By MIKE LEONE
MECHANICSVILLE, MD – The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series powered by Pace Performance was back in action on Friday night at Potomac Speedway for the first time in four years at the Maryland oval. It was night three of the four-night inaugural “Battle of the Bay” Mid-Atlantic Speedweek presented by Pancho’s Racing Products, which attracted 41 cars from six states (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania & New York) along with Ontario, Canada.
After finishing fifth in the first two nights at Delaware International and Georgetown Speedways, Logan Roberson passed “Battle of the Bay” point leader, Ross Robinson, on lap 14 to capture his first career Sweeney Tour victory at his Friday night home track- Potomac Speedway. For Roberson, it was milestone win number 50 of his young Crate Late Model career, but first career National Touring victory of any kind. Roberson became the third different winner in as many nights of the “Battle of the Bay” presented by Pancho’s to keep him right in the Series champion hunt.
“It’s been my wish for quite awhile to win one of these Tour races,” expressed the 20-year-old Waynesboro, VA driver. “Vicki (Emig) and Mike (Leone) put on such a great Series. I’m just blessed to be able to race and win against the type of competition. I can’t thank my team enough for giving me a good car to race. I just had to hold the steering wheel tonight. This thing is awesome. Ross (Robinson) is no slouch. I tried everything in my books and luckily I got him. He had a good run and I’d like to thank him for running me clean. We raced hard and run aggressive, but that’s how it goes in crate racing. Nothing makes me prouder when I pull into victory lane and see the smile on my mom and dad’s face. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
After winning the K&N Dash, Robinson took off in the lead in the 30-lap feature event looking to repeat Thursday night’s victory at Georgetown. Roberson meanwhile started third and passed track regular, Jamie Sutphin, on the opening lap for second. Roberson began to pressure Robinson, while Amanda Whaley was all over Sutphin in the battle for third. Whaley tried to get under Sutphin on lap nine, but got sideways and lost a lot of ground; however, was still able to maintain fourth. She began to feel the pressure from Blair and Darren Alvey, who entered the night with a two-race win streak at Potomac.
Robinson caught lapped traffic on lap 13, but a caution for the slowing Billy Beachler, who was making his “Battle of the Bay” debut, changed the course of the event after 13 non-stop laps. When racing resumed, Roberson got a good restart and made the outside work to steal the lead from Robinson on the 14th circuit. It was a mad scramble behind as Alvey and eighth starting John Waters made their way into fourth and fifth.
Six cautions would then slow the event between laps 15 and 21 as drivers were fighting for the bottom of the speedway. After dropping back to as far as eighth, Blair worked his way forward and back into contention getting under and past Whaley for third on lap 24. Two laps later, another fine run by Whaley ended when she slowed with electrical issues, and was chosen as the TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night” recipient.
As the laps wound down, Robinson would be unable to make a challenge on Roberson as Roberson’s Dirt Defender/BTS Towing Service/Pancho’s Racing Products/QA1 Shocks/Race 1/Sunoco/All About Wraps-sponsored #17 Rocket Chassis became the 31st different driver all-time to win a Sweeney RUSH Tour event.
Robinson’s runner-up gave him three podium finishes in as many “Battle of the Bay” races as he leads Blair by four points heading into Saturday’s finale. “He got me- the best car won,” stated the 27-year-old Georgetown, DE driver. “He has a lot of laps around this place in a crate car. They do their homework and go on the road to do what they have to do to get better. I had a couple shots at him, but couldn’t get him. He earned it, and congrats to his guys- they go a great job. It’s going to be a dog fight heading into Winchester, but hopefully the experience I have there will pay off.”
Blair was third and maintained the Sweeney Tour point lead. Ninth starting Matt Hill was able to get by Chuck Bowie on the final lap to finish fourth for his third top five of the week. Bowie, who failed to qualify for the feature in the first two “Battle of the Bay” events, had a solid fifth at his home track. Sutphin dropped to sixth in his first “Battle of the Bay” start. Matt Glanden was seventh for his best finish of the week as was Jason Knowles in eighth, who earned the $100 Precise “Pedal Down” Hard Charger for advancing 15 positions. Braeden Dillinger was ninth in his first Tour start since the 2016 season finale at Lernerville Speedway. Darrell Bossard went from 16th to 10th for his third top 10 of the week.
In his first ever Crate Late Model start, Jimmy Jesmer, Jr. led all 10 laps of the non-qualifier race in dominating fashion. Jesmer celebrated the $175 win in victory lane with his father, who was celebrating his birthday. The 24-year-old Pasadena, Maryland driver became the 29th different “Wheelman” Bonus Event Challenge Series winner in 33 races run all-time in his PJ Motorsports/Penske Racing Shocks-sponsored #747. Track regular Jeff Pilkerton passed Beamer Guzzardi on the opening lap for second then fended him off the entire way. Megan Mann was fourth. Cory Lawler, whose father Pancho is presenting the “Battle of the Bay” Speedweek, raced from 10th to fifth.
Blair earned his first $100 FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” top honors of the season with a lap of 16.168 in qualifying. Blair, Roberson, Sutphin, Whaley and Robinson picked up $25 FK Rod Ends heat race victories. Canadian Adam Ferri was selected as the Dirt Defender “Defensive Drive” award winner by holding off track regular, Mike Franklin, to capture the first of two last chance B mains. Trevor Collins won the first B main.
The Sweeney Tour will resume action on Saturday night (April 21) at Winchester Speedway in Winchester, Virginia for the first time in three years in night four of the “Battle of the Bay” presented by Pancho’s Racing Products. Pits open at 2 p.m. with the drivers meeting at 5, warm-ups at 5:30 followed by qualifying and heat races.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Touring Series Race #3 “Battle of the Bay” presented by Pancho’s Racing Products (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. LOGAN ROBERSON (17) 2. Ross Robinson (11D) 3. Max Blair (111) 4. Matt Hill (84) 5. Chuck Bowie (14C) 6. Jamie Sutphin (18) 7. Matt Glanden (01) 8. Jason Knowles (4) 9. Braeden Dillinger (14) 10. Darrell Bossard (Winans 213) 11. Garret Paugh (03) 12. Jeremy Wonderling (3J) 13. Damian Bidwell (1/2-Pint) 14. Trevor Collins (11) 15. Billy Beachler (21) 16. Charlie Sandercock (57) 17. Darren Alvey (30) 18. Adam Ferri (66) 19. John Waters (LeBarron 11) 20. Amanda Whaley (4) 21. Bruce Hordusky, Jr. (3) 22. Brady Wonderling (Ralyea 2R) 23. Jason Genco (Craig 29J) 24. Mike Franklin (74) 25. Cody Dawson (36). (Note: Cody Dawson took a Series provisional)
Non-Qualifier (10 laps, $175 to-win): 1. Jimmy Jesmer, Jr. (747) 2. Jeff Pilkerton (8) 3. Beamer Guzzardi (12) 4. Megan Mann (55) 5. Cory Lawler (93) 6. Ronnie Martin, Jr. (15JR) 7. Bill Kessler (09) 8. James Marshall (5) 9. Joe Watson (35) 10. Bob Schwartzmiller (28s) 11. Christian Schneider (Maniecki 1ST) 12. Jimmy Duncan (55) 13. Jimmy Johnson (39J)-DNS 14. J.J. Mazur (13)-DNS 15. Scott Gunn (14G)-DNS 16. Brandon Sturgis (Smedley 91)-DNS.
Car Count: 41
Feature Lap Leaders: Ross Robinson (1-13), Logan Roberson (14-30)
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Jason Knowles (+15)
Dirt Defender “Defensive Drive of the Night”: Adam Ferri
TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night”: Amanda Whaley
FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying ($100 for fast time): 1. Max Blair 16.168 2. Logan Roberson 16.215 3. Jamie Sutphin 16.280 4. Amanda Whaley 16.362 5. Ross Robinson 16.385 6. Darren Alvey 16.470 7. Jeremy Wonderling 16.473 8. John Waters 16.491 9. Matt Glanden 16.494 10. Damian Bidwell 16.519 11. Darrell Bossard 16.551 12. Braeden Dillinger 16.583 13. Charlie Sandercock 16.617 14. Matt Hill 16.620 15. Jason Genco 16.624 16. Chuck Bowie 16.644 17. Mike Franklin 16.678 18. Jason Knowles 16.683 19. Garret Paugh 16.702 20. Billy Beachler 16.710 21. Trevor Collins 16.746 22. Jimmy Jesmer, Jr. 16.770 23. Brady Wonderling 16.777 24. James Marshall 16.777 25. Brandon Sturgis 16.793 26. Christian Schneider 16.838 27. Bruce Hordusky, Jr. 16.961 28. Beamer Guzzardi 16.964 29. Jimmy Johnson 17.004 30. Ronnie Martin, Jr. 17.028 31. Adam Ferri 17.031 32. J.J. Mazur 17.037 33. Scott Gunn 17.095 34. Cody Dawson 17.161 35. Megan Mann 17.182 36. Jimmy Duncan 17.187 37. Jeff Pilkerton 17.224 38. Cory Lawler 17.432 39. Joe Watson 17.610 40. Bob Schwartzmiller 17.619 41. Bill Kessler 17.768
FK Rod Ends Heat 1 (8 laps, $25 to-win, Top 5 transfer) 1. Blair 2. Alvey 3. Bowie 4. Bossard 5. Collins 6. Ferri 7. Schneider 8. Duncan 9. Kessler.
FK Rod Ends Heat 2 (8 laps, $25 to-win, Top 5 transfer): 1. Roberson 2. J. Wonderling 3. Dillinger 4. Hordusky 5. Franklin 6. Jesmer 7. Mazur 8. Pilkerton.
FK Rod Ends Heat 3 (8 laps, $25 to-win, Top 5 transfer): 1. Sutphin 2. Waters 3. Sandercock 4. B. Wonderling 5. Knowles 6. Guzzardi 7. Gunn 8. Lawler.
FK Rod Ends Heat 4 (8 laps, $25 to-win, Top 5 transfer): 1. Whaley 2. Hill 3. Glanden 4. Paugh 5. Marshall 6. Johnson 7. Dawson 8. Watson.
FK Rod Ends Heat 5 (8 laps, $25 to-win, Top 5 transfer): 1. Robinson 2. Bidwell 3. Genco 4. Beachler 5. Schwartzmiller 6. Mann 7. Sturgis 8. Martin.
Last Chance B Main 1 (10 laps, Top 2 transfer): 1. Collins 2. Knowles 3. Jesmer 4. Pilkerton 5. Schneider 6. Johnson 7. Kessler 8. Watson 9. Schwartzmiller 10. Gunn 11. Sturgis-DNS.
Last Chance B Main 2 (10 laps, Top 2 transfer): 1. Ferri 2. Franklin 3. Guzzardi 4. Mann 5. Duncan 6. Martin 7. Mazur 8. Lawler 9. Marshall 10. Dawson.
K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash (4 laps): 1. Robinson 2. Sutphin 3. Roberson 4. Whaley 5. Blair.
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, Schoenfeld Headers, Jones Racing Products, Racing Electronics, Dirt Defender, Dynamic Drivelines, Wrisco Industries, Frankland Racing Supply, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, TBM Brakes, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, Pancho’s Racing Products Velocita-USA, Classic Ink USA, Landrum Performance Spring, Schwartzmiller Ground Maintenance, 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.