By MIKE LEONE
IMPERIAL, PA – The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series powered by Pace Performance is gearing up for its biggest race of the season this Saturday night (August 12) at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway. The 28th annual “Jook George Steel City Classic” will be a “Marquee” Tour event paying $4,010 to-win, $320 to-start the 40-lap feature at “Dirt’s Monster Half-Mile”. Warm-ups are slated for 6 p.m.
The Sweeney Tour heads to Pittsburgh on Saturday for its first of two appearances of the season. The second visit will be on October 6-7 for the $2,500 to-win “Bill Hendren Memorial” part of the “Pittsburgher” with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. Bryce Davis enters the event with just a 10-point lead on defending champion, John Waters. Davis has two wins this season to Waters’ lone victory at Genesee Speedway on June 3. Waters though has rattled off six straight top five finishes.
Jeremy Wonderling is hanging tough in third with victories at Stateline and Tri-City. Wonderling though has never competed at Pittsburgh. Brothers Jason and Brian Knowles and J.J. Mazur round out the top six New York drivers in points as all three search for their first career Tour victory. Russell King, who has wins at Lernerville and Expo, will be in action as well as other regional standouts such as Dan Angelicchio, Jacob Hawkins, six-time Roaring Knob winner Mike Duritsky, Jr. and others. Other Tour winners this season include Charlie Sandercock at Merrittville and most recently Max Blair at Eriez.
Pittsburgh meanwhile has completed 12 Sweeney Weekly Series events with eight different winners. Daryl Charlier and John Mollick are tied with three wins a piece and are the only two drivers with multiple victories. Other winners include Steve Beatty, Justin Lamb, Michael Reft, Ben Policz, Kyle Lee, and Mike Pegher, Jr.
The event has been spurred by the efforts of 33-year-old Branden Lockwich. Lockwich grew up around racing as his parents started taking him to PPMS when he was three years old. Lockwich knew Jook when he was a youngster, and always had time for a young kid who had lots of questions and never made me feel dumb for asking them. His lifelong friends Daryl Charlier and Tommy Schirnhofer raced in the RUSH Late Model class and wanted to renew the interest of the days gone by on the “Jook George Classic. Starting in 2015, Lockwich took up the effort to make the “Jook George Classic” the biggest race in the tri-state area for the RUSH Late Models. Last year, the event grew with the help of Ben Policz, the racing community, and George family. Reft is the defending race winner
“I might be the face, but really I am just the conductor of the train,” stated Lockwich. “This race would not be possible without the George family, PPMS, and the many, many individuals who have contributed to make this event special for everyone involved.”
The number William Thomas “Jook” George chose and had for most of his racing career was the #10 and that was in honor of his racing hero, Lou Blaney, who drove his car on a couple occasions. Other highlights of his career was being nominated as the Sportsman of the Year at PPMS, being nominated into the Pittsburgh Circle Track Hall of Fame, winning the track championship at PPMS in 1990 with John Beatty behind the wheel, and winning the Fall Classic in 1993 with Bill Yakin, also at PPMS. His most dominant stretch as a car owner came in the late ’70s when Earl Teeters was his driver.
“We are extremely excited about the 28th running of the Jook George…it is second only to the Pittsburgher,” said PPMS promoter Matt Miley. “It has as much tradition as any other event we run. Many fine racers have come through the division and we all feel Jook would be proud of the effort Branden has made to make it a must see regional event. The RUSH Touring Series takes it to another level and we are proud to by flying the RUSH banner. Jook’s family, which will include his wife, Patty, will again be our honored guests…can’t wait.”
“We’re honored to be able to sanction the Jook George Steel City Classic as a Touring Series event,” acknowledged RUSH Director Vicki Emig. “Branden has put his heart and soul into making this event what it has become over the past few years. I’ve watched him become great friends with many of our racers outside of PPMS, many of whom have joined his efforts by contributing to the event. The pre-race buzz and excitement surrounding the race has been tremendous and we’re really looking forward to an excellent field of competitors that will put on a tremendous show for the fans and honor Jook’s memory”
FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock Qualifying and Beat the Heat” will be utilized meaning the fastest qualifier will receive $200 (extra $100 from Robins Dog House “The in home pet care”) and all heat race winners will earn $25. The K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash will be run paying a $100 K&N certificate to win, $50 K&N certificate for second with $25 cash for third and fourth place. The K&N Dash will also set the beginning of the 40-lap feature lineup for the top two finishers in the heat races if there are less than five heats or for the heat winners if there are five or more heats.
Precise Racing Products will award a $100 gift card for the “Pedal Down” Hard Charger that passes the most cars in the feature. The TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night” will award three bottles of Xtreme6 Racing Brake Fluid valued at approximately $45 along with a certificate for a discount off any TBM Brakes purchase.
RUSH Officials will choose the “Maxima Performance” Award for a driver that exhibits a performance worthy of such. The winner will receive a free case of either Maxima Semi-Syn High Performance Racing Oil or Maxima Performance Racing Oil of your choice. In addition, the winner will receive one can of SC-1 clear coat, one 16-oz bottle of Maxima Cool-Aide concentrate, one 32-oz quart of Maxima PSF power steering fluid, and a Maxima t-shirt. The value of this prize package is $170!
ARbodies will award a nose kit to the first non-qualifier part of the “Nosed Out” contingency program. Also, CrateInsider.com will award a $25 gift certificate to the driver that finishes last on the lead lap at the finish.
Other bonuses included: driver running second on lap 20 will receive $100 cash courtesy of Falconi Family of Dealerships – 93X Race Team; driver running 10th on lap 10 will receive $110.10 courtesy of Derek Charlier Productions.
Minimum Feature payoff: 1. $4,010 2. $2,000 3. $1,200 4. $1,050 5. $1,000 6. $850 7. $750 8. $600 9. $500 10. $450 11. $400 12. $350 13. $345 14. $340 15. $335 16. $330 17. $325 18. $325 19-26. $320.
Non-Qualifier: 1. $175 2. $150 3. $140 4. $135 5. $130 6. $125 7. $120 8. $115 9. $110 10-24. $105. Tow $100.
The following sponsors have made this event’s payoff possible:
1 Stans Transmissions / RUSH Racing Series in memory of Bill Emig
2 Medved Motorsports / Ryans Landscaping Service
3 Lukons Reb Fab / Kanes Ideal Truck Service
4 Jason Knowles Racing / Beatty Welding
5 Russ King Racing / Rocket Chassis
6 Russ King Racing / D&T Autobody
7 Brian Knowles Racing / RebelYell Motorsports Graphics
8 Schirnhofer Racing / Schwartzmiller Ground Maintenance
9 Mike Reft Racing 9R / Kessler Racing 09
10 In loving memory of Jook George
11 Tri State Motorsports – Dale Charlier / John Waters Racing
12 Daryl Charlier Racing / Buds Place
13 Royal Flush / Ryans Landscaping Service
14 Ben Policz – In memory of Mark Policz 84 / J&J ATR
15 Bryan Hoffman Racing / Imperial Tire and Auto
16 Mad Dog Motorsports Mike Duritzky
17 Russ Matejka Race Team 17M / Vince Laboon in memory of Ed Laboon
18 The Dirt Network / Ryans Landscaping Service
19 Ingram Engines / Kanes Ideal Truck Service
20 Cleetus Motorsports / Rons Barbershop
21 Joe Lockwich / Kurt Thompson Howard Hanna Realtor
22 Ryans Landscaping Service / Kanes Ideal Truck Service
23 Doug Smith Schaeffers Oil
24 Ingram Engines / RUSH Racing Series
25 Ryans Landscaping Services / D&T Autobody
26 Joe Lockwich / Dirt on Dirt
27 Tony White Racing / Castleveter Landscaping
28 Schwartzmiller Ground Maintenance / Rocket Chassis
29 Dobs Auto / Rons Barbershop
30 Davis Racing 94
31 J&J ATR / Dirt on Dirt
32 Doug Smith Schaeffers Oil / Kanes Ideal Truck Service
33 Ryans Landscaping Service
34 Ryans Landscaping Service
35 Ryans Landscaping Service
36 Bryant Hank – in memory of Dow Carnahan
37 Nex Tec LLC
38 Russ Matejka Race Team 17M / Kanes Ideal Truck Service
39 Vince Dubois – in loving memory of Bucky Johnson
40 Stans Transmissions / Rappin’ on Racin’
2017 Sweeney Late Model Touring Series Points (Adjusted on Marquee/Platinum; only Tour members receive points): 1. Bryce Davis 674 2. John Waters 664 3. Jeremy Wonderling 651 4. Jason Knowles 613 5. Brian Knowles 610 6. J.J. Mazur 592 7. Brian Swank 556 8. Mike Pegher, Jr. 486 9. Jamie Wrightsman 401 10. Tony White 382 11. Kyle Murray 323 12. Bruce Hordusky, Jr. 313 13. Eric Wilson 259 14. Chad Wright 228 15. Max Blair 198 16. Jon Rivers 171 17. Matt Latta 163 18. Bill Kessler 149 17. D.J. Krug 147 20. Kyle Zimmerman 90 21. Jamie Brown & Carl Shetler 81 23. Greg Beach 76 24. Hunter Hulley 74.
You do not have to a member of RUSH to compete. The AMB/MyLaps transponders will be used. RACEceivers are always mandatory on the default 454.000 channel. There will be a $100 entry fee. Pit passes are $40. Pits will be open all afternoon. Pre-race tech and pill draw will open at 3 p.m. Warm-ups will begin at 6 p.m. followed by qualifying and heat races at 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway is a ½-mile dirt track with a GPS address of 170 Kelso Rd, Imperial PA 15126, which is located just off the Noblestown exit on Routes 22/30. For more information, check out their website at www.ppms.com or call 412-279-7223. The track number on race day is 724-695-3363 or 724-695-0393. As for their social media outlets, you can like their page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PittsburghsPennsylvaniaMotorSpeedway or follow them on Twitter @PAMotorSpeedway.
RUSH Late Model marketing partners include Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, Pace Performance, Hoosier Tire, Bilstein Shocks, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Insinger Performance, MSD Performance, Holley Performance Products, Earl’s Performance Plumbing, Quick Fuel Technology, FK Rod Ends, Maxima Racing Oil, Schoenfeld Headers, Jones Racing Products, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, ARbodies, TBM Brakes, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, Velocita-USA, Classic Ink USA, Rocket Chassis, Landrum Performance Spring, CrateInsider.com, RockAuto.com, and Valley Fashions.
E-mail can be sent to the RUSH Racing Series at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.