overall was Justin Peck, with a lap of 14.998 in Group C. It was a new track record. He was the only driver to crack the 15 second mark. Courtney was the fastest in Group A, Madsen in Group B, and Lynch in Group D.
Teenager Nolan Groves and Brian Hartzell paced the Gary Glass Automotive and Washington House RUSH Sprint Car feature. Gale Ruth, Jr. and Chad Ruhlman were in the second row with Tyler Newhart and Rod George in the third row.
Ruhlman and Hartzell battled for the early lead with Ruth and George in hot pursuit. Ruth was the man to watch, going from third to first on lap four. However, Ruth was crowded and got into the outside wall, bending two wheels. He limped off the track after leading just one lap.
Ruhlman and Hartzell resumed the battle for the lead, but soon a new challenger appeared. Rod George showed everyone that he still remembered the fastest way around the big half mile. He took second on lap nine and chased down Ruhlman.
Ruhlman and George went back and fourth for several laps before Ruhlman seized control again. Soon thereafter, George’s car began to sputter and he had to retire from the race with nineteen laps down. However, while he and Ruhlman were entertaining the fans, Brad Church, Arnie Kent, and Newhart were fighting for third.
George’s misfortune set up a green checkered finish. Ruhlman completed the final lap, with Hartzell in second. Church, Kent, and Blaze Myers completed the top five. Newhart, Ricky Tucker, A.J. MacQuarrie, George, and Steve Pedley rounded out the top ten.
In the Rush Sprint Car heat races, Nolan Groves and Rod George captured the wins. Donovan and Bauer Auto Group of Titusville presented the heat races. There was no B Main.
Remember that there will be no racing at Tri-City Raceway Park on May 9 in observance of Mother’s Day. Action will resume on May 16, with a Sunday Thunder program featuring the Shawgo Real Estate LLC 410 Sprint Cars, the Krill Recycling LLC 358 Modifieds, the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Pro Stocks, and the 4 Your Car Connection Mini Stocks. May 16 will also be Military Night with all veterans and current members of the armed forces admitted free of charge with proper identification. May 23 will be a special program for the ULMS Late Model Series and the 305 Sprint Cars. The 305 Sprints will have double features. The month of May will conclude on May 30 with another Sunday Thunder racing event.
Flo Racing All Stars (25 laps): Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Tyler Courtney, Ian Madsen, Bill Balog, Cap Henry, Hunter Schuerenberg, Cale Conley, Paul McMahan, Paige Polyak, Zeb Wise, Sye Lynch, Brandon Spithaler, Carl Bowser, T.J. Michael, Brandon Matus, Frankie Nervo, Justin Peck, Matt Farnham, Lee Jacobs, Lucas Wolfe, Kyle Reinhardt, Jack Sodeman, Jr., Gary Taylor. DNQ: Skyler Gee, George Hobaugh, Greg Wilson, Brent Matus, Brett Brunkenhofer, Ken Rossey, Darin Gallagher, Dan Shetler, Michael Bauer, Bob Felmlee.
Gary Glass Automotive/Washington House RUSH Sprints: Chad Ruhlman, Brian Hartzell, Brad Church, Arnie Kent, Blaze Myers, Tyler Newhart, Ricky Turner, A.J. MacQuarrie, Rod George, Steve Pedley, Gale Ruth, Sr., Gale Ruth, Jr., Nlan Graves, John Mollick (DNS).
Justin Peck Wins Buckeye Cup At Sharon Speedway
HARTFORD, OH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Justin Peck led wire-to-wire to win the FloRacing All Star Circuit of Champions ‘Buckeye Cup’ Saturday at Sharon Speedway.
Peck withstood a challenge from second place finisher Cole Duncan before pulling away to claim the victory, his second in the ‘Buckeye State’ after winning at Attica Raceway Park in April.
“We were able to put a whole night together,” said Peck. “We qualified good enough tonight where we just had to transfer through our heat race to make the dash, and that’s the name of the game. You need to put yourself in a position early and start up front in these things. We fine tune things as the night goes on. I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Peck jumped out to the early lead with Hunter Schuerenberg, Cole Duncan, Dave Blaney, and Ian Madsen giving chase before encountering lap traffic on lap 11.
The lap traffic was just enough to impede Peck as Duncan and Blaney started closing in, eventually catching him on lap 16.
“I tried to lose that race there pretty early on by running the top and smacking the wall,” said Peck. “I actually knocked the ladder out of the car before we even got ten laps in. I just had to smarten up a little bit after that. I knew we had a fast race car. I just needed to finish the race.”
Peck started pulling away by lap 22 as Duncan, Blaney, Madsen and Zeb Wise fought it out for the remaining podium spots. Duncan crossed the start/finish line in second place followed by Blaney in third, however Blaney was eventually disqualified for missing the scales after the race. Blaney was credited with a 25th place finish.
The All Stars continue their Pennsylvania – Ohio weekend with at stop at Merle Black’s Tri-City Raceway Park in Franklin, PA.
A-Main (30 Laps):
1. 13-Justin Peck ; 2. 22C-Cole Duncan ; 3. 11-Ian Madsen ; 4. 10-Zeb Wise ; 5. 17B-Bill Balog ; 6. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg ; 7. 81-Lee Jacobs ; 8. 4-Cap Henry ; 9. 5-Paul McMahan ; 10. 26-Cory Eliason ; 11. 97-Gary Taylor ; 12. 3C-Cale Conley ; 13. 42-Sye Lynch ; 14. 7BC-Tyler Courtney ; 15. O8-Dan Kuriger ; 16. 11B-Carl Bowser ; 17. 29-Michael Bauer ; 18. 28-Skylar Gee ; 19. 6-Bob Felmlee ; 20. 5K-Adam Kekich ; 21. 8M-TJ Michael ; 22. 22-Brandon Spithaler ; 23. 12-Darin Gallagher ; 24. 23JR-Jack Sodeman Jr. ; 25. 10B-Dave Blaney  Lap Leaders: Justin Peck (1-30)