BRIDGEPORT, NJ (November 7, 2020): Alex Yankowski experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in the final moments of the Danny Serrano Memorial 100 at Bridgeport Motorsports Park. Moments after the sixteen-year-old pilot from Covington Township, PA took the checkered flag for the biggest win of his young career, he was involved in a spectacular crash that heavily damaged his potent Big Block Modified.
Also picking up wins were Paulie Cologiovanni in the United Racing Club 360 Sprint Cars and Steve Davis in the 602 Crate Sportsmen Invitational.
Yankowski started the century grind deep in the pack, twenty-third to be exact. Through the first half of the race, he drove very conservatively. “I tried to ride around and save the car,” he explained. Even after the midpoint, Yankowski did not appear amongst the leaders. It was not until about 57 that he cracked into the top ten. The car really came to life in the final thirty laps. By that time, he reached fifth, and he had probably the fastest car on the track.
A restart on lap 73 had him in fourth spot, but not for long. When the green light flashed on, he darted into second and was pressing veteran Ryan Godown for the lead. Yankowski dove low in turn three four laps later and slid up ahead of Godown. The rest was history.
Yankowski had to fend off a challenge from Ryan Watt in the final laps. Watt drew up beside him in traffic once, but the youngster rolled the top in turn one and opened up a three car length advantage coming off the second corner. Watt never got close again.
On the cool down lap, Yankowski was following some lappers that were fighting for position on their final circuit. Peter Britten spun in turn four and Yankowski went high to avoid him. Yankowski got into some lose dirt out by the wall and he got sucked in. He climbed the wall and the nose of his car got above the concrete and into the catch fence. The fence did its job of keeping the car on the track, but Yankowski mowed down a couple of posts that held the chain link fence and cables. The right front wheel was torn off and the car tumbled to a halt by the flagstand. Fortunately, no other cars struck Yankowski’s mangled machine. He climbed out unscathed and walked over to the ambulance. After spending some time getting checked out, he waived out the ambulance door to the adoring crowd before emerging for his post-race interview.
“We had a good car, obviously not so good now,” he said with a smile. Yankowski promised to get it patched up for Sunday’s fifty lap finale.
Ryan Krachun and Jimmy Horton led the field to the green flag, followed by Mike Mahaney and Danny Bouc. Jeff Strunk and Jojo Watson were in the third row, with Watt and Dwayne Howard in row four. Jared Umbenhauer and Danny Sammons were next, followed by Dom Buffalino and Dillon Steuer.
Krachun led the way until turn three on the opening lap. He rapped the outside wall and turned the lead over to Horton. Soon thereafter, Krachun stopped his car due to the damage it sustained.
On the ensuing restart, Watson used the outside line to pass Horton. Watson held sway until lap 41, when Bouc assumed command. Bouc continued out front until lap 59, when Godown blasted by. Godown had started in twenty-fifth position and he steadily moved forward through the first half of the race, Some of his moves in traffic were simply amazing.
Godown got a scare on lap 68 when he brushed the wall between turns three and four. He kept the car moving and did not lose his lead. Bouc did cut into the margin, but he was not close enough to seize the opportunity to pass the leader.
The turning point of the race came between laps 70 and 77. Two quick cautions bunched the field up on laps 70 and 73, giving Yankowski the chance to pick off some competitors in bunches. As noted, he moved into second on a restart and took the lead with 23 laps remaining.
Watt was also coming forward in the stretch run. He was second by lap 85 and he did close in on the leader once. But, after Watt showed his nose beneath a lapped car, Yankowski fought back and he completed the rest of the laps with a comfortable margin.
Following Yankowski and Watt were Godown, Bouc, and Strunk. Frank Cozze, Mahaney, Matt Stangle, Rick Laubach, and Billy Pauch completed the top ten.
In the final race of the year for the URC Sprints, Alex Bright started on the pole, with Austin Bishop by his side. Cologiovanni was lined up third, with J.J. Grasson next to him. Chuck Hebing and Tim Tanner were in the third row, with R.J. Jacobs and Briggs Danner in the row behind. Then came Tyler Ross and Troy Betts and Ryan Smith and Derek Locke.
Bright jumped out front, followed by Bishop, Cologiovanni, Grasso and Hebing. Bright blew his engine while leading and turned the lead over to Cologiovanni with ten laps complete. Hebing gave chase until the halfway mark. That was when Ryan Smith took over second.
Smith got a couple of shots at the leader and he was able to execute a slide job in turn one once to grab the lead. However, Cologiovanni turned back under Smith in turn two to regain the lead. From that point on, Cologiovanni drove defensively. “I couldn’t really tell where somebody was catching me,” he said. “So, I was driving a defensive line. A couple of times, I got up in the marbles and clipped the wall, but I cut off two and was pretty fast.”
Cologiovanni led Smith to the checkers. Danner came on for third, followed by Hebing and Locke. Sixth went to Jason Schultz. Then Tyler Ross and the two title contenders, Josh Weller and Adam Carberry. Troy Betts completed the top ten.
Smith’s combined finishes of fifth on Friday and second on Saturday earned him the Midge Miller Memorial trophy. Smith said that this weekend was the most fun that he had in a Sprint Car all season. Readers may remember that Smith lost the ride in the Mike Heffner number 72 410 Sprinter just before the month of money in Pennsylvania.
Carberry clinched the points championship despite struggling throughout the race. His cause was aided somewhat by attrition. Plus, his rival, Weller, was caught up in an incident with Grasso just before the halfway sign. Weller’s car sustained some damage to the right rear corner which affected its performance. He brought the wounded car home one spot ahead of Carberry, but that was not enough to overcome the thirteen point deficit.
Heat winners in the Sprint Car ranks were Bishop, Cologiovanni, Ross, and Bright. Schultz won the B Main. Two Central PA favorites were eliminated in heat race action. Lucas Wolfe had an oil leak which led to a fire. Mark Smith was involved in a minor skirmish that damaged the right rear suspension and flattened a tire. Neither Wolfe nor Smith answered the call for the B Main.
In the Sportsmen Invitational, the first 28 laps were run off without any interruptions. Steve Kemery led that entire distance. However, the fireworks came after that. Second place runner Steve Davis went on the offensive on the restart. There was plenty of contact between the two racers over the final two laps. While they roughed each other up, Peyton Talbot made a charge for the win. He came up just a couple of feet short at the checkers.
Davis got the win, much to the disappointment of the remaining fans. Kemery and Talbot followed. Dan Fleming, Ryan Simmons, Sammy Martz, Jr., Howie Finch, Danny Buccafusca, Matt Peck, and Jim Houseworth rounded out the top ten.
Buccafusca, Davis, and Kemery were the heat winners for the Sportsmen. Davis won the dash to earn the pole position for the feature.
Bridgeport Motorsports Park will close out its season on Sunday with a fifty lapper for the Modifieds. Sportsmen, Street Stocks, and Speedsters will also be on the card. Racing will begin 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)