With precious few chances left to either make up ground or cement a points lead, 77 cars made their way to the pits at Lernerville Speedway Friday night. Fans in attendance were treated to both a great night of action on the track and also nostalgia night which brought out some nice looking classic hot rods from years past.
The evening saw one of the best late model features in recent memory as Davey Johnson and Jared Miley waged an epic battle to the end, while Brian Swartzlander gave up the lead and got it back to claim a hard fought victory in the modifieds. Brandon Matus gave himself a birthday present by outrunning the 410 sprint field and Jim Fosnaught took home the checkers in the highly anticipated sportsman feature.
It’s been quite the comeback season for Davey Johnson. The Greensburg, PA native stunned a stacked field of Lucas late models back in February at East Bay Raceway Park with a $10,000 win and took home $20,000 with a victory at Tyler County, WV in May. But be that as it may, the local competition at Lernerville can be almost as hard to top. Especially when the likes of Jared Miley, Alex Ferree and others look to defend home turf.
Johnson took the lead from the drop of the green but could not shake Chub Frank and Jared Miley. The three drivers were almost inseparable in the early stages of the feature event. Miley and Johnson then emerged from the pack as the cars to beat, and for the greater part of 25 laps you could have thrown a blanket over them. They could be seen swapping the lead more than once per lap in the middle stages.
Behind them, Ferree and Russ king led charges that saw them both get around Frank at the halfway point and with Johnson starting to get to lapped traffic, it looked as if they could have possible crept up gradually to the leaders. But on lap 17, all hell broke loose…
John Flinner made his second Lernerville appearance of the season, and while running mid pack he tangled with Gary Lyle in turns three and four, the momentum of which eventually led to Herman Bertollini’s car being reduced to junk down the front stretch in a melee that involved four cars and brought out the dreaded red flag.
On the ensuing restart, Johnson and Miley went back to battle, and neither looked particularly affected by the delay as both drivers moved their car at will on the surface trying desperately to gain separation from one another. The tandem were almost at a dead heat coming to the white flag and almost stayed that way until Johnson got a great jump off of turn two to create enough gap to keep the lead and earn his 11th career Lernerville victory.
“Once Jared got past me there, I moved back to the middle and the momentum seemed pretty good on this car” Johnson said. “We had all the traction and that’s what saved us. We’ve got to work on a few more things, but this car is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was a week ago.”
1. Davey Johnson
2. Jared Miley
3. Russ King
4. Alex Ferree
5. Michael Norris
6. John Garvin Jr
7. Chub Frank
8. Brian Swartzlander
9. Dave Murdick
10. Kenny Schaltenbrand
We got the chance to capture some audio from Johnson following the victory which you can listen to here:
From the drop of the green flag, the outcome of the sprint feature wasn’t a question of whether Brandon Matus would get to the front, but more a question would circumstances allow him to stay there. And on his 20th birthday nonetheless, Matus answered the question with authority as he drove away from his closest competitors in the waning laps of race to collect his second win of the season.
After a clean start, Brandon Spithaler assumed the early lead but could not generate any distance from the third starting Matus while Eric Williams quickly advanced from his seventh starting spot to challenge the front runners. Then on lap four, Matus dove Spithaler to take the lead. Once there Matus got some great re starts following a couple of early race cautions and never looked back which was a good thing for him after a late race caution bunched the field back together. After the final restart Williams threw the kitchen sink and then some in Matus’ direction with a desperate slide job in turn two, but Matus kept his focus and held off points leader Carl Bowser who made his way past Williams for second towards the finish.
Matus did not seek the opportunity to climb the fence as generally occurs in his Lernerville wins, settling for the more traditional victory lane ceremony.
1. Brandon Matus
2. Carl Bowser
3. Eric Williams
4. Billy Dietrich
5. Mike Lutz
6. AJ Flick
7. Cory Good
8. Brent Matus
9. Michael Bauer
10. George Hobaugh Jr
Brian Swartzlander came hungry, and left satisfied, capturing his 85th career victory at Lernerville in the process. And it was a hard fought win indeed. The veteran modified pilot has had his share of ups and downs this season, but would not be denied as he fought off strong resistance from Dave Murdick and the sizzling hot Rex King Jr who’d been on a tear in the recent weeks.
Rex King Sr and Murdick brought the field to green as Swartzlander using what announcer Dow Carnahan would later describe as a “ballsy” move by way of taking the long route around turn four to take the lead from Murdick on the third lap. The two then jockeyed for position with Swartzlander maintaining the lead until lap 11 when he slid off the track, enabling Murdick to retake the lead.
King Jr then made his presence known by making contact with Swartzlander in the late stages trying to take the second spot from him, but Swartzlander went on unfazed and with just four laps to go, Murdick suffered mechanical gremlins forcing him to retire. Swartzlander wasn’t home free just yet though as King Jr pulled door handle to door handle in the few remaining laps with the #83 working up high and the #165 on the bottom, but Swartzlander couldn’t be separated from a date with victory lane as he pulled away in the final to laps to seal the victory.
1. Brian Swartzlander
2. Rex King Jr
3. Rex King Sr
4. Steve Feder
5. Tom Winkle
6. Jeff Miller
7. Bob Warren
8. Carl Murdick
9. Rick Regalski
10. Rodney Beltz
Following the altercation between Jim Fosnaught and Corey McPherson the previous week, there were a few more fans on hand to take in the sportsman stock feature Friday night.
Many in attendance might have been calculating that the battle between the two may just spill over into a classic finish once again.
But on this Friday night, it was all McPherson as the current points leader put an exclamation point on his season with yet another feature victory. From the opening green flag though, some in attendance had to be wondering if it was finally Mike Miller’s night. He started from the pole but only stayed out front for two laps as McPherson went around him on lap three with Mark Sanders in hot pursuit. Around the halfway point, Joe Kelley entered the mix with Sanders while Fosnaught enjoyed a two second lead.
But as the laps wound down, all eyes had shifted to Aaron Easler who’d come from seventh to hunt Kelley down on the last lap as he overtook the former track champion at the line to take the runner up spot. Fosnaught used the low groove as well as he has all season in putting the pack well behind him.
The win was Fosnaught’s fourth of the season and added some comfort to his current points lead with two fab four Friday’s left in the 2014 season.
1. Jim Fosnaught
2. Aaron Easler
3. Joe Kelley
4. Mark Sanders
5. Mike Miller
6. Corey McPherson’
7. Terry Young
8. Rob Shook
9. Pat Hanley
10. Brett McDonald
For a complete full field rundown of Friday’s Action, Click Here: Fab Four Quick Results-
And to read Eric Westendorf’s always well done Lernerville Recap Click Here: Race Report-Lernerville.com
Also, to see our own Pat Miller’s photo album from Lernerville 8/8 Click Here: Lernerville Photos 8/8/14