MERCER, Pa. — The Little Guy Nationals kicked off at Mercer Raceway Park with 183 cars in the pits.
Taking the win in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds was Eric Gabany with a dominant performance. The hometown driver was back on familiar turf, after spending most of the season racing his potent 358 Modified against the Big Blocks at a neighboring speedway.
The luck was with Jimmy Morris in the Bonnell’s Collision Center Outlaw Sprint Warriors. He used a borrowed engine, but his big break came on a lap three restart when the leaders tangled and he managed to avoid getting collected in the melee.
Kenny Meadows won the Bilstein STARS Modified Lite National event, which was shortened three laps due to the expiration of the time limit. Rusty Moore, the three-time divisional champion, scored in the Precise Racing Products Open Stocks.
D.J. Furney outdistanced the competition in the Micro Sprints. Cody Pyle racked up the win in the Mini Stocks, presented by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. Rich Michael, Jr. wired the field in the E-Mods.
A few weeks ago, Eric Gabany returned to the Mercer Raceway Park for a bit of a refresher. He explained that he learned a lot racing against the more powerful cars elsewhere, but he was glad to be home for this big double-header weekend. Once again, he had the outside groove mastered, so it was like he had never been away. “I knew that the outside would be hard to beat, but I was really worried about my weight.” He continued, “with all those cautions, I ended up being about twelve pounds over, so it was pretty close.”
Gabany jumped out to the early lead in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds, and never looked back. Were he able to look over his shoulder, he would have seen J.R. McGinley and Kyle Fink waging an intense battle for second. By taking the position, McGinley also won their side bet. He got to dye Fink’s hair. So, later in the program, McGinley and his crew led Fink and his associates to the flag stand, where the hair color was applied to all!
Andy Priest, reunited with his former car owner Ted Hull for the weekend, placed fourth, with Jeff Schaffer taking the fifth spot.
Shayne Pierce, a New York invader, was scored in sixth, just ahead of Andy Paden and Gary Smoker. Smoker came back from a spin early in the event. Shawn Fleeger and Carl Weatherby were next across the stripe.
The three heat wins went to Jimmy Holden, Shayne Pierce, and J.R. McGinley Clyde Gumpp captured the B Main.
Jimmy Morris romped home with the victory in the Bonnell’s Collision Center Outlaw Sprint Warriors. He gave much of the credit to Gary Edwards, who set the car up for him after they installed the motor provided by Dan Demyan just a few days before the race. “This was the first time at the track that I didn’t have to touch the car, I just sat back and watched.” Morris added with a laugh, “this thing drove better than a Cadillac, I didn’t even touch the wheel, it just turned itself.”
Morris assumed the lead after a lap three restart. Almost all of the front-runners came together between turns one and two, but he jogged to the outside to avoid any impact. His car was a rocket thereafter.
Greg Dobrosky also benefited from that incident, and he rode home in second, almost a half lap behind the speedy Morris. Tyler Graves, the young New Yorker, claimed third. Divisional champion Michael Bauer was fourth, with Joe McEwen completing the top five.
Mike Miller was back in in his familiar ride, and he was sixth across the line. Chris Matthews placed seventh. C.J. Jones, one of the unfortunate victims of the lap three incident, recovered for eighth. Adam Kekich drove a borrowed car to ninth. Mike Marano, II, rounded out the top ten.
The heat winners were Bauer and Graves. There was no B Main.
In the Bilstein STARS Modifed Lite National event, Kenny Meadows held off a persistent Alan Knepper for the victory. Meadows led the entire way, despite frequent cautions and two red flags. Indeed, when the second complete stoppage came, the officials declarfed the race complete due to the time limit for the event.
Rod Jones finished a close third. Jeff Teeters and George Englert were fourth and fifth, respectively. Braeden Dillinger, Ryan Saffell, Kevin Nicolino, track champion Shane Pfeuffer and Josh Baldwin took sixth through tenth.
Lynn Knepper and Baldwin flipped during the race, but neither driver was injured.
The preliminaries went to Teeters, Meadows, and Jones. There was no B Main, as all 26 cars were allowed to start the event.
Trusty Rusty Moore demonstrated his domination of the Precise Racing Products Open Stocks once again. After earning his third straight points crown two weeks ago, Moore powered by Bob Sloss just a few laps into this race, and he led Sloss to the checkers.
Leigh Wheeler topped Joey Zambotti for third. Tim Thompson was fifth this night.
Bob McCann brought his immaculate racer home in sixth, with Bill Phillips, Dave Ferringer, Andy Thompson and Ray Reynolds behind him.
Moore, Wheeler, and Bob Schwartzmiller took the heat wins. Ferringer prevailed in the B Main.
The Micro Sprints made their first appearance at the Park this evening, and D.J. Furney copped the win. Steve Dunmire, Greg Lazzara, Dave Hawkins, and Will Fleming chased him to the finish.
Todd Reusser, Ryan Fredericks, Jeff Haefke, Derek Miller, and Tim Eakin, Jr. were the next finishers.
Qualifiers went to Furney, Chris Kennedy, Lazzara, and Kyle Colwell. The twin B Mains went to Miller and Brian Haney.
The Mini Stock go offered by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles had Brandon Ritchey and track champion Jamey Lee leading the way. However, Ritchey was penalized for getting into a lapped car, so that put Lee out front. He was unable to maintain the advantage, however. In addition to Pyle getting by, so did Alex Paden.
Lee held on for third, with Trooper TIm Callahan, and Todd Gabriel taking the next two positions. Steve Longwell, Sr., Wally Stearns, Jr., Tyler Fulton, Brandon Ritchey, and Shane Shook were the enxt racers to take the checkers.
Heat victories went to Paden and Callahan. There was no B Main.
In the E-Mods, Rich Michael, Jr., sped away from the field and led the entire distance for the win. Allan Dellinger, Shawn Shingledecker, Andy Buckley, and Percy McDonald gave chase, but they were no match for Michael this night.
Mike Potosky, Derek Dellinger, Kevin Robinson, Chuck Recker, and Anthony Morotto raced in sixth through tenth.