DAMIAN BIDWELL PASSES MAX BLAIR TO WIN HIS CAREER 1ST SWEENEY RUSH LATE MODEL TOUR EVENT IN HIS 1ST EVER APPEARANCE AT WAYNE COUNTY
By Mike Leone
June 22, 2015 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Orrville, OH)…The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Series joined up with Tony Stewart's All Star Circuit of Champions for Ohio Sprint Speedweek on Monday night at Wayne County Speedway. A packed grandstand watched 24 cars from four different states compete in the first ever Tour event at Wayne County. The event also marked the furthest westward facility a RUSH Tour race has ever been contested at.
Damian Bidwell wanted to win his first career Tour event for his father Keith, who has been battling cancer, on Sunday for Father's Day at Tri-City Raceway Park- the location of his first career Crate Late Model win; however, thunderstorms washed out that event. Instead Bidwell traveled over four hours on Monday to Wayne County for the first time ever and scored the upset win by passing standout Max Blair on a late race restart for his first career Touring Series victory. The 25-lap Bazell/Sunoco Race Fuels Southern Tour feature win was worth $1,500 in addition to earning the Maxima Racing Oil "Maximum Performance" Award.
"I'm sure Max isn't happy about that, but I think it's awesome," expressed the 22-year-old Eldred, Pa. racer. "I knew I had to get ahead of him in the first corner and I just hauled it in there and it stuck! Then I had to stay on the bottom of three and four because Max was good down there. I honestly didn't think I'd get him. It's awesome to be able to beat him. He's won races and championships everywhere. It's awesome to finally win a Tour event. I've been wanting to do this for a long time and always have had bad luck, but it finally paid off. I have to thank all of my sponsors, everyone that helps me, and Robbie and Max Blair because I wouldn't be here without all they do for me."
Ohio Super Late Model standout, Ryan Markham, drew the pole position for the feature and took off in the lead, while fourth starting Bidwell passed both John Waters and Brian Knowles for second on the opening lap before a seven-car accident in turn three halted action. While most everyone was able to restart, one of the casualties was W.L. Stile, who was making his 2015 season debut after following the Tour in 2014. Stile was awarded the TBM Brakes "Tough Brake of the Night" Award.
When racing resumed, the next 21 laps went caution-free. Markham continued out in front, while the battle was on for third as it was three-wide on lap two with Waters moving into the position. Bidwell began to close in on Markham on lap four, while eighth starting Blair cracked the top five getting past Knowles. One lap later, Blair overtook Eric Wilson for fourth.
By lap eight, Markham opened up a little ground, while Blair caught Waters and Bidwell, who were racing for second. On laps 10 and 11 it was three-wide for runner-up. Blair made the pass of Waters for third on lap 12 driving under him, but one lap later it was again three-wide as Blair snuck under Bidwell racing off turn four for the second spot.
With each passing lap, Blair began to cut into Markham's lead. He closed in on Markham on lap 15 and was on the leader on lap 16. Markham got caught behind Kristin Flory, who he was trying to lap in turn three, allowing Blair to sneak under both coming out of turn four to lead the 16th circuit. Blair quickly began to pull away, while Bidwell finally passed Markham for second on lap 18. While Blair continued to lead, Markham and Bidwell went at it for second. The two raced side-by-side for the spot on laps 20 and 21. Very importantly, Bidwell was able to maintain the position until the caution waved for Josh Stoica, who slowed with 22 laps scored.
Blair chose the inside for the double file restart with Bidwell alongside. The two were side-by-side down the frontstretch and into turns one and two. The top side of turn two is generally the fastest line at Wayne County and Bidwell hit it just right carrying the momentum past Blair down the backstretch. Once in front, Bidwell wasn't to be denied as he became the Series' fifth different winner in eight events this season in his 2 Guys Water Hauling/Myers Trucking/Tri-County Tire/Smethport Auto Wash/Andrews Auto Salvage/Team Blair Racing-sponsored #17HP. The victory was Bidwell's fourth RUSH-sanctioned victory of the season as he won three straight Sweeney Weekly Series races at New York's Stateline Speedway.
Blair, who continues to lead the Southern, Northern, and Combined Tour points in his bid for the $10,000 sweep, was second for the third time this season. Blair has now finished in the top three in seven of the eight Tour events run in 2015!
Markham was third in his first ever Tour start. Markham has a pair of runner-ups and a fourth place finish in the three Sweeney Weekly Series events held at Wayne County this year. Waters, who finished runner-up in last year's Tour points, has regained his form after a terrible start to 2015. Waters' fourth place on Monday was his third top five finish in the last four events.
Ohio veteran Late Model racer, Charlie Duncan, battled his way from 11th to fifth at the finish. Duncan has won the last two Sweeney Weekly Series races at Wayne County plus beat the Super Late Models recently at Hilltop Speedway with his GM 604 crate engine!
Wilson recorded his fourth top 10 finish of the season with his sixth place on Monday. Fourteen-year-old Michael Lake was seventh after starting 10th in his first ever Wayne County start. After starting second, Brian Knowles dropped to eighth, but will move past his brother Jason into second in the Bazell/Sunoco Southern Tour points. Alan Dellinger was ninth. Joe Sylvester finished an impressive 10th after starting 16th in just his second ever race! Sylvester is a former Monster Truck and TORC Off-Road Racer.
In his first year of RUSH Late Model racing, Steve Lowery, who is following the Bazell/Sunoco Southern Tour, made the five-hour tow from Chambersburg, Pa. and finished 13th after starting 20th. That earned him the $100 Precise Racing Products "Pedal Down" Hard Charger certificate. Paul Harriger was 15th and was the final car on the lead lap and earned the $25 CrateInsider.com gift card.
Markham, Bidwell, and Blair won the three heat races. Jamie Wrightsman won his first K&N "Cold Air Induction" Dash to earn a $100 K&N certificate in a good side-by-side battle with Joe Long, who received a $50 K&N certificate. Stile edged out Sylvester for third as both racers will receive an extra $25 cash.
The next Tour events will be for the Bazell/Sunoco Southern Region on July 3-4. The Friday night show will be at Lernerville Speedway for a $1,200 to-win event and then back to Wayne County the following night where not only will $1,500 be on the line, but one lucky driver will win the GM 604 crate engine from Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC/Pace Performance!
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Bazell/Sunoco Race Fuels Southern Touring Series Race #5 (25 laps, $1,500 to-win): 1. DAMIAN BIDWELL (17HP) 2. Max Blair (111) 3. Ryan Markham (5M) 4. John Waters (LeBarron 11) 5. Charlie Duncan (Hall 240) 6. Eric Wilson (27W) 7. Michael Lake (Yowler 27) 8. Brian Knowles (7) 9. Alan Dellinger (Williams 8) 10. Joe Sylvester (8) 11. Troy Shields (11) 12. Joe Long (71) 13. Steve Lowery (48) 14. Jim Cochran (93) 15. Paul Harriger (6) 16. Kristin Flory (u2) 17. Hiram Bachman (92) 18. Josh Stoica (22) 19. Matt Latta (Bidwell B1D) 20. Rob Marhefka (99FM) 21. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 22. Justin Chance (01) 23. W.L. Stile (1W) 24. Jason Knowles (4).
Car Count: 24
Feature Lap Leaders: Markham (1-15, Blair (16-22), Bidwell (23-25)
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Steve Lowery (+7)
Maxima Oil “Maximum Performance”: Damian Bidwell
TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night": W.L. Stile
CrateInsider.com "Last Car on Lead Lap": Paul Harriger
RUSH Late Model Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. Markham 2. B. Knowles 3. Shields 4. Chance 5. Long 6. Sylvester 7. Cochran 8. Latta.
RUSH Late Model Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. Bidwell 2. Wilson 3. Duncan 4. Dellinger 5. Wrightsman 6. J. Knowles 7. Lowery 8. Harriger.
RUSH Late Model Heat 3 (8 laps): 1. Blair 2. Waters 3. Lake 4. Flory 5. Stile 6. Stoica 7. Marhefka 8. Bachman.
RUSH Late Model K&N "Cold Air Induction" Dash (4 laps): 1. Jamie Wrightsman 2. Joe Long 3. W.L. Stile 4. Joe Sylvester.
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, CrateInsider.com, B.R.A.K.E.S., RockAuto.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.