SWEENEY RUSH SERIES SHOWCASING THEIR YOUNG RACERS THROUGH THE "FUTURES CUP" PROGRAM LED IN 2015 BY CLINTON HERSH & KOLE HOLDEN
By Doug Kennedy
September 24, 2015
(Pulaski, PA)...What do Ryan Montgomery, Nico Dabecco, Eric Wilson, and Michael Lake all have in common? They were all past champions of the "Futures Cup" program with the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Series.
Since winning the title, each of them has gone onto excel in the RUSH Late Model Series. Montgomery was last year’s Touring champion and the 2011 "Futures Cup" champ. Lake is the youngest driver in Pennsylvania history to win a Late Model feature. He accomplished that feat when he was 12 at Roaring Knob, and most recently just won his first career Super Late Model feature at Roaring Knob! He was also the 2014 champ. Wilson was the youngest driver at the age of 14 to win a feature at Sharon Speedway and captured the "Futures Cup" title in 2013, barely edging out Lake. Dabecco took the championship in 2012 and went on to win several feature events. And now you can soon add 16-year-old Clinton Hersh to that list as well.
To be eligible for the Futures Cup Series, the driver may start in the series when they are eligible to race at tracks. For instance, Lake was 12 when he started. If he/she is 18 or 19, they cannot have more than two years of prior full-time racing experience. All eligibility to compete in the Futures program ceases when a driver reaches the age of 20. Once a driver wins the title, he will be ineligible in future years no matter his or her age.
The Futures Cup has a separate point fund for all eligible teenage racers. For the Late Model participants, there is a $3,000 point fund that pays the top 10 finishers with the winner receiving $1,000. In the Sportsman Modified class, $300 goes to the winner with the top five positions receiving payouts presented by Bicknell Racing Products.
There are a number of young standouts in both the Late Model and Sportsman Modified division this season, beginning with Hersh of Somerset, Pa. Now in his second year of racing, Hersh won three times this season at Roaring Knob all on the $135 spec, sealed Bilstein Shocks. Hersh currently leads the Late Model "Futures Cup" points and is third in the "Bilstein Bandits" points. His dad, Tony Hersh, used to race Street Stocks at Thunder Valley and asphalt cars at Jennerstown.
“I think its (Futures Cup) good because it gets younger drivers a chance to win some money to put towards the car at the end of the year,” said Clint Hersh.
His car number is 16 because Greg Biffle was his favorite NASCAR driver. Now he likes Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.
“I would like to run a Super Late Model, but I don’t think that’s going to happen because of finances,” said Hersh.
Wyatt Scott is in his first full season running RUSH as a participant in the "Futures Cup". Wyatt is the son of veteran Late Model standout, David Scott of Garland, Pa.
A Super Late Model standout, David, is letting his two boys Kyle (26) and Wyatt (16) share the spotlight. David is still competing himself running both a Super Late Model and an E-Mod on a part-time basis.
“It’s too much for me to race and concentrate on the boys,” said Dave. “I want to watch them and help them. "The boys race against each other every night,” said David. “It’s a pretty good rivalry, but they race each other cleanly. If Wyatt wins, then Kyle wins the next time and vice-versa. It’s almost perfect like that.”
When asked about their different styles, Dave said, “Kyle has more experience. He’s smooth but not aggressive enough. Wyatt, on the other hand, is definitely more aggressive, but he likes to bring a race car home so he doesn’t have to fix it every week, but he will stick his nose in places that Kyle won’t.”
“I think the Futures Cup is great,” said Scott. “We have to get the kids into the sport because that is the future of racing.”
“It’s an awesome thing,” said Wyatt of the Futures Cup. “It brings more young talent into the sport. It helps build up your experience and makes you a better driver. The money you win might be able to buy you a new helmet or a new racing suit or get a new wrap for you car or new tires.”
Regarding his dad, Wyatt said, “I feel I’ve got the best mentor in the sport that anyone could have. He’s won everything that he’s raced. He’s my role model and hero and every time we talk, I feel like I learn something from him. To me, he’s a genius.”
Wyatt is having a strong season currently second in the "Futures Cup". He's raced full-time at Eriez and Stateline Speedway in addition to several venues where he's recorded 16 top 10 finishes this season including runner-ups at both Stateline and Sharon Speedway.
Michael Duritsky, Jr. of Masontown, Pa. is 18 years old and in his first year in the "Futures Cup". Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex is his home track, but he’s raced at other places like Hesston, Winchester, Lernerville, and Sharon with RUSH. He's also competed in many of the Bazell/Sunoco Southern Touring Series events. Prior to this season, he’s raced Go-Karts for four years and Street Stocks for three.
“He’s really enjoying it,” said his mom, Kathleen. And even though he admitted he didn’t know a lot about the program because his dad had signed him up, his ears perked when he was told there’s some money to be won.
Seventeen year old Eli Mayhew races at Brighton Speedway in Ontario, Canada. So does his dad, Andy, who races in the RUSH Late Model division.
“Both of us are racing in our first years,” said Andy. “It’s a great program, “said Andy of the Futures Cup. “It’s a big step for him (Eli) to be in a Late Model and it’s made him want to go to other tracks and accumulate points. Dad and son, who are from Picton, Ontario, are having a great time with it because as Andy says, “It gives us time to spend together.”
Lest anyone thinks that racing is limited to the boys, there are two young girls making their marks as well. Eighteen year old Jennae Piper, from Mercersburg, Pa., found the winner’s circle last September at Roaring Knob. Her racing is pretty much limited to Roaring Knob and Winchester Speedway.
“I think the Futures Cup is awesome because it gives her something more to compete for,” said Jon Piper, Jennae’s father. “It gives young drivers the chance to compete for a championship which otherwise they wouldn’t have a chance to do at this time in their careers. I’ve seen growth in her this year as compared to last.”
And her mom, Tia, contributed with a very profound statement- “I’m just the one who hooks her helmet and claps in the stands.”
“I think it’s a neat idea because there are so many young drivers in RUSH,” said Jennae, who will be running her last season of the Futures program. “I think we represent the RUSH drivers very well at our local tracks. It’s a way to compare your performance of others because you do have a point series but you don’t have to run it every week”
Since Jennae will be attending Millersville University in Lancaster, Pa. this fall to major in biology, her 13-year-old brother, Jacob, thinks that he should be in that seat right now.
“He thinks he should,” said Jennae, “but he’s a lot taller than me and just might not fit in that seat.”
“He’s outgrown his Quarter Midget and now he wants to compete in a Late Model,” said his dad. “We have enough pieces, just not enough time.”
Megan Mann from Chaptico, Maryland is a former Mini Stock racer who is in her rookie season at Potomac and has a season's best finish of eighth. At 16 years of age, Megan began slowly, but upped her number of races towards the end of the 2015 season. “She’s getting her feet wet this year,” said her dad, Roland.
In the Sportsman Modified Bicknell Racing Products "Futures Cup", Kole Holden of Tiona, Pa. has been at the top in points for the entire racing season. A former Go-Kart standout, the 16-year-old Holden started a few races last season in a "358" Modified. Holden comes from a family with a rich racing tradition. His father, Dana and Uncles Tom and Dan both raced Modifieds as do his two cousins Jimmy and Kyle.
Holden races at Sharon and Sportsman’s Speedways weekly in addition to all of the other Bicknell Weekly and Touring Series events throughout the region. He scored three Bicknell Weekly Series wins this season at Sportsman's including two of the final three. His best finish at Sharon was a third place; however, he was very impressive on the big tracks scoring a runner-up in a Bicknell Tour event at the 5/8-mile Expo and had a second and third at the "Monster Half-Mile" at Pittsburgh's PA Motor Speedway!
“It felt great,” said Holden regarding his wins. “I think the Series is a great one for beginners.” His next step is to race Small block Modifieds and eventually graduate to the Big Blocks at some point.
There are a few other successful Futures Cup drivers in the Sportsman Modified Series that includes 15-year-old Kyle Martell of Rootstown, Ohio and 14-year-old Jeremy Weaver of Stoneboro, Pa. Both have successfully raced Go-Karts. Last season, Martell raced in the "358" Modified division, but enjoys the more affordable Sportsman Modified class and racing closer to home weekly at Sharon Speedway, while Weaver is the nephew of Stock and Modified driver, Chris Haines, and has primarily competed at Sportsman's Speedway. Martell scored two runner-up finishes to open the season at Sharon, while Weaver's best finish was a third at Sportsman's.
Jessica Kriegisch of Ellwood City, Pa. is the sister of Sportsman Modified competitor Chelsie Kriegisch and has spent some time behind the wheel in one of Jerry Schaffer's cars. Her father, Randy, raced Sprint Cars for 13 years. Jessica raced for 11 years in a Go-Kart.
The Futures Cup program is just another example of how the RUSH Series with Vicki Emig and Mike Leone at the helm is thinking about the future of local and regional racing by giving the opportunity to young and up and coming talented racers.
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.
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.
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