By Mike Leone


August 19, 2018               FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


(Franklin, PA)...The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series presented by Pace Performance returned to Tri-City Raceway Park on Sunday evening for the second and final appearance of the season at Mark Tatalovic's half-mile western Pennsylvania facility.  Race #14 of the 2018 season attracted 45 drivers from five states plus Canada for the seventh annual "Manufacturers Night" presented by MSD Performance as over $30,000 in product giveaways were distributed. 


Mike Pegher, Jr. made his 2018 Sweeney Tour debut one week prior at Pittsburgh's PA Motor Speedway and dominated the first 18 laps of the "Jook George Steel City Classic" before a caution changed the complexion of the event that would see the 2013 champion fade to third at the finish.  On Sunday, Pegher won his heat, the dash, and dominated all 30 laps of the feature to become the season's 10th different winner in 14 Tour races!  The $2,000 victory was Pegher's second straight "Manufacturers Night" win at Tri-City.


"Four Super Late Model motors later we gave up on it for the year and bought a crate motor," revealed the 32-year-old Cranberry Township, Pa. standout.  "I called Mike Ingram a few weeks ago and he turned me a motor over in a about four days.  It's fun to come back to this stuff.  We've always enjoyed racing with Vicki (Emig) and Mike (Leone) and the whole RUSH Series.  There's good competition.  Whenever you come to these races there's 15-20 guys that can win anytime it just lucked out that we were the one standing here tonight.  I can't do it without my one and only crew guy, Mike Brunner.  It was just him and I this weekend.  We went to Stateline (Speedway) last night.  We changed a bunch of stuff today and it worked out.  I also have to thank Lynn Geisler for giving me an opportunity to drive the #1 Cochran car, my sponsors, and the of all fans for coming out here on a Sunday night."


A mad scramble for the lead on the opening lap saw Pegher come out on top of the three-wide battle to lead over Jason Genco and Brady Wonderling.  Christian Schneider would pass Wonderling for third on lap two.  Pegher quickly pulled away and had a near straightaway lead by lap five.  Pegher had a 3.5 second lead built up when he caught lapped traffic on lap 10. 


Damian Bidwell was on the move from the fifth starting spot.  Bidwell raced side-by-side with Wonderling on laps 12 and 13 before making the pass stick on the 13th circuit.  Bidwell then caught Schneider and made the pass for third on lap 16.  Two laps later, Bidwell closed in on Genco and pulled alongside in the battle for second on lap 19.  Genco was able to break away in traffic; however, Bidwell closed in again and the two raced side-by-side on laps 23 and 24.  Genco still maintained the second spot before a caution for Adam Ferri's flat tire with 26 laps scored.


The caution wiped out Pegher's 4.6 second lead and set up a double-file restart alongside Genco, the Series' co-point leader.  When racing resumed, Bidwell overtook Genco for second, while Wonderling passed both Schneider and edged ahead of Genco for third before the event's second and final caution when Andy Proper spun with 27 laps completed.


Bidwell would now get a shot alongside Pegher, but didn't get the start he needed; however, was able to protect the runner-up position, which awarded him the Dirt Defender "Defensive Drive of the Night" award.  Bidwell would never get a legitimate shot to challenge Pegher as Pegher took the checkered flag first by 0.917 of a second in the Lynn Geisler-owned, #1 Cochran Automotive/Tri-State Hose & Supply/Schwartzmiller Ground Maintenance/Bachman Trucking-sponsored #1C.  Pegher's ninth career Tour victory ties him for second on the all-time win list with 2016 champion, John Waters, and 2017 champion, Bryce Davis. 


Bidwell, who won the $2,000 July 28 Tour event at Stateline then went 17th to seventh at Pittsburgh last Saturday, earned $1,000 for his runner-up finish from fifth.  "I was hoping on those late race restarts I'd be able to run with him (Pegher) better," explained the 25-year-old Eldred, Pa. driver.  "My car was no good on the starts.  His would fire off the bat and mine would sit there and stumble.  I was hoping to be able to dive in there in (turns) one and two, but couldn't get the restarts I needed.  I need to thank all of my sponsors along with my mom and dad."


Wonderling, who won the $2,000 "Bill Emig Memorial" on June 17 at Tri-City, had a solid third.  "We made a couple of wrong adjustments for the feature," stated the Scio, NY veteran.  "I knew if we could get a couple restarts I could get back to third because I can race really good on restarts, and we did.  You just have to be ready to hustle on restarts, but control yourself so you don't get tangled up."


Schneider was a career best fourth in Sweeney Tour competition beating his prior best fifth from October 7, 2017 at Pittsburgh.  Genco dropped to fifth at the finish, but was still able to take over sole possession of the points lead by five.  Darrell Bossard, who has run the Tour part-time this season, was sixth for his sixth top 10 in seven races.  Former "Futures Cup" Champions, Eric Wilson and Nico Dabecco, finished seventh and eighth respectively.  Jeremy Wonderling was ninth.  Rookie Colby Beighey was 10th as he recorded his second top 10 Tri-City Tour finish of the season.


J.J. Mazur earned the final transfer spot in the feature then went 24th to 18th to earn the Precise Racing Products "Pedal Down" Hard Charger $100 gift card.  Jamie Wrightsman got upside down during qualifying.  He was okay, and would actually get the car fixed to run one of the last chance B mains, but failed to transfer to the feature.  Wrightsman, who timed in 16th fastest out of 45, was awarded the TBM Brakes "Tough Brake of the Night" award.


Making his second consecutive Tour start, Logan Zarin ended the night winning the non-qualifier event. "This means a lot and is exciting coming from go-karts and this being just my eighth race," expressed the 15-year-old Pittsburgh racer.  "This is a lot more fun- go karts are kind of boring." 


Zarin led all eight laps, but had to fight off strong challenges by 20-year-old central Pa. racer, Jakob Piper, and veteran Tour competitor, Brian Knowles, for the $175 win in the Jim Zarin-owned, Zarin Truck & Automotive-sponsored #1z.  Robert Mitcham III and Tony Iarrapino made their first Tour starts of the season and finished fourth and fifth in the non-qualifier.  "Wheelman Bonus Event Challenge Series" points leader, Bill Kessler, was unable to start the event after a B main crash that saw him go through the infield billboards.  He was okay.    


Brady Wonderling set fast time with a lap of 19.752 to earn the $100 FK Rod Ends "Shock the Clock" award then added another $25 when he won FK Rod Ends heat race one.  Other $25 FK Rod Ends heat winners were Schneider, Pegher, Genco, and Bidwell.  Pittsburgh's PA Motor Speedway regulars, Tommy Schirnhofer, Jr. and John Mollick, made their second straight Sweeney Tour appearances and won the last chance B mains.  Pegher won the dash to earn the pole position for the feature.


All seven annual "Manufacturers Nights" have drawn a minimum of 40 cars with an average of more than 48 per event.  Sunday marked the sixth Sweeney Tour race of the season that has drawn more than 40 cars.  The Sweeney Tour will be off now until September 29 at McKean County Family Raceway in East Smethport, Pa. for a $1,500 to-win Platinum Event kicking off three straight weekends of racing to conclude the 2018 season.  October 5-6 will be the $2,500 to-win "Bill Hendren Memorial" at Pittsburgh's PA Motor Speedway in Imperial, Pa. followed up by the $2,000 to-win "Steel City Stampede" at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa. on October 12-13.


Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Touring Series “Manufacturers Night” presented by MSD Performance Race #14 (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. MIKE PEGHER, JR. (Geisler 1c)  2. Damian Bidwell (1/2-Pint)  3. Brandy Wonderling (Ralyea z1)  4. Christian Schneider (Maniecki 1ST)  5. Jason Genco (Badgley/Craig 29J)  6. Darrell Bossard (Winans 213)  7. Eric Wilson (27W)  8. Nico Dabecco (1F)  9. Jeremy Wonderling (3J)  10. Colby Beighey (36B)  11. Scott Gurdak (Hollabaugh 5G)  12. Matt Latta (21)  13. Bruce Hordusky, Jr. (3)  14. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L)  15. Khole Wanzer (01)  16. Mike Franklin (74)  17. Chad Sines (15)  18. J.J. Mazur (13)  19. Tommy Schirnhofer, Jr. (8s)  20. Andy Proper (17)  21. Adam Ferri (66)  22. Al Brewer (Ralyea 2R)  23. Kyle Murray (21)  24. Jason Fosnaught (J19)  25. John Mollick (Bentz 60M).  (Note: Kyle Murray took a Series provisional & Chad Sines took a Track provisional)


Non-Qualifier (8 laps, $175 to-win): 1. Logan Zarin (1z)  2. Jakob Piper (21)  3. Brian Knowles (7)  4. Robert Mitcham III (827)  5. Tony Iarrapino (54)  6. Ward Schell (61s)-DNS  7. Steve LeBarron (29)-DNS  8. Matt Dobnak (42)-DNS  9. Gary Troyer (13)-DNS  10. Matt Sipes (25)-DNS  11. Bob Schwartzmiller (28s)-DNS  12. Andy Michael (17x)-DNS  13. Jamie Wrightsman (21J)-DNS  14. Bill Kessler (09)-DNS  15. Paul Norman, Jr. (6)-DNS  16. Jacob Peterson (McGee 7J)-DNS  17. Joe Chamberlain (Kratts 41)-DNS  18. Rob Marhefka (99)-DNS  19. Tony White (27T)-DNS  20. Zach Gunn (114G)-DNS.


Car Count: 45

Margin of Victory: 0.917 of a second
Feature Lap Leaders:
Mike Pegher, Jr. (1-30)

Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: J.J. Mazur (+6)

Dirt Defender “Defensive Drive of the Night”: Damian Bidwell

TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night": Jamie Wrightsman


FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying ($100 for fast time): 1. Brady Wonderling 19.752  2. Christian Schneider 19.763  3. Mike Pegher, Jr. 19.887  4. Jason Genco 19.941  5. Damian Bidwell 19.965  6. Darrell Bossard 19.978  7. Colby Beighey 20.026  8. Eric Wilson 20.056  9. Zach Gunn 20.125  10. Mike Franklin 20.173  11. Jason Fosnaught 20.211  12. Adam Ferri 20.214  13. Matt Dobnak 20.253  14. Nico Dabecco 20.293  15. Bruce Hordusky, Jr. 20.300  16. Jamie Wrightsman 20.324  17. Matt Latta 20.330  18. Dennis Lunger, Jr. 20.341  19. Andy Proper 20.361  20. Brian Knowles 20.374  21. Jeremy Wonderling 20.375  22. Logan Zarin 20.377  23. Scott Gurdak 20.392  24. John Mollick 20.395  25. Matt Sipes 20.397  26. Steve LeBarron 20.399  27. J.J. Mazur 20.410  28. Tommy Schirnhofer, Jr. 20.428  29. Chad Sines 20.491  30. Al Brewer 20.542  31. Khole Wanzer 20.557  32. Robert Mitcham III 20.594  33. Kyle Murray 20.687  34. Gary Troyer 20.689  35. Bob Schwartzmiller 20.790  36. Tony Iarrapino 20.828  37. Jakob Piper 20.832  38. Tony White 20.848  39. Andy Michael 20.951  40. Paul Norman, Jr. 20.951  41. Ward Schell 21.030  42. Bill Kessler 21.058  43. Joe Chamberlain 21.249  44. Rob Marhefka 21.365  45. Jacob Peterson 21.936.


FK Rod Ends Heat 1 (8 laps, Top 4 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. B. Wonderling  2. Bossard  3. J. Wonderling  4. Wanzer  5. Fosnaught  6. LeBarron  7. Schell  8. Iarrapino  9. Wrightsman-DNS.


FK Rod Ends Heat 2 (8 laps, Top 4 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Schneider  2. Ferri  3. Beighey  4. Latta  5. Mazur  6. Zarin  7. Piper  8. Kessler  9. Mitcham.


FK Rod Ends Heat 3 (8 laps, Top 4 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Pegher  2. Wilson  3. Gurdak  4. Lunger  5. Schirnhofer  6. Dobnak  7. Murray  8. Chamberlain  9. White.


FK Rod Ends Heat 4 (8 laps, Top 4 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Genco  2. Dabecco  3. Sines  4. Proper  5. Mollick  6. Michael  7. Troyer  8. Marhefka  9. Gunn.


FK Rod Ends Heat 5 (8 laps, Top 3 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Bidwell  2. Hordusky  3. Franklin  4. Brewer  5. Knowles  6. Schwartzmiller  7. Sipes  8. Norman  9. Peterson


Last Chance B Main 1 (10 laps, Top 2 transfer to A): 1. Schirnhofer  2. Fosnaught  3. Schell  4. Murray  5. LeBarron  6. Knowles  7. Sipes  8. Michael  9. Kessler  10. Mitcham  11. Marhefka-DNS  12. Gunn-DNS.


Last Chance B Main 2 (10 laps, Top 2 transfer to A): 1. Mollick  2. Mazur  3. Zarin  4. Piper  5. Dobnak  6. Troyer  7. Schwartzmiller  8. Wrightsman  9. Norman  10. Peterson  11. Iarrapino  12. Chamberlain  13. White-DNS.


Dash (6 laps): 1. Pegher  2. Genco  3. B. Wonderling  4. Schneider  5. Bidwell.


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, Holley Performance Products, Earl's Performance Plumbing, Quick Fuel Technology, FK Rod Ends, Schoenfeld Headers, Jones Racing Products, Racing Electronics, Dirt Defender, Dynamic Drivelines, Wrisco Industries, Frankland Racing Supply, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, TBM Brakes, Lincoln Electric, Pancho's Racing Products Velocita-USA, Classic Ink USA,  Landrum Performance Spring, Schwartzmiller Ground Maintenance, Close Racing Supply, CrateInsider.com, RockAuto.com, Valley Fashions, Dirt Late Model Magazine, and Three Rivers Karting.


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.