By MIKE LEONE
BUSTI, NY – The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series powered by Pace Performance returned to the Empire State on Saturday for the third straight event and fourth in the last five. Saturday was race #12 of the 2018 season in the only appearance at Stateline Speedway. The “Bill Law Memorial” was originally scheduled for May 19, but rain postponed the event more than two months to Saturday night. It was the second straight year Stateline hosted the event for the grandfather of RUSH Late Model racer, Kyle Murray. Law was the first to have a Crate Late Model in the Northeast back in 2006- the season before Crate Late Models debuted in the region.
Damian Bidwell wasn’t even sure he was going to make it to Stateline on Saturday night, but a late decision to come proved fruitful. Bidwell swept the night setting fast time, winning his heat, the dash, and the 30-lap feature for a $2,125 pay day. Bidwell hounded Scott Gurdak before making the winning pass on lap 26 then held off the veteran over the final laps for his first Sweeney Touring Series victory since June 22, 2015 at Ohio’s Wayne County Speedway. Bidwell became the season’s eighth different winner as still no driver has been able to win more than two features.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better night altogether winning everything we ran tonight,” stated the 25-year-old Eldred, Pa. racer. “That was fun racing with Scott (Gurdak). I knew he would run me clean as it’s always fun to race with someone like that. I tried to leave him some room on the top, but I didn’t want to leave him too much because I knew whoever got through the first corner on the last lap was going to win the race. It seemed like one lap I would get through it better, then he would the next. On the last lap I knew Scott was going to drive it in there hard and knew if I slid up hard enough I would probably have it. If it wasn’t for my crew, I couldn’t do this being out on the road all week. It’s awesome to win this race for Bill (Law). He got crate racing started up here. He was a diehard for it and that’s why we’re here today.”
Gurdak, who started third, shot under Jeremy Wonderling and Bidwell surprising many to lead the opening lap. Darrell Bossard started fifth and passed Andy Boozel on lap one for fourth then got under Wonderling for third on lap two. Bossard looked fast as he ran down Bidwell and was right on him on lap six in the race for second; however, by lap nine, Bidwell was able to break away as he began to close on Gurdak.
With green flag action continuing, Gurdak caught lapped traffic on lap 13. A tremendous battle was taking place for fifth between Boozel, Adam Ferri, and Jason Genco. Those three were racing side-by-side, lap after lap changing positions with Genco getting by Ferri then Boozel on lap 16. While many were running the bottom, Genco wasn’t giving up on the top making his way forward from the 11th starting spot. On lap 18, Genco did a crossover move on Wonderling to take fourth then got a caution he needed for debris with lap 19 laps scored.
Gurdak chose the outside lane for the double file restart. When racing resumed, Genco continued to move forward taking third from Bossard. Gurdak and Bidwell raced side-by-side without touching for the next five laps until a caution with 24 laps completed, which involved both Jeremy and Brady Wonderling along with William Pinckney and Jared Kane. Sweeney Tour regular, Brady Wonderling, was unable to return and was chosen as the TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night” recipient.
Once again, Gurdak chose the outside on the double file restart and was able to lead lap 25; however, on lap 26, Bidwell was able to finally nose by to lead lap 26. Gurdak had appeared to retake the lead on the 29th lap, but a caution for Chad Schauers negated the lap from counting. Bidwell was able to fend off Gurdak over the final two laps for his second career Sweeney Tour win in the CL Arnold Trucking/Bootes Construction/ML Performance/Tri-County Tire/Williams Garage & Towing/Close Racing Supply/Absolute Powder Coating-sponsored #1/2-Pint, and was also selected as the Dirt Defender “Defensive Drive of the Night”.
The veteran Gurdak had his best career Sweeney Tour run in second to earn $1,000. “He’s a good wheelman,” said the Bear Lake, Pa. racer, who turns 60 on August 7. “He gave me all the room I needed and raced me clean. We never touched- it was a good race. I got in a little too high and slid up that one restart. I got a good run on him up here (turn four), but I really slid up and Jason (Genco) got by me, and luckily the yellow came out. I then knew where I needed to stay. One more lap it may have been a different story.”
Genco had a great seat for the tremendous battle for the win between Bidwell and Gurdak as the Sweeney Tour point leader was able to maintain his lead gaining eight spots in the feature to earn the $100 Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger gift card. After running five of the first six Sweeney Tour races of 2018, Bossard made his first since June 10 at Eriez Speedway and took home fourth for his fifth top 10 of the season. Ferri matched his season’s best effort in a hard fought fifth place finish.
After getting caught up in an accident, second place Sweeney Tour point man, Jeremy Wonderling, was able to work his way back to sixth in the final six laps. Boozel dropped to seventh in his first Tour start of the season. Veteran Bob Craig had a strong run to take eighth after starting 15th in also his first Tour race in many years. Murray was ninth in his grandfather’s memorial race. Kyle Zimmerman completed the top 10 as he was the third driver to advance eight spots from his feature starting position.
Bidwell’s fast time was a 17.386 just missing the track record by one tenth to earn the $100 from FK Rod Ends in “Shock the Clock” Qualifying then went on to win heat win for another $25 from FK Rod Ends. Third starting Boozel captured heat second for $25.
The Sweeney Tour will resume action on Sunday (July 29) for the second and final appearance of the season at Eriez Speedway in a $2,000 to-win Marquee Event. Pits open at 3:30 p.m. Warm-ups begin at 6 p.m. with qualifying and racing to follow.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Touring Series “Bill Law Memorial” Race #12 (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. DAMIAN BIDWELL (1/2-PINT) 2. Scott Gurdak (Hollabaugh 5G) 3. Jason Genco (Craig/Badgley 29J) 4. Darrell Bossard (Winans 213) 5. Adam Ferri (66) 6. Jeremy Wonderling (3J) 7. Andy Boozel (12B) 8. Bob Craig (25) 9. Kyle Murray (21) 10. Kyle Zimmermann (z17) 11. Gary Troyer (13) 12. Jared Kane (7) 13. Chad Clement (45) 14. Cory Lawler (93) 15. Matt Sipes (25) 16. Chad Schauers (28c) 17. Brady Wonderling (Ralyea z1) 18. William Pinckney (11JR) 19. Bruce Hordusky, Jr. (3).
Car Count: 19
Feature Lap Leaders: Scott Gurdak (1-25), Damian Bidwell (26-30)
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Jason Genco (+8)
Dirt Defender “Defensive Drive of the Night”: Damian Bidwell
TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night”: Brady Wonderling
FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying ($100 for fast time) (Track record 17.376 by John Waters 5/20/17): 1. Damian Bidwell 17.386 2. Scott Gurdak 17.477 3. Darrell Bossard 17.615 4. Adam Ferri 17.656 5. Jeremy Wonderling 17.799 6. Andy Boozel 17.872 7. Jason Genco 17.941 8. Kyle Zimmerman 17.951 9. Brady Wonderling 17.953 10. Jared Kane 18.095 11. Matt Sipes 18.130 12. Kyle Murray 18.157 13. Bruce Hordusky, Jr. 18.200 14. Chad Schauers 18.252 15. Cory Lawler 18.308 16. Chad Clement 18.333 17. Gary Troyer 18.418 18. William Pinckney 18.483 19. Bob Craig DSQ (did not scale).
FK Rod Ends Heat 1 (10 laps, $25 to-win) 1. Bidwell 2. J. Wonderling 3. Bossard 4. B. Wonderling 5. Hordusky 6. Genco 7. Sipes 8. Craig 9. Lawler 10. Troyer.
FK Rod Ends Heat 2 (10 laps, $25 to-win): 1. Boozel 2. Gurdak 3. Ferri 4. Murray 5. Pinckney 6. Clement 7. Kane 8. Schauers 9. Zimmerman.
Dash (4 laps): 1. Bidwell 2. J. Wonderling 3. Gurdak 4. Boozel.
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.