MAX BLAIR'S 4TH STRAIGHT SWEENEY RUSH LATE MODEL TOUR WIN CLINCHES $4000 INSINGER/SUNOCO NORTHERN TOUR TITLE SATURDAY AT MCKEAN COUNTY
By Mike Leone
October 10, 2015 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(East Smethport, PA)…After losing the Fair race on August 20, the gates swung open for the first time in 2015 at the McKean County Raceway on Saturday for the 10th annual "Fall Classic". The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Series were part of Chris Zuver's show in the season finale for the Insinger Performance/Sunoco Race Fuels Northern Touring Series.
For the second straight Tour event Eric Wilson drew the pole position and led the early laps, but it was déjà vu once again Saturday as Max Blair used a restart to make the winning pass on lap nine and held off Wilson to the finish of the 25-lap "Jason Dunham Memorial". The victory was worth $1,200 plus a new Hoosier Tire for Blair, who has now won an unprecedented four straight Tour races. The win also earned Blair the $4,000 Insinger/Sunoco Northern Tour crown.
"The kid (Wilson) gets better and better every week," expressed the 25-year-old Centerville, Pa. "His time is coming and he's going to win a lot of races in his day. This is the first time we've followed the RUSH Tour and it's a lot of fun going to all of the new race tracks. I've really enjoyed it all year. It sure feels good to be back at McKean in front of all these awesome fans. I love racing up here and sure do miss coming up here every week. Every person here needs to personally thank Chris Zuver for putting this deal on. I know he sure worked his tail off. It might not have been optimal track conditions, but for what he had to work with he did one hell of a job."
Wilson raced to the early lead over John Waters and Blair, who passed Scott Gunn on the opening lap for third. Blair closed in on Waters on lap three, while Wilson began to open up his lead. On lap five, Blair drove under and past Waters down the backstretch to grab second. Wilson caught lapped traffic on lap eight, but a caution for Jason Knowles slowed action after the eighth lap was scored.
Wilson chose the inside for the restart, but Blair was able to overtake the 2013 "Futures Cup" Champion using the outside. The driver on the move was ninth starting Randy Hall. Hall cracked the top five on lap 11 getting by Gunn then one lap later passed Jeremy Wonderling for fourth.
Back up front, Wilson closed in on Blair and was right on the leader on laps 13-15 before a caution for Dave Lyon. After an impressive heat race win, Lyon had a good run going in the feature, until mechanical woes ended his night, but was awarded the TBM Brakes "Tough Brake of the Night" Award.
The caution wasn't what Hall wanted to see as he began to back pedal losing fourth to Wonderling and fifth to his teammate Ward Schell, and would eventually fall further back at the race wound to its conclusion.
Wilson continued to stay right with Blair and one mistake by Blair would have allowed him to probably overtake the standout, but it didn't happen as Blair took the checkered flag first by 0.714 of a second in his R&J Poultry/Moody & Son Welding/Specialty Products/Genesis Shocks/Murphy’s Logging/C&J Dairy-sponsored #111. Blair's victory was his fifth in seven Insinger/Sunoco Northern Tour races, ninth of the season overall in Sweeney Tour action, and all-time leading 14th win of his Tour career.
It's been a breakout season for the 18-year-old Wilson as he's really ending his second season running the Sweeney Tour strong with his second consecutive runner-up finish. "The sad thing is the last time we finished second was to the same guy," stated the Cortland, Ohio driver. "He's good- there's no doubt about it. I feel like I'm on a broken record saying how good he is, but when you race against a guy of that caliber you have to bring your A-game. He's the best in the business, but I'm happy with a second place no doubt about it. I messed up on the restart when he got the lead, but I'd get to his door then there'd be a caution and we get to traffic and there'd be a caution. Just seemed like we couldn't catch a break. This was our type of track; a little rough and heavy- we do well at that."
After a slow start this season, John Waters has really picked it up and Saturday's third place finish was his seventh top five in the past 11 Tour events. "We definitely missed the setup tonight," explained the 34-year-old Whitesville, New York driver. "We were just way, way too tight getting in. I watched the B main and Dash so I don't know if when the sun went down more moisture came up because I just couldn't get in. Hats off to those guys they ran a good race. I feel bad for the guys behind me. I was running around there like an orangutan and they dare not pass me."
Wonderling and Schell finished fourth and fifth. Ironically it was both drivers' best Sweeney Tour finishes since they finished third and fourth on September 27 of last year at New York's Woodhull Raceway. Andy Michael came from 10th to finish sixth over Brad Mesler, 15th starting Mike Wonderling, Hall, and Matt Harvey, who was awarded the Maxima Racing Oils "Maximum Performance" Award. In just his second race in a former Mike Knight car, Harvey rebounded from a poor heat race starting spot to race his way into the feature then charged from 17th to 10th for his best Sweeney Tour finish since a fourth at McKean back on September 20, 2013.
In his first ever McKean start, Jake Gunn earned the $100 Precise Racing Products "Pedal Down" Hard Charger Award going from 23rd to 14th. Jon Rivers was the final car on the lead lap and received a $25 gift certificate from CrateInsider.com. Steve LeBarron was the first driver to fail to qualify for the feature and earned a $260 ARbodies nose kit for being the "Nosed Out" recipient.
Heat winners over the 28-car field were Jeremy Wonderling, Lyon, and Blair. Scott Waters won the last chance B main. Ward Schell became the 13th different driver of the season to win a K&N "Cold Air Induction" Dash and earned a $100 K&N certificate. Bryce Davis received a $50 K&N certificate for finishing second, while Jamie Brown and Mike Wonderling finished third and fourth respectively and picked up an extra $25 cash.
It was definitely a family affair event as three sets of brothers and a father-son combination participated Saturday! In fact, brothers John, Dusty, and Scott Waters along with the brothers of Jeremy and Mike Wonderling were all in the first heat race! Also participating were the brothers of Jason and Brian Knowles along with the father-son duo of Scott and Jake Gunn in their first ever appearance at McKean. All of the above all qualified for the feature!
The next Sweeney Tour event will be the season finale at Lernerville Speedway on October 22-24 for the $2,000 to-win "Gary Knollinger Memorial" as part of the "Steel City Stampede". Thursday (October 22) will feature a practice night followed by heat races on Friday and the remainder of the event on Saturday night.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Insinger Performance/Sunoco Race Fuels Northern Touring Series Race #7 “Jason Dunham Memorial” (25 laps, $1,200 to-win): 1. MAX BLAIR (111) 2. Eric Wilson (27W) 3. John Waters (LeBarron 11) 4. Jeremy Wonderling (3J) 5. Ward Schell (Suppa s4) 6. Andy Michael (Kratts 17x) 7. Brad Mesler (24B) 8. Mike Wonderling (74) 9. Randy Hall (Suppa 4s) 10. Matt Harvey (F4) 11. Scott Gunn (7G) 12. Wyatt Scott (X3) 13. Jamie Brown (135) 14. Jake Gunn (7) 15. Garrett Mott (43x) 16. Brian Knowles (7) 17. Jon Rivers (85) 18. Bryce Davis (94) 18. Damian Bidwell (17HP) 20. Mike Robinson (32) 21. Dave Lyon (14L) 22. Scott Waters (53) 23. Jason Knowles (4) 24. Dusty Waters (14W).
DNQ: Steve LeBarron (29), Paul Grigsby (24), Kevin Hill (98), Doug Ricotta (01).
Car Count: 28
Feature Lap Leaders: Eric Wilson (1-8), Max Blair (9-25)
Margin of Victory: 0.714
Close Racing Supply Feature Winner Tire: Max Blair
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Jake Gunn (+9)
Maxima Oil “Maximum Performance”: Matt Harvey
TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night": Dave Lyon
CrateInsider.com "Last Car on Lead Lap": Jon Rivers
ARbodies "Nosed Out": Steve LeBarron
Heat 1 (10 laps, Top 6 transfer to A): 1. J. Wonderling 2. B. Knowles 3. J. Waters 4. Mesler 5. Schell 6. M. Wonderling 7. S. Waters 8. Mott 9. D. Waters 10. Ricotta.
Heat 2 (10 laps, Top 6 transfer to A): 1. Lyon 2. Hall 3. Wilson 4. J. Knowles 5. Davis 6. Scott 7. LeBarron 8. Grigsby 9. J. Gunn.
Heat 3 (10 laps, Top 6 transfer to A): 1. Blair 2. S. Gunn 3. Michael 4. Bidwell 5. Brown 6. Harvey 7. Robinson 8. Rivers 9. Hill.
Last Chance B Main (10 laps, Top 6 transfer to A): 1. S. Waters 2. Robinson 3. D. Waters 4. Mott 5. Rivers 6. J. Gunn 7. LeBarron 8. Grigsby 9. Hill 10. Ricotta-DNS.
K&N "Cold Air Induction" Dash (4 laps, $100 K&N certificate to-win): 1. Ward Schell 2. Bryce Davis 3. Jamie Brown 4. Mike Wonderling.
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, Beyea Headers, FK Rod Ends, Bobby Lake Motorsports, Velocita-USA, High Gear Speed Shop, CrateInsider.com, B.R.A.K.E.S., RockAuto.com, and Valley Fashions.
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