MERCER, PA – Danny Holtgraver became the first repeat winner of the Paul “Putsy” Kekich Memorial at Mercer Raceway Park. Triumphant in 2015, Holtgraver came on strong in the final laps of the race to claim the $3,000 prize. The event, made possible by Sunburst Environmental and Bonnell’s Rod Shop, honored the late winner of four Sprint features and a pair of Modified victories at the Park.
Other winners on the night were Lonny Riggs in the Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds, Cody Bova in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprint Cars, Mark Marcucci in the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites, Bill Fuchs in the Ray’s Racing Collectibles and Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks, and Alston Randall in the Young Guns Junior Sprints.
Dash winner George Hobaugh, Jr. and Michael Bauer had the front row for the start of the 30 lap Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint A Main, with Jack Sodeman, Jr. and Holtgraver right behind. Carl Bowser and Jimmy Morris lined up next. At the drop of the green, Hobaugh scooted out front, with Bauer and Sodeman nipping at his heels. Brandon Matus, winner of the first Kekich Memorial race, spun in turn three with one lap down. He was unable to restart the contest.
Hobaugh got away cleanly on the restart. Bauer held down the second spot, with Sodeman challenging. Holtgraver, Bowser, Adam Kekich, Dan Kuriger, Gary Kriess, Jr., Cory Good, and Morris were battling for positions.
With the race approaching the halfway mark, Sodeman began to show some speed. Looking to get back to back Kekich Memorial wins, he worked past Bauer on lap 13, just before the second and final caution was displayed for Kuriger’s miscue.
When racing resumed, Hobaugh still held control, but now Sodeman was in the chase position. Bauer held third, but Holtgraver made the pass at the halfway mark to take over the position. Bauer began falling back, as Bowser, Kekich, and Kreiss got by.
Lap 20 saw a new leader, Sodeman, courtesy of a strong move coming off turn four. But Holgraver was coming on as well. Two laps later, the Pittsburgh native swooped into second and he began cutting into Sodeman’s lead. Holtgraver went to the outside in turn four to grab the lead as they took the five lap signal.
Holtgraver poured on the coals over the final five laps, and he held a three and a half second advantage at the checkers. Sodeman kept second, with Bowser, Kriess, and Hobaugh rounding out the top five.
Bauer bounced back to get the sixth position, followed by Kekich, Rod George, Good, and Sye Lynch in a rare Mercer start.
The heat winners were Sodeman, Bauer, and Holtgraver. Holtgraver also was the night’s fastest qualifier, at 14.302 seconds. Sodeman’s second place finish was enough to propel him back into the points lead with only a pair of races remaining on the docket for the Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Cars.
The two top point men in the Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modified ranks, Lonny Riggs and Jimmy Holden, were on the front row for their position of the Kekich Memorial. Rich Whitney was lined up third, with Tommy Kristyak along side. Jason Sines and Kyle Fink occupied the third row.
Riggs fired first, and assumed the lead entering turn one. Holden settled into second, with Kristyak in third. After a quick caution, Kristyak took second and something seemed amiss in Jimmy Holden’s car. By lap four, the current points leader was sidelined.
Meanwhile, Riggs continued to lead Kristyak, Fink, and J.R.McGinley. Jason Sines was having one of his better runs, maintaining the fifth position. Krystyak stayed close, but could not make the pass.
Riggs took the win, followed by Kristyak, Fink, McGinley, and Sines. Sid Unverzagt, Jr. was sixth, ahead of Kyle Holden, Whitney, and Jerry Bowser. Despite his early retirement, Jimmy Holden was credited with the tenth position.
The heat winners were Riggs and Jimmy Holden. Kristyak turned the beast lap in teh qualifications, at 17.201 seconds.
In the Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprints, Shamus O’Donnell and Joe Sylvester had the front row, and Mike Miller and Mike Marano, II were in row two. Points leader Darin Gallagher and Gregg McCandless next to him in the third row. Sylvester grabbed the lead immediately, with McCandless, Miller, Cody Bova, and Marano in tow.
With Sylvester still out front, Bova moved into the second spot. By the fifth round, Bova had the lead, but Sylvester stayed in second, ahead of McCandless, Gallagher and Andy Priest.
Sylvester’s strong performance came to a disappointing end on the final lap, when he spun from a certain top five finish.
Bova crossed the line first, with McCandless 6.6 seconds in arrears. Priest climbed up to third, followed by Gallagher and Marano. Jeremy Konbau was sixth. Sylvester was scored in seventh based upon laps completed. Caitlin Chaffman, O’Donnell, and Mike Miller completed the field.
Kornbau and Bova won the preliminaries, while Gallagher topped qualifications with a 15.368 second lap.
Mark Marcucci won a crash-filled Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lite feature that saw three cars get upside down. Fortunately, none of the racers were hurt. The win moved Marcucci into second place in the standings. With three Mod Lite races remaining in the regular season, can Macucci wipe out the 31 point deficit?
Kurt Eckstorm and Jay Dye paced the field for the start of the fifteen lapper. Dye jumped out front, but Marcucci was in second and Eckstrom in third. Marcucci took control after a restart , and led the rest of the way despite the frequent interruptions. Vivian Jones got a career best second place finish, ahead of Keith Smith, Doug Jones, and points leader Shane Webb. Eckstrom, Dusty Frantz, Jason Johnston, Ed Murdick, and Doug Stanley completed the top ten.
The heat winners were Joey Zambotti and Marcucci. Marcucci also topped the time trials, at 18.474 seconds.
In the Ray’s Racing Collectibles and Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks, Bill Fuchs was the winner after some last-lap fireworks that led to a penalty being imposed upon Shane Shook. Isaac Paden was scored in second, followed by Pat Hanlon, Kyle Donnelly, and Justin Bailey. Karlee Longwell, Harold Winner, Nick Steiger, William Haylett, and Summer Pitts completed the top ten. Tim Callahan tangled with a lapped car while leading, eliminating himself from the action. Heat wins belonged to Fuchs and Shook.
In the Young Guns Junior Sprints, the apparent winner, was disqualified. That conferred the victory upon Alston Randall. Luke Mulichak, Jaren Dye, Mike Lutz, Jr., and Blaine Schlechty completed the field. The heat win went to Simmons.
Next week, the BRP Modifieds roll into town to take on the track’s Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds in the annual Smackdown! Joining the Mods will be the Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprints, the Rock Concrete Supply Mod Lites, and the Ray’s Racing Collectibles and Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks. The Precise Racing Products 410 Sprints will return on August 19, for the Summer Shootout, that pits then against the potent 410 Sprints from the Attica Fremont Sprint Tour (FAST). The FAST 305 Sprints will also be on hand to contest things with our Bonnell’s Rod Shops 305s. Four other divisions will also be on tap. Regular season racing will conclude on August 26, with the Patriot Sprint Group added to the championship runs for the Saturday Night Live! crew. That will also be the final Meet Your Heroes Night, presented by Herr’s Snack Foods.
Precise Racing Products 410 Sprint Cars: Danny Holtgraver, Jack Sodeman, Jr., Carl Bowser, Gary Kriess, Jr., George Hobaugh, Jr., Michael Bauer, Adam Kekich, Rod George, Cory Good, Sye Lynch, Jimmy Morris, Mike Miller, Dennis Wagner, Arnie Kent, Brent Matus, Joe Lockhart, Eric L. Williams, Dan Kuriger, Sadie Siegel, Cody Bova, Davey Jones, Brandon Matus.
Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds: Lonny Riggs, Tommy Kristyak, Kyle Fink, J.R. McGinley, Jason Sines. Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Kyle Holden, Richard Whitney, Jerry Bowser, Jimmy Holden, Kevin Green, Steve Barr, Ryan Riffe.
Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprints: Cody Bova, Gregg McCandless, Andy Priest, Darin Gallagher, Mike Marano, II, Jeremy Konbau, Joe Sylvester, Caitlin Chaffman, Shamus O’Donnell, Mike Miller.
Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites: Mark Marcucci, Vivian Jones, Keith Smith, Doug Jones, Shane Webb, Kurt Eckstrom, Dusty Frantz, Jason Johnston, Ed Murdick, Doug Stanley, A.J. Barris, Jay Dye, Bobby Springer, Jereme Bean, Cody Dye, Joey Zambotti, Kenny Meadows.
Ray’s Racing Collectibles/Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks: Bill Fuchs, Isaac Paden, Pat Hanlon, Kyle Donnelly, Justin Bailey, Karlee Longwell, Harold Winner, Nick Steiger, William Haylett, Summer Pitts, Shane Shook, Ed Haylett, Tim Callahan, Rick Feely, Alex Paden, Mike Porterfield, Jamie Tasker, J.R. Shaner (DNS).
Young Guns Junior Sprints: Alston Randall, Luke Muilchak, Jaren Dye, Mike Lutz, Jr., Blaine Schlechty, Jordan Simmons (DQ).