By MIKE LEONE
BATAVIA, NY – The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series powered by Pace Performance wrapped up its early four-race swing through New York and Canada on Saturday night in the first ever appearance at Genesee Speedway. Race #4 of the 2017 season attracted 27 cars- an all-time record car count at the Batavia, New York facility, which is in its second full season as a Sweeney Weekly Series track under the promotion of Jim Johnson.
Defending Series champion, John Waters, survived several late race restarts and challenges by Jason Genco throughout the 30-lap MHL Performance feature to capture his season’s first victory, worth $2,000. It was much-needed morale boast for Waters, who had failed to finish in the top five after the first three Series race. Waters, who became the season’s fourth different winner in four races, was also selected as the Maxima Racing Oil “Maximum Performance” award winner.
“It’s been a lot of highs and lows, but we’re here to win and that’s what we did,” stated the soon-to-be 36-year-old Whitesville, NY driver. “Congrats to Jason Genco and Jason Badgley (car owner)- that was one heck of a run. I’d see him down there and my tires would spin up there. The last three laps I got scared. I don’t usually change my line because it will mess me up, but I had to do something because he was pushing it hard and I think he was going to get me. We changed it up there (chose the bottom). He’s a good racer; I knew I couldn’t slack and had to be up on the wheel. That was a hard one! I’ll tell you what, this track was awesome. Jimmy (Johnson- the track owner) and the guys here did a heck of a job. I’m impressed. The bottom, top, middle- it didn’t matter where you were it was a great racing surface.”
Via his third K&N Dash victory of the season, Waters took off in the lead from the pole position over Genco, Jason Knowles, J.J. Mazur, and Bryce Davis. Seventh starting Brad Mesler quickly gained three positions to take over fourth after lap two. Then two laps later cracked the top three by passing Knowles. Waters had nearly a half-straightaway lead when he caught lapped traffic on lap six as Mesler closed in on Genco in the race for second. A spin by Doug Ricotta brought out the event’s first caution with six laps scored.
When racing resumed, Davis, who won Friday’s night Tour race at Outlaw, took over fourth from Knowles. Genco began pressuring Waters for the first time on lap 10, but one lap later a spin by Bill DuBois brought action to a halt once again. Back under green, Mesler and Davis put on a great side-by-side battle for third from laps 12-16 until Davis finally made the pass on the 16th circuit.
All eyes had shifted to Jeremy Wonderling. The opening night Stateline winner and Friday’s runner-up finisher had to start 25th after battery issues in the heat races forced him to the pits. Wonderling passed Jimmy Johnson on lap 15 to move into the top five. Three cautions on lap 19 slowed action and was a break for Wonderling as on the restart he moved by Mesler for fourth.
Meanwhile back up front, Genco kept the pressure on Waters as he pulled alongside the leader on laps 22 and 23 as Davis and Wonderling went at it racing side-by-side for third. As the top four distanced themselves a bit from the field battling for the lead, Davis got too high and hit the frontstretch wall cutting down a tire on lap 28. This would line-up 25th starting Wonderling now in third; however, the caution proved costly as on the restart Wonderling ran out of room entering turn one and spun as Carl Shetler and Nick Snayczuk were also involved. It was a heartbreaking end for Wonderling, who was chosen as the TBM Brakes “Tough Break of the Night” recipient.
The final three laps would go caution-free as Waters held off Genco to the finish as Waters collected his sixth career Tour victory moving him into a tie for fourth on the all-time win list with Mike Pegher, Jr. The win for Waters came in the Dale LeBarron-owned, Troups Creek Heating/Bernie’s Place/Accu-Force/Close Racing Supply/Insinger Performance/Sunoco Race Fuel/Fox Shocks/Otis Division/Fastline Performance/Troups Creek Heating/Regenerage, Forestry Management/Atkins Appraisal/TCAP/Stan’s Transmissions-sponsored #11L.
Genco’s runner-up was his career best Sweeney Touring Series finish and was worth $1,000. ‘It was fun,” said the 33-year-old Frewsburg, NY racer. “He was clean; I was clean; it was a good time. The yellows killed me. I think if it would have stayed green and not had that last one, I might have had him. I figured he’d choose the inside at the end and it worked for him. The longer we went on a green flag run the better I got, and the worse he got. He kept slipping up the race track and I gained some grip on the bottom, but the cautions fell the way they did. If it wasn’t for Jimmy Craig and Jason Badgley I wouldn’t even be here right now. Those guys gave everything to put me in this thing. This XR1 by Rocket has been an awesome race car!”
Mesler edged out 11th starting Andy Michael in a near photo-finish for third to match his best career Sweeney Tour finish since a third back on September 20, 2013 at McKean County Raceway. Andy Boozel raced from 15th to fifth.
T.J. Downs earned the $100 Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger gift card by going from 23rd to sixth. Seventh through 10th were Jason Knowles, Zack Carley, Davis, and Brian Knowles. Davis was able to make his way from the tail in the final three laps to finish ninth for his fourth top 10 in as many races to maintain the Sweeney Tour point lead. Nick Snayczuk was the final car on the lead lap in 16th and received a $25 gift certificate from CrateInsider.com.
Wonderling started off the night setting fast time in $100 FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying with a lap of 17.407, which was nearly four tenths faster than Jimmy Johnson, who was second fastest. Genco, Davis, and Waters received $25 for winning FK Rod Ends heat races. Waters’ victory in the K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash earned him another $100 K&N certificate. Genco received a $50 K&N certificate for finishing second, while Jason Knowles and Mazur added $25 cash for finishing third and fourth.
The Sweeney Tour will be off until Sunday night (June 18) at Tri-City Raceway Park in Franklin, Pa. for the $2,000 to-win “Bill Emig Memorial” Marquee Event. It’ll be a RUSH doubleheader as the Sportsman Modifieds will compete in a Bicknell Racing Products Touring Series event.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Touring Series Race #4 (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. JOHN WATERS (LeBarron 11) 2. Jason Genco (Craig/Badgley 29J) 3. Brad Mesler (24B) 4. Andy Michael (17x) 5. Andy Boozel (12B) 6. T.J. Downs (1) 7. Jason Knowles (4) 8. Zack Carley (Ricotta 31) 9. Bryce Davis (94) 10. Brian Knowles (7) 11. Greg Mrzywka (04) 12. Kyle Murray (21) 13. J.J. Mazur (13) 14. Jon Rivers (85) 15. Carl Shetler (78) 16. Nick Snayczuk (12) 17. Bill DuBois (21B) 18. Jeremy Wonderling (3J) 19. D.J. Krug (83) 20. Jimmy Johnson (39J) 21. Brian Swank (12s) 22. Bill Holmes III (65) 23. Val Stephens (57V) 24. Mark Sundt (94B) 25. Doug Ricotta (01). DSQ for improper seals: Brady Raynor (33R), David Pangrazio (136)
Car Count: 27
Feature Lap Leaders: John Waters (1-30)
Maxima Oil “Maximum Performance”: John Waters
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: T.J. Downs (+17)
TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night”: Jeremy Wonderling
CrateInsider.com “Last Car on Lead Lap”: Nick Snayczuk
FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying ($100 for fast time): 1. Jeremy Wonderling 17.407 2. Jimmy Johnson 17.792 3. Zack Carley 17.826 4. Bill Holmes III 17.859 5. Bryce Davis 17.985 6. J.J. Mazur 17.990 7. Jason Genco 18.017 8. Doug Ricotta 18.081 9. John Waters 18.179 10. Brian Knowles 18.181 11. Andy Michael 18.229 12. Andy Boozel 18.235 13. Jason Knowles 18.271 14. T.J. Downs 18.295 15. Greg Mrzywka 18.370 16. Brad Mesler 18.382 17. Brian Swank 18.452 18. Jon Rivers 18.502 19. Carl Shetler 18.555 20. Nick Snayczuk 18.645 21. Mark Sundt 18.648 22. Kyle Murray 18.764 23. D.J. Krug 18.854 24. Bill DuBois 19.229 25. Val Stephens 19.924 26. Brady Raynor-DSQ 27. David Pangrazio-DSQ.
FK Rod Ends Heat 1 (8 laps, $25 to-win) 1. Genco 2. J. Knowles 3. Mesler 4. B. Knowles 5. Holmes 6. Shetler 7. Murray 8. Stephens 9. Wonderling.
FK Rod Ends Heat 2 (8 laps, $25 to-win): 1. Davis 2. Johnson 3. Ricotta 4. Michael 5. Swank 6. Snayczuk 7. Krug 8. Downs 9. Raynor-DSQ.
FK Rod Ends Heat 3 (8 laps, $25 to-win): 1. Waters 2. Mazur 3. Carley 4. Rivers 5. Boozel 6. Mrzywka 7. Sundt 8. DuBois 9. Pangrazio-DSQ.
K&N “Cold Air Induction” RUSH Late Model Dash (6 laps, $100 K&N certificate to-win): 1. Waters 2. Genco 3. J. Knowles 4. Mazur 5. Davis 6. Johnson.
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.