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Mark Smith Breaks Through at Bridgeport

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Mark Smith Racing Twitter

BRIDGEPORT, NJ (November 6, 2020): Mark Smith, the veteran racer from Sunbury, PA, raced to victory on the opening night of the High Banks Classic for the 360 Sprints Cars of the United Racing Club. Smith’s win, his first ever at the fast New Jersey oval, was his 29th with the club, which is one of the nation’s oldest sanctioning bodies.

“I said that I wouldn’t come back until they shortened it up (because) it was too hard on the wallet to race here,” Smith said. Over the off-season, new track management tore apart the old five-eighths mile oval and built a brand-spanking new, four-tenths high-banked track. Speaking of the new configuration at Bridgeport Motorsports Park, Smith observed, “the track is really wide and we could race on it.” And, while the new surface has a reputation for being hard on tires, Smith commented, “heck, as good as the track was I can maybe get another night out of them.”

Smith did most of his racing in the heat. The random pill-draw used to set the line-ups had him starting ninth, with only four to qualify and two to go into the re-draw for the first ten starting spots. Smith ran hard to get into a transfer spot, but it looked as though he would miss out on the re-draw. However, he caught a break on the final lap when the second-place car did a wheelie coming off the second corner. That miscue was all that he needed to dart by on the inside. “That’s all part of it, I don’t get excited any more, it’s just what you draw,” he noted.

Ryan Taylor and Troy Betts paced the field for the start of the twenty-five lapper. Davey Franek and Smith were in row two, with Robbie Stillwaggon and Denny Peebles in the third. Austin Bishop and Adam Carberry were in the fourth row, followed by Briggs Danner and Lucas Wolfe. Josh Weller and Dallas Schott were in row six.

Smith got a tremendous start and led the field into turn one at the drop of the green. However, Taylor had more momentum in the first corner and he pulled ahead coming off the second turn. Before Smith could mount a counterattack, the caution flag came out.

On the restart, Taylor led the way, with Smith charging hard on the inside. Betts, Carberry and Franek were scrambling to keep up with the leaders, while Stillwaggon, Bishop, Weller, and Wolfe fought for positions.

Taylor opened a small lead over Smith while Betts and Carberry were trading the third position at will. Franek started drifting back in the running order while Weller was moving ahead. Also making advances was Ryan Smith, up from sixteenth on the starting grid.

Three Rivers Karting

Just as Taylor was approaching the backmarkers, the red flag came out. Bishop got up over the cushion and his car bounced a couple of times before it hit the wall in turn one and went upside down. He was unhurt in the tumble, but his night was over.

It took two tries to get the race going again. On the second, Smith made another bold move entering turn one. He took the lead coming off the second corner and never looked back. Taylor held the second spot until lap 22. He got a bit too wide coming off turn two and bounced the right rear tire off the concrete wall. That got the car cross-wise. While he saved it from spinning out, the damage was done and he soon came to a halt in turn four. That turned second place over to Betts.

Betts was unable to capitalize on his good fortune. Carberry came on in the final few laps to take second. “That was definitely important for us,” he said. Carberry entered the race in a tight battle with Weller for the series championship. “We were pretty good, but not good enough for Mark,” he added Betts held on for third at the finish.

Weller crossed in fourth minimizing the point loss to Carberry. Fifth was a fast-closing Ryan Smith. Sixth went to Wolfe, followed by J.J. Grasso, Tyler Ross, Alex Bright, and Robbie Stillwaggon.

The five heat winners were Wolfe, Peebles, Troy betts, Bishop, and Carberry. Andy Betts and Grasso took the checkers in the twon B Mains.

A twenty lap race was held for 602 Crate Sportsmen drivers who went winless in 2020. Tom Sherby got the nod over Joe Brown and Anthony Tramontana. John Micek was fourth in his first outing of the year. Payton Talbot was fifth. Travis Hill, Wayne Weaver, John Meyer, Ryan Grim, and Doug Snyder followed.

Consistent Lee Allen won a thriller in the Street Stock class. He finished every race but one in the top five at Bridgeport this season and, in that one, he placed sixth. Despite those outstanding performances, he lost the track title to the second place finisher this night, Rich Stinson, Jr. Mike Hughes, Shannon Mongeau, and T.J. Henry completed the top five.

Bridgeport Motorsports Park will host the URC Sprints, 602 Sportsmen, Big Block Modifieds, and more on Saturday night. Topping the card will be the 100 lap Danny Serrano Memorial race for the Modifieds. Action will conclude Sunday with a 50 lap race for the Modifieds, another Sportsmen go, Speedsters, and more.

Dirt Racing

Ryan Smith Succeeds at Sharon; Cipriano and Konbau also Score

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Sharon Speedway

HARTFORD, OH (June 1, 2024): Ryan Smith romped to the win at Sharon Speedway on night three of Western Pennsylvania Speedweek despite Dave Blaney’s home field advantage. Smith, a former series champion, had the benefit of starting some five rows ahead of Blaney, but Blaney made an early charge to make things interesting. Meanwhile, Smith was stalking the early leader, Zane DeVault, and Smith sailed by him when DeVault brushed the outside wall coming off turn two. Unfortunately for the fans, a head to head battle between Smith and Blaney never materialized because the track took rubber, and Blaney’s top line which he used so effectively early was no longer there in the final stage of the race.

Ayden Cipriano (Big Block Modifieds) and Jeremy Kornbau (Allegheny Sprint Tour 305 Sprint Cars) also earned significant first wins.
“It’s pretty cool to beat Dave at his own place,” Smith quipped. He explained that he tried to make his car as wide as he could in the early going and, then, he mainly ran the low side when the rubber came in. While that strategy was successful for him, he did admit to having some trouble with lapped cars also using that line as the race progressed. Nonetheless, Smith put enough of them behind him to provide a safe margin of victory over Blaney.

Blaney, who thrilled the partisan crowd with his dash to the front in the early laps, characteristically downplayed his accomplishment. “I had a good start,” he said humbly. Then, he added with a chuckle, “I had a couple of closer calls than an old mane would like.” Blaney was referring to the time in the opening laps when he threaded the needle in turn three between two competitors who were fighting for position. “Then, the track got faster as the race went on,” he commented, making it difficult for him to chase down Smith.

DeVault, who soldiered on for third despite hurting his car, noted, “I tried to win it or wear it on top when I got into the wall, I was just hanging on after that. But, you know me, I’ll hang in there until the end.”

DeVault and Smith were the lucky ones who fished the front row starting spots in the top twelve re-draw promoted by a Lake Erie charter service. Smith had a helper, though, as he chose a child from the stands to be his designated fisherman. Mitch Harble and Logan McCandless drew into the second row, with Chase Metheney and Adam Kekich in the third. Then came Michael Bauer and Dale Blaney. Jordan Poirier and Dan Kuriger had row five, with Dave Kalb and Dave Blaney getting the two remaining fish available.

DeVault seized the early advantage, with Smith staying close. Harble, McCandless, Dale Blaney, and Poirier were next. However, the racer who drew the most attention in the early going was Dave Blaney. He shot from twelfth to seventh on the opening lap by using the high line that no one else dared to try.

Dave Blaney reached fourth by the time that DeVault had his shunt with the outside wall on lap six, and he was third when Matt Farnham stopped because his right rear tire was going flat.

On the ensuing restart, Blaney executed a perfect slider job in turn one to overtake DeVault. Smith, however, was in the lead, and he opened up several car lengths on Blaney.

Three Rivers Karting

Smith was into lapped traffic by the fourteenth round. He was able to pick off the back markers pretty easily. As he advanced through them, the going got tougher and Blaney was able to narrow the margin.

As the race moved into the final stages, Smith had several lapped cars separating himself from his pursuer. They were all running the bottom, and Blaney went back to the high side to try to get back into a position of contention. However, the top groove was no longer there for him, and he could not get past the lapped cars that were keeping pace with the leader. Blaney nestled in behind them and rode out the remaining laps for a second place finish that still satisfied the home town crowd.

DeVault was third, ahead of Dale Blaney and McCandless. Kekich, Poirier, Lee Jacobs, Kuriger, and Mark Smith rounded out the top ten. Jacobs was named the hard charger, at plus twelve.

Once again, five heats were required for the forty-six car field. Chalking up wins were Dave and Dale Blaney, Kekich, Ryan Smith, and Metheney. A.J. Flick and Lance Moss split the twin B Mains. Dave Blaney was the evening’s fastest qualifier with a lap of 15.835 seconds.

With three races complete, Dave Blaney has a 20 point lead over his brother, Dale. A.J. Flick holds down third one point back from Dale. Tim Shaffer and Mark Smith make up the top five.

Ayden Cipriano earned his first career Big Block Modified win, holding off Rex King, Jr. Cipriano benefited from a penalty imposed on leader Rick Regalski for jumping the lap seven restart. That infraction moved Cipriano to the pole and Regalski to third. King raced in the middle groove to move from sixth to second after the green light came on again.

Chas Wolbert was third, Will Thomas fourth, and Brad Rapp fifth. Positions six through ten went to Garrett Krummert, Regalski, Chad Reitz, Mike Kinney, and Steve Barr.

King and Thomas captured heat wins. There was no B Main.

Another first-time winner was Jeremy Kornbau in the Allegheny Sprint Tour A Main. It was the first time the 305 Sprint Cars appeared at the famous oval. Nolan Groves, Brett Brunkenhoefer, Roman Jones, and Jim Pattock were in the top five. Jarrett Rosencrance, Dale Schweikart, Andy Priest, Arnie Kent, and John Scarborough rounded out the top ten. Dale Schweikart, Pattock, and Priest won the preliminaries. There was no B Main.

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Dirt Racing

Flick Wins W PA Speedweek Jean Lynch Classic at Lernerville; Norris, King, and Schneider Also Score

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SARVER, PA (May 31, 2024): A.J. Flick knows how to win at Lernerville Speedway and on the Western Pennsylvania Speedweek tour. He is a seven-time speedway 410 Sprint Car champion and a two-time Speedweek king. He has won both titles for the last two years. He took a big step forward in both title chases by snagging the $4,000 check that went to the winner of the first jean Lynch Classic hosted at Lernerville Speedway.

Also scoring wins on this momentous night were Michael Norris in the Super Late Models, Rex King, Jr. in the Big Block Modifieds, and Christian Schneider in the Pro Stocks.

“The lynch name is synonymous with this place,” Flick said. “Everybody knows how hard Sye (Lynch) would run at this race, but you could see him fading,” Flick explained. He added, “that 28 car (Jordan Poirier) was fast in clean air, but I wanted to keep the win in Apollo,” which is home to both the Lynch and Flick families.

Flick chased down Poirier, who took the lead away from Lynch following the only restart of the race, on lap fourteen. Flick lined up third for that pivotal restart. Although he, too, quickly dispatched Lynch, it took him over ten laps to catch and pass Poirier, who was making his first start at the Action Track.

Poirier was pleased with his maiden voyage, explaining that he had some trouble working his way past unfamiliar lapped cars. He added, “once I saw his (Flick’s) nose, I knew that he was going to get by me.”

Lynch and Poirier were on the front row as a result of the re-draw for the top two from each heat race and the two fastest qualifiers who transferred from their respective heat races. Jeremy Weaver was flanked by Hall of Famer Tim Shaffer, a former Lernerville champion. Carl Bowser and Zane DeVault occupied row three. Behind them were Ricky Peterson and Dave Blaney, another Hall of Famer. Mark Smith and Flick paired off in row five, followed by Lance Moss and Brandon Spithaler.

As the partisan crowd hoped, Lynch raced into turn one ahead of Poirier, Weaver, Shaffer, DeVault, Bowser, Peterson, Mark Smith, and Flick. Lynch was running hard, and he caught the rear of the field in just seven laps. Nonetheless, Poirier stayed close. Shaffer moved into third in the early going, followed by DeVault and Flick. Flick continued his advance, taking third on lap thirteen. He was still a good distance behind the leaders, but a caution on lap fourteen brought them back to him in a hurry.

On the ensuing restart, Poirier executed a slider on Lynch in turn one to take the lead. Lynch fought back coming off turn two, but Poirier made a good run through turns three and four to preserve his lead.

As Poirier began to distance himself from Lynch, Flick worked by Lynch for the second position. It took Flick several laps to catch Poirier. Flick got a good run off turn four and he rode the rim in turns one and two to take the lead away from the rapid Canadian on lap twenty-six.

Flick pulled away in the final four laps to secure the win. Poirier was strong in second, followed by Shaffer, Dave Blaney, and Lynch. Brandon Spithaler raced his way up to sixth. Mark Smith, Dale Blaney, the third Hall of Fame driver in the field, DeVault, and Weaver completed the top ten.

Five heats were required for the forty-six cars that signed in. Bowser, Flick, Dave Blaney, Spithaler, and Poirier captured the checkers. Matt Farnham and Dave Kalb won their respective B Mains. Lynch set the mark in qualifications with a lap of 13.172 seconds.

Heading into the next round, at his own Sharon Speedway, Dave Blaney has a two point margin over Shaffer and Flick in the series points. Dale Blaney and Mark Smith sit fourth and fifth. Norris, Spithaler, Bowser, Weaver, and DeVault make up the top ten.

Three Rivers Karting

In the Super Late Models, a test session proved to be highly successful for Michael Norris. “We tried a lot of different stuff,” he said. “We put our heads together with Mark Richards and Brian Daugherty trying to find something that would work in the slick. If this race is indicative of their combined efforts, it seems as though Norris may be ready for the upcoming Firecracker 100 for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

Veteran Chub Frank was on hand to get some needed track time before the Firecracker, and he started from the pole position for the twenty-six lapper. Next to him was Ken Schaltenbrand. Norris lined up third, with Jon Lee as his dance partner. Danny Angelicchio and Michael Duritsky were in the third row. Colton Flinner and Alex Ferree were in row four. Then came Tyler Dietz and Ryan Christoff. The fifth row matched Tyler Wyant with Andy Boozel. Gary Lyle and recent high school graduate Levi Yetter held down row six.

Frank led the parade to turn one, but Schaltenbrand had the momentum on the newly-banked turns one and two. He shot out to the lead coming off turn two. Schaltenbrand led the first eight laps. Frank gave way to Norris for second on lap eight. On the next circuit, Norris used the inside line to overtake Schaltenbrand.

The race remained under the green flag until lap twenty-four, when Wyant surrendered his spot in the top ten by stopping on the back stretch. During that long run, Norris stretched his lead over Frank, Schaltenbrand, Angelicchio, and Flinner. The minor incident set up a green-white-checker finish.

Norris got away cleanly. Frank and Schaltenbrand were not so fortunate, as they lost positions to Flinner. Dietz was another driver who benefited from the late race restart, as he picked up two spots.

At the checkers, it was Norris over Flinner, Frank, Dietz, and Schaltenbrand. Jared Miley, Angelicchio, Lee, Ferree, and Duritsky rounded out the top ten.

Heat winners were Norris, Frank, and Dietz. Miley took the B Main.

Rex King, Jr. and Will Thomas paced the field for the Big Block Modifieds. They ran first and second over the entire twenty-five lap distance. The second row starters, Dave Murdick and Steve Feder, also ran in the top five the entire way.

A caution on lap twenty-one bunched up the field. King and Thomas remained the lead duo, but behind them several positions changed ands in the final four laps.

Behind King and Thomas were Murdick, Garrett Krummert, and Feder. Brad Rapp, Jeremiah Shingledecker, Rick Regalski, Jordan Ehrenberg, and Ayden Cipriano were the next five finishers.

Feder and Krummert took the preliminaries. There was no B Main.

As usual, the Pro Stocks wore the nightcap. Christian Schneider bolted from the pole to take the early lead and he would complete the twenty-lap journey first. Tyler Dietz ran second, with Chris Schneider, Brett Hutira, and Cody Koteles next in line. Jacob Dietz, Tyler Schneider, Mike Bordt, Chase Lambert, and heath Close claimed sixth through tenth positions.

Chris Schneider and Hutira prevailed in their respective heats. There was no B Main.

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Dirt Racing

Norris Nails It at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Motor Speedway

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IMPERIAL, PA (May 30, 2024): Dylan Norris made his first visit to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Motor Speedway a memorable one. The budding talent from Hanover, PA Picked up the win on the opening night of Western Pennsylvania Speedweek, earning $3,500 in the process. To do it, he held off a fast closing Hall of Fame driver, Dave Blaney, and two other decorated veterans, Tim Shaffer and Dale Blaney, were close behind.

“This was our first time here,” Norris said, “and it is definitely different than what we have at home.” Despite having no notes to work from, Norris observed that “we were good right out of the box, we were good on the bottom.”

It did not take Norris very long to figure out that the bottom was where he needed to be. But, it almost cost him the race. “We had some trouble with lapped cars.” Norris said that he tried to make some passes in the middle groove, but “I knew I had to get back down in the rubber.”

Norris made the move back to the inside line soon enough to keep Dave Blaney behind him. “You couldn’t do much except wait for mistakes, and he didn’t make any,” Blaney observed.

John Jerich, a relative newcomer to the sport of 410 Sprint Car racing, had the pole for the twenty lapper. The race was shortened to that distance because teams were experiencing excessive tire wear. Shaffer and Dale Blaney were paired in row two, with Dave Blaney and Ryan Smith, a former Speedweek champion, in row three. The fourth row consisted of Mark Smith and former FAST on Dirt Series champion Brandon Spithaler. Two-time and defending Speedweek king, A.J. Flick lined up inside of Jack Sodeman, Jr., in row five. Taking positions in row six were Carl Bowser, a frequent winner at PPMS, and Aussie Jordyn Charge.

Norris seized control immediately, but the initial start was set aside for a multi-car tangle coming off turn four. Billy Dietrich went over, and he was one of three cars that were unable to resume racing. Michael Bauer and Logan McCandless suffered less damage, but they were also out of the event.

On the second try, Norris rocketed into turn one, and he began to draw away from Jerich, Dale Blaney, Shaffer, and Dave Blaney. Norris began to stretch his advantage until he began to lap slower cars. Meanwhile, Dave Blaney was steadily moving forward, reaching fourth by lap five, third by lap ten, and second by lap fifteen. Blaney then began to whittle away at the lead. He did close to within a couple of car lengths late in the contest, but Norris was flawless.

Three Rivers Karting

Shaffer, Dale Blaney, and Jerich swapped positions in the top five, with Shaffer ultimately coming out on top of his two rivals.

Mark Smith drove a consistent race to claim sixth, ahead of Flick, Spithaler, Ryan Smith, and Bowser.

There were four heats for the Sprinters, with wins going to Spithaler, Mark Smith, Dave Blaney, and Flick. The pair of B Mains belonged to Ricky Peterson and Brandon Matus. The fastest qualifier on the night was Spithaler, with a lap of 16.644 around Dirt’s Monster Half Mile.

The UEMS e-Mods were the primary support division. They went twenty-five laps for $3,000. Jonathan Taylor picked up the win after a spirited battle with K.C. Burdette. “It’s good to be back here, we got to run here when we were younger,” Taylor said.

Burdette and Jonathan Taylor started on the front row, and they set sail at the start of the race. Burdette led the first four laps, but Taylor drove by him on lap four. Burdette held second about the next fifteen laps. On lap twenty, Burdette came off the bottom of turn four to take the lead at the scoring loop, but Jonathan Taylor rallied in turn one to regain the lead.

Gregory Moore charged into second in the closing laps and he got within striking distance of Jonathan Taylor. Burdette nabbed third, ahead of Brian Ruhlman, and Dustin Demattia, Joel Watson, Mitch Thomas, Evan Taylor, Nate Young, and Bud Watson were sixth through tenth.

Heat wins went to Jonathan Taylor and Burdette. There was no B Main. The evening’s fast time was turned in by Thomas, with a lap of 21.120.

The Hobby Stocks closed out the night. Logan Koteles went wire-to-wire for the win. Marc Corio followed him to the checkers. Garrett O’Patchen, Leroy Brown, and Jonathan Koteles completed the top five.

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