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Dirt Racing

Spithaler FAST at Knox Raceway

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KNOX, PA (May 14, 2023): Brendan Spithaler captured his first career victory with the FAST on Dirt Sprint Series at Knox Raceway. Also scoring opening night victories were Jimmy Holden in the 358 Modifieds and Jim Horwat in the 270 Micros.

“It feels great (to get the win). We were trying like hell last night, but I messed up and put us in a hole for points,” Spitahler said.

Sean Rayhall and Greg Wilson made up an all Buckeye front row for the start of the thirty lapper. Next in line were Kasey Jedrezek and Jack Sodeman, Jr. The third row paired up Brandon Spithaler and Justin Clark. The fourth had Michael Bauer and George Hobaugh, Jr. Row five belonged to Rickie Peterson and Brandon Matus. A.J. Flick and Carl Bowser were dance partners in row six.

The initial start was waived off due to a spin by Jedrezek in turn one. Remarkably, no others were involved.

When the green flashed on again, it stayed lit for rest of the race. With no other interruptions, and it seemed like the leaders were constantly in traffic on the tight third mile. Spithaler explained, “It was a hectic race, there was a lot of traffic out there. It was great racing with Greg (Wilson), he has a lot of wins under his belt.”

While the Ohio pilot was disappointed to lose the lead, he was appreciative of his second place finish. “Second sucks, but we’ve been so bad. This weekend we went pick and choose, and we made the podium.” Wilson gave props to Spithaler, too, “Brandon doesn’t give himself enough credit, he’s always fast when he comes our way.”

Wilson grabbed the lead, with Sodeman, Rayhall, Spithaler, Clark, Hobaugh, Peterson, Brandon Matus, and Bob Felmlee in tow. Things were unchanged through the first five laps, but Spithaler started making moves soon thereafter. He took second coming off turn two on lap nine, and he began stalking the leader.

Spithaler set Wilson up in traffic and took the lead coming through turns three and four to complete lap seventeen. Wilson stayed close, and when Spithaler encountered two lapped cars racing for position, Wilson dipped to the inside of the leader entering turn one. But, Spithaler jogged to the outside of the slower cars and passed them both, keeping Wilson pinned behind the slower cars. That gave him enough breathing room to lead the rest of the way without any further challenges.

Meanwhile, Clark and Sodeman put on a battle for the third spot. Clark came out on top, but it was a very close contest for much of the second half of the race.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what to look for,” Clark said. “I got to Jack and I couldn’t see going down the back stretch. I hope I left him enough room.”

Clark earned his first podium finish in his rookie season in a 410 Sprint Car. Sodeman had to settle for fourth. Peterson picked up several spots in the stretch run to get fifth. Positions six through ten went to Rayhall, Bauer, Flick, Felmlee, and Hobaugh.

Three Rivers Karting

Three heats were presented, with wins going to Rayhall, Clark, and Jadrezek. There was no B Main. Spithaler was the fastest qualifier with a time of 13.941 seconds.

A small but competitive field lined up for the fifteen lap 358 Modified go. Chad Reitz made his return to the Modified wars and started from the pole. On his wing was Tom Holden. Jimmy Holdena nd Kyle Fink were in row two, with Ayden Cipriano bringing up the rear.

Reitz showed no signs of rust despite being away from the sport for some nineteen years. He led the first two laps before Jimmy Holden took over. Ewitz did bring out the only caution of the event, though, getting loose on the front straight and coming to a stop on the inside of turn one.

Jimmy Holden held off Kyle Fink for the final five laps to get the win for car owner Mike Stine, who compiled an impressive record during his driving days. Cipriano, Tom Holden, and Reitz were the other finishers.

Fink won the preliminary for the 358 Mod men.

In the 270 Micro action, veteran Jim Horwat sat in for his son who was under the weather, and drove a flawless race. His first win at Knox Raceway came in 1987! Back then, the track was named Sportsmen’s Speedway.

James Horwat, III made things interesting in the final laps, but came up short at the checkers. Taking third was Wes Libert. Keaton Hines and Parker Lucas completed the top five. Positions six through nine went to Connor Metheney, Jace Pettigrew, Bella Betts, and Nash Lucas. Audrina Hobaugh did not start the event.

Knox Raceway will be back in action on Wednesday, May 31. That will be round one of the Western PA Sprint Speedweek. Also on the card will be the RUSH Sprints.

FAST Sorints: Brandon Spithaler, Greg Wilson, Justin CLarkm Jack Sodeman, Jr., Rickie Peterson, Sean Rayhall, Michael Bauer, A.J. Flick, Bob Felmlee, George Hobaugh, Jr., Kasey Jedrezek, Brandon Matus, Carl Bowser, Jeremy Weaver, Mitch Harble, Darin Gallagher, Jordan Ryan, Andy Cavanaugh, Michael Lutz, Jr., Brent Matus, Brandon Mazaros.

358 Modifieds: Jimmy Holden, Kyle Fink, Zyden Cipriano, Tom Holden, Chad Reitz.

270 Micros: Jim Howat, James Horwat, III, Wes Libert, Keaton Hines, Parker Lucas, Connor Metheney, Jace Pettigrew, Bella Betts, and Nash Lucas, Audrina Hobaugh (DNS).

Dirt Racing

Troutman and Moran Share Night Two Wins at Lernerville’s Firecracker

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Photo by Paul Arch

SARVER, PA (June 21, 2024): Drake Troutman rallied to win his first career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series in the first preliminary feature on night two of the Firecracker weekend at Lernerville Speedway. Also gracing victory lane was Devin Moran for the eleventh time in his LOLMDS career.

Troutman, the nineteen year old racer from Hyndman, Bedford County, PA, was very emotional after getting the checkered flag. “I don’t know what to say, I didn’t think we’d be getting one of these in a while.” After composing himself, Troutman dedicated the win to his late father, D.J. Troutman, who perished in 2021 during the height of the Covid pandemic. Troutman was also appreciative of the crew of his family owned machine. “We just have a bunch of kids, they are with me at the shop all hours of the day and night and they are with me up and down the road.”

Troutman grabbed the lead three laps into the fray, but he surrendered the point again to Mason Zeigler, who went from third to first on a lap four restart. They battled side by side for several laps before Troutman was able to regain the lead on lap ten. “I figured he’d have me around the top,” Troutman said, “but we were able to get back around on the bottom.”

Troutman and Zeigler made an all-Pennsylvania front row. Ross Robinson and Tim McCreadie were in row two, The third row consisted of Daulton Wilson and Trevor Collins. Garrett Alberson and Jared Miley took off from row four. Dan Stone and Clay Harris departed from row five. The sixth row featured Gregg Satterlee and Tyler Wyant.

Zeigler grabbed the early lead, with Troutman, Robinson, McCreadie, Wilson, and Alberson in tow. Trountman dipped to the inside to get the lead on lap three, just before a caution was shown for the spin by Forrest Trent.

Zeigler ripped the lip in turns one and two to assume control when the race resumed. Troutman battled back, though, and the duo went back and forth for a handful of laps. Troutman got the advantage coming through turns three and four to lead lap ten. Two laps later, McCreadie got by Zeigler.

Troutman had a comfortable lead at the time that McCreadie moved into second. However, Troutman caught the back markers, and that enabled McCreadie to cut into the lead.

Fortunately for Troutman, a caution flashed on again on lap sixteen, when Wilson spun in turn one while fighting for track position with a lapped car. Wilson was running third at the time. Robinson and Zeigler took evasive action, driving off the track, but they were not scored as part of the caution, so they regained their top five starting positions.

The last nine laps went off without a hitch. During that run, Robinson began to apply pressure to McCreadie for the second spot. He was able to slip ahead of McCreadie in the closing laps.

Troutman had a bit of a scare heading for the checkered flag. The lapped car of Jamie Lathroum suddenly slowed coming through turn four and he drifted up to the top of the speedway. Troutman was coming, and he checked up to avoid contact. Robinson was far enough back that he was unable to sneak by the leader.

Following the pair of sevens was McCreadie. Fourth went to Alberson and fifth to charging Jared Miley, who picked up three spots in the stretch run. Satterlee, Tyler Wyant, Trevor Collins, and Jimmy Owens completed the top ten.

Three Rivers Karting

Both Robinson and McCreadie were happy for Troutman. Robinson commended the youthful team for their hard work and perseverance. McCreadie remarked that Troutman is a good, clean racer, who would battle hard, but not make contact. Both drivers commented about tire choices as well, Robinson and Troutman were both on hard rubber. McCreadie went with a different choice, and he said that he was unable to turn off the cushion because of it.

The officials must have been listening to the post-race interviews, as they called an audible before the start of the second twenty-five lapper. They applied water to the surface and spent a good twenty minutes working the track in again. Meanwhile, the racers were sent back to their pits to make any adjustments in light of the unanticipated track preparation.

Although “a lot of guys were freaking out,” as Devin Moran put it, he proclaimed that “we didn’t change a thing.” He figured that the track would stay hard and he felt no changes were needed for the second feature. Moran was right.

Michael Norris and Devin Moran paired up in row one, with Hudson O’Neal and Jonathan Davenport right behind them. Row three belonged to Ricky THornton, Jr. and Ken Schaltenbrand. In row four, it was Chub Frank and Mike Marlar. Paired up in the fifth row were Spencer Hughes and Levi Yetter. The sixth row had Colton Flinner and John Garvin.

Norris jumped out to the early lead, and the partisan faithful were hoping that he, too, could capture his first LOLMDS win. Norris drew away from Moran by several car lengths in the first five laps. Racing behind them were Davenport, O’Neal, Thornton, and Schaltenbrand.

Norris’ bid for another Firecracker preliminary win exploded on laps five and six. The others came under the World of Outlaws sanction. He got up on two wheels in turn one. The miscue enabled Moran to drive by him. Norris brought the car back down and he was able to complete lap six in second place. However, the car shot straight off turn one, and he backed it into the distant guard rail at the south end of the track. He was able to refire and, after a quick check in the hot pit area, he was able to resume the race.

Moran raced out front for the remainder of the contest. Davenport ran in second for a lap or two before Thornton got by. Thornton could not catch Moran, though.

The final caution came on lap fifteen when Kyle Lukon clobbered the wall and some water barrels at the exit to turn four. On the ensuing restart, Marlar shot into second. O’Neal also moved ahead a notch in the running order.

At the finish, it was Moran, Marlar, Thornton, O’Neal, and Davenport. Max Blair advanced to sixth, ahead of Schaltenbrand, Frank, Carson Ferguson, and Hughes.

The evening’s fastest qualifiers were Drake Troutman, whose lap of 15.589 was best in Group A. Michael Norris was best overall when he topped Group B with a time of 15.524 seconds.

The six heat races went to Drake Troutman, Mason Ziegler, Ross Robinson, Michael Norris, Devin Moran, and Hudson O’Neal.

There were no B Mains.

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Dirt Racing

Thornton and Davenport Score Preliminary Wins on Night One of the Firecracker Weekend at Lernerville

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Photo: Paul Arch

SARVER, PA (June 20, 2024): Ricky Thornton, Jr. and Jonathan Davenport captured the twenty-five lap preliminary features on night one of the Firecracker weekend at Lernerville Speedway. The successful racers earned valuable points that will be used to set the starting lineups for the heat races on the final night of the event. Barring some misfortunes on night two, these stalwarts are likely to earn choice starting spots in Saturday’s heat races.

Thornton noted that the track was “super technical,” but he was “pretty efficient” at both ends of the speedway. He explained that he was able to get into the corners and to turn the car. He was a bit concerned by Devin Moran on a couple of the restarts, though. Thornton worried about his placement on the track. He decided to slide himself to try to take away any momentum that Moran could generate coming off turn four.

Thornton had the pole with Garrett Alberson on his right. Hudson O’Neal and Moran lined up behind them. Mike Marlar and Tim MCreadie occupied row three. Then came track favorite Michael Norris and Jimmy Owens. Max Blair and Spencer Hughes paired up in row five. John Garvin, Jr. and Alex Ferree claimed row six for the local contingent.

Thornton got a second chance at the start of the first preliminary feature. Moran charged from fourth to first on what would have been the opening lap. However, a four car tangle in turn four wiped that out. A complete restart was ordered.

On the second try, Thornton was better prepared. He grabbed the lead ahead of Alberson, Moran, O’Neal, Norris, Marlar, McCreadie, Owens, Blair, and Michael Duritsky. Before the racers could get into a steady rhythm, a caution for Ferree slowed the pace.

Three Rivers Karting

Thornton held the advantage on the restart, O’Neal and Moran worked by Alberson. Marlar displaced Norris, and Owens was hot on his heels.

The field got nineteen laps in before the next caution was displayed. Moran was the unfortunate fellow who got up over the berm between turns one and two. It was unclear whether he flattened a right rear tire or whether he merely packed the wheel with mud. In any event, he limped to the pits, ending his night a bit early.

Thornton completed the remaining three laps without incident to earn $5,000. Marlar crossed in second, followed by Alberson. Norris rallied to take fourth, a spot ahead of Owens. O’Neal slipped to sixth. McCreadie, Hughes, Blair, and Zeigler rounded out the top ten.

Marlar knew that he could not contend with Thornton in the three lap dash that ended the race. “I definitely thought that when he had the clean air for the last three laps, I know that I wasn’t going to get him.” He added that the cushion was “treacherous,” and he cited the problem encountered by Moran as an example. “I decided to just bring it home in second and put it in the trailer.”

Alberson was appreciative of the late race caution. He was on a soft right rear tire, and he was able to get to the bottom and to pass O’Neal. “If I want to race with these guys for the lead, we have some more work to do,” he added. Well, Alberson, and all other racers, will get a second opportunity to gather points in the double feature format to be used on night two.

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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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