(Cortland, OH)…The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series took part in day one of the two days of racing at Expo Speedway during the 166th annual Trumbull County Fair. Race #7 of the 20-event slate saw scattered thunderstorms miss the fairgrounds all day, but a storm cell clipped the facility forcing a delay during the feature event. Track crews along with the help of the racers got the big 5/8-mile oval back in racing shape for the conclusion of the program that also saw Joel Watson capture the E-Mods and Tim Callahan was victorious in the Mini Stocks.
Making just his second Sweeney Tour start of 2014, Max Blair put on a dominating effort in the 25-lap RUSH Late Model feature for his first Tour win of the season. Blair led the first seven laps then waited out a lengthy rain delay before pulling away in the second half of the event for his third career Expo win in seven years, worth $2,000.
“I have to give RUSH and the Fairboard credit for getting this race in,” expressed the 24-year-old Centerville, Pa. standout. “I didn’t think it was going to happen, but we got it in and they did a heck of a job. It had to be fun to watch. My dad did a great job setting this up. I’ve said it all my life and I’ll say it the rest of my life. To me my dad is the best race car driver and setup man there has ever been in my mind. I have a really good teacher.”
Due to the approaching storm and no lights, the K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash and four-wide salute was cancelled and the heads-up draw put heat winners Matt Latta and Blair on the front row of the feature. Blair powered by Latta on the start to lead the opening lap over Latta, Dennis Lunger, Jr., Cody Dawson, and Alan Dellinger. Dellinger was able to reclaim the fourth position on lap two getting back by Dawson. King, who started sixth, passed both Dawson and Dellinger to move into fourth after three laps.
By lap five, Blair opened up a 1.5 second lead on Latta, while King closed in on Lunger for third. Jamie Wrightsman spun to bring out the first caution with seven laps scored. Under caution, the rain picked up and the cars were sent off the speedway. After the rain quit, the track crew did a great job getting the track ready and the Late Models helped run it back in to conclude the remainder of the program.
The green wasn’t out for long when Bobby Pifer III got low into the yuke tires on the backstretch bringing out the caution, and was awarded The Brake Man’s “Tough Brake of the Night”. When green replaced yellow, King and Dellinger moved past Lunger for positions three and four respectively. Lunger would slow and bring out the final caution of the event with 11 laps scored.
Back under green, Waters got back by Dellinger for fourth. While Blair pulled away, it was a four-car race for second with Latta trying to hold off King, Waters, and Dellinger. King ducked under Latta on the backstretch heading into turn three to take the runner-up spot away. By now, Blair had a near three-second lead on King at the halfway point. On lap 15, Waters slipped high in turn four allowing Dellinger to reclaim fourth.
Blair slowly increased his lead every lap and when the checkered flag was displayed, Blair crossed the finish line ahead of King by a whopping 4.6 seconds. Blair’s fourth win of 2014 (also has two Sweeney Weekly Series wins at McKean County Raceway and one at Freedom Speedway) came in the R&K Poultry/Hicktown Farms/Genesis Shocks-sponsored #36. The win was Blair’s fifth of his career in Sweeney RUSH Tour action tying him with Ryan Montgomery, Mike Pegher, Jr., and Rick Singleton as the all-time leading winners. Speaking of Singleton, the four-time 2014 Tour winner was unable to make the trip after blowing out the rear-end in his toter.
“Any time you win a crate race it’s an accomplishment,” said Blair. “The competition is so good, especially with this Tour deal. To come here at Expo and win in front of the great crowds they always get means a lot. I love to come here and race every year. Hopefully we’re back next year, and we’ll be here if we can be. Ray and John (Dawson) own this car and it’s great to win with them here. They are some the greatest people I’ve ever met. Hopefully this deal lasts a long time and we can go places together.”
King, an Expo winner in 2011 and 2013, earned $1,000 for car owner Bob Diver with his runner-up finish as well as the $100 Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger gift card. Latta was a solid third in his first Sweeney Tour start of 2014. Dellinger was fourth for the second time in the past three races. Waters recorded his second top five of the season in fifth.
After five straight top four finishes, Montgomery fell out of the top five with a sixth place. Dawson dropped to seventh, but received the Accelerator-1 Carb Spacer Kit compliments of Crate Innovations. Wrightsman, who lives across the street from the Fairgrounds, came back from his early spin to record his career best Sweeney Tour finish in eighth after a three-wide move on the final lap, which earned him the Driven Oil “Slick Move of the Night”. Jason Rider was ninth and received the Moroso Custom Fit Plug Wire Set compliments of Crate Innovation. Second place point man, Chad McClellan, completed the top 10.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series Race #7 (25 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. MAX BLAIR (36) 2. Russell King (Diver 23) 3. Matt Latta (21) 4. Alan Dellinger (Williams 8) 5. John Waters (LeBarron 11) 6. Ryan Montgomery (12) 7. Cody Dawson (36) 8. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 9. Jason Rider (Wade 76) 10. Chad McClellan (119) 11. Eric Wilson (27W) 12. Ralph Morgan, Jr. (Powell 100) 13. W.L. Stile (1W) 14. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L) 15. Bobby Pifer III (38) 16. Josh Double (38).
Car Count: 16
Feature Lap Leaders: Max Blair (1-25)
Margin of Victory: 4.6 seconds
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Russell King (+4)
The Brake Man “Tough Brake of the Night: Bobby Pifer III
Driven Oil “Slick Move of the Night”: Jamie Wrightsman
Crate Innovations “Performance Plus” Accelerator-1 Carb Spacer Kit Giveaway: Cody Dawson
Crate Innovations “Ignite” Moroso Custom Fit Plug Wire Set: Jason Rider
Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. Latta 2. Lunger 3. Dawson 4. Waters 5. Pifer 6. Wrightsman 7. Stile 8. Double-DNS.
Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. Blair 2. Dellinger 3. King 4. Montgomery 5. Rider 6. McClellan 7. Morgan 8. Wilson.
E-Mods (12 laps): 1. JOEL WATSON (92) 2. Richard Michael, Jr. (17x) 3. Mike Kinney (3) 4. Jeff Johnson (27) 5. Mike Potosky (M20) 6. Paul Davis (3D) 7. Bob Diver (23) 8. Rich Jaeger (5) 9. Howard Fraley (217) 10. Steve Dixon (68)-DNS 11. Dwayne Clay (007)-DNS.
Mini Stocks (8 laps): 1. TIM CALLAHAN 2. Travis Creech (75T) 3. Jason Shaw (1) 4. Scott Gilliland (27) 5. Ed Roberts (6s) 6. Logan Keney (17L) 7. Steve Walker II (4M) 8. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 9. Joe Campbell (40C)-DNS 10. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421)-DNS.
The Sweeney Tour will be in action this Saturday (July 12) as Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway will host a $1,500 to-win event plus the GM 604 Engine giveaway compliments of Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC and Pace Performance. Pits open at 4 p.m. with warm-ups at 6 and racing at 7.
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.