Mike Lutz returns a historic ride to Victory Lane in Peoples TWP Sprints
Jack Sodeman Jr. injured during heat racing action; out indefinitely
Miley, Murdick and Miller pick up feature wins as well
Sarver, PA (July 26, 2013) Mike Lutz has won three Peoples TWP Sprint features in the past five seasons; each has been in a different car. On Friday night, he jumped into the McMillin #5M and survived a wild night in the division to score the first feature win for a McMillin owned Sprint car at Lernerville since the mid-70s; the driver? Hall of Famer Ted Wise! Jared Miley checkered his third Precise Late Model feature of the season over Alex Ferree; but Ferree seized the lead in the Budweiser Point Standings. Dave Murdick notched his first Diehl Mods win of the season after reprising his role of “Double Duty Dave” by piloting Brother-in-law Gary Rankin’s Sprint car; Rankin himself was subbing for Brent Matus. Mike Miller kept the “M” theme rolling, (Mike, McMillin, Miley, Murdick), by coming from 12th on the grid to score his second straight Pic-A-Part Sportsman feature and third of the season. Corey McPherson battled Miller for the lead mid-race but faded late due to a flat tire, while AJ Flick raced to a second place finish and the Budweiser Points lead. The Peoples TWP DIRTcar Sprint heat races took the green flag with five drivers poised to take a shot at the 2013 Budweiser Track Championship with six weeks of Fab Four Racing scheduled through the end of August. Unfortunately, that number was whittled down to four after a four-car pile-up in the third heat race resulted in Jack Sodeman Jr. being extricated from his car on a backboard and transported to an area hospital for evaluation due to back and neck pain. Jack announced on his Facebook page overnight that his T3 and T4 vertebrae were fractured in the wreck. As such, he will be out of action for indefinite amount of time. The Lernerville Speedway management team wishes Jack a full and speedy recovery. Despite knowing that their friend and competitor was on his way to an area hospital, the People TWP Sprints put on a whale of a show in his absence. Daryl Stimeling took the quick lead from the pole and led the first six laps, but front row mate Mike Lutz, (driving the Jim McMillin #5M), took his first shot at the lead on lap seven with a veteran slide job through turns three & four to take the lead at the flagstand. Stimeling drove back under Lutz in one & two to retake the lead by a fraction of a second at the flagstand to complete lap eight. Lutz got back by, however, on the following lap and led the next four circuits as a two-car battle with Stimeling became a five car battle with Budweiser Points leader Brandon Spithaler and fellow title contenders Carl Bowser and Brandon Matus joining the fray. Stimeling’s best career run at Lernerville came to an early end as he broke and rolled to a stop in turns one & two on lap 12.
The entire substance of the race changed on the lap 13 restart as Carl Bowser rocketed around top of turns one & two and took the lead down the back straightaway. Brandon Matus jumped into third on the restart and challenged Lutz for second; trading slide jobs with him before taking the position clear on lap 17. Once clear of Lutz, Matus starting reeling in Bowser in heavy lapped traffic. By lap 22, Matus had caught and began trading sliders with Bowser for the lead. He briefly and unofficially took the lead with a slide job in turns one & two on lap 23, but then found disaster in the same turns the following lap as Francis Sesco had spun to a stop. With Sesco’s car stopped broadside and Matus in the throes of an epic battle for the lead, Matus had nowhere to go and plowed into Sesco to bring out a caution. During that caution, Bowser rolled to a stop on the back straightaway; the report from the pits was that the 10 car ran out of fuel. Both cars pitted and returned to the track. Matus restarted at the tail, but Bowser’s car wouldn’t fire and had to be pushed back into the pits. Regaining the lead for the third time for the restart, Mike Lutz held off an inspired Adam Kekich with a veteran move down the back straightaway and into turn three to prevent any type of challenge for the win. Lutz’s win was his first at Lernerville since 2009, but more significantly, it was the first time a McMillin owned #5 car had been to Sheetz Victory Lane since the mid-70s when Hall of Famer Ted Wise piloted Jim’s father (also named) Jim’s car. Lutz was awarded the Approved Toilet Rental checkered flag in Sheetz Victory Lane. Adam Kekich had to settle for his best career 410 feature finish at the Action Track in second; he won the 305 Sprint feature back in April during the Steel City Stampede finale rescheduled from October 2012. Adam credited his best finish to his recently deceased grandfather “Putzy” for riding with him! Eric Williams finished third and Bud Points leader Brandon Spithaler recovered from a mid-race 360 in turn four to finish fourth. Scott Priester finished fifth ahead of Dan Kuriger, Bob McMillin, Gary Rankin (subbing for Brent Matus who is recovering from kidney stones), Brandon Matus and Davey Jones. Early race leader Daryl Stimeling was a DNF in 18th, while Carl Bowser was a DNF in 15th. Adam Kekich, Brandon Matus and Ed Lynch Jr. scored heat race wins, though Lynched scratched from the feature. Brandon Spithaler remains the Budweiser Points leader ahead of Brandon Matus and Eric Williams by 21 and 22 points respectively. Bowser is now 33 points back of the lead and Sodeman’s injury knocks him out of title contention. Denton Boyer and Chris Rhodes led the Precise Racing Products DIRTcar Late Models to the green flag and both drivers led laps early in the 25-lap feature, as did fourth starting Jason Rider. But on lap eight, Alex Ferree rocketed around the tops of turns three & four to take the lead from Boyer. By lap 10, Jared Miley had made his way to fifth as Ferree and Boyer broke away from the rest of the field. Ferree stretched his lead to a full straightaway ahead of Boyer by lap 13, but Miley was up to third and quickly reeling in Boyer. Incumbent Budweiser Points leader John Garvin Jr. slowed on the back stretch to bring out a caution for a flat tire. The caution erased Ferree’s lead and allowed Miley to restart alongside him after dispatching Boyer the lap before. Miley took the lead on the restart and drove away from Ferree to score his third feature win of the season and 19th of his career; tying him for ninth All-Time on the Late Models wins list with Hall of Famer Dave Hoffman. Hoffman will be memorialized during the Precise Late Model feature during Nostalgia Night on August 9.
Ferree settled for second, but assumed the Budweiser Points lead due to Garvin’s misfortune. Doug Eck rumbled to a podium finish ahead of Ken Schaltenbrand and Brian Swartzlander. Early leaders Denton Boyer and Chris Rhodes finished sixth and seventh, while Garvin recovered from the flat tire to finish eighth ahead of John Mollick and Jason Rider. Mollick and Boyer checkered heat races earlier in the evening. Steve Feder and Carl Murdick led the field to green for the Diehl Auto Group DIRTcar Northeast Modifieds feature. Feder looked strong leading the first eight laps before veterans Rex King Sr. and Dave Murdick shuffled him to third. King led the next eight laps and took Dave Murdick to the wall at the flagstand to complete lap 17, but Murdick led the lap and took the lead for good down the front straightaway. Once at the point, Murdick led the rest of the way to finally score his long-awaited first win of the season and 27th of his career. Murdick is now just one win shy of Hall of Famer Dick Rankin for eighth on the All-Time Modified wins list.
King chased Murdick to the checkered flag in a 25-lap caution-free race. Previous winner and Budweiser Points leader Mat Williamson came from 10th on the grid to finish third ahead of Brian Swartzlander and early leader Steve Feder. The Diehl Top Ten rounded out with Brad Rapp, Rex King Jr., Jeremiah Shingledecker, Mike Turner and Carl Murdick. For the second straight race, Shingledecker and Williamson won their respective heats. Williamson will carry a 48-point lead over Swartzlander and 51-point lead over Shingledecker into August. Opening Night feature winner Bob Egley was flanked by Jim Fosnaught on the front row as the Millerstown Pic-A-Part DIRTcar Sportsman rolled to the green flag. Fosnaught was aiming to match Murdick’s first win of the season and looked stout early by leading the first seven circuits, but behind him, Defending Track Champion Corey McPherson and last week’s feature winner Mike Miller were making their way to the front. Fosnaught pushed the envelope just a little too much and slid off the back straightaway; opening the door for McPherson to take the lead one lap later. Miller was in his wake and business was just starting to pick up on lap nine when Jake Simmons came to a stop at the top of turn two on lap nine. The ensuing restart saw a multi-car pile-up that claimed Brian Stivenson, Alan Rosselle, Neil Tristani and Jeff Miller. The carnage blocked the front stretch and a red flag was shown to stop the cars as the carnage was cleared; all drivers walked away unharmed. Mike Miller took advantage of the restart by diving under Fosnaught for second in turns one & two and then drove under McPherson in three & four to take the lead by a nose at the stripe. McPherson fought back and led lap 10, only to see a caution slow the race again. Miller had another great restart and led lap 11, only to see McPherson drive around him to lead laps 12-15 before a flat right rear sent McPherson tumbling out of the top ten and Miller unchallenged the rest of the way to the checkered flag for his second straight win and third overall of 2013.