MERCER, PA – Dave Murdick, the veteran Big Block Modified driver from Butler, PA, wrestled the lead away from Jimmy Holden early in the Diehl Ram sponsored twenty-five lapper and then he kept points leader Rex King, Jr. at bay to claim his first win of the season at Michaels Mercer Raceway.
Joining him in victory lane were Greg Dobrosky (Hards Welding and Fabrication/River Valley Butcher Block Racesaver 305 Sprint Cars), Erik Martin (Turn 4 Toilets Fastrak Limited Modifieds), Shane Shook (Ray’s Racing Collectibles/Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks), and Rod Jones (Barris Trucking Modified Lites).
Murdick, who has been a fixture in the Big Block Modifieds at Mercer since 1979, gave props to two other experienced racers for his success. One, of course, was his father, Carl, who still helps out in the shop and who is in his pit every night that he races. The other was Tommy Kristyak. “I love this track,” Murdick noted enthusiastically. “I learned more following Tommy Kristyak around here than anybody. He showed me the fast way around. The track has changed a little bit, but it’s still the same groove.”
Holden and Murdick brought the field of Diehl Ram Big Blocks to the green flag for the start of the feature.
Steve Barr and King Jr. were in row two, with Skip Moore and Lonnie Riggs in the third row. Rick Regalski and Erik Martin were paired up in row four and Tom Glenn and Brad Rapp were in the fifth row.
Holden led the dash into turn one, with Murdick, King, Barr, and Riggs in tow. Holden stayed on top for just two laps before Murdick surged ahead. King Jr. followed closely in his tracks. Riggs moved up a notch on the fourth circuit, when Holden retired from the fray. Meanwhile, Barr took over fourth, while Moore, Regalski, and Rapp were fighting for the fifth position.
Murdick and King Jr. were into the lapped traffic when the race had its first stoppage on lap twelve. On the ensuing restart, it appeared as though King Jr. had taken the lead. But, the start was called off. Murdick explained, “well, he took off before the cone, and I was supposed to start the race.” Murdick stayed off the throttle, forcing the restart. “So, I think they had to call it back either way.” Murdick was right, and he got the advantage when the green light came on again.
Nonetheless, King Jr. applied the pressure to Murdick when the race resumed. Riggs, Barr, and Rapp continued to jockey for position, but a new player entered the game. Rex King, Sr. was part of the mix now, fighting with Moore. Moore fell off the pace two laps into the second chorus.
On lap fifteen, a five-car tangle claimed several cars that were racing in or near the top ten. Regalski, Glenn, Kyle Fink, and Martin were involved, along with the lapped car of Erik Bowser.
The final ten laps were run off without interruption. Murdick and King Jr. began to separate themselves from the others. Rapp slipped by Riggs, and King Sr. salted away the fifth spot. Aided by the incident on lap fifteen, J.R. McGinley , Barr, and Bob Warren now among the top ten.
At the checkers, it was Murdick by almost a second over King Jr. Nearly a second and a half back was Rapp. Then came Riggs, King Sr., McGinley, and Barr. Some distance back were Warren, followed by Martin and Fink, both of whom were coming back from the lap fifteen shunt.
The heats for the twenty cars on hand went to Murdick and King Sr. There was no B Main.
In the Racesaver 305 Sprints, presented by Hards Welding and Fabrication and River Valley Butcher Block,
Greg Dobrosky returned to victory lane. “It’s been a long week,” the happy winner said. “We had a car junked at Hagerstown Speedway two weeks ago, so we put this one together and I was real happy that the car worked well. To put a car together from scratch and you don’t know what is going to happen the first time that you put it out.”
Dobrosky started on the pole and led wire to wire. Steve Cousins lined up on the front row, but he surrendered the second spot following the one and only restart that happened with one lap complete. The restart was also significant, in that Will Fleming was caught for jumping. His two spot penalty could not be imposed until the official finish was recorded.
Jacob Gomola, who assumed second on that fateful restart, cruised home in second, followed by Cousins. Vincent Dougherty and Chase Metheny were the beneficiaries of Fleming’s miscue. They were moved up to fourth and fifth, respectively.
Following Fleming in the scoring was Kyle Colwell, Matt Gardina, George Frederick, Johnny Walker, and Toby Hanlon.
The heat winners were Fleming and Colwell. There was no B Main.
Erik Martin was the lone driver doing double duty this night, and it paid off with his first career win in the Turn 4 Toilets Fastrak Limited Modifieds. Martin, who was tired but happy afterwards, said “I am very tire, I definitely need a cheeseburger!” Martin explained that he learned something from the Big Block race. “I learned that you could drive it in harder than I thought you could. I learned that in the Big Block race and I applied it to this.”
Martin did not wait to apply his lesson. Starting on the pole, he jumped out front, with Brian Schaffer second, a position that Schaffer would hold until the finish. Joe Lockhart worked up to third by lap three and held that spot for several laps before giving way to points leader Shayne Izzo. Streve Slater charged from row six to get fifth at the finish.
Jerry Schaffer, who lost several positions when he went a bit off course early in the contest, came across in the sixth position. Brandon Ritchey, who was involved in the only incident in the race, was seventh. Brian Sadler, Jim Bryce, and Josh Hinchberger completed the top ten.
Two preliminaries were held for the fourteen cars. Wins belonged to Dillon Barr and Brian Schaffer. There was no B Main.
Shane Shook survived a marathon Mini Stock feature presented by Ray’s Racing Collectibles and Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking that included two reds. The first occurred when David Coffin flipped in turn three collecting several other cars. The second was when leader Todd Hanlon brought his flaming car to a stop on the front stretch. Fortunately, no racers were injured in either incident.
Shook took over the lead after Hanlon’s fire, which was on lap seven. Shook held off Bill Fuchs until the checkers, which came three laps early becasue the time limit expired for the race. Finishing third was Mike Porterfield. Joe Campbell was fourth and Pete Blaczak came back for fifth.
Steve Longwell, Sr., Cameron Hutchins, Joe Romanko, Jim Buchanan, and Summer Pitts completed the top ten.
Three heat wins went to Tim Callahan, Todd Hanlon, and Bill Fuchs. Eugene Arkenburgh, IV scored in the B Main.
The final event of the night was the Barris Trucking Modified Lite feature event. Like the Mini Stock feature that preceded it, the Mod Lite go had numerous incidents, including a red with three laps complete. The latter happened on the front stretch and about eight cars were involved. The six cars eliminated in the wreck were those of Ted Williams, Dusty Frantz, Jeff Davis, Larry Bevivino, Jereme Bean, and Charlie Biskup. None of the drivers were injured, however.
Shane Webb set the early pace, grabbing the lead from his third starting spot. But, four laps into the event, Rod Jones took control, and he held the lead the rest of the way. Teddy Williams and Jason Darocha had the other places on the podium. After Webb came Robby Barris.
Positions six through ten belonged to Anthony Gillespie, Jordan Simmons, Nathaniel Bale, Jason Gracey,
and Vivian Jones.
Rod Jones, Ayden Cipriano, and Mark Biskup won their respective heats. There was no B Main as all twenty-four cars started the feature.
Racing action will continue for the next three weeks at Michaels Mercer Raceway. On June 15 will be another Fast Five programs with the addition of the Junior Sprints. The youngsters have been rained out in their two previously scheduled visits. Then, June 22 will be the Little Guys Preview, featuring many of the classes that appear annually in the grand finale. June 29 will close out the run with the Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series. It will be the first session for the might 410 Sprint Cars, but they will be racing sans wings!
Remember that you can get alerts regarding the cancellation of any racing event at Mercer Raceway Park sent directly to your smartphone or other electronic device. To register, please go to the track’s website, www.mercerracewaypark.com, click on the icon for RainedOut.com, and follow the easy steps.
About Michaels Mercer Raceway: Michaels Mercer Raceway is a 3/8-mile dirt track located minutes from both Interstates 79 and 80 just off Route 19 on Fairground Road in Mercer, Pa. Dirt track racing and quality family entertainment are presented weekly from late March through early October. For more information, check out www.mercerracewaypark.com.
Diehl Ram Big Block Modifieds: Dave Murdick, Rex King, Jr., Brad Rapp, Lonnie Riggs, Rex King, Sr., J.R. McGinley, Steve Barr, Bob Warren, Erik Martin, Kyle Fink, Rick Regalski, Tom Glenn, Tommy Marshall, III, Kevin Green, Dave Reges, Erik Bowser, Skip Moore, Jimmy Holden, Cody Young.
Hards Welding and Fabrication/River Valley Butcher Block Racesaver 305 Sprint Cars: Greg Dobrosky, Jake Gomola, Steve Cousins, Vincent Dougherty, Chase Metheny, Will Fleming, Kyle Colwell, Matt Gardina, George Frederick, Johnny Walker, Toby Hanlon.
Turn 4 Toilets Fastrak Limited Modifeds: Erik Martin, Brian Schaffer, Shayne Izzo, Joe Lockhart, Steve Slater, Jerry Schaffer, Brandon Ritchey, Brian Sadler, Jim Bryce, Josh Hinchberger, Gage priester, Justin Halicki, Dillon Barr, Tom Urey (DNS).
Barris Trucking Modified Lites: Rod Jones, Teddy Williams, Jason Darocha, Shane Webb, Robby Barris, Anthony Gillespie, Jordan Simmons, Nathaniel Bale, Jason Gracey, Vivian Jones, Jeff Haefke, Eric Marsh, Ayden Cipriano, Mark Biskup, Ted Williams, Dusty Frantz, Jeff Davis, Larry Bevivino, Je3reme Bean, Charlie Biskup, Mark Marcucci, Jacob Eakin (DNS), Ed Mudrick (DNS), Tyler Purnell (DNS).
Ray’s Racing Collectibles/Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks: Shane Shook, Bill Fuchs, Mike Porterfield, Joe Campbell, Pete Blaczak, Steve Longwell, Sr., Cameron Hutchins, Joe Romanko, Jim Buchanan, Summer Pitts, Johnny Bruce, Tim Callahan, Kyle Donnelly, D.J. MacRae, Eugene Arkenburgh, IV, Jacob McElravy, Larry Blake, Todd Hanlon, Steve Longwell, Jr., Bucky Buchanan, Mike Kelley, Phil King, John McCracken, David Coffin.
DNQ: Allan Reighert, Sonny Arkenburgh, Josh Rathbun, Randy Ealy, Dewayne Redinger (DNSB), Justin Bailey (DNSB).