ROCKY KUGEL WINS A WILD SWEENEY RUSH SPORTSMAN MOD FEATURE AT TRI-CITY FOR HIS 1ST CAREER BICKNELL TOUR VICTORY
By Mike Leone
September 20, 2015 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Franklin, PA)…The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modified Series competed Sunday in the postponed “Apple Fest” at Tri-City Raceway Park for the first time ever. Sunday’s event was race #3 of the inaugural season for the Bicknell Racing Products Touring Series.
Rocky Kugel won three Bicknell Weekly Series events this season at Sharon Speedway including the last two. On Sunday night, Kugel battled with Nick Ritchey until Ritchey crashed out in lapped traffic then held off a last lap charge by New York racer Adam Hilton for his first career Bicknell Touring Series victory. Kugel’s win was worth $600 and was also awarded the Maxima Racing Oil “Maximum Performance” Award.
“I think we changed everything in it except the kitchen sink from the heat race to the feature,” explained the 39-year-old East Liverpool, Ohio winner. “I actually bought Adam Hilton’s right rear tire that he beat me with in the heat race so I’ll have to go down there and pay him for it. The car was pretty good. I lost my brakes about halfway through the feature and pushed up and Nick (Ritchey) got me. We got into lapped traffic and it was tough racing. I hate to see that happen for Nick, but we got to victory lane and that’s where everyone wants to be.”
Kugel powered around pole-sitter Jerry Schaffer for the early lead. Ritchey started third and got under Schaffer in turn two for second on lap three. Ritchey closed in on Kugel on lap five, while Jerry Schaffer was trying to hold off his brother Jeff and Hilton along with Larry Kugel in the race for third. Kugel and Ritchey began to pull away from the pack then raced side-by-side for the lead on laps 7, 11, and 12 with Kugel holding on.
Hilton, who started sixth, was quiet during the early part of the race, but finally worked his way past Jeff Schaffer for fourth on lap 14. Ritchey continued to pressure the brakeless Kugel and finally got past him racing off the bottom of turn four to lead lap 16. Kugel wasn’t about to go away and stuck with Ritchey. On lap 17, the two were side-by-side off turn four down the frontstretch for the lead amidst lapped traffic. Ritchey was on the bottom and ran out of real estate in traffic spinning in turn one along with Michael Kristyak. Kugel was able to avoid the spinning cars and regained the lead.
Once racing resumed, it was back to caution again when Jeremy Weaver, Kole Holden, and Will Schaffer all tangled in turn one. With Ritchey out, Hilton now restarted third and was able to pass Jerry Schaffer for second when racing resumed on lap 18. Hilton quickly ran down Kugel and was right on him on the final lap. Hilton dove low in turn three trying to get under Kugel, but spun himself out as Kugel took the checkered flag. Kugel’s fourth RUSH-sanctioned victory of 2015 came in the Paper Services/Jones Racing Products-sponsored #6R.
“I heard Adam (Hilton) at the end, but didn’t see him,” revealed Kugel. “After I lost my brakes I was taking it easy getting into the corners so I could get the car to turn on the right rear and I could come off of it, but I was just holding on. Those guys from New York are tough. Greg (Martin) comes down here and is always fast, but wasn’t here tonight. Adam thought he’d sneak down here and get a win, but that didn’t happen. Adam and Greg are fast, but we’re getting faster.”
Jerry Schaffer crossed the finish line in second for his best Bicknell Tour finish and matched his overall best finish of 2015 as he finished runner-up on June 6 in a Bicknell Weekly Series race at Sharon. Jeff Schaffer trailed his brother Jerry in third in his first ever RUSH Sportsman Modified start. Seventh starting Larry Kugel was fourth and was able to maintain the Bicknell Tour point lead. Kyle Martell came from 10th to fifth for his best career Bicknell Tour finish and earned the $100 Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger certificate.
Chelsie Kriegisch was the final car on the lead lap in sixth and received a $25 gift certificate from CrateInsider.com. Hilton was credited with seventh. Will Schaffer came back from a late race accident to finish eighth and was awarded the Sherwood Racing Wheels “Man of Steel”. Ritchey and Holden were ninth and 10th after their late race tangles.
Hilton and Jeff Schaffer won the heat races. Larry Kugel captured his first K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash and received a $100 K&N certificate. Holden was second and received a $50 K&N certificate. Kristyak and Martell were third and fourth and received an additional $25 cash.
A scary heat race accident took place that ended the night for Brandon Ritchey and Tiffany Williams. Martell was attempting to pass Williams down the backstretch when contact was made that sent Williams into the fence. After Williams' car bounced off the fence, Ritchey slammed hard into Williams flipping upside down in turn three. Both drivers were okay. Ritchey was awarded the TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night”.
The next Bicknell Tour event will be at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio on Saturday, October 3 for the $800 to-win September 12 make-up feature. Any cars that did not compete on September 11 will have the ability to run the feature. New cars will draw pills and start in the order from low pill to high pill behind the locked in cars.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modifieds Bicknell Racing Products Touring Series Race #3 (20 laps, $600 to-win): 1. ROCKY KUGEL (6R) 2. Jerry Schaffer (14) 3. Jeff Schaffer (10S) 4. Larry Kugel (0) 5. Kyle Martell (8) 6. Chelsie Kriegisch (Schaffer 10) 7. Adam Hilton 8. Will Schaffer (4) 9. Nick Ritchey (77N) 10. Kole Holden (2) 11. Jeremy Weaver (35W) 12. Michael Kristyak (404) 13. Tiffany Williams (Smith 3G)-DNS 14. Brandon Ritchey (17)-DNS.
Car Count: 14
Feature Lap Leaders: Rocky Kugel (1-15, 17-20), Nick Ritchey (16)
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Kyle Martell (+5)
Maxima Oil “Maximum Performance”: Rocky Kugel
Sherwood Racing Wheels “Man of Steel”: Will Schaffer
TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night": Brandon Ritchey
CrateInsider.com "Last Car on Lead Lap": Chelsie Kriegisch
Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. Hilton 2. R. Kugel 3. N. Ritchey 4. L. Kugel 5. Kristyak 6. Weaver 7. W. Schaffer.
Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. Jeff Schaffer 2. Jerry Schaffer 3. Kriegisch 4. Holden 5. Martell 6. Williams 7. B. Ritchey.
K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash (4 laps): 1. Larry Kugel 2. Kole Holden 3. Michael Kristyak 4. Kyle Martell
RUSH Sportsman Modified marketing partners: Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, Bicknell Racing Products, Pace Performance, Hoosier Tire, Bilstein Shocks, MSD Ignition, Maxima Racing Oil, Jones Racing Products, VP Racing Fuels, FK Rod Ends, Sherwood Racing Wheels, Velocita-USA, Precise Racing Products, Alternative Power Sources, K&N Filters, TBM Brakes, Lincoln Electric, CrateInsider.com, Rocket Racing, and B.R.A.K.E.S.
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