KYLE LUKON GOES BACK-TO-BACK IN SWEENEY RUSH LATE MODEL TOUR AT PITTSBURGH WINNING THE BIGGEST RACE OF HIS CAREER IN THE "JOOK GEORGE STEEL CITY CLASSIC"; LUKON EARNS $11,610 AMONGST THE RECORD $43,000+ PAYOUT
By Mike Leone
August 10, 2019 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Imperial, PA)...The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series presented by Pace Performance returned to Pittsburgh's PA Motor Speedway on Saturday night for the second of three appearances of 2019 at dirt's "Monster Half-Mile". A beautiful evening allowed for a large turnout of fans and 42 drivers from nine different states were represented for the 30th annual "Jook George Steel City Classic" presented by Zarin Truck & Automotive. The richest event in the 13-year history of Crate Late Model racing in the Northeast featured a record payoff of more than $43,000 thanks much in part by the efforts of fifth year event promoter, Branden Lockwich, who raised over $28,000!
It took Kyle Lukon over six years to return to victory lane in a Sweeney RUSH Tour event after winning the July 20 "Manufacturers Night" show at Pittsburgh, but Lukon certainly didn't have to wait that long for his next win. And what a win it was! Lukon and the Tour returned to the "Monster Half-Mile" on Saturday night and the 29-year-old earned the biggest payoff of his career. Lukon passed Virginia invader Logan Roberson, who raced to the front from the 18th starting spot, on lap 46 and led the rest of the way for the popular win. The 50-lap "Jook George Steel City Classic" victory was worth $10,010 plus a $1,000 bonus from Miley Motor Sports and Lockwich for contributing to the event, $500 for setting fast time in memory of Tanya Flinner, and $100 for his runner-up dash finish bringing his night's earnings to a whopping $11,610!
"This is just amazing what this race has turned into," expressed the Burgettstown, Pa. driver after his 36th career PPMS win. "Branden puts so much effort into this. I think just about every driver contributed money to the purse. My mom and sister did it about 12 years ago and I won that race then a few people since like Mark Flinner and Branden have taken over to try and build it up. Branden has made it his baby. I thought I had a good shot back at Lernerville for the $10,000 and felt like I had that one taken from me, but that's racing I guess."
"At the beginning of the race I got the jump on John (Mollick) and was trying to get out there and set an early pace, but the next thing I knew he came flying in there and wanted the lead," explained Lukon. "The cautions weren't really working to my favor as I'd get going then get stuck on the bottom. I thought I threw it all away when I got into the wall in (turns) one and two. I was surprised on the last restart to see Logan (Roberson) take the bottom, but I threw it away anyways with a bad restart. Then I got a big run down the frontstretch with five to go and I knew that was my only shot at it so I was just hoping I'd clear him. Logan probably could have moved me if he wanted to. It's great running with him- he's a class act and one of the best there is. I have to thank everyone that supports me. I want to thank Alex (Ferree) for running my other car. It was fun battling with him a handful of laps."
It was three-wide for the lead on the opening lap with Lukon and his teammate Alex Ferree racing by John Mollick, while sixth starting Colton Flinner moved to fourth ahead of Ross Robinson. After falling to third, Mollick would pass Ferree for second on lap two then went after Lukon and put a slider on him in turns one and two for the lead on lap four. Mollick began to distance himself from the field as he dealt with lapped traffic on lap seven, but a caution for Michael Duritsky, Jr. would bring out the event's first caution with seven laps scored.
When racing resumed, Flinner grabbed third from Ferree. It took 10 laps this time for Mollick to get into lapped traffic as he had a half-straightaway lead built up and once again the caution would erase Mollick's lead. This time it was for Dan Angelicchio, who clobbered the wall in turns three and four. Angelicchio had raced from 23rd to eighth and was flying around the topside of the speedway until his night abruptly ended.
One more lap was completed before the third place running Flinner slammed the wall. This moved Ferree back to third for the restart and when racing resumed on lap 19, he was able to pass Lukon for the second spot; however, one lap later Ferree found himself the odd man out on a three-wide battle as Lukon regained second with 10th starting Garret Paugh moving into third. Duritsky's night ended when he brought out another caution- this time with 20 laps scored.
Back under green on lap 21, Paugh would move to runner-up past Lukon, while Roberson made his presence known for the first time racing up into the fourth spot. Lap 22 saw Lukon race back to second once again as Roberson followed in third as the two dropped Paugh back to fourth. By the halfway point, the top three of Mollick, Lukon, and Roberson pulled away from the field. Flinner would find the wall once again bringing out another caution with 29 laps completed.
When racing resumed on lap 30, Roberson overtook Lukon for second and went after Mollick as he began to close the deficit. By lap 37, Roberson was right on the track's two-time 2019 Sweeney Weekly Series winner. Roberson then pulled alongside Mollick on lap 39 and the two raced side-by-side for the lead with Roberson edging ahead to lead lap 40 as Mollick got into the wall. Mollick then would lose second to Lukon the following lap as he had a tire begin to go down, and would bring out the caution with 44 laps scored. Mollick was chosen as the TBM Brakes "Tough Brake of the Night" recipient and also received $100 from Dan Holtgraver.
Roberson got a great restart to open up some ground on Lukon for the final six-lap run to the finish, but Lukon would run back down the 2017 Sweeney RUSH National Weekly Series Champion. Lukon would use a cross-over move coming off turn four with the five-lap to-go signal being given and would slide under Roberson entering turn one for the winning move. Lukon led the remaining laps in the Phil Lukon-owned, Race 1/Tru Form/Frankland Racing Supply/Lukon's Reb-Fab/Poske's Performance Parts-sponsored #184 Rocket Chassis by a winning margin of 1.399 seconds for his third career Tour win.
(Note: Lukon's engine was tore down in post-race tech and was found to be 100% legal per the GM 604 Technical Manual, and the win will be official once the results of the fuel and tire samples that were taken are verified to be in compliance.)
Despite earning $5,000, Roberson was a disappointed second in his first Sweeney Tour start since winning at his home track, Winchester Speedway, back on April 20 in the "Battle of the Bay" presented by Wehrs Machine show. Roberson was the Precise Racing Products "Pedal Down" Hard Charger and received a $100 gift card.
"That caution killed me," stated the 21-year-old Waynesboro, VA driver. "We had a really good race car. There's not much you can say. Finishing second is like kissing your sister, but congrats to Kyle (Lukon). He had control of those last six laps because I was a sitting duck. I had to choose where to go, when to go, and how fast to go. I just wish that caution hadn't come out, but that's racing. I hope all you fans enjoyed that- if it wasn't for you we wouldn't be racing. I can't thank the track enough for a good track; it was real racey- top, bottom, middle whatever you wanted to do. I also have to thank RUSH- Mike (Leone) and Vicki (Emig) put on a great series. I have a badass crew and I can't thank them enough. We might have started 18th, but there was no giving up and there was no doubt in their mind I wasn't going to do good."
After falling out of contention, Robinson came on late to get back into the top five and take third place after his pass on lap 46. Robinson earned $2,500 for his third place finish as he's now had four podium finishes in five 2019 Tour starts. Robinson was also chosen as the Dirt Defender "Defensive Drive of the Night" recipient for holding off Paugh to make the dash and then holding off Eddie Carrier, Jr. for third in the feature.
"That was a long race," acknowledged the 29-year-old Georgetown, DE driver. "This is a unique place. I was here a couple times last year. When you go to the outside, you better hit it if you're going to have any speed. When it cleans up you can go all over the track and obviously for Logan to come from 18th to take the lead showed the ability to pass. We weren't the best car, but we were competitive enough to be in the mix when it counted. We'll work harder to make it better, but congrats to Kyle and Logan on their runs. We can't hang our heads on third with this crowd of cars and this far from home."
Carrier, who started 12th, quietly raced up to fourth at the finish to earn $2,000 as the West Virginia racer was the fourth different state represented in the top four. After getting as high as second, Paugh dropped to fifth at the finish for $1,500. "Futures Cup" racer and Tour rookie, Logan Zarin, had his best career Tour finish in sixth after starting 20th to earn $1,300. Braeden Dillinger, another first year Tour regular, finished seventh to earn $1,207 thanks to a $107 bonus from Jake and Scott Gunn in memory of Dave Nicholas. Matt Latta was eighth for $1,050 as he's now finished in the top eight in all three 2019 Tour starts. Christian Schneider also received $1,050 for his ninth place finish thanks to a $50 bonus from Bryant Hank for being the top finisher of the top 10 in PPMS points. Nico Dabecco completed the top 10.
Chad Sines closed out the night leading all 12 laps of the "Wheelman" Non-Qualifier holding off a last lap charge by Levi Crowl and Jamie Wrightsman for the $400 victory. Wrightsman started back in seventh and was up to third after one lap then passed Crowl for second on lap two. Crowl returned the favor on lap five getting back by Wrightsman for second. Crowl and Wrightsman then chased down Sines and was all over him on the final lap, but 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 win by just 0.230 of second. The 32-year-old Orwell, Ohio driver became the 38th different Non-Qualifier winner in 45 races run all-time and tied Wrightsman for the "Wheelman" points lead. Zach Gunn was fourth over Tony White.
Lukon set fast time overall in FK Rod Ends "Shock the Clock" Qualifying with a lap of 20.197. Lukon received a total of $500 thanks to $300 from efforts of John Flinner, Jr. with $100 from Fire Fighter, $100 from Gobblers Knob Hunting Preserve, and $100 from Taylor, John, and Pap in memory of Tanya Flinner along with $100 from Damian Bidwell Racing, and the standard $100 from FK.
Michael Reft, Flinner, Ferree, and Mollick each added $25 for winning the FK Rod Ends heat races, while Justin Lamb and Duritsky won the $50 last chance B mains. Matt Shuffstall put up $404 for the "John Beatty Memorial" Dash, which was won by Mollick. Thanks to other contributors, each spot in the dash had a cash payoff.
Reft's 13th place feature finish allowed him to not only earn $675, but also a $150 spoiler kit from Ontime Body and Graphic. The Zarin Truck & Automotive "$500 Club" drawings were co-sponsored by Mike's Auto Repair & Sales as the $100 drawings for the top 15 in PPMS points went to Schneider, Policz, Mollick, White, and Bryan Hoffman. HTMA/Precise Racing Products posted five $30 gift cards with those going to Colby Beighey, Brian Goebel, Pete Wearing, Jared Kane, and Clayton Tarabori. John Waters received the $100 Close Racing Supply gift certificate.
Dan and Troy Holtgraver were recognized with appreciation plaques from Lockwich for their efforts in starting the "Jook George Steel City Classic" back in 1990.
"It's really amazing how this event has grown and how so many people have gotten behind it to make this all possible," expressed RUSH Director Vicki Emig. "Branden has led the efforts of transforming this from a special weekly event to a record breaking major Touring Series show. We can't thank the George Family, Miley Motor Sports, Branden and so many others for their amazing contributions and allow us to present this as RUSH Late Model Touring Series event and to see over $43,000 posted and the feature paying $550 to-start is incredible. It was great racing all night and we have to thank the drivers for their support as well as those that also contributed to boost the event even more."
The Sweeney Tour will be off now until October 4-5 for the third and final race of the season at Pittsburgh for the annual "Bill Hendren Memorial" as part of the "Pittsburgher" with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. The event will pay a minimum of $4,000 to-win. The season will then conclude at Lernerville Speedway for the "Steel City Stampede" on October 18-19.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Touring Series “Jook George Steel City Classic” Race #13 (50 laps, $11,010 to-win): 1. KYLE LUKON (184) 2. Logan Roberson (17) 3. Ross Robinson (7) 4. Eddie Carrier, Jr. (Nolan 13) 5. Garret Paugh (03) 6. Logan Zarin (1z) 7. Braeden Dillinger (14) 8. Matt Latta (21) 9. Christian Schneider (Maniecki 1ST) 10. Nico Dabecco (F1) 11. Ben Policz (14B) 12. Scott Gunn (14G) 13. Michael Reft (9R) 14. Daryl Charlier (Springer 42) 15. Jeremy Wonderling (3J) 16. Ryan Frazee (11F) 17. John Mollick (Bentz 60M) 18. Josh Stoica (22J) 19. Bill Kessler (09) 20. Tommy Schirnhofer, Jr. (8s) 21. Colton Flinner (Johnson 48) 22. Alex Ferree (Lukon 184X) 23. Michael Duritsky, Jr. (90J) 24. Grant Garrison (1) 25. Dan Angelicchio (14) 26. Justin Lamb (93x). (Note: Bill Kessler took a Tour provisional & Josh Stoica a Track provisional.)
Non-Qualifier (12 laps, $400 to-win): 1. Chad Sines (15) 2. Levi Crowl (5) 3. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 4. Zach Gunn (17G) 5. Tony White (27T) 6. Paul Jablonski (3) 7. Al Shawver, Jr. (215) 8. Zach Kane (10) 9. Bryan Hoffman (15H) 10. Colby Beighey (36B) 11. Brian Goebel (12G) 12. Pete Wearing (111) 13. Jared Kane (7) 14. John Waters (LeBarron 11)-DNS 15. Ron Hall (01)-DNS 16. Clayton Tarabori (16T)-DNS.
Car Count: 42
Feature Margin of Victory:
Feature Lap Leaders: Kyle Lukon (1-3, 46-50), John Mollick (4-39), Logan Roberson (40-45)
$1,000 Feature Winner Contributor Bonus from Miley Motor Sports & Branden Lockwich: Kyle Lukon
Zarin Truck & Auto "$500 Club" co-sponsored by Mike's Auto Repair & Sales: Christian Schneider, Ben Policz, John Mollick, Tony White & Bryan Hoffman
$107 for 7th Place "In Memory of Dave Nicholas" from Scott & Jake Gunn: Braeden Dillinger
$50 for highest PPMS Top 10 Points Finisher from Bryant Hank: Christian Schneider
Ontime Body & Graphic “Spoiler Alert”: Michael Reft
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Logan Roberson (+16)
Dirt Defender “Defensive Drive of the Night”: Ross Robinson
TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night" + $100 from Dan Holtgraver: John Mollick
Sunoco 5-Gallon Race Jug: Kyle Lukon
$100 Close Racing Products Certificate: John Waters
$30 HTMA/Precise Racing Products Gift Cards: Colby Beighey, Brian Goebel, Pete Wearing, Jared Kane, Clayton Tarabori
FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying Flight A ($500 for fast time "In Memory of Tanya Flinner" sponsored by Taylor, John Flinner Jr. & Sr. along with Damian Bidwell Racing) (Track record 18.849 by Mike Pegher, Jr. on 5/12/12): 1. Kyle Lukon 20.197 2. Colton Flinner 20.260 3. Michael Reft 20.461 4. Braeden Dillinger 20.553 5. Nico Dabecco 20.595 6. Ryan Frazee 20.625 7. Christian Schneider 20.761 8. Dan Angelicchio 20.774 9. Daryl Charlier 20.867 10. Ben Policz 20.978 11. Justin Lamb 21.117 12. Zach Gunn 21.273 13. Bill Kessler 21.318 14. Josh Stoica 21.449 15. Paul Jablonski 21.512 16. Jeremy Wonderling 21.627 17. Ron Hall 21.668 18. Levi Crowl 21.722 19. Jared Kane 21.784 20. Brian Goebel 22.183 21. Clayton Tarabori 22.722.
FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying Flight B: 1. Logan Roberson 20.397 2. John Mollick 20.491 3. Alex Ferree 20.589 4. Matt Latta 20.627 5. Ross Robinson 20.691 6. Eddie Carrier, Jr. 20.701 7. Tommy Schirnhofer, Jr. 20.703 8. Grant Garrison 20.789 9. Michael Duritsky, Jr. 20.822 10. Logan Zarin 20.935 11. Garret Paugh 20.945 12. Zach Kane 21.306 13. John Waters 21.538 14. Jamie Wrightsman 21.544 15. Pete Wearing 21.590 16. Scott Gunn 21.604 17. Al Shawver, Jr. 21.626 18. Tony White 21.685 19. Chad Sines 21.912 20. Bryan Hoffman 22.750 21. Colby Beighey 28.614.
FK Rod Ends Heat 1 (10 laps, Top 5 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Reft 2. Lukon 3. Dabecco 4. Schneider 5. Charlier 6. Lamb 7. Kessler 8. Jablonski 9. Hall 10. J. Kane 11. Tarabori-DNS.
FK Rod Ends Heat 2 (10 laps, Top 5 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Flinner 2. Dillinger 3. Frazee 4. Wonderling 5. Policz 6. Angelicchio 7. Crowl 8. Stoica 9. Z. Gunn 10. Goebel.
FK Rod Ends Heat 3 (10 laps, Top 5 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Ferree 2. Robinson 3. Paugh 4. Schirnhofer 5. Roberson 6. Duritsky 7. Sines 8. Z. Kane 9. Shawver 10. Wrightsman 11. Beighey.
FK Rod Ends Heat 4 (10 laps, Top 5 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Mollick 2. Latta 3. Carrier 4. Garrison 5. Zarin 6. S. Gunn 7. White 8. Waters 9. Hoffman 10. Wearing.
Last Chance B Main 1 (10 laps, Top 2 transfer to A, $50 to-win): 1. Lamb 2. Angelicchio 3. Kessler 4. Crowl 5. Z. Gunn 6. J. Kane 7. Stoica 8. Jablonski 9. Goebel 10. Hall-DNS 11. Tarabori-DNS.
Last Chance B Main 2 (10 laps, Top 2 transfer to A, $50 to-win): 1. Duritsky 2. S. Gunn 3. Sines 4. White 5. Shawver 6. Wrightsman 7. Z. Kane 8. Beighey 9. Wearing 10. Waters 11. Hoffman-DNS.
"John Beatty Memorial" Dash (6 laps, $404 to-win): 1. Mollick 2. Lukon 3. Ferree 4. Robinson 5. Dillinger 6. Flinner 7. Reft 8. Latta-DNS.
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.