The Story From Lernerville: Williamson Wins 5th; Sodeman Wires Sprints; King Tops Late Models; McPherson Completes Hat Trick

John Stivason/Stivason Photos

Champions earn their titles in different ways throughout the course of a season. However, one thing that almost all of them have in common is that they tend to take their game to another level when the stakes get high.  The 2016 championship class stepped up in a big way by sweeping all four features on Friday night.

At stake were four tickets were to some big special events by virtue of guaranteed starting spots, and they were punched as the annual Mid Season Championship Night took center stage. Mat Williamson rolled to yet another victory in the Diehl Automotive DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, as he managed to stay ahead of a determined Rex King Jr. en route to Terry Bowser Excavating Victory Lane.  Jack Sodeman Jr. kept the field of Peoples Natural Gas Sprints behind him for 25 laps, collecting his first Lernerville win of the season in the process.

In the Precise Racing Products DIRTcar Late Models, Jared Miley and Michael Lake stopped by for some seat time and perhaps to see if they could best the red hot Michael Norris, winner of three features to far in 2017. However, when all was said and done, Russ King turned in an impressive performance as he stayed fast and consistent and fended off stiff challenges from Norris and Alex Ferree to cross the line first.

Corey McPherson accomplished something he’d never done before on Friday night as he led from green to checkers in the Millerstown Pic-A-Part DIRTcar/RUSH Pro Stocks and for the first time in his career, managed to win three consecutive features.

Diehl Auotomotive DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds

J.R. McGinley and Steve Feder brought the field to the green flag, but Mat Williamson wasted no time in seizing the lead, taking over the top spot coming out of the first set of turns on the opening lap. Behind him, a two car battle emerged for the second spot consisting of sixth starting Rex King Jr. and Feder. Williamson stretched out a half a straight away lead in the early going, running the high side in turns three and four while working lower in one and two. The night was not so kind for Brian Swartzlander who fell back from his fourth starting spot in the opening laps, and found himself in the pits for the rest of the evening by lap 15 after suffering some kind of mechanical difficulty

Williamson found his first taste of heavy lapped traffic with eight laps in the books and breezed through without losing any of his sizable advantage while King found himself in badly in need of a caution to put himself in contention once again.

King got what he needed with 11 laps down when Travis Walsh spun off the top of turn four. Once action resumed, King showed that he had a car that was ready to challenge for the win as Williamson was unable to get much of any separation. The two drivers battled door to door with King up top and Williamson down low as King was able to briefly put himself past the current points leader when the yellow flag waved on lap 15 for Dave Murdick.

A chess match then took place between the leaders as King elected the inside on the restart. Williamson was able to get around with relative ease, but his start was premature calling for another re rack of the field. King elected the outside line on the next restart and when the green flag waved, Williamson slid up in front of King’s nose in turns three and four in an attempt to take the lead back and he made it stick.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah Shingledecker who had been driving in a Bob Warren car due to his own car being in need of some new parts, had been making significant progress towards the front of the field. Shingledecker managed a heat win earlier in the evening and started eighth in the 25 lap main event.  Out front Feder, who had an impressive showing, was all over King’s back bumper trying to find a way to make his way around for the second position. He would slide off the top of the surface, but was rescued when Colton Walters brought out the caution just a brief moment before him, enabling him to keep the third position.

On the ensuing restart, Williamson left no doubt as to who had the fastest car in the field as he bolted out to another multi car length advantage, while Shingledecker made his way around Feder to take the final podium spot.

“I didn’t even know he was there,” Williamson said referring to the critical mid race restarts with King. “He just came up by me and got around me. He’s great to race with. I had to get on our game and get back around him. I just got lucky.  We just have to keep it rolling and we can’t let our foot off the gas and keep winning.”

Top 10

  1. Mat Williamson
  2. Rex King Jr.
  3. Jeremiah Shingledecker
  4. Steve Feder
  5. Rex King Sr.
  6. Jeff Miller
  7. Rick Regalski
  8. Garret Krummert
  9. J.R. McGinley
  10. Mike Turner

Peoples Natural Gas DIRTcar Sprints

Jack Sodeman Jr. had yet to win a feature event in 2017 as some bad luck had found him on occasion in the early part of the season. But on this night, his fortunes reversed and he found himself on the pole of the main event alongside Rod George who had looked impressive the previous week and looked to be gaining his old form at Lernerville that saw him win features and championships just a few years prior.

Sodeman found himself into the lapped traffic with five laps in the books as George found himself held up between cars allowing Dan Shetler and Dan Kuriger to make up considerable ground on the front running pack. But out front, Sodeman was putting the traffic behind him in rapid succession, getting a good amount of clean air once around the opening round.  He stretched his lead out to half a straight away over George, Shetler and Dan Kuriger as Good and George Hobaugh started to fall back to the middle of the pack.

Sodeman began making his way through another round of lappers at the halfway mark while the battles behind him started to heat up. Flick made his way around Good for the fifth spot and even further back, a furious charge was being made by Carl Bowser.  The former track champion started 10th on the grid and made his way through the field with precision and purpose while Shetler rocketed around George on the backstretch for the second spot on lap 17.

Shetler was desperate for a caution that would never come though, as Sodeman was well ahead of the pack, en route to a comfortable victory as Bowser completed his run through the field to take the final podium spot, passing Kuriger and George in the final two laps.

“These guys had the car so good tonight that all I had to do was drive it to victory lane, the rest of it was on the car,” Sodeman said while making reference to plans to race at the upcoming B.O.S.S Wingless Sprints program at Lernerville on June 30. “I’m not afraid to take the wing off. I like to race, I’m willing to race anything.”

Top 10

  1. Jack Sodeman Jr.
  2. Dan Shetler
  3. Carl Bowser
  4. Dan Kuriger
  5. Rod George
  6. Cory Good
  7. AJ Flick
  8. Sye Lynch
  9. George Hobaugh Jr.
  10. Ralph Engel Jr.

Precise Racing Products DIRTcar Late Models

Michael Norris had been having his way with the fields so far this season in Late Model action. And his job on this night was going to potentially be made more difficult with the arrivals of former track champion Jared Miley and strong running Michael Lake in addition to the stout field of weekly competitors.  However, Russ King came up with a brilliant show of both offense and defense and used both at key times on his way to victory lane.

Gary Lyle and Alex Ferree started on the front row and from the drop of the green flag, Ferree looked to be the car to beat in the early going.  After a caution for a Josh Powell spin with two laps in the books.  Once action resumed, King got a good jump and immediately overtook Lyle for second, setting his sights on the race leader. King would manage to edge Ferree to the line on lap four by .004 seconds just ahead of a caution , elected to start on the bottom on the restart and kept the lead when the green flag waved again.

Behind King and Ferree, Norris, who wasted no time coming from his ninth starting spot,  joined the fray as he dove underneath Matt Lux for fourth with seven laps completed.  King, Ferree and Norris were then joined by Lake who charged forward from his 12th starting spot, making quick work of the field in front of him and making a four car battle for the lead as the field re stacked following a Mike Miller spin with eight laps down.

On the restart, King elected to start low and the battle for the win took on an intensity that kept fans on the edge of their seat.  Lake powered around Norris and Ferree and looked ready to chase down King but his forward momentum was erased by a pair of spinning cars. The lead pack would have to endure another restart on the next attempt to get going and once again on with 13 laps in the books, and in between the starts and stops the top three were going three wide for the lead with King being able to move around and take up grooves when he needed, to preserve the lead while Lake started taking looks under Ferree and Norris.

The final caution came with 16 laps down and on the restart, King kept the field behind him while holding off Norris and Ferree to collect the victory, his first on the 2017 season at Lernerville as Ferree managed to make his way under Norris on lap 22 to take the second spot.

“I was getting a little bit nervous,” King said. “It’s always easier to be second, so I could dictate where I was making time and we could just rely on our spotter Nick who did a great job tonight. He showed me where I needed to be on the race track. It was a great track tonight.”

Top 10

  1. Russ King
  2. Alex Ferree
  3. Michael Norris
  4. Michael Lake
  5. Dan Angelicchio
  6. Jared Miley
  7. Matt Lux
  8. Gary Lyle
  9. Mike Pegher Jr.
  10. Ken Schaltenbrand


Millerstown Pic-A-Part Pro Stocks

Corey McPherson started up front in the 20 lap Pro Stock feature which put him in great postition to earn his third consecutive win, but staying in the lead proved to be quite the challenge on Friday night.

Following a caution in the initial start, McPherson got out to the early lead with Aaron Easler all over his bumper and a hard charging Mark Sanders directly behind him. Joe Kelley and last week’s runner up, Brett McDonald made it a four car chase pack that was relentlessly in hot pursuit in the early laps when the caution flag waved following a Sanders spin in turn two with four laps down.

McPherson elected the low side on the restart when racing resumed and stayed in front as Kelley moved under the entire pack behind the leader for the second spot while Joey Zambotti moved into the top five from his 11th starting position. But behind McPherson who was gaining separation by the lap, was Easler who took the second spot by diving underneath Kelley on lap eight. Easler had the best chance of running McPherson down, but had lost ground in the position battle behind the leader.  He would get a chance to make a bid for the win when Dale Tuche and Mike Bordt brought out the caution on lap 14 and another chance following a turn four tangle with 16 laps down.

McPherson survived the restart and fended off Easler who threw everything but the kitchen sink at the leader, en route to the checkered flag while Tyler Dietz who had fallen to the mid pack early on, made his way back to the front to round out the podium.

“To be honest I felt pretty good the whole race and then that very last caution, I thought I was missing my marks a little bit,” McPherson said. “I thought I was over driving the corner a little bit and I was kind of worried because I knew those guys were close. When the track’s slick like this, it’s hard to make up ground. I can’t thank my sponsors and crew enough. This is the first time we’ve won three in a row. We’ve been trying to do this for years and here we are.”

Top 10

  1. Cory McPherson
  2. Aaron Easler
  3. Tyler Dietz
  4. Terry Young
  5. Brett McDonald
  6. Jim Fosnaught
  7. Paul Schreckengost
  8. Joey Zambotti
  9. John Hartman
  10. Mark Sanders

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