MERCER, PA – Rex King, Jr. powered by his father on a lap fourteen restart to capture his second Diehl Ram Big Block Modified feature at Michaels Mercer Raceway. The King name has been familiar to fans of the speedway, dating back to the highly successful coupes owned by his grandfather, Russ, and driven to many victories by the likes of Vic George. He left little doubt that he is looking forward to carrying the family tradition forward for another generation to enjoy, proclaiming an intent to campaign for the points championship.
King Jr. was awestruck by the success that he’s had at the track in the brief time since the Big Block Modifieds became the headline attraction at the speedway. The win was the second in as many outings since the track returned to the Michaels family. “You know, growing up, I was a little kid down here in turn four, we had a van parked down there and I’d watch Tommy Kristyak, and John Brayner, Bob Dorman, my dad, all of the guys that were the big players around here.”
Joining King Jr. in victory lane was Steve Slater for the first time in the Turn 4 Toilet Rentals Fastrack Limited Modifieds. Rob Felix also captured his first triumph in the Hards Welding and Fabrication and River Valley Butcher Block Racesaver 305 Sprint Cars. In the Ray’s Racing Collectibles and Eperthener Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks, Zack Frantz topped a thirty-six car field that was vying for a $500 payday. Alan Knepper won the nightcap for the Barris Trucking Modified Lites.
Lonnie Riggs and Tommy Glenn led the Diehl Ram Big Block Modified feature to the initial green flag. Kyle Fink, Brad Rapp were in row two, and the father and son duo of Rex King Sr. and Jr. were in row three. Will Thomas and Chris Rudolph were in the fourth row, and Jimmy Holden and Kevin Hoffman in row five.
Riggs blasted out to an early lead, with Glenn, Fink, and Rapp in tow. Fink moved into the second position on lap two, bringing Rapp along into third. Meanwhile, the pair of Kings were moving forward as well. Jr. took over third on lap three, but his father moved him back a notch just one circuit later. By the seventh round, King Sr. was second, and soon thereafter Fink and King Jr. were battling for third.
King Sr. tried both inside and outside moves to overtake Riggs during the next several laps. Finally, he got a nose under Riggs as the veterans raced into turn one. King Sr. hugged the guardrail and came off turn two with the lead. As he was doing so, King Jr. seized control of the third spot. Fink continued in fourth, but Thomas cracked the top five and he too was looking to advance.
King Sr. still was in the lead as the race neared the halfway mark. He had a two second advantage when
Rich Whitney brought out a brief yellow. That gave Riggs another shot at the leader. But as happens at Mercer Raceway so often, the third place driver, King Jr., made a powerful move into second when the race resumed. Before the racers could settle into a routine again, Steve Barr and Shawn Fleeger tangled on the front stretch bringing out the red. Barr’s machine sustained major damage, but neither driver was injured.
The ensuing restart had a pair of Kings on the front row. Sr. took the inside line again, but his son got a good restart. They entered turn one side by side, and King Jr. rode the cushion through the first two corners. He came off turn two with the lead that he would not surrender. Thomas also had success when the green light came on again. He moved past Riggs for third. Hoffman also showed some power, as he picked up a couple of positions.
As the laps clicked off. King Jr. and Sr. began to pull away from Thomas. Riggs continued in fourth, and now Hoffman entered the top five. However, in the final laps, Hoffman’s mount began to slow, and he turned off the track in turn four just after the leader took the white flag.
At the finish it was King Jr. by 1.833 seconds over his father. Thomas was another two seconds in arears. Riggs crossed in fourth, followed by Rapp. J.R. McGinley came ahead to sixth. Dave Murdick, Rick Regalski, Bob Warren, and Tommy Marshall, III completed the top ten.
Heat wins were scored by Holden, Thomas, and King, Jr. There was no B Main for the 24 cars that signed in.
In the Turn 4 Toilet Rentals Fastrack Limited Modifieds, Steve Slater and Shayne Izzo had the first row, followed by Erik Martin, Michael Kristyak, Chad Gumpp, and Jim Brice. Izzo broke into the lead followed by Slater, Martin, Dave Murdick, and Kristyak. While Izzo was on cruise control, Slater and his teammate, Murdick, was in a three-car battle for the second position. Meanwhile, Kristyak and Brian Sadler jousted for fifth.
Izzo continued to lead through the only stoppage of the race, on lap 16 for a shunt involving Todd Gabriel and Brian Schaffer. Soon after the race resumed, Slater dipped to the inside entering turn one, and he emerged with the lead. Izzo ran second for a little while longer, but when he began to fade, Martin took over that position. Jerry Schaffer brought his new machine into third with just a few laps remaining in the contest.
At the checkers, it was Slater, followed by Martin and Schaffer. Murdick and Izzo rounded out the top five. Kristyak, Brice, Jason Huffnagle, Gumpp, and Sadler completed the top ten.
Slater was appreciative for the opportunity to race under the Fastrak banner. “I love this place and that it’s back open again, and I’ll be here all year running.” Slater explained that providing a second venue for the GM 602 Crate engined cars gives more racers a chance to compete and be successful.
Preliminaries went to Izzo and Slater. There was no B Main for the sixteen cars on hand.
Rob Felix went wire to wire in the Hards Welding and Fabrication and River Valley Butcher Lock Racesaver 305 Sprint Cars. “This feels really good, I’ve been trying to win here for probably about six or seven year and never got one, so it’s good to get one tonight.” Felix went on to explain that he was lucky that the checkered flag came when it did. “Actually, we broke on the last lap, so I guess if you’re going to break on any, that’s the one to break on.”
Felix started on the pole and jumped out ahead of his dancing partner, Dylan Proctor. Greg Dobrosky settled into thirs, ahead of Jacob Gomola, Kyle Colwell, and Will Fleming. Dobrosky spun from contention on the second lap, though.
Felix led the rest of the way without interruption. Proctor surrendered the second spot to Gomola on lap seven before fading. Gomola rode home in second, followed by Colwell, Fleming, and Josh Spicer. Dobrosky recovered for sixth. Vinny Doughtery was seventh, followed by Steve Cousins, Chase Metheny, and Randy Stirling.
Dobosky and Felix topped their respective qualifiers. There was no B Main for the thirteen-car field.
Carl Ealy and Steve Longwell, Sr. paced the 24 starters in the feature for the Ray’s Racing Collectibles and Eperthener Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks. Joe Campbell, Mike Kelley, Bucky Buchanan, and Karlee Longwell followed them at the start. Ealy led the early gooing before giving way to Todd Hanlon. Hanlon relinquished the top spot when he was penalized for a rules infraction and that gave the point to Campbell. Frantz assumed command with two to go.
Frantz led Longwell Sr. to the checkers. Kelley, Emily Stoyer, and Phil King made up the rest of the top five. Johnny Bruce, David Coffin, Ealy, Karlee Longwell, and Justin Bailey were the next five finishers.
Four heat races and a B Main narrowed the starting field. The wins went to Jim Buchanan, Campbell, Bill Fuchs, and Pete Blaczak. Mike Porterfield topped the B Main.
Logan Lewis and Rod Jones brought the Barris Trucking Modified Lites to the post. Mark Marcucci, Sr., Shane Webb, Matt Ward, and Dusty Frantz were in the rows that followed. Rod Jones took the initial lead, followed by Lewis, Webb, Marcucci, and Ward. Alan Knepper quickly worked his way to the front from the ninth starting spot. He was third on lap three, second on lap five, and in the lead on lap ten.
Knepper led Webb to the finish line, Ward, who hails from West Virginia, was in third. Jeff Davis was fourth, and Jacob Eakin fifth. Vivian Jones was next, followed by Dusty Frantz, Ed Mudrick, Eric Marsh, and Ayden Cipriano.
Heat wins went to Knepper, Vivian Jones, and Webb. The B Main belonged to Jordan Simmons.
Michaels Mercer Raceway will be back in action next week with another Fast Five program. Also on the card will be fireworks. It will be armed forces night, so all active military will be admitted for free with proper identification. Coming up on Memorial Day weekend, there will be no racing on the oval, but there will be a huge truck and tractor pulling event staged by the Northwest PA Pullers Association and Power Pull Productions.
Diehl Ram Big Block Modifieds: Rex King, Jr., Rex King, Sr., Will Thomas, Lonnie Riggs, Brad Rapp, J.R. McGinley, Dave Murdick, Rick Regalski, Bob Warren, Tommy Marshall, III< Richard Whitney, Kevin Hoffman, Max Smoker, Jeremiah Shingledecker, Chris Rudolph, Kyle Fink, Tommy Glenn, Jimmy Holden, Steve Barr, Erik Martin, Shawn Fleeger, Kevin Green, Skip Moore, Travis Shingledecker (DNS).
Turn 4 Toilet Rentals Fastrak Limited Modifieds: Steve Slater, Erik Martin, Jerry Schaffer, Dave Murdick, Shayne Izzo, Michael Kristyak, Jim Brice, Jason Huffnagle, Chad Gumpp, Brian Sadler, Josh Hinchberger, Todd Gabriel, Justin Halicki, Todd Urey, Gage Priester (DNS).
Hards Welding and Fabrication and River Valley Butcher Lock Racesaver 305 Sprint Cars: Rob Felix, Jacob Gomola, Kyle Colwell, Will Fleming, Josh Spicer, Greg Dobrosky, Vinny Doughtery, Steve Cousins, Chase Metheny, Randy Stirling, Toby Hanlon, Dylan Proctor, Andy Cavanaugh.
Ray’s Racing Collectibles and Eperthener Auto Wrecking Mini Stocks: Zack Frantz, Steve Longwell, Sr., Mike Kelley, Emily Stoyer, Phil King, Johnny Bruce, David Coffin, Carl Ealy, Karlee Longwell, Justin Bailey, Joe Campbell, Todd Hanlon, Mike Porterfield, Jessica Harvey, Tom Unrue, Dewayne Redger, David MacRae, Jim Buchanan, Bill Fuchs, Pete Blaczak, Cameron Hutchins, Buck Buchanan, Kyle Donnelly, Justin Pavlick (DNS).
DNQ: Cameron Lambert, Larry Blake, Pat Hanlon, Shane Shook, Summer Pitts, Tim Callahan, Nick Steiger, Joe Romanko, John Huselton, Fred Deiwert, Josh Rathbun, Jacob McElavy.
Barris Trucking Modified Lites: Alan Knepper, Shane Webb, Matt Ward, Jeff Davis, Jacob Eakin, Vivian Jones, Dusty Frantz, Ed Mudrick, Eric Marsh, Ayden Cipriano, Ted Williams, Jacob Isenhart, Jereme Bean, Anthony Gillespie, Jason Gracey, Jordan Simmons, Mark Biskup, Charlie Biskup, Mark Marcucci, Sr., Robby Barris, Rod Jones, Tyler Purnell, Logan Lewis, Aaron Dadisman.
DNQ: Jerry Langley, Mitch Ward, Nathaniel Bale, Michael Heverly, Jason Darocha, Teddy Williams.