BLAIR BECOMES 1ST PACE RUSH LATE MODEL TOUR REPEAT WINNER OF 2020 WITH 3RD "STEEL CITY STAMPEDE" VICTORY AT LERNERVILLE; 1ST 2020 EQUIPMENT RENTAL OPTIONS RUSH SPRINT WIN FOR RUTH; WOLBERT CAPS OFF HOVIS RUSH SPORTSMAN MOD WEEKLY TITLE WITH WIN
By Mike Leone
October 16-17, 2020 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Sarver, PA)...The Pace Performance RUSH Racing Series together with Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC once again participated in the "Steel City Stampede" finale at Lernerville Speedway this past weekend. The 12th edition saw three of RUSH's classes spotlighted with Max Blair capturing the Pace Late Model Touring Series victory, while Gale Ruth, Jr. copped the Equipment Rental Options Sprint Car Weekly Series special, and Chas Wolbert claimed the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Sportsman Modified Weekly Series special on Saturday night. In addition, Zach Kane closed out the 13-division racing program winning the RUSH Late Model Non-Qualifier.
For the first 10 years of the "Steel City Stampede", there had never been a repeat winner in the Crate Late Model division. Last year, Max Blair ended a seven-year drought between "Steel City Stampede" victories, and on Saturday night Blair led all 25 laps for his second consecutive event win and third of his career. Blair, who opened the 2020 Pace RUSH Late Model Touring Series with a victory at Lernerville in the $10,000 to-win "Bill Emig Memorial", ended the season by becoming the first repeat winner of 2020. Blair had to fend off challenges by Joe Martin on several late race restarts for the $2,000 victory.
"This place is tough on restarts especially when you don't race here all the time," acknowledged the 30-year-old Centerville, Pa. standout. "I didn't know which lane to protect. I tried the top, then I took the bottom and felt like I got a little better start. Joe (Martin) was trying to lag back and really get a run on me so I tried to lag back and whoever was behind me kind of picked me up a bit. I didn't take off as good and thought it might have lost me the race, but we got back out in front of him down here (turns one and two). Joe is one of my good friends. We help each other a lot when we race together so it's always fun to race with him."
After winning the dash on Friday night to earn the pole position, Blair took off in the lead at the start of the 25-lap feature over Tommy Schirnhofer, Jr. and Tour regulars Joe Martin, Ryan Frazee, and Michael Duritsky, Jr. On lap two, Martin put a big slide job on Schirnhofer in turn four to grab second. After falling out of the top five early, Colton Flinner raced into fourth on lap six then put a slider on Schirnhofer for third on lap eight. Flinner, who was driving one of his old cars recently purchased by Bob Bentz, closed in on Martin on lap nine; however, his shot at capturing the Touring Series Car Owner Championship for Bentz ended when he slipped over the cushion in turn four to bring out the caution with 13 laps scored.
Tour regular Logan Zarin had raced from seventh to third with five laps to go before getting tangled up in an accident. The man on the move was 14th starting Chad Homan. The Penfield, New York driver, who finished fifth in the 2019 Pace RUSH Weekly Series points, was making his 2020 RUSH debut and worked his way up to third by lap 21. Homan was right there in the battle for the lead as him and Martin were trying everything they could to overtake Blair.
Martin was all over Blair in the final four laps following the last restart, but just was unable to make the pass as Blair's Murphy's Logging/C&J Dairy/Previty's Auto Wrecking/Specialty Products/Moody & Son Welding/Upstate Auto-sponsored #111 would take the checkered flag first by a winning margin of only 0.690 of a second for his all-time leading 29th career RUSH Tour victory.
Martin's $1,000 runner-up effort was his best Tour finish of 2020 eclipsing his third on July 18 at Pittsburgh as he earned second place in the Tour Driver points. Homan's third place was his best Tour finish since a third place run more than two years ago on July 18, 2018 at Outlaw Speedway in his home state.
Jeremy Wonderling finished fourth to earn his third straight Tour title and continues to lead the National Weekly Series Championship, but it was an eventful weekend to say the least. Wonderling discovered motor issues on Friday and borrowed a motor from Tour regular Logan Zarin on Saturday. Wonderling went out and won the first B main and raced from 21st to battle for a top five before jumping the cushion and falling deep back through the field. Wonderling though wasn't done as he charged back up to fourth place to secure the Tour Owner Championship over Bentz. It was Wonderling's fourth fourth place finish in six starts as he failed to finish worse than sixth in any Tour race.
Jason Knowles, who had a great season at New York's Woodhull Raceway winning five features and the track championship, made his first Tour start of the 2020 season. The third place Weekly Series point man had a solid effort finishing fifth after starting 12th for the former longtime Tour regular. Schirnhofer dropped to sixth. Flinner worked his way back up to seventh. RUSH rookie Josh Ferry was eighth as he locked up third place in the Tour Driver points. Two other New York racers in Clayton Tarabori and Brian Knowles also made their first Tour starts of 2020 and finished ninth and tenth respectively.
Zach Kane had planned on competing in his own #10 car, but discovered a broken rear end prior to race day on Friday. Kane decided to hook up with Joe and Andrew Squatriglia and bring their #15X car to Lernerville on Saturday where Kane tagged the first B main and missed the transfer spot by one. That earned Kane the pole position for the Non-Qualifier, which he went out and dominated for the $200 victory. The 28-year-old Washington, Pa. driver became the 43rd different winner in 52 races run all-time. Fifth starting D.J. Nakutis was second. After spinning out on lap four, Jason Harmon came back to finish third in his first Tour start in more than two years. Denny Nakutis and Jacob Peterson were fourth and fifth.
Rookie racer Kassidy Kamicker finished sixth in the Non-Qualifier to earn the "Wheelman" Bonus Event Challenge Series Championship, worth $300. The 17-year-old Aliquippa, Pa. go-kart graduate also finished second in the "Futures Cup" points and 10th in Tour Driver points!
Frazee set fast time in FK Rod Ends "Shock the Clock" Qualifying for the first time in his career with a lap of 17.039 over the 33-car field on Friday night to earn $100. Picking up heat race wins on Friday night were Frazee, Flinner, Ferry, and Blair to add $25 from FK Rod Ends. Saturday's last chance B mains were copped by Wonderling and Khole Wanzer.
Making just his third start aboard the new #24 team owned by Rich and Melinda McConnell, Gale Ruth, Jr. went out and dominated the caution-free RUSH Sprint Car feature. Ruth led all 20 laps ending a 50-month plus winless drought as he earned the $800 Equipment Rental Options Weekly Series special victory in the 2020 finale. Ruth also became the third different "Steel City Stampede" winner in as many years.
"Man you don't know what this means to me," expressed the 42-year-old Pleasantville, Pa. driver. "The Lord has been so good to me this last year. I can't thank the McConnell Family enough to get an opportunity to drive a car like this; without them along with Brian Steinman and George Frederick none of this would be possible. It's amazing to be as blessed as I am to do this. It means a lot to win here, but it means so much to win for Rich (McConnell). Him and I have been friends for so long. This is just a dream come true to do this for him. I have to thank Don Blackshear for getting this motor put together so soon; it was a last minute deal and we weren't even supposed to race this year. I also want to thank my dad and everyone watching at home on DIRTVision- I really appreciate it."
While Ruth raced to the early lead, Brian Woodhall passed Zach Morrow for second on the opening lap. Brian Ruhlman then passed Morrow for third on lap three. Morrow stayed with Ruhlman and a great battle ensued for third, while Ruth began to check out from the field on lap five. By lap nine, Steve Pedley joined the battle for third. Ruhlman finally broke free of Morrow and Pedley as he closed in on Woodhall on lap 13. Ruhlman made the pass for second on lap 15.
By the time Ruhlman got to second, Ruth had a solid straightaway lead. Ruth went unchallenged in the Rustler Sales & Service-sponsored #24 taking his first win since August 15, 2018 by 4.515 seconds. Ruth's fourth career Lernerville win was the sixth of his RUSH career overall. Ruhlman has now finished runner-up at the "Steel City Stampede" in all three years for the RUSH Sprint Cars!
Woodhall, Morrow, and Pedley were third through fifth. Andy Feil went ninth to sixth as Brian Hartzell, Rick Regalski, Jr., Jack Sodeman, Jr., and rookie Brandon Shughart completed the top 10. Heat winners on Friday night over the 17-car field were Morrow and Ruhlman. Though he wasn't in competition for the final two races, Jeremy Weaver captured his first Equipment Rental Options Weekly Series Championship driving the Cal and Ted Hull-owned #41.
Despite COVID-19 delaying the start, it's been a dream season for Chas Wolbert in the Pace RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. On Saturday night, Wolbert put the icing on the cake of his first Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Weekly Series Championship by winning the $800 caution-free feature. Wolbert passed early leader Josh Deems on lap five and held off a valiant charge by two-time champion Garrett Krummert to become the amazing seventh different "Steel City Stampede" winner in as many years!
"This is awesome," expressed the 26-year-old Warren, Ohio racer. "My goal was obviously to win a championship and finish decent in this race. We've never won the 'Stampede'. We hit all of our goals tonight. We've been blessed to still race when we can with COVID. We've had a great car all year against great competition. I've been four years at this and have come up short every year by just a few points. I have great people around me. When you put yourself to something and get the reward back out of it- you can't complain at all."
Deems, who always excels at Lernerville, took off in the lead over Tony Tatgenhorst in search of his first win of 2020. Wolbert started fifth, was up to fourth after one lap, and then drove under Krummert and Tatgenhorst for second on lap two. Wolbert caught Deems on lap three and two laps later snuck under him racing off turn four for the lead.
Krummert, who was also the 2020 Lernerville Big-Block Modified Champion for the first time in his career, passed good friend, Tatgenhorst, for third on lap four then drove past Deems with the benefit of the lapped car of Joe Gibson going down the backstretch on lap 13. Wolbert was mired in lapped traffic allowing Krummert to close in on lap 16. Krummert was all over Wolbert in the final laps, but Wolbert's Alcon Mechanical/Dunkin Donuts of Warren, OH/C.T. Wolbert Trucking/Walters Building Co./Ohio Intra Express/Russ King Racing/Sawtelle Tree-sponsored #c3 held on by just 0.293 of a second for his 11th overall win of 2020 and 33rd of his career in the division.
Deems was a solid third over Tatgenhorst. Rob Kristyak, who won the Wedge Motorsports "Route 7 Rumble" Series Championship finished fifth. Completing the top 10 were Clayton Deems, 14th starting Jacob Wolfe, Kole Holden, Jacob Jordan, and Steve Slater. Heat winners on Friday night were Krummert and Tatgenhorst.
Other than a pair of RUSH Late Model Weekly Series specials the next two weekends at Delaware International and Georgetown Speedways, the 2020 season for all of the RUSH Racing Series divisions are now completed. The 2020 RUSH Awards Banquet & Dinner will be on Saturday, January 17 at Gatherings Banquet & Event Center in Edinburg, Pa.
Pace Performance RUSH Late Model Touring Series Race #6 “Steel City Stampede” (25 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. MAX BLAIR (111) 2. Joe Martin (Snyder 10s) 3. Chad Homan (91) 4. Jeremy Wonderling (3J) 5. Jason Knowles (4) 6. Tommy Schirnhofer, Jr. (8s) 7. Colton Flinner (Bentz 60M) 8. Josh Ferry (33) 9. Clayton Tarabori (16T) 10. Brian Knowles (7) 11. Ryan Frazee (11F) 12. Logan Zarin (1z) 13. Joey Zambotti III (948) 14. Jim Rasey (Wrightsman 21J) 15. Khole Wanzer (01W) 16. Kurt Stebbins (26) 17. Collin Burke (41) 18. Kyle Murray (21) 19. Eric Hamilton, Jr. (33x) 20. Bill Kessler (09) 21. Michael Duritsky, Jr. (90J) 22. Levi Spinneweber (Lukon 184X) 23. Cole Petrelle (184) 24. Tony White (27T).
Non-Qualifier (8 laps, $200 to-win): 1. Zach Kane (Squatriglia 15x) 2. D.J. Nakutis (31) 3. Jason Harmon (521) 4. Denny Nakutis (3) 5. Jacob Peterson (McGee 112) 6. Kassidy Kamicker (72B) 7. Joe Zulisky (58) 8. Chuck Recker (6)-DNS 9. Brandon Lott (47)-DNS.
Car Count: 41
Feature Margin of Victory:
0.690 of a second
Feature Lap Leaders: Max Blair (1-30)
FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying ($100 for fast time) (Track record 16.776 by Alex Ferree 10/18/19) 1. 11F-Ryan Frazee, 00:17.039; 2. 10S-Joe Martin, 00:17.075; 3. 8S-Tommy Schirnhofer Jr, 00:17.184; 4. 90J-Michael Duritsky Jr, 00:17.187; 5. 1Z-Logan Zarin, 00:17.215; 6. 60M-Colton Flinner, 00:17.229; 7. 33-Josh Ferry, 00:17.251; 8. 111-Max Blair, 00:17.337; 9. 7-Brian Knowles, 00:17.415; 10. 27T-Tony White, 00:17.526; 11. 184X-Levi Spinneweber, 00:17.539; 12. 4-Jason Knowles, 00:17.625; 13. 184P-Cole Petrelle, 00:17.632; 14. 91-Chad Homan, 00:17.660; 15. 21-Kyle Murray, 00:17.740; 16. 09-Bill Kessler, 00:17.861; 17. 26-Kurt Stebbins, 00:17.949; 18. 33X-Eric Hamilton Jr, 00:18.093; 19. 21J-Jim Rasey, 00:18.179; 20. 41B-Collin Burke, 00:18.188; 21. 3N-Denny Nakutis, 00:18.195; 22. 16T-Clayton Tarabori, 00:18.203; 23. 521-Jason Harmon, 00:18.407; 24. 948-Joey Zambotti III, 00:18.410; 25. 3J-Jeremy Wonderling, 00:18.443; 26. 112-Jacob Peterson, 00:18.649; 27. 01W-Khole Wanzer, 00:18.815; 28. 31N-DJ Nakutis, 00:18.858; 29. 6R-Chuck Recker, 00:18.905; 30. 47L-Brandon Lott, 00:18.984; 31. 58-Joe Zulisky, 00:19.156; 32. 72B-Kassidy Kamicker, 00:19.748; 33. 15X-Zach Kane NT.
FK Rod Ends Heat 1 (8 laps, Top 5 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. 11F-Ryan Frazee; 2. 1Z-Logan Zarin; 3. 184P-Cole Petrelle; 4. 7-Brian Knowles; 5. 26-Kurt Stebbins; 6. 3J-Jeremy Wonderling; 7. 3N-Denny Nakutis; 8. 6R-Chuck Recker; 9. 15X-Zach Kane-DNS.
FK Rod Ends Heat 2 (8 laps, Top 5 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. 60M-Colton Flinner; 2. 10S-Joe Martin; 3. 16T-Clayton Tarabori; 4. 91-Chad Homan; 5. 33X-Eric Hamilton Jr; 6. 27T-Tony White; 7. 47L-Brandon Lott; 8. 112-Jacob Peterson.
FK Rod Ends Heat 3 (8 laps, Top 5 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. 33-Josh Ferry; 2. 8S-Tommy Schirnhofer Jr; 3. 184X-Levi Spinneweber; 4. 21-Kyle Murray; 5. 21J-Jim Rasey; 6. 01W-Khole Wanzer; 7. 521-Jason Harmon; 8. 58-Joe Zulisky.
FK Rod Ends Heat 4 (8 laps, Top 5 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. 111-Max Blair; 2. 90J-Michael Duritsky Jr; 3. 4-Jason Knowles; 4. 09-Bill Kessler; 5. 948-Joey Zambotti III; 6. 41B-Collin Burke; 7. 31N-DJ Nakutis; 8. 72B-Kassidy Kamicker.
Last Chance B Main 1 (8 laps, Top 2 transfer to A): 1. 3J-Jeremy Wonderling; 2. 27T-Tony White; 3. 15X-Zachary Kane; 4. 112-Jacob Peterson; 5. 6R-Chuck Recker; 6. 47L-Brandon Lott; 7. 3N-Denny Nakutis.
Last Chance B Main 2 (8 laps, Top 2 transfer to A): 1. 01W-Khole Wanzer; 2. 41B-Collin Burke; 3. 58-Joe Zulisky; 4. 521-Jason Harmon; 5. 31N-DJ Nakutis; 6. 72B-Kassidy Kamicker.
Dash (6 laps): 1. 111-Max Blair; 2. 8S-Tommy Schirnhofer Jr; 3. 10S-Joe Martin; 4. 11F-Ryan Frazee; 5. 60M-Colton Flinner; 6. 90J-Michael Duritsky Jr; 7. 1Z-Logan Zarin; 8. 33-Josh Ferry.
Pace RUSH Sprint Cars Equipment Rental Options Weekly Series Special (20 laps, $800 to-win): 1. GALE RUTH, JR. (McConnell 24) 2. Brian Ruhlman (49) 3. Brian Woodhall (8B) 4. Zach Morrow (27) 5. Steve Pedley (21) 6. Andy Feil (Mahoney/Eckart 9J) 7. Brian Hartzell (69) 8. Rick Regalski, Jr. (Clever 14) 9. Jack Sodeman, Jr. (Williams 8) 10. Brandon Shughart (29) 11. Nolan Groves (25) 12. Blaze Myers (36) 13. Dave Hawkins (27) 14. Brandon Blackshear (10) 15. A.J. MacQuarrie (Hartzell 69X) 16. Tyler Newhart (57N) 17. Amelia Clay (16c).
Pace RUSH Sportsman Modifieds Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Weekly Series Special (20 laps, $800 to-win): 1. CHAS WOLBERT (c3) 2. Garrett Krummert (Schaffer 10s) 3. Josh Deems (9D) 4. Tony Tatgenhorst (63T) 5. Rob Kristyak (00) 6. Clayton Deems (55R) 7. Jacob Wolfe (7) 8. Kole Holden (2) 9. Jacob Jordan (28J) 10. Steve Slater (29) 11. Greg Porter (25) 12. Chelsie Kriegisch (10) 13. David Kalb, Jr. (11J) 14. Mike Smith (0) 15. Brian Schaffer (14) 16. Joe Gibson (119) 17. Brandon Ritchey (17).
RUSH Racing Series is brought to you by Pace Performance together with Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC along with the support of Hoosier Tire, Bilstein Shocks, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Insinger Performance, MSD Performance, Holley Performance Products, Hovis Auto & Truck Supply, FK Rod Ends, Wehrs Machine & Racing Products, Schoenfeld Headers, Jones Racing Products, TBM Brakes, Performance Bodies & Parts, Racing Electronics, Dirt Defender, Wrisco Industries, Frankland Racing Supply, Landrum Performance Spring, Ontime Body & Graphic, Trailer-Alarms.com, Zarin Truck & Automotive, Sherwood Wheels, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, Lincoln Electric, Velocita-USA, Classic Ink USA, CrateInsider.com, and Wedge Motorsports.
E-mail can be sent to the RUSH Racing Series at [email protected] and snail mail to 4368 Route 422, Pulaski, PA 16143. Office phone is 724-964-9300 and fax is 724-964-0604. The RUSH Racing Series website is www.rushracingseries.com. Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rushlatemodels and follow us on Twitter @RUSHLM.