(Imperial, PA)…The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series made its first appearance of the 2014 season to Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway on Saturday night. A season high 37 cars were on hand for race #8 from six different states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky. Robby Marhefka was selected as the lucky recipient of the GM 604 engine valued at over $5,500 compliments of Sweeney and Pace Performance!
Last year Ryan Montgomery tied for a Series high five victories on his way to runner-up in points. This season, Montgomery has been consistent entering the night with six top six finishes in the first seven races to lead the points; however, hadn’t been able to find victory lane. There’s no secret Montgomery has figured out the “Monster Half-Mile”. Last year, he swept the two-day “Pittsburgher” weekend and finished second in the other two Sweeney Tour events. This year at Pittsburgh, Montgomery won two of the three Sweeney Weekly Series events he’s entered and finished runner-up in the other one.
On Saturday night it was all Montgomery as he dominated his heat race then led every lap of 25-lap feature for his first Sweeney Tour win of 2014. Montgomery has now won five of the last six races he’s competed in at Pittsburgh. The $1,500 victory was the sixth of his career in Sweeney Tour competition breaking the four-way tie for the all-time lead with Mike Pegher, Jr., Rick Singleton, and Max Blair.
“We are always good when we come,” stated the 17-year-old Fairmont, West Virginia winner. “We like coming here and it’s awesome race track. I’ve run second so many time this year, but we’re in the points lead and we’re points racing so seconds are good too, but firsts are what you always want to have. I got out front and my dad said we had a decent lead, but at the end I pushed my right front off and I started to push. I was trying to save myself. One time I pushed in (turns) one and two and thought I was going to tag the wall. I figured I’m leading and my night is over.”
After drawing the lowest pill for the heat race lineups, Montgomery redrew the number one pill for the feature and took off immediately in the lead with Corey McPherson, Andrew Wylie, Kyle Lukon, and Josh Holtgraver in tow. On lap three, the battle was on for fourth as it was three-wide with eighth starting Russ Kolesar taking the position. Kolesar looked fast as he chased down Wylie on lap six.
Montgomery caught the back of the pack on lap seven as he had a half-straightaway lead. On lap 11, Wylie began to close in on McPherson. One lap later, McPherson spun in turn two bringing out the first caution. This moved Wylie to second and Kolesar to third. When racing resumed, 14th starting Nico Dabecco was on the charge as he raced by Holtgraver for fourth. Only one more lap was completed until a second caution was displayed when Ben Policz got into the turn one fence and nearly rolled over.
Back under green on lap 13, 11th starting Chad McClellan passed both Kyle Lukon and Holtgraver for fifth, but Holtgraver regained the spot one lap later. By lap 15, Montgomery checked out, but the lead got erased once again when Jake Gunn got sideways in turn one and heavy contact was made when Steve Beatty and Tommy Schirnhofer, Jr. piled in. W.L. Stile was also caught up in the accident that had the track blocked.
When racing resumed for the final time, the last nine laps went green-to-checkered. McClellan got another good restart, this time making his way to fourth. As Montgomery pulled away again, the battle was on for second with Wylie trying to hold off Kolesar, McClellan, and Dabecco. On lap 19, Dabecco regained fourth from McClellan.
Montgomery was back in lapped traffic on lap 24, but had no problems as he took the checkered flag first by a margin of 3.2 seconds and extended his point lead over McClellan in the Jeff Montgomery-owned, T.J Contracting & Custom Homes/Montgomery Homes/Central Supply/SBC Trucking/Bobby Lake Motorsports/High Gear Speed Shop/Genesis Shocks-sponsored Warrior Chassis #12.
Wylie’s runner-up finish was his career best Sweeney Tour finish and earned him $800. “Ryan (Montgomery) was glued to the track,” explained the 25-year-old Saltsburg, Pa. racer. “I was just trying to hold my car straight and stay with him, but once he got going he was definitely the fastest car here. We’re pretty excited. One of our sponsors is here tonight so it’s pretty cool to have a good run for him. I’m very appreciative of everyone that helps out. I have to thank my mom and dad, who give up a lot of sacrifices so we can do this.”
Kolesar was third in his first ever Tour start. “We raced the (Pittsburgh) Vintage Grand Prix today- did some road racing then came out here,” explained the Moon Township. Pa. driver. “I can’t thank Tony Castleveter enough. He sets this car up and puts his heart and soul in it, and I get the lucky job to drive it. Ryan (Montgomery) is hooked up so smooth. He’s doing his homework so whatever he’s doing is working.”
Dabecco had a solid fourth for his best career Tour finish beating out McClellan, and it was good to see his uncle Dan Karalagas back at the track where he broke his leg two weeks prior. Justin Lamb was sixth over Holtgraver, who was awarded the Driven Oil’s “Slick Move of the Night” for racing from ninth to second in his heat race to make the feature redraw. Daryl Charlier had a great run in eighth after starting 22nd and received the Acceelerator-1 Carb Spacer Kit compliments of Crate Innovations. Mark Moats, Jr. received the $100 Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger after racing from 24th to ninth. Jason Rider finished 10th after starting 19th.
Eric Wilson ended the night going unchallenged to win the Non-Qualifier event. The 2013 “Futures Cup” Champion has been running the entire Sweeney Tour this season and missed out on his first feature of 2014, but rebounded with the $150 victory in his Hovis Tire & Automotive/Falls Recycling/Lyman Ray Racing/Speed Bear Fasteners/FK Rod Ends/Precise Racing Products-sponsored #27W.
“This track is really tough,” acknowledged the 17-year-old Cortland, Ohio, who became the 10th different Non-Qualifier in 10 races over the past two years. “It’s one of kind- that’s for sure. We put a different setup in for this race and I wish we’d have put it in earlier, but you live and learn I guess.”
Dusty Curry started fourth and finished second after passing Russell Baird, Jr. for the runner-up spot on lap three. Curry was 2.771 behind Wilson, who set a time of 2:57.982 in the non-stop eight-lap affair. Baird dropped to third over Tony White and Paul Jablonski.
Heat race winners were Montgomery, Lamb, Policz, and Wylie. Joe Martin and Charlier won the B mains. John Waters won his first K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash and received a $100 K&N certificate. Dabecco went from fourth to second and received a $50 K&N certificate. Beatty and Laura Pastorak each received an additional $25 cash. Tim Weinschenk of New Castle, PA was the lucky fan, who won the K&N Cold Air Induction System valued at up to $500!
The grand prize of the night was the GM 604 engine giveaway compliments of Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC and Pace Performance. It probably was a fitting winner as Robby Marhefka destroyed a car the week before at Lernerville Speedway, and his team led by George Fetsko put a car together to support the event on Saturday night, but failed to qualify for the feature. The Windber, Pa. racer commented before the drawing that he had never won more than $100 in anything in his life!
“We cannot thank Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC and Pace Performance enough,” stated RUSH Co-Director Vicki Emig. “Their support of us over the years has enabled us to put together strong programs that benefits that racers and our speedways. This was the fourth straight year they have given away an engine and it’s great to see four different drivers from all over the region win the prize! It was great to have Sweeney’s Steve Mezz display the engine on Wednesday at Expo then bring it Saturday and select the lucky winner.”
The second prize drawing was the TurboStart 16-volt racing battery (valued at $252) and was won by rookie Late Model racer Jeff Haynes, who made his first Tour start. Other contingency winners on Saturday night included W.L. Stile, who was the last car on the lead lap and won the Moroso Custom Fit Plug Wire Set compliments of Crate Innovations, along with Matt Latta, who was selected at The Brake Man’s “Tough Brake of the Night”. Latta was running in a feature redraw position in his heat race when he blew a tire and did major damage to his car.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series Race #8 (25 laps, $1,500 to-win): 1. RYAN MONTGOMERY (12) 2. Andrew Wylie (84) 3. Russ Kolesar (Castleveter 27c) 4. Nico Dabecco (Karalagas F1) 5. Chad McClellan (119) 6. Justin Lamb (93x) 7. Josh Holtgraver (00) 8. Daryl Charlier (88) 9. Mark Moats, Jr. (15M) 10. Jason Rider (Wade 76) 11. Corey McPherson (Bentz 60c) 12. John Waters (LeBarron 11) 13. Ralph Morgan, Jr. (Powell 100) 14. Chuck Medved (2M) 15. Laura Pastorak (Lukon 84) 16. W.L. Stile (1W) 17. Brian Goebel (12G) 18. Jeremy Adamik (7J) 19. Joe Martin (55) 20. Tommy Schirnhofer, Jr. (8s) 21. Michael Reft (9R) 22. Jake Gunn (14G) 23. Steve Beatty (B4) 24. Kyle Lukon (1) 25. Ben Policz (14B) 26. Cody Dawson (36). (Note: Cody Dawson took a Series provisional & Brian Goebel took a Track provisional.)
Non-Qualifier (8 laps, $150 to-win): 1. Eric Wilson (27W) 2. Dusty Curry (8) 3. Russell Baird, Jr. (17) 4. Tony White (27) 5. Paul Jablonski (03J) 6. Reese Masiello (22R) 7. Jeff Haynes (27J) 8. Bobby Whitling (7W)-DNS 9. Robby Marhefka (99FM)-DNS 10. Matt Latta (Bidwell B1D)-DNS 11. Trevor Hall (10T)-DNS.
Car Count: 37
Feature Lap Leaders: Ryan Montgomery (1-25)
Margin of Victory: 3.2 seconds
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Mark Moats, Jr. (+15)
The Brake Man “Tough Brake of the Night: Matt Latta
Driven Oil “Slick Move of the Night”: Josh Holtgraver
Crate Innovations “Performance Plus” Accelerator-1 Carb Spacer Kit Giveaway: Daryl Charlier
Crate Innovations “Ignite” Moroso Custom Fit Plug Wire Set: W.L. Stile
Sweeney/Pace GM 604 Engine Giveaway: Robby Marhefka
TurboStart 16-V Racing Battery Giveaway: Jeff Haynes
Heat 1 (10 laps. Top 5 transfer): 1. Montgomery 2. McClellan 3. Kolesar 4. Beatty 5. Morgan 6. Stile 7. Jablonski 8. Goebel 9. White 10. Masiello.
Heat 2 (10 laps. Top 5 transfer): 1. Lamb 2. Holtgraver 3. Schirnhofer 4. Waters 5. Reft 6. Martin 7. Wilson 8. Marhefka 9. Latta.
Heat 3 (10 laps. Top 5 transfer): 1. Policz 2. McPherson 3. Lukon 4. Pastorak 5. Rider 6. Whitling 7. Moats 8. Curry 9. Haynes.
Heat 4 (10 laps. Top 5 transfer): 1. Wylie 2. Medved 3. Gunn 4. Dabecco 5. Adamik 6. Charlier 7. Dawson 8. Baird 9. Hall-DNS.
Last Chance B Main 1 (8 laps. Top 2 transfer): 1. Martin 2. Stile 3. Wilson 4. Goebel 5. Jablonski 6. White 7. Marhefka 8. Masiello 9. Latta-DNS.
Last Chance B Main 2 (8 laps. Top 2 transfer): 1. Charlier 2. Moats 3. Whitling 4. Baird 5. Curry 6. Haynes 7. Dawson. 8. Hall-DNS.
K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash (4 laps): 1. John Waters 2. Nico Dabecco 3. Steve Beatty 4. Laura Pastorak.
The Sweeney Tour will be in action Sunday, July 20 for the “Canadian National Late Model Championship” in a $2,000 to-win event at Humberstone Speedway in Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada.
RUSH Late Model marketing partners include Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, Pace Performance, Hoosier Tire, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Precise Racing Products, ARbodies, The Brake Man, K&N Filters, Bilstein Shocks, Lincoln Electric, TurboStart, Beyea Headers, FK Rod Ends, Bobby Lake Motorsports, Driven Racing Oil, Crate Innovations Inc., Moroso Performance Products, Velocita-USA, High Gear Speed Shop, CrateInsider.com, Utsinger’s Towing, B.R.A.K.E.S., RockAuto.com, and Valley Fashions.
E-mail can be sent to the RUSH Racing Series at email@example.com 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.