By MIKE LEONE
BATAVIA, NY – After a successful start to the 2018 season for the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series powered by Pace Performance completing the four-race “Battle of the Bay” Speedweek presented by Pancho’s Racing Products, the Series suffered three straight rainouts in a spring that’s been dominated by Mother Nature. Skies cleared though on Saturday as action resumed in the first of two appearances at New York’s Genesee Speedway in race #5 of the 2018 season.
Seventh starting Jason Genco inherited the lead on lap 13 after missing a big accident on a restart, which took out three of the Series’ regulars, then held off Brady Wonderling throughout the final 18 laps to capture his first career Sweeney Tour victory, worth $2,000. Genco joined Ross Robinson and Logan Roberson to become the season’s third new first career Tour winner in five races.
“The car was good, but that’s not how I wanted to win,” stated the 34-year-old Frewsburg, NY racer regarding the accident up front. “I hated to see that for Waters and Wonderling, but I think I had something for them. The car was excellent. I don’t know if anyone remembers last year in the fall for the $3,000- I ran out of tires and Bryce (Davis) got me so I tried to learn from that. I was trying to ride in the middle of the race then that happened.”
“Brady ran me clean and I appreciate that” added Genco. “I kept seeing him trying to dive in the bottom of turn one. I know how hard it is to pass so I figured if I just hit my marks then he wouldn’t be able to get me. This means a lot to win one of these races. We were second here last year at this race and we’ve been close several times. If it wasn’t for Jimmy Craig and Jason Badgley, I wouldn’t be standing here. I could go on for an hour with sponsors so instead come down to the trailer after and have a beer with us and we’ll show you all of them!”
John Waters used the outside to power into the lead at the start of the 30-lap feature over pole-sitter Jeremy Wonderling and fourth starting David Pangrazio. Eighth starting Jason Knowles was already into fifth after one lap and then passed Kyle Murray for fourth on lap two. By lap four, Wonderling put the pressure on Waters in the battle for the lead; meanwhile, Knowles continued to move forward putting a slider on Pangrazio in turn four on lap five for third.
A pair of cautions on lap six for Alan Chapman slowed action. Three more laps were completed until a caution for a slowing J.J. Mazur. When racing resumed, Knowles got under Jeremy Wonderling for second, while Genco moved into fourth and ninth starting Brady Wonderling cracked the top five. A slowing Wayne Robertson brought out the caution with 12 laps completed, which would change the dynamic of the event.
When racing resumed, Knowles got into Waters at the end of the frontstretch spinning the leader and collecting several cars including third place Jeremy Wonderling. Series Officials put Knowles to the tail, which shook up the running order handing the lead over to Genco with Brady Wonderling and Kyle Murray moving into the top three.
Robertson slowed to bring out another caution ending his night with 17 laps completed. Robertson, one of the top racers in New York, had mechanical issues from qualifying on and was awarded the TBM “Tough Brake of the Night”. When green replaced yellow, the longest run of consecutive green flag laps took place. Lapped traffic came into play with Genco making some great moves to keep Brady Wonderling from making a serious challenge.
On lap 29, Guzzardi made his way past Murray for third, while Waters worked his way back into the top five. Waters then made his way to fourth on the final lap. Up front though, Genco was too strong as he improved on his career best Tour finish of second in the very same event last year in the J.P. Craig/Jason Badgley-owned, Hall Optical/All Star Insurance/Townline Auto/Jamestown Glass/Leighton Homes/955 Automotive/Big D Welding-sponsored #29J. Genco became the 32nd different driver all-time to win a Sweeney RUSH Tour feature as he moved into a tie for second in points.
Brady Wonderling earned $1,000 for second in his best career Sweeney Tour finish allowing him to climb to fourth in points. After a tough four-race “Battle of the Bay” swing that saw Guzzardi fail to qualify for a feature, the Genesee regular turned in his best career Sweeney Tour effort in third. Waters was able to charge back through the field as the 2016 champion is now tied for second in points. Murray, who has won the first two races of his career in Sweeney Weekly Series action this season at Genesee, held on for a career best Tour effort as he edged out Knowles for fifth. That also earned him the Dirt Defender “Defensive Drive of the Night” award.
Knowles’ sixth place was his best finish of the season. Doug Ricotta went 14th to seventh. Jeremy Wonderling made his way back up to eighth allowing him to take over the point lead. After climbing the frontstretch wall and nearly getting upside down in his heat race, Canadian Adam Ferri went 22nd to ninth in the feature to earn the $100 Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger gift card. “Futures Cup” racer, Cory Lawler, made the more than five-hour tow from Hanover, Pa. and recorded his first career top 10 Tour finish.
Jeremy Wonderling set a new track record in $100 FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying with a lap of 17.160 shattering his own 17.407 standard from the event last year. The fastest five cars broke the previous track record. Jeremy Wonderling, J.J. Mazur, and Murray added $25 for winning the FK Rod Ends heat races. Jeremy Wonderling won the dash to earn the feature pole.
The Sweeney Tour will resume action on Sunday, June 10 in a make-up event from the rained out May 20 show at Eriez Speedway near Erie, Pa. The $2,000 to-win Marquee Event will be race #6 of the 2018 season.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Touring Series Race #5 (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. JASON GENCO (Craig/Badgley 29J) 2. Brady Wonderling (Ralyea z1) 3. Beamer Guzzardi (12) 4. John Waters (LeBarron 11) 5. Kyle Murray (21) 6. Jason Knowles (4) 7. Doug Ricotta (01) 8. Jeremy Wonderling (3J) 9. Adam Ferri (66) 10. Cory Lawler (93) 11. Jimmy Johnson (39J) 12. Greg Mrzywka (04) 13. Carl Shetler (78) 14. Bill Dubois (21B) 15. Alan Chapman (64C) 16. Jon Rivers (85) 17. Bill Kessler (09) 18. T.J. Downs (1) 19. Wayne Robertson (20) 20. David Pangrazio (136) 21. J.J. Mazur (13) 22. Doug Jones (13JR) 23. Joe Long (71)-DSQ (seals).
Car Count: 23
Feature Lap Leaders: John Waters (1-12), Jason Genco (13-30)
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Adam Ferri (+13)
Dirt Defender “Defensive Drive of the Night”: Kyle Murray
TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night”: Wayne Robertson
FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying ($100 for fast time) (Track record 17.407 by Jeremy Wonderling 6/3/17): 1. Jeremy Wonderling 17.160 (NTR) 2. J.J. Mazur 17.163 3. Beamer Guzzardi 17.198 4. David Pangrazio 17.230 5. John Waters 17.318 6. Kyle Murray 17.427 7. Jason Genco 17.518 8. Cory Lawler 17.612 9. Brady Wonderling 17.660 10. Adam Ferri 17.682 11. Jason Knowles 17.688 12. Jon Rivers 17.706 13. Jimmy Johnson 17.713 14. Doug Ricotta 17.849 15. Alan Chapman 18.050 16. Greg Mrzywka 18.198 17. T.J. Downs 18.211 18. Bill Dubois 18.247 19. Bill Kessler 18.285 20. Doug Jones 18.570 21. Carl Shetler 18.766 22. Wayne Robertson 25.957 23. Joe Long NT.
FK Rod Ends Heat 1 (8 laps, $25 to-win) 1. J. Wonderling 2. Pangrazio 3. Genco 4. Johnson 5. Robertson 6. Kessler 7. Mrzywka 8. Ferri.
FK Rod Ends Heat 2 (8 laps, $25 to-win): 1. Mazur 2. Waters 3. Knowles 4. Lawler 5. Ricotta 6. Downs 7. Jones 8. Long-DSQ.
FK Rod Ends Heat 3 (8 laps, $25 to-win): 1. Murray 2. Guzzardi 3. B. Wonderling 4. Rivers 5. Dubois 6. Chapman 7. Shetler.
Dash (6 laps): 1. J. Wonderling 2. Waters 3. Murray 4. Pangrazio 5. Mazur 6. Guzzardi.
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.