By Mike Leone


October 23-25, 2015            FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


(Sarver, PA)…The 2015 season for the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Racing Series wrapped up this past weekend at Lernerville Speedway for the seventh annual "Steel City Stampede".  The first ever RUSH tripleheader attracted 83 crate engine cars including 54 Late Models, which was an all-time record for Crate Late Models since the division debuted in the Northeast in 2007!  Practice was held Thursday night with heat races on Friday night, however, rain showers postponed Saturday’s finale until Sunday afternoon.


Capturing victories were Jacob Hawkins-Sweeney RUSH Late Model Bazell/Sunoco Southern Touring Series, Nick Ritchey Sweeney RUSH Sportsman Modified Bicknell Racing Products Touring Series, and Corey McPherson-Sweeney Pro Stocks.  Congratulations to Lernerville Stock racers Paul Schreckengost and John Hartman, who won the two new GM 604 engines compliments of Sweeney/Pace Performance and World Racing Group valued at $6,600 each and a special thanks to Jones Racing Products dressing them with $800 belt drive systems. 


For the second time in the five-year history of the event, the “Gary Knollinger Memorial” victory goes back Knollinger’s former home state, West Virginia.  After last year’s Series champion Ryan Montgomery won the event in 2013, Mountaineer State driver, Jacob Hawkins, had an improbable victory on Sunday charging from the 17th starting spot to pick up the victory getting by Max Blair on a restart with two laps to go.  Hawkins’ first career Sweeney Tour victory ended an unprecedented streak of four straight victories by Blair.  Hawkins not only received the $2,000 first place prize, but also the prestigious “Gary Knollinger Memorial” statue trophy and the “Steel City Stampede” buckle and plaque as well as being named the Maxima Racing Oils “Maximum Performance” Award winner.


“This means a lot and best wishes to the Knollinger Family,” expressed the Fairmont, West Virginia ace.  “I want to thank Lernerville for getting this show in.  The weather was tough, but this track was awesome.  You were able to race all over it once the cushion got moved up high enough.  I have to thank Jerry Haseleu for giving me the opportunity.  I always wanted to win this race so it feels great to get it done.  I was a little concerned starting 17th, but I know how hard Jerry works on it.  Every time I’ve driven it, it’s been good enough to win so if it didn’t make it to victory lane it was going to be my fault.”


Jared Miley, who was doing double duty also competing with the Super Late Models, drew the pole position and took off in the lead over Daryl Charlier, Eric Wilson, and Will Thomas III.  Charlier slipped off the track allowing Wilson and Thomas to move into second and third.  Blair started back in 15th and had the bottom lane working as he was already up to fifth after four laps.  A caution for Randy Hall slowed action with five laps completed.  It was a heartbreaker for Eric Wilson, who suffered a flat tire and exited the event running second.  Wilson was entering the event coming off a pair of career best runner-up finishes.  Wilson was named the TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night”.


Blair inherited fourth for the restart and passed Rob Marhefka for third when racing resumed.  Blair continued to make the bottom work as he drove under and past Thomas in turn four for second on lap eight.  During the long green flag run, Miley caught traffic on lap 17 and actually began to stretch his lead out; meanwhile, ninth starting Colton Flinner passed Thomas for third on the 17th circuit. 


A caution for Joel Prosser, who was driving a former Knollinger car with the #38K body panel, slowed action with 22 laps scored setting up a double file restart with Blair and Miley side-by-side.  Miley chose the outside for the restart, but it was Blair getting a great bite off the bottom and had the advantage entering turn one.  Miley slipped high off the track and would slow as would Khole Wanzer bringing out the caution after lap 23 was scored.


The double file restart now placed Hawkins alongside Blair with Blair choosing the outside.  Like the restart before with Blair and Miley, Hawkins found great bite off the bottom as his car stuck entering turn one and drove away from Blair through turn two and down the backstretch for the winning move.  Hawkins took the white flag and stretched his lead to 0.785 of a second over Blair when the checkered waved in the Jerry Haseleu-owned, Jack’s Recycling/AOS Service/Bland’s Towing/Melvin’s Transmission-sponsored #RJ1.


“I was honestly shocked he (Blair) chose the outside,” revealed Hawkins.  “I knew he got Miley on the inside.  I was able to stay with him on the frontstretch and knew if I could get could clear him on the backstretch I’d be alright.  I want to thank him for racing me clean.  He’s a heck of a wheelman.  Anytime you can beat him you know you’ve done something.”


Blair’s runner-up was worth $1,000 and gave him the $10,000 sweep of the Bazell/Sunoco Southern, Insinger/Sunoco Northern, and Combined Sweeney Touring Championships!  Flinner was third.  It was quite a day for John Mollick.  Mollick subbed for Mark Moats, Jr. on Sunday and charged from 12th to win the third B main.  That gave him the 21st starting spot of the feature and he raced all the way to fourth place and earned the $100 Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger gift card as he passed a total of 28 cars on the afternoon!  Thomas, who did double duty driving an E-Mod as well, completed the top five.


In his first year of touring, Steve Lowery saved the best for last finishing a season best sixth after starting 22nd.  Kyle Lukon, Corey McPherson, Kyle Zimmerman, and Russ Kolesar completed the top 10.  Wendell Pinckney was the last driver on the lead lap at the finish and received a $25 CrateInsider.com certificate.  Josh Stoica was the first driver to fail to qualify for the feature and was awarded the ARbodies “Nosed Out” nose kit. 


Fifteen of the eligible 29 drivers took the green flag in the 12-lap Non-Qualifier event and in the end it was rookie Braeden Dillinger capturing the $175 victory in his first ever Touring Series start.  The 16-year-old Dawson, Pa. Mod Lite graduate started back in 13th and made the winning pass on a restart with two laps to go taking the win from Eric Andrus in the Custom Poly Bag/Hodge Transmission/Newt’s York Bar-sponsored #14.  Andrus started sixth and passed Wyatt Scott for the lead on lap three before settling for second at the finish ahead of Scott.  Tony White’s fourth place finish clinched his second straight “Wheelman” Bonus Event Challenge Series championship.  Mike Cuthbert was fifth.   


Friday night’s heat race winners were Flinner, Hall, Lukon, Miley, Matt Latta, and McPherson.  Alan Knepper made his Tour debut and won the K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash to earn a $100 K&N certificate on Friday as well.  Sunday’s last chance B mains went to Scott Gunn, Mike Pegher, Jr., and Mollick. 


Nick Ritchey made personal history on Sunday not only winning his first career feature at Lernerville, but doing it by winning his first career Bicknell Touring Series race!  Ritchey, who won six Bicknell Weekly Series events in 2015, started third and took the lead from Kyle Martell on lap seven and cruised to a dominating 20-lap victory.  The win was worth $800 plus the prestigious “Steel City Stampede” buckle and plaque along with being named the Maxima Racing Oils “Maximum Performance” award winner.


“It’s been a great year all around,” expressed the 32-year-old Oil City, Pa. driver.  “I can’t thank my crew, my sponsors, and everyone else that helps out.  Joe Lockhart has been a tremendous help to me this year.  I slept in his camper all weekend, his truck and trailer got me here.  If this wasn’t for him this wouldn’t have happened.  I also have to thank Jerry Schaffer.  He gave me fuel for the car and a front tire.  Just to win here is awesome!”


Martell, who was looking for his first career win, looked strong early on leading the first six laps, but a caution for Jeremy Weaver put Ritchey alongside Martell for the double file restart.  Ritchey used the outside to power into the lead.  The last 14 laps went green-to-checkered and Ritchey never looked back stretching his lead every lap and took the checkered flag first by a margin of 6.324 seconds in the E&R Motorsports/Cranberry Auto/DRK/Jeff Aiken/Kings Landscaping-sponsored #77N.


Ken Washburn, Jr., who subbed for Bicknell Weekly Series Champion Greg Martin on Sunday, started 12th and picked his way through the field getting by Martell for second on lap 14.  Washburn though was unable to make any headway on Ritchey as he settled for second in his first ever RUSH start and earned the $100 Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger gift card.  Martell dropped to third, but not only was it his best Tour finish, but best finish of the year since a runner-up on May 23 at Sharon Speedway in Weekly Series action.  Rocky Kugel was fourth ahead of Bicknell “Futures Cup” Champion Kole Holden. 


Despite his worst Tour finish of the season in seventh, Larry Kugel claimed the inaugural Bicknell Tour Championship by just seven points over Holden.  Kugel fought an ill-handling car all weekend and his efforts also earned him the Sherwood Wheels “Man of Steel” Award.  Fourteen-year-old Jeremy Weaver finished a career best Tour finish in 10th and was the final car on the lead lap to earn a $25 gift certificate from CrateInsider.com.  Jeff Schaffer was awarded the TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night” after suffering a flat tire on lap seven after moving up through the field.  Friday’s heat race winners were Rocky Kugel and Greg Martin.  Jerry Schaffer won his first K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash on Friday night and received a $100 K&N certificate.


Lernerville track champion, Corey McPherson, swept both weekend feature events for the Stocks.  The Leechburg, Pa. driver won Friday’s inaugural $500 to-win stand-alone Sweeney RUSH Pro Stock event for strictly GM 604 and 602 crate engines to propel him into second place in the Weekly Series points then won Sunday’s $1,000 to-win “Steel City Stampede” feature for open engine competitors that attracted 54 cars!  Sunday’s win also gave him a $500 bonus for winning that event with a crate engine giving him a $2,000+ weekend!  Five of the top eight finishers in Sunday’s feature were powered by GM 604 crate engines.  Also on Friday, Tyler Dietz not only won his first career Lernerville heat race victory, but won the “King of the Hill” event with his GM 604. 


Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Bazell/Sunoco Race Fuels Southern Touring Series Race #10 "Gary Knollinger Memorial" (25 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. JACOB HAWKINS (Haseleu RJ1)  2. Max Blair (111)  3. Colton Flinner (Bentz 60F)  4. John Mollick (Moats 15M)  5. Will Thomas III (9)  6. Steve Lowery (48)  7. Kyle Lukon (84)  8. Corey McPherson (Bentz 60c)  9. Kyle Zimmerman (z17)  10. Russ Kolesar (Castleveter 27c)  11. Rob Marhefka (99FM)  12. Michael Duritsky, Jr. (90J)  13. Matt Latta (21)  14. Mike Pegher, Jr. (Williams 8)  15. Daryl Charlier (12c)  16. Jason Knowles (4)  17. Wendell Pinckney (11)  18. Joel Prosser (77/38K)  19. Randy Hall (Suppa 4s)  20. Khole Wanzer (01W)  21. Alan Knepper (20)  22. Eric Wilson (27W)  23. Scott Gunn (7G)  24. Josh Double (38)  25. Jared Miley (H1).  (Note: Michael Duritsky, Jr. took a Series provisional)


RUSH Late Model Non-Qualifier (12 laps, $175 to-win): 1. Braeden Dillinger (14)  2. Eric Andrus (54)  3. Wyatt Scott (X3)  4. Tony White (27)  5. Mike Cuthbert (47)  6. Mike Franklin (Shipe 00)  7. Bob Nelson (88)  8. Clay Ruffo (14R)  9. Jamie Wrightsman (21J)  10. Ron Hall (75)  11. Zach Kane (10)  12. Josh Powell (29)  13. Josh Stoica (22)  14. Clint Hersh (16)  15. Andy Spooner (3)  16. Jake Gunn (14G)-DNS  17. Mike Ott (Fields 21)-DNS  18. Troy Shields (11)-DNS  19. Tim Shaffer (45)-DNS  20. John Haggerty (49)-DNS  21. Paul Jablonski (3J)-DNS  22. Brian Haggerty (91)-DNS  23. W.L. Stile (1W)-DNS  24. Dave Lyon (14L)-DNS  25. Justin Lamb (93x)-DNS  26. Bryan Hoffman (15H)-DNS  27. Ryan Montgomery (12)-DNS  28. Lon Emerick (3)-DNS  29. Russell Baird, Jr. (17)-DNS.


Car Count: 54

Margin of Victory: 0.785
Feature Lap Leaders:
Jared Miley (1-22, Max Blair (23), Jacob Hawkins (24-25)

Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: John Mollick (+17)

Maxima Oil “Maximum Performance”: Jacob Hawkins

TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night": Eric Wilson

CrateInsider.com "Last Car on Lead Lap": Wendell Pinckney

ARbodies "Nosed Out": Josh Stoica


RUSH Late Model Heat 1 (8 laps, Top 3 transfer to A): 1. Flinner  2. Charlier  3. Knepper  4. Shaffer  5. Stile  6. Lowery  7. J. Gunn  8. Emerick  9. Stoica.


RUSH Late Model Heat 2 (8 laps, Top 3 transfer to A): 1. Hall  2. Thomas  3. Knowles  4. S. Gunn  5. Jablonski  6. Franklin  7. Montgomery  8. Kane  9. Ott.


RUSH Late Model Heat 3 (8 laps, Top 3 transfer to A): 1. Lukon  2. Marhefka  3. Kolesar  4. Dillinger  5. Shields  6. Baird  7. Prosser  8. Scott  9. White.


RUSH Late Model Heat 4 (8 laps, Top 3 transfer to A): 1. Miley  2. Wilson  3. Hawkins  4. Andrus  5. Pegher  6. Duritsky  7. B. Haggerty  8. Cuthbert  9. Lyon.


RUSH Late Model Heat 5 (8 laps, Top 3 transfer to A): 1. Latta  2. Double  3. Blair  4. Wanzer  5. Moats  6. Hersh  7. Ruffo  8. Hoffman  9. Powell.


RUSH Late Model Heat 6 (8 laps, Top 3 transfer to A): 1. McPherson  2. Zimmerman  3. Pinckney  4. Nelson  5. J. Haggerty  6. Lamb  7. Spooner  8. Wrightsman  9. Hall-DNS.


RUSH Late Model Last Chance B Main 1 (10 laps, Top 2 transfer to A): 1. S. Gunn  2. Lowery  3. Stoica  4. J. Gunn  5. Ott  6. Kane  7. Shaffer  8. Jablonski  9. Stile  10. Franklin  11. Montgomery-DNS  12. Emerick-DNS.


RUSH Late Model Last Chance B Main 2 (10 laps, Top 2 transfer to A): 1. Pegher  2. Prosser  3. Scott  4. Cuthbert  5. Andrus  6. Shields  7. Duritsky  8. B. Haggerty  9. White  10. Lyon  11. Dillinger  12. Baird-DNS.


RUSH Late Model Last Chance B Main 3 (10 laps, Top 2 transfer to A): 1. Mollick  2. Wanzer  3. Hersh  4. Spooner  5. Wrightsman  6. Nelson  7. J. Haggerty  8. Ruffo  9. Hall  10. Lamb  11. Powell  12. Hoffman.


RUSH Late Model K&N "Cold Air Induction" Dash (4 laps, $100 K&N certificate to-win): 1. Alan Knepper  2. Jason Knowles  3. Max Blair  4. Russ Kolesar  5. Jacob Hawkins  6. Wendell Pinckney.


Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modifieds Bicknell Racing Products Touring Series Race #4 (20 laps, $800 to-win): 1. NICK RITCHEY (77N)  2. Ken Washburn, Jr. (Martin 4)  3. Kyle Martell (8)  4. Rocky Kugel (6R)  5. Kole Holden (2)  6. Anthony Gillespie (Smith 7)  7. Larry Kugel (0)  8. Les Myers (Ritchey 17)  9. Jerry Schaffer (14)  10. Jeremy Weaver (35W)  11. Will Schaffer (4)  12. Chelsie Kriegisch (Schaffer 10)  13. Jeff Schaffer (3).


Car Count: 13

Margin of Victory: 6.324 seconds
Feature Lap Leaders:
Kyle Martell (1-5), Nick Ritchey (6-20)

Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Ken Washburn, Jr. (+10)

Maxima Oil “Maximum Performance”: Nick Ritchey

Sherwood Racing Wheels “Man of Steel”: Larry Kugel

TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night": Jeff Schaffer

CrateInsider.com "Last Car on Lead Lap": Jeremy Weaver


RUSH Sportsman Modified Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. R. Kugel  2. Gillespie  3. Holden  4. J. Schaffer  5. L. Kugel  6. Weaver  7. W. Schaffer


RUSH Sportsman Modified Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. Martin  2. N. Ritchey  3. Martell  4. Myers  5. Ripper  6. Kriegisch. 


K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash (4 laps): 1. Jerry Schaffer  2. Les Myers  3. Leonard Ripper  4. Larry Kugel.


Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Pro Stock Feature (15 laps, $500 to-win): 1. COREY MCPHERSON (c33)  2. Joey Zambotti (948)  3. Brandon Wearing (27)  4. Tyler Dietz (35)  5. Steve D’Apolito (84)  6. Aaron Easler (11)  7. Wayne Carbo (54)  8. Terry Young (28Y)  9. Ben Easler (7E)  10. Pat Hanley (380)   11. Bobby Siegel (10)  12. Jeff Broniszewski (10)  13. Mike Franklin (74)  14. Stan Riggle (17R)-DNS  15. Eric Piotrowski (7)-DNS  16. Dwight Boice (528)-DSQ (seals).


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 Ignition, Maxima Racing Oil, Jones Racing Products, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, ARbodies, TBM Brakes, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, TurboStart, Beyea Headers, FK Rod Ends, Bobby Lake Motorsports, Crate Innovations Inc., Velocita-USA, 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, MSD Ignition, Maxima Racing Oil, Jones Racing Products, VP Racing Fuels, 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.


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.