MIKE PEGHER, JR. OUTDUELS BEVY OF CHALLENGERS AT WAYNE COUNTY FOR HARD FOUGHT 1ST SWEENEY RUSH LATE MODEL TOUR WIN IN AN UNFORGETTABLE, THRILLING RACE
By Mike Leone
May 28, 2016 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Orrville, OH)…After a successful season opening weekend in Ontario, Canada, the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series had just four days off as it headed to its westernmost location at Wayne County Speedway on Saturday night. The Orrville, Ohio track is in second year of Sweeney RUSH Weekly Series action and Saturday's event was race #3 of the 2016 Touring Series slate, and one of the select Marquee Events. Summer-like conditions prevailed as thunderstorms stayed just to the west of the speedway allowing the entire program to be completed rain-free. A large crowd turned out as RUSH shared the card with Tony Stewart's Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars.
Every once in awhile you'll get one of those races that will be talked about years down the road. Saturday night was one of those in what many felt was the best race in Series history. Pole-sitter Mike Pegher, Jr. picked up his season's first win and first ever at Wayne County in a hard fought battle that saw him take the lead from Dave Lyon on lap five, lose it for one lap to John Waters who swept the Canadian weekend, then regain it with two to go. Pegher, Lyon, Waters, Will Thomas III, and hometown favorite Ryan Markham put on a show fans won't soon forget. Pegher's win was worth $2,000, and his performance earned him the Maxima Oil "Maximum Performance" award.
"The track was very racey," expressed the 30-year-old Cranberry Township, Pa. racer. "You could race on the bottom, middle, and outside. I knew I was pretty good on the bottom, but then Lyon rolled me on the outside those first few laps so I drove really, really hard to get back around him. It was one of those races you really didn't know where to go until someone passed you. Then you'd have to drive hard to get back around them. I was afraid of restarting on the outside. It was slippery up there. If I hit my marks on the bottom, I could drive hard down by the yuke tires and felt like I could pull good off the corners. All in all it was good racing."
Though Pegher started from the pole, it was Lyon making the outside work on the start powering to the lead over Pegher, fast qualifier Thomas, fifth starting Waters, and Jason Knowles. Waters moved into third on lap two past Thomas. Pegher made a bid for the lead on lap three as he pulled alongside Lyon on the bottom and the two raced side-by-side for the next three laps. Lyon held on to lead on laps three and four, but on lap five Waters joined the fray making it three-wide as both Pegher and Waters got by for the top two spots.
Waters peeked under Pegher on lap seven as the New York racer was looking for three straight Sweeney Tour wins to open up the season, but Pegher remained in control. Pegher and Waters opened up some ground on the field as Lyon and Thomas battled for third and further back a great battle was taking place for fifth between Knowles, Markham, and Justin Chance.
A caution for a spin by Josh Stoica slowed action with 10 laps completed and bunched up the field. When racing resumed, Lyon made contact with Thomas as Thomas lost several positions falling out of the top five allowing Markham and Chance to move into fourth and fifth. Markham, who started seventh, now appeared like he was the fastest car on the speedway as he went to the outside to pass both Lyon and Waters for second on lap 15. Markham quickly caught Pegher and the two raced side-by-side for the lead on lap 16 and 17.
Markham though couldn't pull off the pass as Pegher shut the door in turn three. This allowed Waters to get a run as he reclaimed second on lap 18. Brian Swank's second unassisted spin ended his night with 19 laps scored and bunched up the field again. Thomas fought his way back into contention taking fourth from Lyon on lap 21. Lyon dropped back to fifth, but it wasn't the last we'd hear from him. One lap later he took back fourth from Thomas.
A second unassisted spin by Stoica ended his night with 22 laps scored. Back under green, Lyon passed Markham for third on lap 23. Up front, Waters had one more chance for his third straight win as he made a great slingshot move past Pegher to lead lap 27. Pegher though wasn't to be denied regaining the lead for good one lap later. Pegher went on to win by just 0.828 of a second, while a three-wide battle for second on the final lap saw Lyon prevailing over Markham and Waters. Pegher's sixth career Sweeney Tour win came in the Jerry Haseleu-owned, Royal Flush/Royal Purple/Jack's Recycling/Melvin's Transmission/Ingram Engines-sponsored #RJ1.
Lyon's Sweeney Tour debut was a successful one earning $1,000 for runner-up. Markham was the only track regular in the top five taking third over Waters, who fell to a disappointing fourth after leading with three laps to go. Ninth starting Matt Aber crossed the finish line in fifth, but was disqualified for being light at the scales moving Bruce Hordusky, Jr. up to fifth in his first ever Wayne County start.
Chance was sixth as Josh Double, Jamie Wrightsman, 13th starting Brian Knowles, and 17th starting Jim Nicely completed the first 10. Tony White, who made his 2016 Sweeney Tour debut, raced from 20th to 12th to earn the $100 Precise Racing Products "Pedal Down" Hard Charger gift card as well as a $25 CrateInsider.com gift card for being the final car on the lead lap at the finish. Opening lap contact between Jason Knowles and sixth starting Charlie Duncan ended Duncan's night with severe damage. Duncan, the defending track champion, was awarded the TBM Brakes "Tough Brake of the Night".
Thomas' fast lap of 18.783 earned him an extra $100 in Bobby Lake Motorsports "Shock the Clock" Qualifying for the first time this season. Just 0.15 of a second separated the top five cars in qualifying! Pegher and Lyon copped the Bobby Lake Motorsports heat races for an extra $25. Pegher won his second K&N "Cold Air Induction" Dash of the season in three nights to pick up a $100 K&N certificate and the pole position for the feature. Lyon received a $50 K&N certificate for third, while Thomas and Jason Knowles earned $25 cash for third and fourth.
The Sweeney Touring Series resumes action on Sunday night Eriez Speedway in Erie, Pa. with a $2,000 to-win Marquee Event. Warm-ups begin at approximately 6 p.m. followed by Bobby Lake Motorsports "Shock the Clock" Qualifying.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series Race #3 (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. MIKE PEGHER, JR. (Haseleu RJ1) 2. Dave Lyon (14L) 3. Ryan Markham (5M) 4. John Waters (LeBarron 11) 5. Bruce Hordusky, Jr. (3) 6. Justin Chance (01) 7. Josh Double (38) 8. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 9. Brian Knowles (7) 10. Jim Nicely (72) 11. Will Thomas III (9) 12. Tony White (27) 13. Alan Dellinger (Williams 8) 14. Josh Stoica (22s) 15. Jason Knowles (4) 16. Brian Swank (12s) 17. Clinton Hersh (16) 18. Eric Wilson (27W) 19. Charlie Duncan (240) 20. Matt Aber (31)-DSQ (light).
Car Count: 20
Margin of Victory: 0.828 seconds
Feature Lap Leaders: Lyon (1-4), Pegher (5-26, 28-30), Waters (27)
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Tony White (+8)
Maxima Oil “Maximum Performance”: Mike Pegher, Jr.
TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night": Charlie Duncan
CrateInsider.com "Last Car on Lead Lap": Tony White
Bobby Lake Motorsports “Shock the Clock” Qualifying ($100 for fast time): 1. Will Thomas III 18.783 2. Jason Knowles 18.835 3. Mike Pegher, Jr. 18.856 4. Dave Lyon 18.894 5. John Waters 18.933 6. Charlie Duncan 19.126 7. Matt Aber 19.135 8. Bruce Hordusky, Jr. 19.156 9. Ryan Markham 19.162 10. Alan Dellinger 19.222 11. Justin Chance 19.419 12. Jamie Wrightsman 19.442 13. Josh Stoica 19.504 14. Josh Double 19.527 15. Brian Knowles 19.736 16. Brian Swank 19.765 17. Jim Nicely 19.817 18. Clinton Hersh 19.861 19. Eric Wilson 19.946 20. Tony White 20.535.
Bobby Lake Motorsports Heat 1 (10 laps, $25 to-win): 1.Pegher 2. Thomas 3. Waters 4. Markham 5. Chance 6. Aber 7. B. Knowles 8. Wilson 9. Nicely 10. Stoica.
Bobby Lake Motorsports Heat 2 (10 laps, $25 to-win): 1. Lyon 2. J. Knowles 3. Duncan 4. Hordusky 5. Dellinger 6. Double 7.Wrightsman 8. Swank 9. Hersh 10. White.
K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash (4 laps): 1. Pegher 2. Lyon 3. Thomas 4. J. Knowles.
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 Performance, Maxima Racing Oil, Jones Racing Products, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, ARbodies, TBM Brakes, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, FK Rod Ends, Velocita-USA, Classic Ink USA, Rocket Chassis, Bobby Lake Motorsports High Gear Speed Shop, CrateInsider.com, B.R.A.K.E.S., RockAuto.com, and Valley Fashions.