TOMMY SCHIRNHOFER, JR. CHARGES FROM 13TH TO UPSET SWEENEY RUSH LM TOUR AT PITTSBURGH FOR 1ST WIN; 40 CARS PARTICIPATE IN $30,000 “MANUFACTURERS NIGHT”
By Mike Leone
August 31, 2013 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Imperial, PA)…The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series held their “Manufacturers Night” on a warm and muggy 85-degree day to kick off the “$50,000 End of Summer Blowout” Labor Day Weekend Saturday at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway. Some $30,000 in product prizes was distributed to the 40 racers from all over Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, West Virginia, and Maryland that participated in the event. A complete prize list and winners will be posted this week.
Tommy Schirnhofer, Jr. has been one of the top Pittsburgh racers over the years. He entered the night with 17 career wins at the “Monster Half-Mile”, but never had much success in big Crate Late Model events at his home track or throughout the region. On Saturday night, Schirnhofer came from 13th knocking off all of the region’s heavy hitters for an emotional first career Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Touring Series victory worth $1,500. Schirnhofer became the ninth different winner in the first 14 races of the season!
“I’ve been trying to win one of these tour races since 2007,” acknowledged the 27-year-old Pittsburgh, Pa. racer. “That was the first year I traveled and finished second in my first race to Todd Andrews at McKean. I never thought it would take this long. Every time we had a show at Pittsburgh, I’d have bad luck or something would break on the car. To finally win one here means a lot to my entire team. I have to thank all of my sponsors and family for making this possible.”
Ryan Montgomery has been on the hottest racers this summer and entered the night winning of two of the last three Sweeney Tour events. After a dominating heat win, Montgomery drew the pole position for the 25-lap feature and took off in the lead over Matt Latta, Mark Moats, newcomer Ken Chernik, and Dusty Curry. Moats, who finished third at the Sweeney Tour Speedweek event last month, looked strong as he pressured Latta for runner-up on lap three, while eighth starting Bryce Davis moved into the top five past Curry.
Moats and Latta raced side-by-side for the second spot on laps four and five before a caution for Cody Dawson and Joe Martin. When racing resumed, Davis continued his forward progression taking fourth from Chernik. The next caution slowed action with seven laps completed for a spin by Curry. Twelfth starting Josh Holtgraver had moved into the top five then got a great restart to pass both Davis and Moats for third, while Davis passed Moats to regain fourth.
Holtgraver went after Latta and the two raced side-by-side on lap nine with Holtgraver completing the pass with an inside move in turn four. Montgomery had opened up a half-straightaway lead at this point on Holtgraver. Davis looked strong as he battled with Latta on laps 10 and 11 before making the identical move that Holtgraver put on Latta to claim third.
At the halfway point, the complexity of the event really began to change. Latta slowed on lap 13 moving Colton Flinner to fourth and Schirnhofer into contention in fifth. Montgomery was just about to catch lapped traffic on lap 17 as Holtgraver was closing in when Flinner slowed in fourth place stopping the race with 16 laps scored. Schirnhofer now found himself in fourth as 20th starting Mike Pegher, Jr. cracked the top five for the first time.
On the ensuing restart, Montgomery bobbled and washed up the track making contact with Holtgraver. The contact eventually resulted in flat tires for both racers, but not before Schirnhofer would go from fourth to first before the caution; Moats and Laura Lukon made heavy contact in turn one with 17 laps scored. Both drivers were okay. Under the caution, Montgomery and Holtgraver both pitted, which moved Pegher, Davis, and Rocky Kugel into spots two through four respectively.
When green replaced yellow, contact was made between Kugel and Davis in turn one with Davis coming up lame with a flat tire. The race’s final caution was for a spin by Paul Jablonski with 19 laps scored. The caution was huge for Montgomery, who had hustled his way from the tail to 11th in two laps. Back under green, Montgomery passed six cars on lap 20 to move into fifth! On lap 21 he passed Ben Policz for fourth, lap 22 disposed of Kugel for third, and finally drove under and past Pegher for second in turn two on lap 24!
Montgomery certainly needed this to be a 30-lap event to have any shot at Schirnhofer, who had built his lead on the final six caution-free laps. At the finish, Schirnhofer topped Montgomery by 2.585 seconds for his season’s third win at Pittsburgh and 18th of his career in the Tom Schirnhofer, Sr.-owned, Leo Phillips Racing/TannerU/Durrans Bar/Woody’s Towing/Cleetus Motorsports/Steding Contracting/P2 Contracting-sponsored Rocket Chassis #8s.
“I told you it would be tough to come from that far back, but we changed the right front spring,” explained the winner. “It worked great through turns one and two and on the high side and I just kept my line in (turns) three and four. I knew if anyone was going to get up there to try to pass me they’d have to make a real strong run on the top of the track to be able to do it and I wasn’t going to let that happen!”
Montgomery beat Pegher for the seventh time in the past nine races, but still trails the Sweeney Tour point leader by 22. It was Montgomery’s 10th top five of the season, but Pegher’s 12th in 15 races. “I needed another restart,” smiled the 16-year-old Fairmont, West Virginia standout. “Not bad after coming from back. I wished we’d have changed the tire earlier in the race. Everyone was running down low so I went to the top. It was either pass a lot of cars or hit the wall!”
Pegher received his first Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger of the season for gaining 17 spots from his 20th starting spot! Kugel recorded his third straight top 10 Tour finish, but the best of the season in fourth. Policz had a great run coming from 16th to fifth for his best career Tour finish. Michael Reft, Kyle Lukon, Flinner, Nico Dabecco, and 21st starting Jason Rider completed the top 10.
Bemus Point, New York driver Chad Ruhlman arrived at the speedway when the first heat race was underway and wasn’t able to cross the track until the conclusion of the race. Ruhlman tagged the fourth heat race, but struggled finishing last and then was only able to pass two cars in the second B main. Ruhlman was able to end the night with a consolation prize capturing the Non-Qualifier event victory.
Ruhlman started sixth and passed Jeremy Adamik for fourth on lap two. Ruhlman then made a great move to split both Ron Hall and Chuck Medved for second down the backstretch on lap three. Ruhlman found himself a half-straightaway behind leader Ralph Morgan, Jr., who had went from fourth to first in the opening lap. Ruhlman closed on Morgan on lap seven then was on the leader on lap eight. The two ran side-by-side on the final lap with Ruhlman making the outside work in turns three and four for the $150 victory in the Terry Suppa-owned #4s. Morgan was second in his debut in the John Powell-owned #100. Third through fifth were Matt Glanden, Jake Gunn, and Tony White.
The 40-car field matched the season high from last month at
Pittsburgh. Heat winners were Jablonski, Montgomery, Moats, and Reft, while
Rider and Lunger captured the B mains. Schirnhofer became the 15th
different K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash winner in as many races this year!
Schirnhofer received a $100 K&N certificate, while Martin received a $50
certificate for second. Dabecco and Policz received $25 cash for third and
Adam Sixt was selected as The Brake Man’s “Tough Brake of the Night” award after a hard crash in warm-ups that ended his night. Sixt towed over four hours from his home in Chaffee, New York (southeast of Buffalo) in his first ever visit to the “Monster Half-Mile”.
The next event on the Sweeney Tour will be Monday (Labor Day) to conclude the “$50,000 End of Summer Blowout” with the $2,000 to-win show at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex in Markleysburg, Pa. RUSH will be on the card with the $20,000 to-win NDRL “Kings of Dirt” Super Late Models. Warm-ups get underway at 6 p.m. followed by Bobby Lake Motorsports “Shock the Clock” Qualifying.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series Race #15 “Manufacturers Night” (25 laps, $1,500 to-win): 1. TOMMY SCHIRNHOFER, JR. (8s) 2. Ryan Montgomery (12) 3. Mike Pegher, Jr. (Geisler 1c) 4. Rocky Kugel (21KRT) 5. Ben Policz (14B) 6. Michael Reft (9R) 7. Kyle Lukon (1) 8. Colton Flinner (75) 9. Nico Dabecco (Karalagas 1FR) 10. Jason Rider (Wade 76) 11. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L) 12. Rick Singleton (Enyeart 99*) 13. Butch Lambert (27) 14. Josh Holtgraver (00) 15. Justin Lamb (93x) 16. Ken Chernik (5x) 17. Steve Beatty (B4) 18. Paul Jablonski (3J) 19. Bryce Davis (94) 20. Mark Moats, Jr. (15) 21. Laura Lukon (84) 22. Dusty Curry (8) 23. Matt Latta (21) 24. Cody Dawson (36) 25. Joe Martin (55) 26. Bobby Whitling (7W). (Note: Rick Singleton took a Series provisional & Justin Lamb took a Track provisional).
Non-Qualifier (10 laps, $150 to-win): 1. Chad Ruhlman (Suppa 4s) 2. Ralph Morgan, Jr. (Powell 100) 3. Matt Glanden (01) 4. Jake Gunn (14G) 5. Tony White (27) 6. Chuck Medved (2M) 7. Justin Smith (22) 8. Scott Tessman (19s) 9. Jeremy Adamik (7J) 10. W.L. Stile (1W) 11. Andrew Wylie (84)-DNS 12. Scott Schempp (75)-DNS 13. Ron Hall (01)-DNS 14. Adam Sixt (6T)-DNS.
Feature Lap Leaders: Montgomery (1-16), Schirnhofer (17-25)
Margin of Victory: 2.585 seconds
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Mike Pegher, Jr. (+17)
The Brake Man “Tough Brake of the Night: Adam Sixt
Heat 1 (10 laps/Top 5 transfer) 1. Jablonski 2. Davis 3. Flinner 4. Schirnhofer 5. Dawson 6. Rider 7. Morgan 8. White 9. Tessman 10. Gunn.
Heat 2 (10 laps/Top 5 transfer) 1. Montgomery 2. Latta 3. Chernik 4. Martin 5. Whitling 6. Schempp 7. Adamik 8. L. Lukon 9. Medved 10. Stile.
Heat 3 (10 laps/Top 5 transfer) 1. Moats 2. Curry 3. Kugel 4. Dabecco 5. Beatty 6. Lambert 7. Lamb 8. Hall 9. Glanden 10. Wylie.
Heat 4 (10 laps/Top 5 transfer): 1. Reft 2. K. Lukon 3. Holtgraver 4. Policz 5. Pegher 6. Lunger 7. Singleton 8. Smith 9. Ruhlman 10. Sixt-DNS.
K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash (4 laps/$100 K&N certificate to-win): 1. Tommy Schirnhofer, Jr. 2. Joe Martin 3. Nico Dabecco 4. Ben Policz.
B Main 1 (10 laps/Top 2 transfer): 1. Rider 2. L. Lukon 3. Adamik 4. Medved 5. Morgan 6. White 7. Gunn 8. Stile 9. Schempp 10. Tessman.
B Main 2 (10 laps/Top 2 transfer): 1. Lunger 2. Lambert 3. Wylie 4. Glanden 5. Lamb 6. Ruhlman 7. Singleton 8. Smith 9. Hall 10. Sixt-DNS.
2013 RUSH marketing partners
include Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, Pace Performance, RainEater Wiper Blades,
Hoosier Tire, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Precise Racing Products,
ARbodies, The Brake Man, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, TurboStart, K1 RaceGear,
Beyea Headers, FK Rod Ends, Bobby Lake Motorsports, Wrisco Industries, High Gear
Speed Shop, Utsinger’s Towing, 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.