By Mike Leone & Doug Kennedy


January 19, 2021                   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


(Pulaski, PA)...While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly did its best to disrupt the Pace Performance RUSH Racing Series together with Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC 2020 season and forced the cancellation of the awards banquet that was scheduled for January 16, Series Directors Vicki Emig and Mike Leone were still able to crown champions for all of the RUSH divisions.  Despite the pandemic, 2020 featured strong car counts in all of the RUSH Series divisions and also saw debut of the new RUSH Karting Series.  In fact, the Late Model Tour averaged more than 38 cars per event for the second straight year!    


Capturing 2020 championships on the dirt were Jeremy Wonderling (Late Model National Weekly & Touring Series), Logan Zarin (Late Model Futures Cup), Kassidy Kamicker (Late Model Wheelman), Jeremy Weaver (Sprint Car Equipment Rental Options Weekly Series), Nolan Groves (Sprint Car Futures Cup), Chas Wolbert (Sportsman Mod Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Weekly Series), Rob Kristyak (Sportsman Mod Wedge Motorsports Route 7 Rumble), Ayden Cipriano (Hovis Sportsman Mod Futures Cup), and Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Pro Mod Weekly Series).  


In the new RUSH Karting Series, the following won the inaugural titles: Jay Groves (Adult Flat), Nolan Groves (JR-2), Ryan Chase (JR-1), and Kaden Pyle (Amateur/Rookie).


For the third consecutive year, Jeremy Wonderling earned the RUSH Late Model Touring Series thanks to top six finishes in all six races; meanwhile on the Weekly side, Wonderling captured nine feature wins propelling him to his first National Weekly Series Championship, worth $5,000.  Wonderling beat out Max Blair, who had won the crown five of the last seven years, by just one-point!  Wonderling also won the Bradford Speedway track championship. 


Wonderling, 40 of Wellsville, NY,  has had a very successful racing career starting in an IMCA Modified in 1998 before moving on to "360" Late Models and winning four BRP Series championships.  From there, Wonderling started his RUSH Late Model career in 2014.  Wonderling has won better than 100 feature events. 


It certainly wasn’t an easy year for race tracks to deal with the pandemic, but in the case of RUSH, Wonderling felt they did about as good as anyone.  “They tried to keep everything as safe as possible and tried to get as much racing in as possible.” 


“Financially, RUSH is the smartest thing to do and the most economical," stated Wonderling, who also ran a limited schedule of Super Late Models in 2020.  “It’s hard not to run the RUSH Series for what they pay and what Vicki and Mike do for the series.  I have to give a shout out to Joel Smith of Close Racing Supply, Jim Stephens from Penske Shocks, and Jason Ore from 955, who all keep my racing program going." 


Eighteen year old, Logan Zarin, is the son of longtime Super Late Model driver, Jim Zarin.  Zarin, who lives in Moon Township, Pa., has been racing since 2017.  Besides his 2020 "Futures Cup" championship, Zarin won the prestigious Western Pennsylvania Rookie of the Year in 2018. 


“I think RUSH is a great class,” said the 18-year-old who won three features in 2021 at Pittsburgh's PA Motor Speedway.  “They do a lot of great things like Manufacturers Night and keep their costs as feasible as possible.  Vick is a great promoter; she’s brave and not afraid to take chances.  RUSH did what they could to get us a place to race, in fact, all of the promoters did a pretty good job of working to allow us to race."


New to the RUSH Racing Series in 2020 was Kassidy Kamicker.  In her rookie RUSH Late Model season, the 17-year-old Aliquippa, Pa. driver not only was able to win the "Wheelman" title as part of Touring Series' non-qualifier events, but also finished runner-up in the "Futures Cup", and 10th in Touring Series driver points. 


Prior to last year, Kassidy’s racing experience came with seven years of racing a go-kart racing.  Her racing program is a family run operation that also includes her parents Craig and Melanie along with her uncle Jason George. 


“I think she did very well for being her first year,” said her mom Melanie.  “She raced at PPMS and Lernerville and expects to do that again this upcoming season.”


“It’s a good program,” Kassidy said.  “There are a lot of drivers and I like it.  Winning the title was really cool.  I didn’t think I was going to come close to winning something like that in my first year.  I’m really looking forward to 2021.”   


In his first year in a Sprint Car, Jeremy Weaver captured the Equipment Rentals Weekly Series Championship.  The 19-year-old Stoneboro, Pa. racer was victorious five times in the Hull Racing #41 with wins coming at Lernerville, Sharon, Tri-City, and Tyler County Speedways.  Weaver is also a past winner in the RUSH Sportsman Modified division where he was the 2017 "Futures Cup" champion.  While Weaver is moving on to "410" Sprint Car racing in 2021, legendary hall of fame racer Rod George will return to racing and move into the Hull Racing #41.


“I’ve been involved in racing my entire life and there is no other track or series that has ever had a point fund like the RUSH Series," acknowledged owner Ted Hull.  “It’s all about the points.  There are rules that are working that would never work for any other track or series and that’s because they tech so well.  When the race is over, you better be right because they will be looking.”


“It’s been a blessing for me,” Weaver said of RUSH.  “I started my career through RUSH.  It has given me a great stepping stone for other types of racing in the future.  It’s an affordable and diverse division for anyone from beginners to future hall of famers who haven’t raced in a couple of years.”


After finishing second or third for each of the past four years, Chas Wolbert finally got over the hump to garner the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Weekly Series Championship for the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds.  The 26-year-old Warren, Ohio Mod Lite graduate led the way with 11 feature wins in 2020 and has upped his all-time leading total in the RUSH Mod division to 33.   


“I love the Series and its very economical,” expressed Wolbert, who finished second in the Route 7 Rumble Series points.  “It’s the closest thing to having a Big-Block Modified without spending $40,000 for a motor.  Vicki did a great job of trying to keep us racing in 2020.  I’m sure they (Vicki and Mike) will continue to work hard in the offseason to get us places to race and do things to expand our car counts.”


While he came up 17 points shy of Wolbert in the Hovis Weekly Series points, Rob Kristyak was able to win the inaugural "Route 7 Rumble" Series Championship presented by Wedge Motorsports.  The 42-year-old Bristolville, Ohio racer accumulated the most points of any racer amongst all Raceway 7 and Sharon Speedway events in 2020.  While Kristyak earned $500 for the championship, the program will return to bigger and better for year number two with $1,000 going to the 2021 champion and paying down eight positions.


Kristyak's racing career began in 1986 in a Go-Kart.  For 17 years he competed in the Big Block Modifieds.  In 2017 he decided to sell all of his big-block equipment and move into the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds.   Kristyak's last two seasons have been very rewarding and he points to the RUSH Series as one of the main reasons. 


“We’ve been really enjoying it,” Kristyak said of the Sportsman division.  “It’s very competitive and there are a lot of top runners out there.  For a limited budget team like ours, it’s been excellent, and Vicki works very hard to make this Series right.”


Ayden Cipriano, who is 14 years old, has been racing since he was seven competing first in a Junior Sprint.  This past year was Ayden’s first year in a full-size car and capped it off with the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply "Futures Cup" crown in the Sportsman Modifieds.  In addition, Ayden finished sixth in points in both the Weekly Series and "Route 7 Rumble".  He had five top five finishes including a career best third at Pittsburgh on September 26.  His parents, William and Sara, are his biggest supporters, both physically and financially. 


“I love the Series,” said William.  “Vicki does a great job finding places to race and even with the virus this year, it was still good and I’m very happy with it.”


As for his rookie season, Ayden said, “This season could have been better, and it could have been a lot worse.  I feel like I could have improved my driving earlier in the season, but I definitely feel like I got better as the season went on.  To win the championship is special.  As far as RUSH, I like it a lot.  I like my competitors and the people in control."


“I felt like they were smart with all the precautions they took with wearing masks and keeping social distances,” added Ayden.  “I felt RUSH did a whole lot better than other places we went to this season.”


Speaking of Ayden's mom Sara, she will be presenting the "Loyalty Program" through Waterstone Mortgage Hermitage in 2020.  One lucky RUSH Mod member racer will win a complete RUSH Sportsman Modified Pace Performance 602 crate engine package (carb to pan) valued at $8,000 at the season ending event on October 16 at Lernerville.


At 52 years of age, Dennis Lunger, Jr. just keeps on winning.  The Albion, Pa. veteran has raced a Stock Car, E-Mod, Super Late Model, RUSH Late Model, and most recently, a RUSH Pro Mod where he's coming off his unprecedented fourth straight Weekly Series Championship!  Overall, he's won 11 titles, seven of those coming with RUSH. 


“We’ll go for five next year,” Lunger said, who was still manage to win four feature events and finished out of the top two only four times in 14 starts.  But he also added that this upcoming season could be his final one.


While there are currently 44 RUSH Pro Mod races scheduled at four different tracks for 2021, Lunger would like to see more tracks get involved with the Series. “I raced more RUSH races this year, but at fewer tracks.  Losing Stateline (COVID-19) was big for me.  I like the RUSH Series.  They’ve always run a tight ship by enforcing the rules and you can’t beat the payouts plus it’s economical.” 


The Groves family of Sugar Grove, Pa. captured three RUSH titles this past racing season!  Jay, a 16-year veteran of Micro Sprint racing in addition to two years in a "360" Sprint Car, was in a Kart for his very first time and won the Adult division title, worth $1,000.  


“I thought it was great,” Groves said of this past season.  “The class is very competitive and is very well matched.  It’s not only good as an introductory class, but also as a class that drivers are looking forward to doing something different.  Being the first year for the Karts and having the pandemic put them somewhat behind the eight-ball, but I definitely see it growing for 2021 and beyond."


In addition to the "Futures Cup" title in the RUSH Sprint Cars, Jay's son Nolan also campaigned a JR-2 Kart and won that championship, worth $500.  “It was challenging at times, but we learned a lot and came on pretty strong at the end of the season,” Nolan said of his 2020 season.  “With our knowledge of Karts, we knew we had some high expectations coming in, but I think we also learned a lot throughout the season.”


Nolan grew up racing Karts, having won eight titles along the way, but it’s a Sprint Car where he hopes his future lies.  “My goal is to eventually get into a Sprint Car full-time,” said Nolan.  “It’s always been a dream of mine.”


The Groves own Kart Works, which is run by Jay, his father-in-law Jay Anderson along with Nolan.  They are a distributor for Go-Karts and accessories as well as a dealership for RUSH.  Kart Works has been integral in the development of the RUSH Karting Series.  Kart Works has been around for about 10 years and has 50 plus customers in Kansas, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. 


At 11 years old, Ryan Chase of Youngsville, Pa. has been racing a Go-Kart for the last four years.  Ryan earned $400 for winning the inaugural JR-1 class title.  His dad, David, really likes the Series and hopes it will take off.  “I really like the idea of no tire prep.  I like the sealed motors and the spec tires.” 


“I really think the Adult division is going to take-off, but I hope it does for the kids as well,” added David. “It’s a good playground for drivers who want to do something different as well as for young kids who are getting started in racing.  Hopefully, we’ll be doing RUSH for a longtime to come, no matter what division we are in.”


Nine-year-old Kaden Pyle has been racing for the last year and a half and garnered the inaugural Amateur class title, worth $300.  “I was proud of him winning that championship,” expressed his father Cody, who has raced Mini Stocks.  "He definitely improved as the season went on.  Last year was kind of hard for everyone because of the virus, but Vicki was always there when we needed to get answers to questions.  His plans next year are to move up to the JR-1 class.  We’re definitely going to stick with RUSH no matter what even when he’s ready to move into a bigger car, like a Modified.”   


RUSH Racing Series is brought to you by Pace Performance together with Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC 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, Flynn's Tire, 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, Zarin Truck & Automotive, Sherwood Wheels, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, Lincoln Electric, Velocita-USA, Waterstone Mortgage Hermitage,, Vahlco Wheels, and Wedge Motorsports.


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 Like our Facebook page at and follow us on Twitter @RUSHLM.