SARVER, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) For the second year running, Western PA Speedweek’s round third round race at Lernerville Speedway became the opener —forced into the role following back-to-back rainouts at Michael’s Mercer Raceway and PPMS.
Still, Lernerville stepped up to the task and put on a show with a “Fab4” slate of racing headlined by 2021 track champions taking the checkered flag in three out of four feature races. A.J. Flick continued his 2022 dominance at Lernerville, winning the People’s Natural Gas Feature over a hectic final few laps.
Flick’s victory, despite his recent success at the track, came as somewhat of a surprise. He finished second in his heat behind Carl Bowser and ended up starting in tenth following an unlucky pill draw. On top of his bad starting position, Flick felt as though he didn’t have the car to win going into the race.
“I didn’t think we were very good tonight,” Flick said. “We probably weren’t a winning car today, but there’s been times where we were a winning car and we lost so it’s nice to not be a winning car and win one. I just need to figure out where I went wrong today setup-wise and try to make it better for tomorrow because Sharon is going to be slick.”
Sye Lynch started the feature on pole thanks to the pill draw, despite finishing behind Bowser and Flick in the first heat race. Third heat race winner Brandon Matus started alongside him in second, with the other two heat winners, Jared Zimbardi and Ryan Timms sharing the third row.
Prior to the A-Main’s green flag drop, Vivian Jones took the checkered flag in the B-Main, expertly managing restarts and holding off Chase Metheney and Denny Peebles to win in her first race driving a 410-sprint car. Jack Sodeman Jr. was the surprise of the night, finishing sixth in the B-Main and missing out on the feature race despite coming into the race fifth in the Peoples Sprints standings.
Lynch got off to a blistering start in the A-Main, using the outside lane, opening a sizeable lead to the rest of the drivers. The early movers were the fifteen-year-old Timms, who quickly moved up from sixth to fourth in the opening laps, and Flick who quickly jumped from tenth to fifth before Jones spun to force the first caution of the race.
On the restart, Lynch once again looked like he wouldn’t be caught, outpacing his competition to a lead that almost spanned a straightaway. Timms brought out the second caution of the day after pushing too hard and spinning off four, but Lynch continued to dominate restarts.
The rest of the race featured two incidents towards the front of the pack — the first saw Bob Flemlee and Brandon Matus collide exiting turn one, effectively ruining Matus’ race after he stepped out of the car. Later in the race, Bowser and Flick dramatically collided on the backstretch fighting for third, resulting in Bowser blowing a left rear and dropping to the back of the field.
Following the race Flick said that he was surprised he even made contact with Bowser and that it’s hard to fault either driver for the incident.
“I was surprised there was contact because I didn’t think that we were even close to each other, we hit like in the middle of the straightaway,” Flick said. “The contact was hard enough that it obviously broke his car, and I was obviously concerned about mine as well… I don’t think it was intentional by either party, it’s just a race deal where either I screwed up, he screwed up or we both screwed up.”
With just a handful of laps remaining Flick looked ready to coast to his $3,000 dollar prize — miles ahead of Flick and last year’s Western PA Speedweeks champion Ryan Smith who battled for second.
Immediately after taking the white flag and beginning to take on lapped traffic, Lynch got crossed up and ran straight into the back of Jones, who was running last on track at the time. Lynch’s car was totaled — resting just before the entry into turn one, right in front of the stunned Lernerville crowd.
Lynch pounded on his steering wheel in disgust and obvious frustration from having his only mistake of the race be the one that forced him out of $3,000 dollars and the Speedweek points lead.
After the incident, Flick said his mind immediately went to who was behind him and knew that Smith would be all over him for the green-white-checkered finish.
“I’ve got freakin’ Ryan Smith of all people running behind me in the second row,” Flick said. “He’s a good wheelman, a good slick track driver so I knew that he was going to be right there.”
The two looked to be the only to cars at the front capable of winning the race over the final two laps. Smith managed to pass Flick on the restart, but stayed in the middle line, allowing Flick to run the faster high line, and eventually run away with the win. Flick said that he made a mistake on the restart, allowing Smith to get by but that it also gave him information on how to pass the no. 6 car and how to then hold him behind for the two laps.
“So, I actually made a mistake, and he passed me but then he never moved up,” Flick said. “I understood that if I hit the top I wasn’t going to be challenged by Ryan. So, in a way, it was a bit fortunate that I made the mistake because Ryan was able to show me what he was doing, so then when he was behind me, I knew what to look out for… If I just hit my marks for two laps, I figured we were going to be okay.”
Flick ended up taking the checkered flag over Smith by just over one-second. The win was his third in five races there this year. On top of a $3,000 check, Flick’s win also means that he holds a four-point lead in the Western PA Speedweek points standings over Smith, who finished second. He also further extended his substantial lead in the People’s sprint standings, as Lynch and Bowser both had unfortunate ends to their races.
While the other three classes didn’t quite provide the drama that the 410 sprints did, Colton Flinner provided fans with plenty of fireworks throughout the night. In his late model heat race, he collided with Mike Norris on the backstretch, resulting in the two drivers spinning into the infield. A livid Norris got out of his car, immediately making his way over to Flinner to confront him inside his car. Norris ultimately wasn’t allowed to finish the sprint but looked to prove his point.
Flinner ultimately took a stress-free 2.5 second victory in the late model feature race over Alex Ferree and Matt Lux and had plenty of words following his win.
After addressing other drivers in the garage who apparently thought he was just a lucky driver, he called out fans who boo him simply because of his association with his father. His message was clear.
“I really needed this after that heat race just to shut everybody up,” said Flinner. “You guys can boo me all you want because my last name is what it is, and I really don’t give two sh**s.”
Track champion Jeremiah Shingledecker took the win in the modified division, holding off Garrett Krummert and Rex King Jr. to win by just over 1.4 seconds. Chris Schneider wrapped up the night with a win in the pro stocks division, handily beating out Tyler Dietz and Todd Weldon to become the only non-track champion winner of the evening.
Fab4 racing at Lernerville will resume next Friday and will also feature fireworks for the fans. Meanwhile, the Western PA Speedweek stays busy, moving onto its second leg of the weekend on Saturday at Sharon Speedway. Hot laps begin at 6 p.m.
Marks Gets Forth Speedweek Triumph and $15,000 at Williams Grove Speedway
MECHANICSBURG, PA (July 1, 2022): Brent Marks captured his fourth victory of Pennsylvania Speedweek and tenth of the season when he went wire to wire in the Mitch Smith Memorial at Williams Grove Speedway. The win was worth $15,000, but two things meant more to Marks than the money.
Marks was appreciative of the history that abounds at Williams Grove Speedway and the important role that Mitch Smith played in writing that history. “It is a real honor to be standing here on the frontstretch where he and so many others stood,” Marks observed. “I hope that someday some youngster that was up there in the stands watching this can remember me in the same way.”
The other important aspect for Marks was the fact that he padded his points lead for the Speedweek title. “We have been close before, but we could not complete the deal.” Marks is extremely confident that this will be his year to claim the championship.
Marks admitted that he made a big mistake near the end of the race that almost cost him the victory. With two laps remaining, Marks got hung up behind some lapped cars and Anthony Macri was coming after him. “I made a mistake and got caught in the middle behind a lapped car.” Marks continued, “I knew that Anthony was going to slide me. I was just hoping that he wouldn’t hit me. Thankfully, he raced me clean.” Macri did indeed put a slider on Marks in turn three of the final lap, squeezing between that lapped car of Sye Lynch and Marks, who was ripping the lip. Macri was unable to carry enough speed to complete the pass, and Marks used the momentum off the cushion to preserve the win.
“This car is just really good,” Marks noted. “We felt a little off until we had that open red and we made some adjustments.” The open red came just ten laps into the contest and, to the naked eye, Marks did not seem to be having any trouble at all before the opportunity to tweak the car presented itself. But, it is safe to say that the car was quite strong after that caution, so some improvements were made.
In addition to being good, Marks was lucky this evening as well. He drew the pole and many of his rivals were buried deeper in the field. Next to him for the start was Dylan Norris. Behind him was Rico Abreu, flanked by Troy Wagaman, Jr. Robbie Kendall and T.J. Stutts were in row three. Next in line were Macri and Justin Peck. Lucas Wolfe and Ryan Smith were in row five and Freddie Rahmer, Jr. and Logan Wagner were in row six. Danny Dietrich and Lance Dewease were in row seven, while Chase Dietz was in the last row.
Marks flew into turn one and the battle was on for teh second spot. Norris, Abreu, and Wagaman were among the contenders for it and Abreu seized control in turns three and four. Kendall settled into fifth, followed by Stutts, Macri, Peck, Wagner, and Smith.
As the field began to string out, Logan Wagner entered the picture. However, while running ninth, he broke the rear axle to bring out the first caution of the race.
On the ensuing restart, the front runners got away cleanly. But, in the middle of the pack, there was a lot of commotion. Rahmer and Dewease got together coming off turn four, and Dewease spun midway down the frontstretch. He struck the inside guardrail and severely damaged the front end of his car. Repairs could not be made and the defending event champion was out of the race.
Further difficulties took place on the restart. Several cars in the middle of the pack got together, with Austin Bishop and Lucas Wolfe being removed from the track. Peck was involved as well and he pitted for repairs. While he was able to rejoin the field, Peck was at the tail and he had to hustle to keep his string of top ten Speedweek finishes intact.
Marks, who is the only other racer in contention for the ten-for-ten bonus, dominated after the green light flashed on again. Abreu ran in second, but Macri came to life, chasing down Abreu after the halfway mark. Macri took second with five laps remaining.
It appeared as though Marks had an insurmountable lead. But when encountered some lapped cars near the end of the race, he proceeded cautiously and that enable Macri to close in.
The drama unfolded with two laps remaining. Macri was on the charge. When Marks floated along in the middle coming off turn two behind a lapper, Macri was ready to pounce. He attempted the slider in turn three on the last lap. He could not get the nose of his car ahead of Marks and, to his credit, he avoided contact with the leader. Marks came off four with a slight advantage and beat Macri to the scoring loop by 1.122 seconds.
Abreu was third, followed by Norris and Dietrich. Kendall, Wagaman, Rahmer, Smith, and Peck completed the top ten.
Heat winners were Norris, Abreu, Kendall, and Wagaman. Stutts was the fastest of the thirty-two entrants. The B Main victor went to Kyle Reinhardt. Dewease was unable to take time due to a mechanical problem with his car. He started last in his heat race and finished third to transfer to the A Main.
The Speedweek points, with two races remaining, find Marks at the head of the class. He has eighty counters more than Macri. Peck is nearly 200 points behind the leader. Dietrich moved ahead of Stutts. Wolfe and Rahmer remain close and could move ahead with a good finish.
Williams Grove will present 410 Sprints and the USAC East Coast 360 Sprints on July 8. The World of Outlaws tune-up will be June 15, featuring the 410 and 358 Sprints. The Summer Nationals, pitting the World of Outlaws against the PA Posse, will be held July 22 and 23.
Marks Takes Third Win of Speedweek
HAGERSTOWN, MD (June 30, 2022): Brent Marks was the first driver to gather three checkered flags during the Pennsylvania Speedweek. He chased down leader Kyle Larson during the long green flag run that lasted until lap twenty-eight of the thirty scheduled laps. The win fortifioed his points lead over Anthony Macri and Justin Peck, both of whom finished in the top ten.
“I never expected the track to get like that,” Marks said. “I thought that it (the moisture applied just before feature time) would last about ten laps and that everybody would go to the bottom. But it stayed good up top.” Indeed, the groove that Marks and Larson preferred was way up top, just inches from the fences at both ends of the speedway.
Marks explained how he was able to pass Larson for the lead. “Kyle threw a slider (on the lapped car of Freddie Rahmer, Jr.) and scrubbed a lot of speed off and I could stay up top and I could get a run on him into (turn) one.” Marks used a slider of his own to get past Larson and then he proceeded to pull away.
Larson got another shot at Marks after the lap twenty-eight caution, but Marks was in full defensive mode. “I was just trying to block him the last two laps,” Marks admitted candidly. “I could hear him but I didn’t know where he was. I couldn’t go to the top on the restart, I had to build my momentum to get up there,” he explained.
Larson felt that he was a little short. “Brent was really good, for sure. I couldn’t clear Rahmer and I knew that a run was coming,” Larson noted. As for the restart, Larson said that he was running the middle and that Marks “closed it off.”
Larson teased Marks by suggesting that he should go on the road more often and “beat up on guys like Gravel, and Sweet, and Macedo, so I can get a few more wins when I come here.” Larson added that he plans to be back in Pennsylvania in a couple of weeks, presumably for the World of Outlaws appearances at Port Royal Speedway and Williams Grove Speedway.
Macri, who was the hard charger and third place finisher, noted that his car was not good at the beginning of the night and that “it took a while for us to get the car better.” When asked if he thought that he couple capitalize on the restart, he thought that he could maybe get by Larson, but then he realized that his tires got too cold and they sealed over under the caution. “So, I got defensive and went for the points.”
Tanner Thorson and Larson brought the field to the green flag. Marks and Rico Abreu were in the second row. Devon Borden had his best starting spot of the week, fifth, with Peck beside him. Ryan Smith and Dylan Cisney had the final pill draw positions. Then came Rahmer and R.J. Stutts. Row six belonged to Danny Dietrich and Sye Lynch.
Although Thorson reached turn one first, he was never scored as the leader of the eveny. Larson rode the rim to take the lead comining off turn two and Marks followed him into second. Smith also got by the defending Chili Bowl champion on the opening lap. Abreu and Dietrich followed him.
During the long green flag run, Larson and Marks disappeared from the other racers. Smith and Thorson battled with Abreu for third, with each of them holding it at various times.
Macri was on the march. He advanced from thirteenth on the grid to the top ten within the first five laps. By lap fifteen, he was into the top five. He was running third at lap twenty-five, but he was very far behind the leaders.
Larson and Marks had lapped all the way up to the eighth position by the time that the caution came out. Rahmer, who was solidly in the top ten, was one of the lapped cars and he broke Larson’s momentum, enabling Marks to make the pass for the lead with twenty-two laps in the books.
When the green flag waived for the final two-lap dash, Marks got awya cleanly and Larson stayed close, hoping for a mistake. Macri did take a peek inside of Larson coming off turn four, but he spun the tires and Larson got away.
At the finish, it was Marks, Larson, Macri, Dietrich, and Smith. Abreu got shuffled back to sixth. Borden, Lucas Wolfe, Chase Dietz, and Rahmer completed the top ten.
Thirty-six Sprints registered for the race. The four heats went to Thorson, Larson, Abreu, and Borden. The B Main winner was Ryan Timms. The evening’s fastest qualifier was Smith, who turned a lap of 15.824 seconds.
Marks leads Macri by 62 points and Peck by 130 heading into the Mitch Smith Memorial at WIlliams Grove Speedway. Wolfe and Stutts are fourth and fifth. Dietrich is sixth, followed by Freddie Rahmer, Jr., Dietz, Larson, and Ryan Smith.
Marks Makes it Two at Port Royal Speedway
PORT ROYAL, PA (June 29, 2022): Brent Marks became the second driver to double up during Pennsylvania Speedweek, winning the first of two events to be hosted at the Port Royal Speedway. In the process, Marks moved into the points lead for the mini series.
Also scoring at Port Royal was Mark Smith in the United Racing Club 360 Sprint feature.
“I got lucky,” Marks said. “I ran out of fuel just as I crossed the line.” Marks also had some good fortune during the race. “I was happy with the yellows becasue I didn’t have to race the lapped cars. The yellows fell my way for a change.” The night before, at Grandview Speedway, he made a move on the leader but a caution nullified his passing attempt.
The front row paired Anthony Macri with Marks. The second row belonged to the Wagner family, with dad, Mike, inside son, Logan. The third row had Kyle Larson matched with Dylan Cisney. Christopher Bell and Lance Dewease were in brown four. The fifth row had Justin Peck and Ryan Timms, who was making his first Speedweek start. Blane Heimbach and Rico Abreu were in row six.
Marks won the race to the first turn, Macri was second, pinned to the inside by his rival, Logan Wagner. Cisney, Larson, Mike Wagner, and Peck followed.
Logan Wagner made the move into second on lap three and he took off after Marks. Macri, Cisney, Larson, and Mike Wagner led Peck and Dewease in the early going.
A caution on lap seven bunched the field and Larson was able to gain a couple of spots on the restart. He closed in on Logan Wagner in a couple of laps and made his move into second on lap nineteen. Macri also passed Logan Wagner that lap.
Fans were expecting a three car battle, as Larson and Macri tightened things up. However, Macri detonated his motor on lap twenty-one and Justin Whittal spun in the oil dropped in turn four.
While the field was circulating under the yellow, Larson’s right rear tire started to lose air. He restarted the race and fought with Logan Wagner for second for a lap or so. Wagner gained the position and Larson began to fade. His tire let go just as Marks crossed for lap twenty-five.
Marks had the point for the five-lap dash to the finish. Logan Wagner led Mike Wagner, Dewease, Cisney, Peck, and Lucas Wolfe to the green flag.
Marks opened up a significant advantage over Logan Wagner, who was struggling now. Mike Wagner shot by in the middle groove to take second with a pair of laps remaining.
Marks took the checkers ahead of the Wagners–Mike then Logan–Dewease, and Peck. Cisney, Wolfe, and T.J. Stutts were the next three finishers. Abreu and Freddie Rahmer completed the top ten. Stutts was awarded the hard charger bonus, advancing fifteen positions in the race.
The four heat winners were Mike Wagner, Marks, Larson, and Macri. Larson and Macri were the first drivers this week to knock-out a driver from the re-draw. They started fourth to get their wins and consequently they split the $500 bonus provided by Lelands.com. Whittal prevailed in the B Main. Logan Wagner set the fast time of the night. He was the only driver to turn in a time less than sixteen seconds, 15.954 to be exact. Larson was the best of Group B, with a time of 16.260.
Marks moved ahead of Macri in the Speedweek rankings, 748 to 693. Peck remained in third. Wolfe and Stutts complete the top five. Freddie Rahmer, Jr. holds down sixth, ahead of Danny Dietrich and Jeff Halligan. Lance Dewease returned to the top ten despite skipping one round. Chase Dietz is tenth heading to Hagerstown Speedway.
In the companion URC 360 Sprint feature, Josh Weller followed Frankie Herr for a lap before assuming command. Mark Smith used a couple of restarts to improve his track position. Indeed, following a lap six restart he executed a slider in turn three to take the lead from Weller.
Weller had a number of shots at Smith on the double file restarts that followed, but Smith was able to maintain his advantage each time.
Weller’s strong run ended on lap 24 when his left rear tire went flat. However, track officials displayed the caution and then the checkers as the midnight curfew was reached. Weller was credited with second.
Jason Schultz, the URC points leader, was scored third, ahead of Derek Locke and Dallas Schott. Herr, Mike Thompson, Mike Kiser, Devin Adams, and Cody Fletcher rounded out the top ten.
Nash Ely was unhurt in a spectacular crash atthe entry to turn one during the URC feature.
The three heat winners were Schott, Mark Smith, and Kiser. There was no B Main.
Anthony Macri blew the engine in the Sean Michael prepared 360 in his heat race.
Port Royal Speedway will be back in action Saturday for the ninth round of Speedweek. It will be the Greg Hodnett Classic paying $10,000. The Super Late Models will provide the support. July 9 will be a 410 Sprint program with both Super Lates and Limited Lates. Bicycle and power Wheel races will be held for the children as well. July 16 will be the return of the AMA Flat Track Motorcycles. Then, on July 20, the World of Outlaws will make their first appearance of the season at the Speed Palace. The Wingless Super Sportsmen will be on the card too.