BLAIR ENDS 2019 SWEENEY RUSH LATE MODEL TOUR WITH 6TH WIN BUT WONDERLING EARNS 2ND STRAIGHT TITLE; 2ND RUSH MOD WIN FOR GABANY WHILE TEAMMATE KRUMMERT TAKES HOVIS TOUR & WEEKLY TITLES FOR 2ND STRAIGHT YEAR; MORROW ROUNDS OUT LERNERVILLE'S "STEEL CITY STAMPEDE" WITH RUSH SPRINT VICTORY WHILE TITLE TO RUHLMAN AGAIN
By Mike Leone
October 18-19, 2019 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Sarver, PA)... The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Racing Series powered by Pace Performance was part of the 11th annual "Steel City Stampede" this past weekend at Lernerville Speedway featuring the Sweeney RUSH Late Model Touring Series, the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply RUSH Sportsman Modified Touring Series, and the Bonnell's Rod Shop RUSH Sprint Car Weekly Series in their season finale events.
Capturing wins were Max Blair (Late Models), Eric Gabany (Sportsman Modifieds), and Zach Morrow (Sprint Cars), while Chad Sines ended the night winning the Late Model Non-Qualifier. The RUSH Pro Stock "Manufacturers Night" presented by MSD Performance took place on Saturday with over $8,000 in product giveaways. A total of 93 Chevrolet Performance crate engine racers were in competition during the weekend.
Making his first "Steel City Stampede" start in four years, Max Blair became the first repeat winner in the 11-year history of the event for the RUSH Late Models. Blair passed pole-sitter Jeremy Wonderling on the start and fended him off through lapped traffic during the second half of the event for his sixth Sweeney Tour victory of 2019, worth $2,000, and made it two-for-two at Lernerville following his $10,000 "Bill Emig Memorial" win in June. Meanwhile, for the second straight year, Wonderling entered the event in second place in points, and for the second straight year finished second to win the $5,000 title- this time by just one point over Kyle Lukon!
"I got into those lapped cars and didn't know where to go," revealed the 29-year-old Centerville, Pa. winner. "I was trying to be patient and I thought I heard something and looked down and caught a glimpse of yellow (Wonderling) getting off (turn) four one time. I thought to myself, 'I need to make something happen right now', and we got through there. I'm pumped for Jeremy and his guys that he won a championship again- great guy and family. I can't congratulate him on that enough."
Also for the second straight year, Wonderling won the dash to earn the pole position for the 25-lap feature. He wouldn't lead a lap though as Blair made the outside work on the start to narrowly lead lap one over Wonderling followed by fifth starting Chad Homan, John Mollick, and Lukon.. A pair of cautions with one lap scored were the only stoppages of the event as the final 24 laps went caution-free.
When racing resumed for good, sixth starting Lukon made his way to fourth nearly taking third from Mollick. Wonderling hounded Blair getting alongside him on lap five, but Blair maintained the lead as the top three began to distance themselves from the field on lap six. Blair caught the back of the back on lap 10 and found himself mired in heavy lapped traffic on lap 12. Blair made a great move splitting a pair of lapped cars to open up some breathing room on lap 13.
Meanwhile, Lukon needed to gain at least another position as he closed in on Mollick, but faced pressure from New York standout, Homan, who pulled even on lap 14. Lukon was able to stave off Homan's challenges for now as he got alongside Mollick for third on lap 18. While this was going on, Wonderling smelled victory and a championship as once again he put the heat on Blair- this tme on lap 18, but just couldn't make the move. Homan did finally make the pass of Lukon for fourth on lap 20, but Lukon didn't go away regaining the position on lap 22 as his championship hopes began to run out of time.
Blair wouldn't let Wonderling get any closer as he took the checkered flag first by 2.143 seconds for his all-time leading 27th career Sweeney RUSH Tour win in his Murphy’s Logging/C&J Dairy/Previty’s Auto Wrecking/Specialty Products/Moody & Son Welding-sponsored #111. Blair earned $23,000 alone for his six 2019 Tour wins plus another $2,500 for his two runner-up finishes bringing his total Tour feature earnings to $25,500 in eight starts! Blair will also receive $8,000 for winning the National Weekly Series & Summer Chase Championships along with eighth place Tour and Weekly Track Pack monies. Those monies alone total approximately $34,500!
Last year it was Wonderling finishing second at Lernerville to Colton Flinner to overtake Jason Genco to earn his first Tour championship; this time it was second to Blair at Lernerville for another $1,000 to overtake Lukon for the title. Wonderling became the first repeat Tour champion in Series history. New York racers have now won four straight Tour titles!
"The last few races have been tough," acknowledged the 39-year-old Wellsville, NY driver. "I thought I was in good shape throughout the summer then started to struggle real bad. I wouldn't be here without 955 Automotive, CRS, Longhorn Chassis, Penske Shocks, Beyea Headers, Swift Springs, my family, and crew. I changed about everything on this car except the seat. When I entered the race, it was going to be what it was going to be. During the race I was trying to keep pace with Max, and never looked at the board to see what Lukon was doing. I had no idea what was going on until they came over the radio I told me I was the champion. This means a lot. Thank you also to Sweeney Chevrolet and everyone at RUSH- the work you put into this is a ton of help."
After three straight heartbreaking Tour runs at his home track Pittsburgh's PA Motor Speedway, Mollick was able to put together an entire feature to make the podium in third. After winning three straight Tour races at PPMS for $18,800, Lukon finished a disappointing fourth and came home second in points in his first season on the Tour. "Futures Cup" racer, Ryan Frazee, ended his rookie Tour campaign strong with his second straight fifth place run as he got past Homan late.
After working his way to third early on, Homan backpedaled to sixth at the finish. West Virginia racer, Garret Paugh, was seventh after starting 11th. Robbie Scott made his second straight Tour start in a second Jim Zarin entry and finished eighth after winning the Non-Qualifier at PPMS. Michael Duritsky, Jr. ended his first full-time season on the Tour in third place in points after charging from the 18th starting spot to ninth to earn the $100 Precise Racing Products "Pedal Down" Hard Charger gift card. John Waters rounded out the top 10 and secured the 12th and final points-paying position in the Tour.
Logan Zarin finished 15th and received a $150 spoiler kit from Ontime Body & Graphic. Former Crate Late Model standout, Bud Watson returned to his roots making his first start since 2012 after moving on to E-Mods and finished 18th. Watson held off the fellow #21 of Kyle Murray for the fifth and final transfer spot in his heat race and was chosen as the Dirt Defender "Defensive Drive of the Night" recipient. Scott Waters was the only casualty from Friday night's heat race and was chosen as the TBM Brakes "Tough Brake of the Night" recipient. Justin Lamb, Collin Burke, Zarin, Jason Fosnaught, and Frazee were the lucky $100 recipients as part of the Zarin Truck & Automotive "$500 Club" drawings.
Chad Sines ended the weekend and season by leading all 10 laps of the Non-Qualifier race for his second win of the year. Sines not only earned $200, but overtook 2017 champion, Jamie Wrightsman, to win the "Wheelman" Bonus Event Challenge Series Championship! Sines' first ever Non-Qualifier win came just two events ago at Pittsburgh when that victory was worth $400 part of the "Jook George Steel City Classic". Sines' Yuhasz Bros Farms/JD's Pit Stop/Cerni Motor Sales/Dar Slusher Trucking/NAPA/Midway Chevrolet/Russ King Racing/955 Automotive-sponsored #15 took the checkered flag first by 1.847 seconds over seventh starting Bobby Springer. John Oaks was third. Josh Stoica came back from an early caution to finish fourth over "Futures Cup" racer Jacob Peterson.
On Friday, Ferree set a new track record in "Shock the Clock" Qualifying with a lap of 16.776 eclipsing the former standard of 16.893 set by Mike Pegher, Jr. on July 1, 2016 to earn $100 from FK Rod Ends driving the second Phil Lukon entry. Picking up $25 FK Rod Ends heat race victories were Ferree, John Waters, Blair, and Mollick.
Eric Gabany passed teammate Rex King, Jr. on lap three following a restart and held him off throughout the final 18 caution-free laps to earn his second $800 Hovis Auto & Truck Supply RUSH Sportsman Modified Touring Series victory in the past three races. Gabany became the sixth different winner in as many "Steel City Stampede" events in the history of the division. Like the Late Models, as part of a race within the race, Garrett Krummert came from 13th to fourth to earn both the Hovis Tour and $3,000 Hovis Weekly Series Championships for the second consecutive year for car owner Jerry Schaffer!
"This is awesome- I'm so excited," expressed the 34-year-old Mercer, Pa. feature winner. "The first time I thought I had him (King) then we had another restart and ended up on top of the last one, and it all worked out good. I have to definitely thank Jerry Schaffer. These are all his cars including Garrett's. We all did a pretty good job. I have to also thank all of my buddies that came to help."
The Schaffer team cars of Rex King, Jr. and Eric Gabany led the 24-car starting field to green for their 20-lap feature as it was King taking the early lead in his first ever RUSH start over Gabany, Josh Deems, last year's winner Blaze Myers, and Brian Sadler. Chas Wolbert saw his Weekly Series Championship hopes die when he got tangled up with Amelia Clay with two laps scored. Wolbert was chosen as the TBM Brakes "Tough Brake of the Night" recipient.
When racing resumed, Gabany snuck under King for what would turn out to be the winning pass. Prior to the caution, Sadler had passed Myers for fourth then grabbed third from Deems on the restart. Krummert cracked the top five on lap five before Deems would regain third from Sadler on lap six. King continued to keep Gabany in his sights, but on lap 15 Gabany made a key move in lapped traffic slicing through Clayton Deems and Steve Slater that would help to secure the victory.
Gabany went unchallenged from that point on as he extended his lead and took the checkered flag first by 2.585 seconds in the Jerry Schaffer-owned, Turn 4 Toilets/Atlantic Timber Farms-sponsored #4s for his second career Lernerville win, but first since 2012. Gabany also received a Sunoco 5-Gallon Race Jug. King was second over a good run by Deems as he denied the Schaffer cars of a sweep of the podium.
Krummert finally got by Sadler for fourth on lap 17 after a long battle, and also earned the $100 Precise Racing Products "Pedal Down" Hard Charger gift card. "We got caught up in that first wreck a little bit and the right front was broke so I was just trying to maintain there and hold on," explained the 31-year-old Ellwood City, Pa. winner. "It's good to win the championships; these guys are good and I had a lot of fun this year. The deal with RUSH is good and I'd like to thank (Vicki) and everyone with the Series for all they do. If you stick with it and run all of the races you can make a good bit of money at the end of the year. I think these cars are harder to drive than big blocks. I'd like to talk with Cooter (King) now after he kicked our ass in the big blocks, and he'll probably say the same thing. Jerry (Schaffer) had his cars up front and it's good to see Eric win."
Sadler was fifth in his first Tour start since last year's "Steel City Stampede". Rob Kristyak fended off Jim Rasey in a great battle for sixth and was selected as the Dirt Defender "Defensive Drive of the Night" recipient. Tony Tatgenhorst was eighth. Myers dropped to ninth. After winning the last chance B main, Kole Holden raced from 19th to 10th and was chosen as the Sherwood Wheels "Man of Steel" recipient. Friday's heat race winners over the 26-car field were Kristyak, King, and Gabany.
Zach Morrow has taken quite a liking to Lernerville Speedway. Last year, Morrow's only two RUSH Sprint Car wins came at the track not far from his Gibsonia, Pa. home. Earlier this season, Morrow topped a record 21-car field at Lernerville during "Manufacturers Night" presented by MSD Performance in what was one of the best races in Series history, and on Saturday night out-dueled "Futures Cup" Champion, Kevin Ruhlman, for his fifth career win with four of them coming at the Sarver, Pa. oval. Morrow earned $800 for his win and secured the $2,500 runner-up spot in points behind now two-time $5,000 Bonnell's Rod Shop Champion, Chad Ruhlman.
"That was a blast," expressed the 29-year-old winner. "Kevin (Ruhlman) is a hell of a wheelman and he's learned from his old man (Chad Ruhlman). His old man has stolen plenty of these from me so to get a big check is pretty awesome. These cars are fun to drive. You can race anywhere and don't have to be bat shit crazy to do it. Honestly anyone can be successful with some laps. Right around $15,000 can get you a really competitive race ready car. I'd like to thank my wife, my sponsors, and all of the RUSH sponsors. My aunt and uncle are here- that's pretty awesome to get a win in front of them."
Third starting Kevin Ruhlman snuck under front row starters Greg Beach and Tyler Powell on the opening lap of the 20-lap feature with his uncle Brian moving into second from the fourth starting spot. It was three-wide for second on laps two and three with seventh starting Shawn Smith finding good bite on the bottom to race to second with sixth starting Morrow halfway to the front in third.
Morrow then drove around Smith in turn four on lap four for second and two laps later ran down leader Kevin Ruhlman. The two traded sliders battling for the lead on lap 11 before Dave Hawkins spun to bring out the first caution with 11 laps scored. One more lap was completed before a four-car accident in turn one involving Beach, Powell, Arnie Kent, and Brad Blackshear. That would be the final caution as the last eight circuits went green-to-checkered.
When green replaced yellow on lap 13, Brian Ruhlman reclaimed third from Smith. Back up front, Morrow and Kevin Ruhlman resumed their battle for the lead again trading sliders, but this time Morrow made the pass stick in turn four on lap 15 to deny Kevin a shot at his first career win. Brian Ruhlman and Shawn Smith would both get by Kevin in the closing laps for second and third. Out front though, Morrow was too strong taking his Alternative Power Sources/Generational Dental/ConsumerLaw365.com/Wood's Rod & Customs/FK Rod Ends/Precise Racing Products-sponsored #27 to victory lane by 1.374 seconds.
Brian Ruhlman, who also won the $1,000 UMP Modified feature on Saturday, was second for the second straight year at the "Steel City Stampede". It also marked Ruhlman's fourth runner-up finish this season in just eight starts as he continues to be close to his first career Sprint Car win. Smith was third for his third podium finish of the season. After leading the first 14 laps, Kevin Ruhlman dropped to fourth. Brian Woodhall charged from the 16th starting spot to fifth. Completing the top 10 were Jeremy Weaver, Steve Pedley from 12th, Chad Ruhlman from 14th, Brandon Hawkins from 19th, and Brian Hartzell. Brian Ruhlman and Shawn Smith won the heat races over the 20-car field.
This concludes the 2019 season for the Sweeney Late Model Tour, Hovis Sportsman Modified Tour, and RUSH Sprint Cars. The 2019 RUSH Racing Series Awards Banquet & Dinner will be held on Saturday, January 25, 2020 at Gatherings Banquet & Event Center located just west of New Castle, Pa. on Route 422 in Edinburg, Pa.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Touring Series Race #15 (25 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. MAX BLAIR (111) 2. Jeremy Wonderling (3J) 3. John Mollick (Bentz 60M) 4. Kyle Lukon (184) 5. Ryan Frazee (11F) 6. Chad Homan (91) 7. Garret Paugh (03) 8. Robbie Scott (Zarin 5) 9. Michael Duritsky, Jr. (90J) 10. John Waters (LeBarron 11) 11. Braeden Dillinger (14) 12. Brad Mesler (24B) 13. Alex Ferree (Lukon 184X) 14. Brian Knowles (7) 15. Logan Zarin (1z) 16. Kyle Murray (21) 17. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 18. Bud Watson (21) 19. Justin Lamb (93x) 20. Zach Kane (10) 21. Bill Kessler (09) 22. Jason Fosnaught (J19) 23. Collin Burke (41) 24. Joey Zambotti III (948) 25. Bruce Hordusky, Jr. (3). (Note: Bill Kessler took a Tour provisional.)
Non-Qualifier (10 laps, $200 to-win): 1. Chad Sines (15) 2. Bobby Springer (42) 3. John Oaks (11S) 4. Josh Stoica (22J) 5. Jacob Peterson (112) 6. Eric Hamilton, Jr. (33x) 7. John Boring (58B) 8. Tyler Allison (25BAD) 9. Ricky Steigerwald (Jablonski 3) 10. Khole Wanzer (01W)-DNS 11. Scott Waters (53)-DNS.
Car Count: 36
Feature Margin of Victory: 2.143 seconds
Feature Lap Leaders: Max Blair (1-25)
Zarin Truck & Auto "$500 Club" Winners: Justin Lamb, Collin Burke, Logan Zarin, Jason Fosnaught, Ryan Frazee
Ontime Body & Graphic “Spoiler Alert”: Logan Zarin
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Michael Duritsky, Jr. (+9)
TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night": Scott Waters
Dirt Defender "Defensive Drive of the Night": Bud Watson
Sunoco 5-Gallon Race Jug: Max Blair
RUSH Late Model FK Rod Ends "Shock the Clock Qualifying" ($100 for fast time) (Prior track record 16.893 by Mike Pegher, Jr. on 7/1/16): 1. Alex Ferree 16.776 (NTR) 2. John Waters 16.878 3. Max Blair 16.946 4. John Mollick 16.982 5. Kyle Lukon 16.997 6. Michael Duritsky, Jr. 17.012 7. Ryan Frazee 17.066 8. Chad Homan 17.114 9. Bill Kessler 17.134 10. Logan Zarin 17.140 11. Jason Fosnaught 17.147 12. Josh Stoica 17.169 13. Robbie Scott 17.206 14. Bruce Hordusky, Jr. 17.206 15. Garret Paugh 17.286 16. Brian Knowles 17.330 17. Zach Kane 17.330 18. Jeremy Wonderling 17.349 19. Brad Mesler 17.405 20. Braeden Dillinger 17.439 21. Kyle Murray 17.554 22. Scott Waters 17.643 23. Ricky Steigerwald 17.678 24. Jamie Wrightsman 17.695 25. Bud Watson 17.699 26. Justin Lamb 17.806 27. Khole Wanzer 17.980 28. John Oaks 18.025 29. Chad Sines 18.055 30. Eric Hamilton, Jr. 18.071 31. Jacob Peterson 18.179 32. John Boring 18.377 33. Bobby Springer 18.468 34. Tyler Allison 18.622 35. Joey Zambotti III DSQ (light) 36. Collin Burke NT.
RUSH Late Model FK Rod Ends Heat 1 (8 laps, $25 to-win, top 5 transfer to A): 1. Ferree 2. Lukon 3. Scott 4. Kane 5. Watson 6. Murray 7. Sines 8. Springer 9. Kessler.
RUSH Late Model FK Rod Ends Heat 2 (8 laps, $25 to-win, top 5 transfer to A): 1. J. Waters 2. Wonderling 3. Zarin 4. Hordusky 5. Duritsky 6. Lamb 7. S. Waters 8. Hamilton 9. Allison.
RUSH Late Model FK Rod Ends Heat 3 (8 laps, $25 to-win, top 5 transfer to A): 1. Blair 2. Frazee 3. Paugh 4. Mesler 5. Fosnaught 6. Zambotti 7. Wanzer 8. Peterson 9. Steigerwald.
RUSH Late Model FK Rod Ends Heat 4 (8 laps, $25 to-win, top 5 transfer to A): 1. Mollick 2. Homan 3. Dillinger 4. Knowles 5. Burke 6. Stoica 7. Boring 8. Wrightsman 9. Oaks.
RUSH Late Model Dash (6 laps): 1. Wonderling 2. Blair 3. Frazee 4. Mollick 5. Homan 6. Lukon 7. Waters 8. Ferree.
RUSH Late Model Last Chance B Main 1 (8 laps, top 2 transfer to A): 1. Lamb 2. Murray 3. Sines 4. Hamilton 5. Allison 6. Springer 7. Kessler 8. S. Waters-DNS.
RUSH Late Model Last Chance B Main 2 (8 laps, top 2 transfer to A): 1. Zambotti 2. Wrightsman 3. Oaks 4. Stoica 5. Jablonski 6. Wanzer 7. Boring 8. Peterson.
Sweeney RUSH Sportsman Modified Hovis Touring Series Race #6 (20 laps, $800 to-win): 1. ERIC GABANY (Schaffer 4s) 2. Rex King, Jr. (Schaffer 14) 3. Josh Deems (9D) 4. Garrett Krummert (Schaffer 10s) 5. Brian Sadler (5) 6. Rob Kristyak (00) 7. Jim Rasey (32) 8. Tony Tatgenhorst (63T) 9. Blaze Myers (43JR) 10. Kole Holden (2) 11. Kyle Martell (8) 12. David Kalb, Jr. (11J) 13. Kyle Fink (Schaffer 44) 14. Brandon Ritchey (17) 15. Jacob Jordan (28J) 16. Greg Porter (25) 17. Shayne Izzo (86) 18. Steve Slater (29) 19. Clayton Deems (55R) 20. Joe Gibson (19) 21. Jeremy Weaver (Clay 12) 22. Chas Wolbert (c3) 23. Amelia Clay (16c) 24. Brandon Albert (30).
Did not qualify for the feature: Mike Smith (0), Phil Kapcewich (93).
Car Count: 26
Margin of Victory: 2.585 seconds
Feature Lap Leaders: Rex King, Jr. (1-2), Eric Gabany (3-20)
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Garrett Krummert (+9)
Sherwood Wheels "Man of Steel": Kole Holden
TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night": Chas Wolbert
Dirt Defender "Defensive Drive of the Night": Rob Kristyak
Sunoco 5-Gallon Race Jug: Eric Gabany
RUSH Sportsman Mod Heat 1 (8 laps, Top 6 transfer to the A): 1. Kristyak 2. J. Deems 3. Tatgenhorst 4. Rasey 5. Krummert 6. Izzo 7. Holden 8. Jordan 9. Smith.
RUSH Sportsman Mod Heat 2 (8 laps, Top 6 transfer to the A): 1. King 2. Sadler 3. Martell 4. Kalb 5. Wolbert 6. Albert 7. Porter 8. Slater 9. Kapcewich-DNS.
RUSH Sportsman Mod Heat 3 (8 laps, Top 6 transfer to the A): 1. Gabany 2. Myers 3. Weaver 4. Clay 5. Fink 6. Ritchey 7. Gibson 8. C. Deems.
RUSH Sportsman Mod Last Chance B Main (8 laps, top 6 transfer to the A): 1. Holden 2. Jordan 3. Slater 4. Porter 5. Gibson 6. C. Deems 7. Smith 8. Kapcewich-DNS.
RUSH Sprint Cars Bonnell's Rod Shop Weekly Series Race #19 (20 laps, $800 to-win): 1. ZACH MORROW (27) 2. Brian Ruhlman (49) 3. Shawn Smith (36) 4. Kevin Ruhlman (23) 5. Brian Woodhall 6. Jeremy Weaver (Hull 41) 7. Steve Pedley (21) 8. Chad Ruhlman (87R) 9. Brandon Hawkins (27H) 10. Brian Hartzell (69) 11. Brandon Blackshear (10) 12. Scott Hawkins (37) 13. Andy Feil (Mahoney/Eckart 9J) 14. Nolan Groves (25) 15. Dave Hawkins (27) 16. Tyler Powell (35) 17. Greg Beach (Clever 33x) 18. Matt Sherlock III (55) 19. Arnie Kent (18) 20. Brad Blackshear (19).
RUSH Racing Series is brought to you by Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC & Pace Performance along with the support of Hoosier Tire, Bilstein Shocks, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Insinger Performance, MSD Performance, Holley Performance Products, Hovis Auto & Truck Supply, FK Rod Ends, Wehrs Machine & Racing Products, Schoenfeld Headers, Jones Racing Products, TBM Brakes, Performance Bodies & Parts, Racing Electronics, Dirt Defender, Wrisco Industries, Frankland Racing Supply, Landrum Performance Spring, Ontime Body & Graphic, Trailer-Alarms.com, Bonnell's Rod Shop, Sherwood Wheels, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, Lincoln Electric, Velocita-USA, Classic Ink USA, CrateInsider.com, and Valley Fashions.
E-mail can be sent to the RUSH Racing Series at [email protected] and snail mail to 4368 Route 422, Pulaski, PA 16143. Office phone is 724-964-9300 and fax is 724-964-0604. The RUSH Racing Series website is www.rushracingseries.com. Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rushlatemodels and follow us on Twitter @RUSHLM.