By Mike Leone


May 18, 2015            FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


(Thorold, ON)…The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Series made history on Monday night when it competed at Merrittville Speedway in the first ever Crate Late Model race in the 60-year history of the popular facility.  It marked the third Canadian facility to host a RUSH-sanctioned event joining Humberstone and Brighton Speedways.  Monday’s show was the annual Victoria Day event, which always features the DIRTcar 358 Modifieds, and a packed grandstands watched the kickoff to the new Insinger Performance/Sunoco Race Fuels Northern Touring Series.  The three-division show was completed in less than two and a half hours with the RUSH feature taking the checkered flag at 8:40 p.m.


Max Blair had never seen Merrittville Speedway prior to Monday night.  After his dominating performance you’d have thought he was a seasoned veteran at the track.  Blair went out last in Bobby Lake Motorsports qualifying and beat the next fastest qualifier’s time by over six tenths of a second, won his heat race, and led all but the first four laps of the $2,000 feature to win by over six seconds as he left little doubt he’s going to be tough to derail in his quest for the $10,000 Touring Series sweep.


“Now that was a race track- that’s what race tracks are supposed to be like,” expressed the 25-year-old Centerville, Pa. driver.  “That’s one of the top three race tracks I’ve ever been on in my life- it was beautiful.  I’m telling you I don’t know if I’ve had that much fun in the last few years.  I wish we had places like this to race at home.  Sometimes when you’re the new guy coming in and don’t have the experience, it plays in your favor.  When you race at a track every week you know what to do, but something when you come in blind it helps you out and you don’t learn bad habits.  I have to thank my dad- he’s the reason we’re here, and everyone that helps out- without them I couldn’t do any of this; and Vicki (Emig) and Mike (Leone) for having this Series.  It’s a really good deal.  It’s a lot of fun to come up here and race at places that I probably wouldn’t get to race at.”


By virtue of his K&N Dash win, Phil Potts raced to the early lead from his pole position starting spot.  Third starting Dennis Lunger, Jr. got hot into turn four sliding up the track and making contact with Brian Knowles; this left the bottom wide open as fifth starting Blair shot under both to take second after one lap.  On lap three, Blair caught Potts and was all over the leader, while the race was on for fourth as it was three-wide with eighth starting Jason Knowles getting the spot over Randy Hall, and Brian Knowles. 


Potts had just enough momentum to keep Blair at bay to leads laps three and four before the first caution of the event for a spin by Jorden Peters.  Potts chose the inside for the restart, but Blair made the outside work on the racey surface taking the lead off turn four to lead lap five.  The Knowles brothers were on the move as Brian moved back into the top five taking the spot from Hall on the restart; then on lap eight Jason got under Lunger for third with Brian making a three-wide pass to follow in fourth. 


Following a caution for a spin by T.J. Downs with eight laps completed, action for third through sixth really heated up on the restart.  Lunger found the outside to his liking as he raced past the Knowles brothers to reclaim third, but fell back to fifth one lap later.  Tenth starting Bryce Davis moved to the outside and began picking off cars in his journey to the front.  Davis cracked the top five on lap 14 when he went around Lunger then did the same to Jason Knowles on lap 17.  Davis was one the fastest cars on the track as he began closing on Brian Knowles for third before the caution came out for Jason Knowles, who spun in turn four running in the fifth spot.


When racing resumed, Davis, who appeared like he may be the only driver to give Blair a run for the money, slowed with a flat tire with 18 laps scored.  He was awarded the TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night”.  More tough luck continued for the Knowles when Brian got caught up in an accident with Colton Ledingham.  That wouldn’t be the last you’d hear of those two though.  Three more laps were completed before the event’s final caution with 21 laps scored for a spin by Tim Gillespie. 


The last nine laps went green-to-checkered with Blair stretching his lead back out and winning by an impressive 6.561 seconds even dealing with heavy lapped traffic on the final lap.  Blair, who won the opening Bazell/Sunoco Race Fuels Southern Tour event at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex in his R&J Poultry/Moody & Son Welding/Genesis Shocks/Murphy’s Logging/C&J Dairy-sponsored #111, now has seven career Tour victories- which is now tops all-time in the Series.


Potts, who had raced at Merrittville years ago in a Stock Car, had a successful Touring Series debut finishing second and earning $1,000.  It was a fun night,” stated the 43-year-old Brighton, Ontario driver of the Stu Archer-owned, Vandenlaan Building Products/Brighton Recycling/Indeway Excavating/Hutchinson Fuels-sponsored #29.  “We tip-toed around the bottom.  We didn’t get a chance to do many changes.  I wanted to put a little more drive in the car, but ran out of time with the dash and feature.  Actually not a scratch on the car, no wear, and second place- I’ll take that all day long.  The boss is happy so I’ll get to race again, and that’s perfect.  Thanks to the fans that come out and support us all of the time.  Without you we can’t do this either.”


A wild battle raged from third spot on back with the positions swapping almost every lap.  On the final lap, it was three-wide for third with Brian Knowles coming out on top.  His charge back from the tail earned him the Maxima Racing Oils “Maximum Performance” Award.


“I was hoping for five more laps,” said the 35-year-old Corning, New York racer.  “I was taking it easy at the beginning and trying to stay out of trouble.  There was a lot of clustering and sliding around so I just said I’d ride.  Then all of a sudden I go down in the corner and get spun so I said ‘enough riding I need to go back to the front’.  I had to do a little extra driving there and use up some of my friends a little bit here and there, but to come back to third that was impressive.  I didn’t even know where I finished.  It could have been 16th for all I knew.  It was crazy.”


Lunger, who is three-for-three this year in Sweeney Weekly Series competition at nearby Humberstone Speedway, was fourth.  Ledingham, a 17-year-old from Port Colborne, Ontario, came back from the spin with 12 to go to finish fifth.  Ledingham originally started the event in 15th, which earned him the $100 Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger gift card. 


Rob Pietz, who has experience at Merrittville in both a 358 Modified and 360 Sprint Car, was sixth after starting 13th.  Jason Knowles was seventh over Peters, Jeff Dayman, and Davis.  Blair also earned $125 for setting fast time in Bobby Lake Motorsports “Shock the Clock” Qualifying and winning a B.L.M. heat race.  Hall won the other $25 B.L.M. heat race.


Potts became the fourth different K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash winner in as many Tour events this season.  Potts received a $100 K&N certificate, while Brian Knowles earned a $50 certificate for second.  Lunger and Hall finished third and fourth respectively and earned an additional $50 cash. 


The next Tour race will be another Insinger Performance/Sunoco Race Fuels Northern Series event on Friday, June 5 at Freedom Motorsports Park in Delevan, New York.  The inaugural “Ron Baker Memorial” will pay $1,200 to-win.


Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Insinger Performance/Sunoco Race Fuels Northern Touring Series Race #1 (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. MAX BLAIR (111)  2. Phil Potts (Archer 29)  3. Brian Knowles (7)  4. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L)  5. Colton Ledingham (19JR)  6. Rob Pietz (69)  7. Jason Knowles (4)  8. Jorden Peters (11P)  9. Jeff Dayman (44)  10. Bryce Davis (94)  11. Eric Wilson (27W)  12. Randy Hall (Suppa 4s)  13. Doug Gavette (9G)  14. T.J. Downs (1)  15. Tim Gillespie (15)  16. Ken Winfield (82)  17. John Waters (LeBarron 11)-DNS  18. Paul Grigsby (24)-DNS.


Car Count: 18

Margin of Victory: 6.561 seconds
Feature Lap Leaders:
Potts (1-4), Blair (5-30)

Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Colton Ledingham (+10)

Maxima Oil “Maximum Performance”: Brian Knowles

TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night: Bryce Davis


Bobby Lake Motorsports Qualifying - $100 for fast time: 1. Max Blair 15.734  2. Brian Knowles 16.398  3. John Waters 16.492  4. Phil Potts 16.675  5. Randy Hall 16.753  6. Jason Knowles 16.753  7. Dennis Lunger, Jr. 16.785  8. Bryce Davis 16.823  9. Jeff Dayman 16.876  10. Colton Ledingham 17.052  11. Doug Gavette 17.114  12. Eric Wilson 17.195  13. Jorden Peters 17.202  14. Tim Gillespie 17.454  15. Paul Grigsby 17.475  16. Ken Winfield 17.594  17. Rob Pietz 17.637  18. T.J. Downs 18.001.


Bobby Lake Motorsports Heat 1 (8 laps, $25 to-win): 1. Blair  2. Lunger  3. Potts  4. Dayman  5. Peters  6. Gavette  7. Pietz  8. Waters-DNS  9. Grigsby-DNS.


Bobby Lake Motorsports Heat 2 (8 laps, $25 to-win): 1. Hall  2. B. Knowles  3. Wilson  4. J. Knowles  5. Davis  6.  Downs  7. Gillespie  8. Ledingham  9. Winfield.


K&N "Cold Air Induction" Dash (4 laps): 1. Phil Potts  2. Brian Knowles  3. Dennis Lunger, Jr.  4. Randy Hall.


RUSH Late Model marketing partners include Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, Pace Performance, Hoosier Tire, Bilstein Shocks, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Insinger Performance, MSD Ignition, Maxima Racing Oil, Jones Racing Products, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, ARbodies, TBM Brakes, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, TurboStart, Beyea Headers, FK Rod Ends, Bobby Lake Motorsports, Crate Innovations Inc., Moroso Performance Products, Velocita-USA, High Gear Speed Shop,, B.R.A.K.E.S.,, 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 Like our Facebook page at and follow us on Twitter @RUSHLM.