On Friday night, a streak was stopped, a dramatic and unexpected finish came to pass, and two dominant performances highlighted action at Lernerville Speedway as another night of Fab Four Racing Fueled by Turner’s Premium Iced Tea graced the clay at The Action Track.
Brian Swartzlander collected his 94th career victory in the Diehl Automotive DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds while Dan Kuriger won a wild Peoples Natural Gas DIRTcar Sprint feature, putting the veteran pilot in Terry Bowser Excavating Victory Lane for the first time in two years. Michael Norris left the field of Precise Racing DIRTcar Late Models behind him with authority, leading the majority of 25 laps. And in Millerstown Pic-A-Part DIRTcar/Rush Pro Stock Action, Corey McPherson was the class of a 21 car field, taking his second victory in four starts thus far in 2017.
Diehl Automotive DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds
Mat Williamson brought a three-race winning streak into the evening and looked to have a realistic chance at a seemingly unreachable fourth consecutive win coming into the evening. But finishing second behind him in the first three features in 2017 was one Brian Swartzlander who had come very close to bringing the streak in recent weeks.
When the green flag waved, Mike Turner jumped out to the early lead from his front row starting spot. It would take Swartzlander just one lap to wrest it away as he made the pass for the lead in turn two. Behind him, Jeremiah Shingledecker, J.R. McGinley , and Dave Murdick were hungry for a win and were coming forward in a hurry in an attempt to hunt Swartzlander.
But by lap five, Swartzlander was in another zip code and looked to be the fastest car on the track, pulling ahead of second running Shingledecker by nearly an entire straightaway. Meanwhile, Williamson was making his forward charge that saw him enter the top five just five laps in after starting in the 12th position. Swartzlander looked to be headed to victory lane as the halfway point approached as he made his way through the first round of lapped traffic. His lead was nearly half a track over Willamson with not much time left for Williamson to mount enough of a challenge.
The status of the race would then take on a new wrinkle when the caution flag came out with 12 laps down as Jeff Miller stopped in turn one. The yellow flag was not what Swartzlander was wanting to see at that time, but on the ensuing restart, he got a good jump as Williamson made his way around Murdick for the third spot. Swartzlander then started pounding the cushion with authority as Williamson began heavy pursuit of Shingledecker for the second spot.
\Williamson would make the pass for second with just over 20 laps down as he set his sights on the leader who was encountering side by side lapped traffic directly in front of him. But Swartzlander was able to make his way around and simply drove away from Williamson in the waning laps to take home his first feature win of 2017, while Shingledecker was forced to pull off with mechanical gremlins. Dave Murdick avoided disaster and drove hard and smart over the last few laps to round out the podium.
“I knew Mat wouldn’t be far behind, but I didn’t want to see a caution,” Swartzlander said. “I was just hoping for green the rest of the way. Lapped cars were scaring me a bit. He (Williamson) is on top of his game and we’re hanging with him but it’s going to be tough. It’s making us work harder.”
- Brian Swartzlander
- Mat Williamson
- Dave Murdick
- J.R. McGinley
- Mike Turner
- Shawn Kozar
- Rodney Beltz
- Damon Doutt
- Travis Walsh
- Ethan Siple
Peoples Natural Gas DIRTcar Sprints
It was a wild beginning, middle and ending in Sprint Car action, and when the dust settled, Dan Kuriger found himself standing in victory lane after a pair of leaders suffered heartbreaking endings to their nights.
Having been rained out of his original scheduled start in Patriot Sprint Tour action, Jared Zimbardi made Lernerville his alternate destination and it looked to be a wise choice. Zimbardi started on the front row and quickly assumed control of the race following an opening lap crash that saw Zach Morrow and Sye Lynch go upside down in turn three and another red flag period just two laps later involving Jimmy Seger, Davey Jones and Ryan Fredericks. All drivers were okay following the early carnage, though Seger’s night was finished as was Morrow’s and Lynch’s.
When action resumed, Zimbardi kept up his torrid pace, followed by Gary Kreiss and Kuriger who bolted out to great restarts. Behind them, AJ Flick began moving forward with authority from his 10th starting spot as the caution flag waved again when Joe McEwan slid off the top of turn two with six laps down.
On the ensuing restart, Kriess began reeling in Zimbardi and looked to be a serious bidder for the lead when the wheels began to come off for Zimbardi, literally.
A wheel came off Zimbardi’s car in turns three and four with nine laps in the books, giving Kreiss the lead for the meantime. And when the green flag waved again, Kreiss looked almost unbeatable, putting a good bit of distance between himself and Kuriger with George Hobaugh taking up the third spot. Behind them, Flick kept making up ground as he entered the top five.
The momentum was halted again on lap 15 when points leader Dan Shetler spun on the front stretch as the field narrowly escaped a potential race ending crash with 10 laps remaining. On the ensuing restart, Kreiss still looked like the man to beat as Flick began to work on Hobaugh for the third spot. With six laps to go, Kreiss was coming into heavy lapped traffic while Kuriger began inching closer and closer to a battle for the lead. Both front runners worked on the top side of the speedway as Flick made his way around Hobaugh. A fantastic finish was shaping up in the final five laps until, heartbreak struck Kreiss as he ran out of fuel, ending his bid for the win.
Kuriger then inherited the lead and did not look back the rest of the way, becoming the fourth different Sprint Car winner in 2017, and the first among weekly competitors while Flick and Hobaugh rounded out the podium. It was a sweet victory for Kuriger who just one week earlier had found himself on the wrong side of a Jersey barrier on the front stretch, totaling his car in the process.
“These cars are like a roller coaster,” Kuriger said. “Last week was definitely down and this week was a lot better. There’s a lot to think about during those red flags and I feel bad for those guys, they had a fast car and Gary Kreiss is really fast. I thought he was running out of fuel and I was just trying to make good laps every lap and I knew Flick was behind me and he’s always fast so I just tried to stay smooth. It means a lot to us, my dad worked really hard all week, we totaled the car last week so this is really good.”
- Dan Kuriger
- AJ Flick
- George Hobaugh
- Jack Sodeman Jr.
- Cory Good
- Dan Shetler
- Michael Bauer
- Ralph Engel Jr.
- Clay Riney
- Rod George
Precise Racing DIRTcar Late Models
Michael Norris has seemingly carried his momentum forward from a solid second half of 2016. He has consistently been the fastest car among the Late Models, and Friday night’s performance was no exception to that statement. Norris put the field behind him with relative ease en route to victory.
Kenny Schaltenbrand and Matt Lux brought the field to the initial green flag and early on, Schaltenbrand was in control of the field. Lux was able to make his way around the leader on lap five while Norris, who started fourth on the grid, was able to dive underneath Schaltenbrand for the second position. Lapped traffic then began to emerge for Lux just two laps later as Norris crept closer. Behind them, Mike Pegher Jr. began to challenge Schaltenbrand for the third spot.
On lap eight, Lux and Norris found themselves door to door with more lapped traffic in front of them. Lux moved to avoid the lappers, and when he did, the door opened for Norris who took full advantage, making the pass for the lead on lap nine. Alex Ferree then brought out the caution for a flat tire on the next lap, and on the ensuing restart, Norris took off like he’d been shot out of a cannon. Pegher then made his way around Lux for the second spot past the halfway point while Norris kept his blistering pace and gained a great deal of separation from the field.
With 17 laps down, Norris began to encounter more lapped traffic and narrowly escaped the car of Joshua Powell who had spun in turn two prompting the appearance of the yellow flag yet again. Following a John and Colton Flinner spin in turn four, Norris got the restart he needed once again and completely checked out on the field, leaving no doubt about who had the fastest car on this night.
“We’ve just been kind of working off of last year and tweaking here and there and it keeps getting better and better,” Norris said. “Hopefully we keep going in the right direction. It feels pretty maneuverable and I’m just really excited for everybody, it’s been going really good.”
- Michael Norris
- Mike Pegher Jr.
- Matt Lux
- Colton Flinner
- John Flinner Jr.
- Gary Lyle
- Ken Schaltenbrand
- Clayton Kennedy
- Weston Phillis
- Trevor Herr
Millerstown Pic-A-Part DIRTcar/RUSH Pro Stocks
To say Corey McPherson made it look easy might be an understatement. The defending champion seemingly had his way with the field, leading from green to checkered flags on the way to his second feature win in four attempts in 2017. It was a classic McPherson win, that saw him use all available grooves in the 20 lap, 21 car main event.
The race began with an unfortunate incident as veteran driver Jeff Miller barrell rolled in turn three on the opening lap to bring out the red flag in a scary looking scenario. Miller was reported to be okay following the crash that saw him land upside down.
Once action resumed, McPherson made for the top side of he speedway, while Tyler Dietz found the bottom more to his liking, and for a few laps, it appeared as if a great battle for the win between the two had begun. Behind them, Joey Zambotti and Bob Egley took up positions three and four while Joe Kelley was making his way to the front in rapid fashion. As the laps began clicking away, McPherson was gaining separation from Dietz as heavy lapped traffic awaited the front runners around the halfway point.
It would take a caution and restart to catch McPherson it appeared, and Scott Byers supplied just that when he spun in turn four, collecting John Hartman. Once action got back underway, McPherson slammed the door shut on the competion as something looked to be going away on Dietz’s car, causing him to fall from second to fourth. Behind them, Kelley and Zambotti engaged in a battle for the second spot as they swapped the position back and forth at the lap 15 mark. The battle made McPherson’s job a little easier though as he pulled away to a near three second advantage over second running Zambotti. However the caution flag waved for debris with 16 laps down.
On the ensuing restart, Zambotti gave McPherson a look on the inside, but could not stay with the eventual feature winner as McPherson drove away to clinch the victory, which had special significance on this night.
“Our next win which was tonight was going to be win number 33,” McPherson said. “And it’s kind of sentimental to us, it’s been my number my whole life racing and it means a lot to have so many wins at this track with this field of cars.
- Corey McPherson
- Joey Zambotti
- Joe Kelley
- Tyler Dietz
- Aaron Easler
- Brandon Wearing
- Terry Young
- Mark Sanders
- Noah Brunell
- Brett McDonald