MERCER, Pa. – Rod George raced to victory in the 410 sprint-car feature Saturday night at Mercer Raceway Park.
George’s win snapped a three-year run for Brandon Spithaler in capturing the first checkers for the winged machines at Mercer.
Kyle Fink topped the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds after wrestling the lead away from Lonny Riggs. Tim Burns made a late-race pass to earn the win in the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars. Michael Bauer opened up his title defense the best way possible, taking the win in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Likewise, Shane Pfeuffer scored a win to begin his run for a second straight championship in the Modified Lites presented by Big Daddy’s Speed Center and Rock Concrete. Steve Longwell Jr. took the nightcap for the Mini Stocks, offered by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles.
George and company had to make repairs to the brakes of his sprinter after the heat race, and the adjustments proved to be highly successful.
“The older I get, the harder it gets,” said George. “These kids keep coming up and they’re faster, there are some young guys that are really fast.”
Brandon Matus and Brandon Spithaler were paired up on the front row for the first sprint-car feature of the season. Matus got the jump on Spithaler, who ran second until the halfway mark in the event. That was when he brushed against the frontstretch wall and, soon afterwards, he surrendered second spot to George.
George was closing rapidly on Matus as the laps clicked off. Just when it appeared that the Kittanning Comet would make his bid for the lead, a caution was displayed for the disabled racer of Adam Kekich, who was racing in the top five before the stoppage. Matus was no match for George when racing resumed with 16 laps complete. George dove low entering turn three and he came off the fourth corner with the lead.
George began stretching things out , but the action behind him was furious. A yellow with two laps remaining bunched the field up again, and that enabled Carl Bowser to pick up several positions in the final tally.
At the checkers, it was George over Matus. Bowser climbed to third, bringing Eric Williams with him. Arnie Kent crossed in fifth, making a rare appearance with a wing over his head. Spithaler was scored in sixth, as his car was beginning to show the ill effects of the incident earlier in the event. Defending divisional champion Jack Sodeman, Jr. turned in a seventh place performance. Cole Duncan was eighth, with Scott Priester, and Jimmy Seger completing the top ten.
Heat winners were Kuriger, Matus and George. Kuriger was the first car out of the race. There was no B Main.
Seger was unhurt in a pit fire after completing his heat race.