MERCER, Pa. – Danny Holtgraver loves racing in front of the hometown fans, and it shows.
Holtgraver, woh cut his teeth at Mercer Raceway Park before hitting the road with the UNOH All Stars Circuit of Champions, came back to Mercer Saturday night and left with the $4,000 paycheck after winning the 410 sprint-car feature. It was his second victory of the weekend after winning at Lernerville Friday.
The program was delayed by a transformer failure that darkened the third and fourth turns, and by track manicuring to cure a weeper in turn three. But once racing resumed, track management pushed the program through to a respectable conclusion.
“It’s awesome to come back home and get to see all of the fans I grew up racing around, and when we can pull off two wins in the weekend, it’s a lot of fun,” Holtgraver said.
His new team, fielded by Rob Hunter, and wrenched by Andrew Barman, and Dan Holtgraver, is starting to jell.
“We’ve been making a little bit of changes here, and I think we found some stuff the past couple of weeks and we’ve been going pretty good.” Holtgraver was hopeful that he can carry the momentum into the All Stars events coming up in the weeks ahead, as there will be an Eastern Swing, followed by a return to Western Pennsylvania, including the Park on May 10.
Jack Sodeman Jr. and Holtgraver had the front row for the start of the 410 Sprint Car feature presented by Luxaire Heating & Cooling and McCrudden’s Heating & Cooling. Sodeman and Holtgraver fired simultaneously, and raced hard into turn one. However, the start was waived off due to an incident towards the rear of the field.
Last week’s winner, Rod George, did not get away cleanly, and that stacked up the cars behind him. Adam Kekich flipped exiting turn four and Arnie Kent collided with the overturned machine. Jac Haudenschild was also involved. While none of the racers were hurt, only the Wild Child was able to continue in the event.
The next attempt at a start saw the dynamic duo charging hard into turn one once again. They ran side by side for the lap, but Holtgraver took command as they passed beneath the flag stand. As they did, John McCraken flipped his Sprinter in turn three. Scott Priester was collected as well, and neither driver could continue.
The single file restart had Holtgraver on the point, a position that he would not surrender in the 29-lap run to the checkers. Sodeman ran second throughout, trailing by as much as a full straightaway midway through the contest. When Holtgraver reached heavy traffic with a handful of laps remaining, Sodeman began to close in, but he ran out of time.
Sheldon Haudenshild was racing in third when he retired from the fray on lap 22. That moved Jared Zimbardi up a notch. He held off the fast-closing Lee Jacobs in the final few circuits for third. Taking fifth was Carl Bowser.
Frankie Guidace rebounded from a disappointing opening night to score his first victory of the season in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds. Andy Feil led wire to wire to earn the laurels in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Tyler Fulton did likewise in the Mini Stocks, presented by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. Trusty Rusty Moore regained the winning form in the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars.