Sarver, PA (April 12, 2016) To everything, there is a season. And for the people who call Don Martin’s Lernerville Speedway home week in and week out, that season is here. The race for the Fab Four Points championships starts this Friday night as the Fab Four weekly racing card kicks off the 2016 season at the action track. So what does the season hold in store for everyone? On the track it contains moments we’ll be talking about for years to come. For the fans, it will feature some improvements to the facility and some new fan engagement pieces that will come into play in the first full season under the ownership of Tomson Scrap Metal.
What we’ve compiled here is simply what and who to watch for from week to week. There’s no promises of returns of former drivers out of nowhere coming back to claim another title, though there will be some surprises for sure. We’ll focus on the known quantities that will play a factor in the 2016 Fab Four Season.
Peoples Natural Gas DIRTcar Sprint Cars
In 2015 AJ Flick simply ignored anyone who believes in a sophomore slump. Coming off a promising 2014 season, Flick took his game to another level with consistent top five performances and a couple of feature wins en route to his first of what could be many track championships. He’ll come in as the man to beat. But the task of repeating will be difficult. Here’s a glance of the drivers most likely to wrest the title away from him.
Carl Bowser: It was a feast or famine year for Bowser who was the fastest car in the field on many nights, collecting five feature wins for the year, but was burdened with mix of mechanical failure and bad luck. Should he choose to race the full season, (good bet), he’s probably at the top of the list for taking a 2016 title.
Jack Sodeman Jr: Sodeman runs hot or cold at the action track, and when the conditions are right and the car is at its peak, he’s nearly unbeatable. If the luck should fall his way, he could drive away with the trophy and it should surprise no one. With that being said, history says that he’ll need some breaks to cover a DNF or two. If he can finish them all, he could win his first track championship at Lernerville.
Brandon Matus: The Wheelman is due to start the next progression of his young career. The part where he converts the flashes of brilliance we’ve all seen from him, into consistent podium finishes and wins at Lernerville. The smart money says we’ll watch him climb the fence in victory at least three times in 2016. Probably the best darkhorse pick to win it all.
Brandon Spithaler: The 2013 champion has become a top five contender on any Friday night. To get back on top of the heap, he’ll have to find a way to find victory lane with more frequency in 2016. This could very well happen and would surprise no one.
Dan Kuriger: The veteran pilot managed to take two feature wins in 2015 and looked impressive in doing so. Can he be a consistent top five finisher and still snag those wins this year? He’ll be one to watch as he could wind up on the podium for the year.
Sye Lynch: After a rookie season that saw him in the Bob McMillan car, Lynch now takes the wheel of father Ed Lynch Jr.’s entry as the torch has been passed. We’d known this day would come sooner or later and it has arrived. He could wind up a surprise champion here, or it could be another year of learning, but one thing is certain, he’ll be a fixture in the top five weekly sooner rather than later.
Keep An Eye On:
Eric “Turkey” Williams: If the 2012 champ runs the whole season, he could wind up a title contender once again
Scott Priester: It wouldn’t surprise us if he finds a way to pull off the upset win one Friday night this year. His car was very fast in the last few appearances of 2015.
Darren Pifer: This 305 standout starts his 410 career this season and will be an interesting progression to watch.
John Garvin Jr.: In a sprint car? Why yes…..yes he is. Your guess is as good as ours here.
Precise Racing Products DIRTcar Late Models
In 2015, Alex Ferree simply dominated the season and the field on a consistent basis to claim yet another Lernerville title. It would be near impossible to not favor him for yet another title run in 2016 if history tells us anything. But to repeat in this field, you’ve got to be lucky as well. If Ferree should slip there is a pack of drivers ready and waiting to reap the rewards.
Michael Norris: The up and coming late model driver has mastered the high side at Lernerville and may provide the stiffest challenge to Ferree. It wasn’t a great start for him in 2016, but by the end of the season, Norris had clearly brought his game to a new level. He’s no longer intriguing; he’s arrived as a serious contender at the local level and opened some eyes in Feburary at Volusia.
Jared Miley: If Miley should elect to run for points, he’d have to be considered a favorite of course. The former two time champion is more than capable of besting the best of the weekly field at the action track and should at the very least snag a few feature wins before all is said and done. And if he runs every Friday, is probably a 50/50 bet with Ferree for the title.
Mike Pegher Jr.: Pegher can find victory lane at Lernerville on any given Friday night and has done so enough since taking over the reigns from Lynn Geisler to keep in the mix of title hopefuls and then some. But he’ll need some breaks to climb to the Ferree/Miley level in 2016, or perhaps he’ll be the one who sees his progression take another step forward this year. He’ll be one to watch for sure.
Russ King: As with Miley, if he should elect to run the whole season, pretty much everyone in attendance knows what he can do. For him to return to the title, he’ll need to stay focused on managing finishes. He’ll always be in the mix for a win and he’ll always take chances and some will work out and some won’t. It’s what makes him a driver everyone talks about one way or another on Saturday mornings, he’s complete entertainment value every time he unloads.
Matt Lux: Need a darkhorse, we’ve got one here for you. When Lux took over the Detman #111 ride in 2015 many wondered how long it would take for him to regain the form that saw him on the verge of big things several years ago. That took about one week. Lux can wheel the car with the best of them, and the equipment suits his style. If he runs every Friday, he poses a serious challenge to Ferree for the title.
Keep An Eye On:
Kenny Schaltenbrand: This is the year he gets back to victory lane after some rekindled hope in 2015
Dave Hess Jr. We’re not even sure if we’ll see him much, but he’s back, and if he’s in the neighborhood…
Andrew Wylie: No expectations yet, but watch this young man’s career progression
John Mollick: Capable of a podium finish any time he shows up, and is a break away from a win
Diehl Automotive Group DIRTcar Northeast Big Block Modifieds
Mat Williamson was the class of the field winning six features en route to his second track championship in three years. He’ll be back in 2016 and is as good a bet as there is to repeat out of all the 2015 champions. But some others in the area are bringing their game to a new level, and some former champions are due some good luck…
Rex King Jr.: He’s the best bet to make his way past Williamson and looked very impressive in the BRP modified tour opener at Mercer Raceway Park on March 26 against a stacked field. He might need Williamson to stumble, but that’s not out of the question as two years ago engine troubles plagued him. Expect both of them to be battling door handle to door handle on almost every Friday night; it’ll simply be a question of who won last, and who’s starting closer to the front most nights.
Brian Swartzlander: He’s still got the instincts, the equipment, and the drive to win yet another title and will be formidable once again. Odds are he at least picks up three wins and is right there with Williamson and King Jr. when August rolls around.
Kevin Bolland: By the time he was finishing up his comeback season last year, Bolland was starting to look closer to the form he left the sport in years ago. That may be a bad thing for the rest of the modified contingent at Lernerville. We could see a scenario where he could finish anywhere from out of the top five to in the mix for a title. It’s not the same weekly modified field that Bolland left behind, it’s gotten tighter at the top and it’s getting deeper in talent, but it doesn’t mean that Bolland won’t be up front more often than not in 2016.
Jeremiah Shingledecker: If lady luck shines once again on him, he’ll have a win, his confidence restored, and the rest of the field will need to look out! Shingledecker turned some of the fastest lap times of the season in 2016, won a good many heat races and suffered one heartbreaking feature finish after another. How long can that continue? We’re not sure, but the odds are, the dry spell is coming to an end…soon!
Garett Krummert: Speaking about somebody the rest of the field better look out for, Garrett Krummert was reborn in 2015 and in a modified nonetheless. And it took him a handful of laps to realize he was going to be a force to be reckoned with. He took home his first Lernerville feature win last season and almost had a couple more. Look for him to add at least one or two more wins and be a player down the stretch in 2016 and maybe even more
Rex King Sr.: The elder statesman among Kings at Lernerville can get around the place just fine and at the level of the top competitors for sure. He’ll reach victory lane most likely, but could be hard pressed to make a title run if he suffers a DNF or two like he did in 2015. He makes a great dark horse choice, especially if he can get off to a hot start.
Dave Murdick: It’s a feast or famine type of thing for Murdick a lot of the time. But when he’s hot, he can be unbeatable. If things go his way and the luck holds out, look for a top 5 finish come August. At the very worst, he’ll be in the mix for a win or two.
Keep An Eye On:
Mark Flick: He’s back, in a modified, and looked fairly impressive in the BRP opener at Mercer. How often he’ll run or how well he’ll do here, is anybody’s guess but it’ll be fun to watch!
Steve Feder: If you isolate several of his best moments over the last few years, you get a picture of a driver who could win. If he can put it all together, he may end up snagging a very emotional feature win in 2016.
Mike Turner: He’s show glimpses of being really good, and could put it all together soon as a surprise contender in some features.
Erick Rudolph: It’s hard to say how many times Mr. Rudolph will come down for a visit, but when he does, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
Millerstown Pic-A-Part DIRTcar Crate Sportsman
In the season that was, Corey McPherson was his usual dominant self, picking up another track title. He did it with a crate motor, as all drivers in the division will in 2016 under the new engine rule. That may level the playing field this season to a degree, but when the dust settles, it’ll take a monumental effort to knock him off of the top spot in the stocks, but these guys will give it their best, and it might be enough in a year in which there might be some uncertainty as former open engine drivers will have to make an adjustment. It’ll be interesting who returns to the fold in stocks, so we’re taking a flyer on these guys here, but they’re good bets.
Joe Kelley: He’s rebounded after a couple of subpar years to become a strong factor once again. Kelley started visiting victory lane with more regularity in 2016 and might be able to carry that momentum forward. He knows the terrain, he knows the car, and he knows how to work the bottom as well as anybody. Will he have success going up top with a crate engine?
Terry Young: Young is always a threat to win and should find himself in the thick of things come years end. It’s a tough field in a normal year though, and he’ll need some luck. Will it be enough?
Mike Miller: When Mr. Miller is on, he’s among the best out there. It’s been a while since he’s seen consistent finishes, but if he should find the way to stack a few top fives early in the year, he could be a title contender.
Joey Zambotti: He’s progressed to the point where top fives should be an expected result. To win, he’ll need to stay on the edge and not go over. They say a driver in the making is one who drives it deep and just needs to learn the finesse game, odds are he’ll find the feather touch in 2016 and could wind up on the podium for the season.
Keep An Eye On:
Jim Fosnaught: More to come…
Paul Schreckengost: He could very well snag a couple of victories this year.
Jeff Miller: If you’d seen how he’d improved over the course of the second half of 2015, you’d know why we’re telling you to keep an eye on him!
Brett McDonald: He’s been so close to wins, and suffered some terrible crashes in recent years. This year, he just might find victory lane for the first time at Lernerville.
How will it play out in 2016, is anybody’s guess. Championship seasons are made from hard work meeting opportunity, and lots of luck. And we can’t wait to watch it all unfold at TDN!
Provided courtesy of Gary Heeman / www.TheDirtNetwork.blogspot.com
Photos Courtesy of John Stivason / Stivason Photos
Contact: Lernerville Speedway
Eric J. Westendorf, Public Relations Director
(724) 664-1075 / firstname.lastname@example.org