MERCER, Pa. — Randy Chrysler saw his half lap lead evaporate when the caution flag came down instead of the checkers that he anticipated at Mercer Raceway Park.
That gave J.R. McGinley one last shot at the win in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified portion of the 14th annual Little Guy Nationals, but Chrysler was up to the task on the green-checkered finish.
The event attracted 197 cars for the second night of competition, presented by American Racer Tire, Ben Bissett Chevrolet, Rock Concrete, and East Penn Carriers.
MIchael Bauer put the capper on an outstanding season in the Bonnell’s Collision Center Outlaw Sprint Warriors feature event. The victory ensured Bauer’s championship in the Cavalcade points to go along with two track titles.
Mikey Hay scored the big win in the Bilstein Modified Lite STARS National Championship event, which was also presented by Big Daddy’s Speed Center and Rock Concrete. Chris Schneider made a bold last turn pass to steal the win away from Rusty Martz in the first of two Precise Racing Products Open Stock Car features. The other went to Curtis J. Bish.
Paul Koffler, Jr. grabbed the lead from Shane Smith on lap three of the Mini Stock feature offered by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. Jeff Haefke celebrated his birthday in fine style, taking the checkers in the Micro Sprint feature. Rich Michael, Jr. scored his second win of the weekend in the E-Mod feature.
After reaching victory lane, Randy Chrysler let out a big whoop of joy. It was a difficult weekend for him. “We were running second on Friday night, and we started losing power, we thought it was the tranny, but it may have been the engine.” He continued, “so, my two crew guys went back to Niagara Falls to get the back-up car and they didn’t make it back until five in the morning.” With Saturday’s rain-out, however, they were able to catch up on their sleep and get the other car ready for battle.
Eric Gabany grabbed the lead at the start of the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified feature, but his bid for a double on Little Guy Nationals weekend quickly came to an end. Randy Chrysler powered by him following a lap five restart. While Gabany held second for a few more circuits, J.R. McGinley climbed into second before the second stoppage of the event. While the field was realigning, Gabany drove off the track with a badly smoking engine.
Meanwhile, Chrysler was busy building up a substantial lead. McGinley was locked in a struggle with Jimmy Holden for second. Frankie Guidace, the divisional champion, put on a late race charge for fourth.
As the leader was charging through turns three and four, and with the checkers in sight, two cars fighting for position at the rear of the field tangled right in front of Chrysler. As the caution waved, Chrysler picked his way through the accident scene.
The final restart posed a quandary for Chrsyler. As the field circulated under the yellow, he looked for his crew to give him a signal for the lane choice on the final restart. Three of them signaled for the outside and two for the inside. Chrysler cast the deciding vote, taking the inside. The choice proved to be the right one, as he was able to open several car lengths immediately upon the final showing of the green flag.
McGinley’s solid second place finish gave him another win in his private bet with Kyle FInk, who wound up in the fifth spot. This side bet allowed McGinley to shave Fink’s head!
Holden, Guidace, and Fink completed the top five. Gary Smoker, Andy Priest, Steve Barr, Lonny Riggs, and Tommy Marshall, III were the next five finishers.
The feature race was marred by a multi-car car pile-up between turns three and four on lap two. Sid Unversagt, Jr. turned over, but was unhurt. Fortunately, most of the cars were able to resume the race.
The heat winners were Chrysler, Gabany and Fink. There was no B Main.
Michael Bauer, the divisional champion, led the entire 25 lap distance to take win in the Bonnell’s Collision Center Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Bauer was worried when he saw C.J. Jones’ number 10 appear on the scoreboard. “I saw C.J. on the scoreboard moving up there, and I knew that it would be a hard fight to the end.” Bauer’s concern materialized, as Jones was able to close in on him in the waning laps. “The tire went away with four to go, and we had to struggle our way through the traffic.”
Although Jones had a couple of cautions to bring the leader back to him, he could never make a serious bid for the lead on the restarts. Bauer was always able to get away cleanly. But, he did close significantly at the end of the race to make thinks a bit more difficult for the young divisional champion.
Brandon Matus did a fine job moonlighting in the McMillin 5, taking third spot. Andy Feil raced home in fourth. Chris Matthews was moved up to the fifth spot when Adam Kekich came up light at the scales in Don Blaney’s number 11.
Mike Miller placed sixth, after turning a 360 earlier in the event and being relegated to the tail of the field. Ralph Engel, Jr., Greg Dobrosky, Jimmy Morris, and Mike Marano, II completed the top ten.
The heat wins went to Jones and Marano. There was no B Main.
The Bilstein Modified Lite STARS National Championship event saw Mikey Hay dominate the race, which was presented by Big Daddy’s Speed Center and Rock Concrete. Jeff Teeters’ second place run moved him to the top of the touring series points standings. Kenny Meadows, winner of night number one in this division, placed third. Mark Marcucci, a former track champion, placed fourth, which was good enough to gain a special performance award from Rock Concrete. Jeff Fornash ran fifth.
Positions six through ten belonged to Rod Jones, who recovered from a mid-race spin, Josh Baldwin, Tyler Frankenberry, Ryan Saffeall, and Matt Cain.
The preliminaries went to Meadows, Alan Knepper, Hay, and Fornash. Andrew Bruce took the B Main.
The first of two Precise Racing Products Open Stock Car features went to Chris Schneider, who executed a bold inside move on race leader Rusty Martz. Martz had raced his way to the front against stiff competition, taking the lead away from pole sitter Jimmy Fosnaught. Fosnaught recovered to lead a few laps in the middle stage of the race. However. Fosnaught had a little difficulty negotiating turn four one lap, and that allowed Martz to take the lead and Schneider to move into second. Indeed, Fosnaught fell back to about fifth at the time.
Tim Bish drove a steady race to earn the third place money. Bob Sloss placed fourth, with Bobby Heim in fifth.
Joey Zambotti, Tim Thompson, Jason Fosnaught, Jim Byers, and Brent Johnson completed the top ten. Divisional champion Rusty Moore spun while racing in the top five and then he retired a few laps later with a flat tire.
Heat wins went to Bob McCann, Johnson, Leigh Wheeler, Bob Schwartzmiller, and Jim Byers. There was no B Main, as the field was divided into two feature events.
Shane Smith led the early going of the Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks. However, Paul Koffler, Jr. passed him three laps into the event. Koffler then held off the divisional points champion, Jamey Lee the rest of the way. Steve Settle, Sr., Steve Longwell, Sr., and Tim McAninch claimed third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.
Nick Groves led the next group of five to the line. Joining him were Trooper Tim Callahan, Smith, Tyler Fulton, and Wally Stearns, Jr.
The pair of heat victories went to Groves and Stearns. There was no B Main.
Jeff Heafke romped to the Micro Sprint win closing out his birthday weekend on the highest note possible. Steve Dunmire had one final shot to overtake him, pulling up beside Haefke on a late race restart. However, Haefke kept his poise and pulled away to the win. Tim Eakin, Dave Hawkins, and Ryan Fredericks completed the top five.
Greg Lazzara, Kyle Colwell, Scott Hawkins, Chris Kennedy, and Brandon Fredericks rounded out the top ten.
Jason Hamacek flipped in his heat and Brett Brunkeheoefer and Brian Forester flipped in the feature, and none of them were injured.
Heat wins went to Dave Hawkins, Dunmire, and Eakin. There was no B Main.
Rich Michael, Jr. doubled his fun in the E-Mod feature event, as he romped to his second win of the LGN weekend. Alan Dellinger, Andy Buckley, Percy McDonald, and Steve Haefke trailed him. Derek Dellinger, Rusty Wheeler, Todd Canter, Rocky Kugel, and Kevin Robinson took the next five positions.
The heat winners were Alan Dellinger and Michael. There was no B Main.
The final race of the weekend extravaganza was the second feature for the Precise racing Products Open Stock Cars. While this race did not end as dramatically as the first, the fans still saw plenty of action. Curtis J. Bish chased down Chris Withers and passed him for the lead with just a few laps left in the event. Coming behind them were Andy Thompson, Colton Gearhart, and Terry Kroner. Skip Lindemuth, Garrett Calvert, Drew Koteles, Ray Reynolds, and Jamie Gibbs were the next finishers.