CAREER 1ST SWEENEY RUSH LATE MODEL WINS FOR TJ DOWNS, MATT PARKHURST & MIKE WONDERLING; 1ST EVER FOR JUSTIN SHEA IN RUSH SPORTSMAN MODS
By Jim Zufall & Mike Leone
July 5, 2016 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Pulaski, PA)…The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Racing Series powered by Pace Performance had all of its divisions in action over the busy Independence Day weekend that saw four days of racing action at 13 different speedways through the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Three drivers chalked up their first career RUSH Late Model wins, while one did the same in the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds.
McKean County Raceway started the extended holiday weekend with their fourth "Thursday Night Thunder" program. In the RUSH Late Model feature, Brad Mesler and Damian Bidwell started the 20-lap feature on the front row. Bidwell took an early lead as Mesler and one of the best in the RUSH ranks, Max Blair, dueled for second. Tight racing between the two runner-up contenders resulted in Mesler sliding to a stop and bringing out the first caution. A series of yellow flag periods bunched up the field with Blair continuing to be a threat for the win. Bidwell though used the Delaware restarts to his advantage to stay ahead of the always dangerous Blair. In the end it was Bidwell, the brand new daddy, beating out Blair, Jeremy Wonderling, Breyton Santee, and Paul Grigsby. McKean’s next "Thursday Night Thunder" event is July 14th.
The only Friday action for the RUSH Series took place at Lernerville Speedway for a pair of Touring Series events for the Sweeney Late Model Tour and Bicknell Sportsman Modified Tour. On a night that also featured the BOSS Sprint Series at the Sarver, Pa. oval, the RUSH Late Model Tour race saw a feature race full of action in the 30-lap feature event. From the three wide exit out of turn two on the opening lap to the continual changes for position throughout the field during the race, it was one for the books in a race that highlighted the talent of some of the best in the RUSH Late Model ranks in Western Pennsylvania. In the end it was new Series point leader Bryce Davis taking his second straight $2,000 Tour win over Kyle Lukon's best finish in three years. Jason Knowles, Daryl Charlier, and Brian Knowles were third through fifth
Oil City, PA’s Nick Ritchey finally pulled off his first win of the season for his second straight Bicknell Tour win at Lernerville. With lots of passing for position and lapped traffic all coming into play during the 20-lap event, Ritchey held off all challengers winning in a one-lap shootout after a late caution. He held off Chas Wolbert, who was coming off a last lap Touring Series win one week ago at Sharon, Kole Holden, Brian Schaffer, and Josh Deems.
Saturday night at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, “Jammin’” Johnny Mollick parked the Stan’s Transmission #60M in victory lane for the second time this season in the RUSH Late Models. Through the 20-lap feature event, the top five was a Who’s Who of past winners in the division. In the end it was Mollick, who led early on Friday at Lernerville, holding off the likes of Daryl Charlier, Justin Lamb, Kyle Lukon and Ben Policz. The RUSH Late Models and RUSH Sportsman Modifieds are on the card this Saturday as PPMS presents the "Ed Laboon Memorial" for the Stock division.
Freedom Motorsports Park in Delevan NY held a special Saturday program, which featured the RUSH Late Models as TJ Downs finally pulled off his first career victory after 15 years of trying. With lots of racing for the top positions going on behind him, Downs was able to retain the lead throughout the race, but it did not come without serious challenges. First it was Bill Holmes in the second spot eyeing the lead; then Adam Sixt came into the picture in a fierce battle for runner up spot with Holmes. Downs was being chased down by Sixt in the closing laps of the 20-lap race after a caution flew putting the two side-by-side for a one-lap battle to the finish. Sixt put up a good fight, but Downs held on for the victory to become the season's sixth different winner in seven races! Sixt settled for second with Holmes, Jimmy Johnson, Jr. and Jim Johnson rounding out the top five. A visit by the NY6A Mini Sprints highlights the events of Freedom Motorsports Park this Friday (July 8).
At Virginia's Winchester Speedway on Saturday night, the 20-lap RUSH Late Model event got underway with Transton Stoner showing the way, staying out front for the entire affair. It wasn’t a simple task though as Logan Roberson raced side-by-side with Stoner for the final 10 laps of the race. Stoner held on for his second win, but admitted it wasn’t easy. "I was a bit worried when I saw how heavy the track was when we got here tonight," Stoner stated post-race. "I like it better when it's slick, but we figured the Late Models would widen the track out and they did, and to race with Logan like that sure was a lot of fun." Darin Henderson came from ninth to finish third behind Roberson with Timmy Booth and Austin Stover rounding out the top five. The RUSH Late Models are back in action at Winchester this Saturday night for Penske Shocks Night.
Damian Bidwell continued another dream weekend at Stateline Speedway in Busti, NY on Saturday night. The RUSH Late Model feature had Ryan Scott and Jason Tingue on the pole for the start of the event. Darrell Bossard came to the front in the first part of the race only to be overtaken by Bidwell on lap seven. By halfway, Bidwell was out front for good with plenty of racing for position going on behind him. When the checkered flag flew, it was Bidwell with his second visit to the winners circle of the weekend, followed by Bossard, Ryan Scott, Wyatt Scott and Mike Wonderling for the top five.
Action at Stateline continued in the RUSH ranks as Justin Carlson and Scott Gurdak led the RUSH Pro Mod feature to the green. The two would race one-two for most of the race. In the end it was Carlson holding off Gurdak for his third win with Kelly Frederes, Jason Covey and Dennis Asel for the top five. Stateline Speedway returns to action this Saturday.
Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio returned to action on Saturday as Matt Aber and Justin Chance led the RUSH Late Model feature to green. By lap four Ryan Markham took second away from Chance. On a lap seven restart, Markham took the low line to the lead over Aber. Charlie Duncan nabbed the second position on lap 12 just before a red flag stopped the field. Markham once again used the inside lane to hold off Duncan and go on to his second straight victory. Aber, Chance and Dave Airgood in his first start made up the top five in the feature.
A 20-lap feature race was on tap at Fulton Speedway on Saturday night for the RUSH Late Models. Jason Occhino would move from fourth to first in the first lap, only to be quickly overtaken by Alan Fink. By halfway it was Fink still holding on in first, with Matt Parkhurst moving into second. Parkhurst pestered Fink through the second half of the feature until he finally took the top spot on lap 17 going on to his first ever RUSH Late Model win. Parkhurst was quite excited in victory lane. “This is one of the most enjoyable wins I have ever had. The Late Models are a very, very difficult car to drive. This is our first year in one and would have never thought we would be a winning car seven weeks into the season. This is pretty much a dream come true.” Fink Settled for second with Jason Parkhurst, Occhino, and Chris Fleming rounding out the top five. Racing returns to Fulton Speedway on Saturday for Family Autograph Night.
Saturday night at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio saw another first time winner in victory lane in the RUSH Sportsman Modified feature. Justin Shea has been fast over the course of his second season in the division, but has not been able to break through for a win. Again on Saturday it looked as though a good performance would be ruined, this time by failing power steering, but he pulled off the win. Shea took the top spot early over Brian Schaffer early in the race. A lap eight caution bunched up the field bringing sixth starting Kyle Martell behind Shea for the restart. The final 12 laps would go green for the distance and Shea held off Schaffer by under a half-second to become the seventh different winner in eight races at Sharon. Martell was a close third with Kole Holden and Brandon Ritchey finishing the top five. "This has been a struggle to get here," said Shea. "It takes a lot of persistence and it feels good. This is a great group of guys and girls to race with. We're like a big family.”
Sunday evening at the Eriez Speedway near Erie Pa. the RUSH Late Models were on the weekly card along with the Patriot Sprint Cars and fireworks as a huge crowd turned out to celebrate the Independence Day holiday. Kyle Zimmerman and Khole Wanzer brought the RUSH Late Model feature to green. Zimmerman took the early lead, but on lap three the red flag was displayed for a multi-car accident that included Dave Lyon getting turned upside down. When racing resumed, Zimmerman, Wanzer and Max Blair each held the top three spots over the next few laps. Blair would overtake the duo and go on for his third win over Matt Latta, Zimmerman, Jason Genco and Bruce Hordusky, Jr. Racing resumes this Sunday with Auto Racers for Kids Night.
Sunday Night at Humberstone Speedway, Rob Pietz took the early lead away from pole sitter Ken Winfield at the start of the RUSH Late Model feature event. Sam Pennacchio and Tim Gillespie each challenged Pietz for the lead during the event, but Pietz held the lead from green to the checkers for his second win. Gillespie would finish in second and was followed to the line by Pennacchio, Jeff Dayman and Dennis Lunger, Jr. Racing action returns to the Port Colborne, Ontario speedway this Sunday (July 10) for a full race program and an appearance by the vintage cars.
After taking until June 12 to get their first show of the season in, Bradford Speedway was able to complete their fourth straight event on Sunday evening. Mike Wonderling became a first time winner capturing his first career RUSH Late Model win as he went from third to first on lap 14 and held off Sweeney Weekly Series point leader, Damian Bidwell, for the victory. Mike was able to deny his brother Jeremy of three straight wins at the Northwest Pa. 1/4-mile. Jeff Hoffman, Andy Michael, and Nick Snayczuk were third through fifth. Racing resumes on Sunday at Bradford.
Potomac Speedway held a special Sunday race for the holiday weekend where Logan Roberson took advantage of his front row starting spot in the 20-lap feature event and went on to the win in the RUSH Late Models. It was his second win of the season and he earned it by leading every lap. "I knew I had to get to the front first if we had a shot to win this thing." Roberson said after the race. "We've had a great race car all season and I want to thank my mom and dad and all the people who help with our team!” Tyler Bare was second with Darin Henderson, Ryan Clement and Darren Alvey completing the top-five. The RUSH Late Models don't return to Potomac until July 29.
After a week off, Outlaw and Genesee Speedways both return to racing this Friday and Saturday respectively, while Path Valley Speedway has the RUSH Late Models on their schedule next on July 15.
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.
RUSH Sportsman Modified marketing partners: Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, Bicknell Racing Products, Pace Performance, Hoosier Tire, Bilstein Shocks, Sunoco Race Fuels, MSD Ignition, Maxima Racing Oil, Jones Racing Products, FK Rod Ends, Sherwood Racing Wheels, Velocita-USA, Precise Racing Products, Alternative Power Sources, K&N Filters, TBM Brakes, Lincoln Electric, CrateInsider.com, Rocket Racing, and B.R.A.K.E.S.
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