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Matus Bests BOSS field in Wild Race at Mercer, McGinley Scores Emotional Win

Brandon Matus doesn’t take the wings off of his sprint car very often, but when he does he always seems to run near the front.

The Wampum native led a strong local contingent across the finish line against the Mo Vaughn Transport BOSS series regulars at Mercer Raceway Park Saturday night.

It was the first non-wing 410 sprint car win of his career. Matus also has a midget win to his credit at Montpelier Speedway in Indiana a couple years ago.

Matus inherited the lead after Brandon Spithaler endured some misfortune under caution and didn’t look back.
While the field was pacing under yellow for a synchronized spin by three cars in turn four on lap nine, the radiator in Spithaler’s car decided to relieve itself. Water poured out of the car causing steam to cascade off his number 57 sprinter. It ended the Evans City native’s night.
“I seen it and I knew what happened,” Matus said. “I was pretty good though. I think I was going to give him a race. He’s notorious for dominating this place and I told him that earlier tonight.”
Once Matus was out front he maintained a comfortable lead the rest of the way and nailed every restart. Gale Ruth Jr, who was borrowing his father, Gale Sr.’s, Hillbilly Racing 1R, was second and defending BOSS series champion Mike Miller completed the podium.

The local knowledge helped Matus on what was a tricky race surface.

“One and two had a nice cushion that you could run really fast, which I leaned on,” Matus said. “I set my car up to run the cushion because I knew it would be there. I think that’s what won the race for me because I wouldn’t have been able to make moves early if I was stuck on the bottom.”

Ruth was able to move up from his fifth starting position to claim the runner-up spot. He battled Jack Sodeman, Jr for the second throughout most of the race. They even made contact once, but it was no harm, no foul. Sodeman looked as if he would make it an all-local podium, but he spun late in turn two somehow keeping the Seger Racing 25 off the wall while doing 360’s. He recovered to finish eighth.

 “I seen Ruth working the bottom in the heat race and I knew he’d be fast,” Matus said. “Under the red flag they said the lineup and I was like I better look out for him.”

Spithaler wasn’t the only driver who had misfortune in the race as it was slowed by several cautions. Last year’s BOSS winner at Mercer, Dustin Smith, was involved in two cautions in the feature before retiring. There was also a red flag on lap 11. It was an accordion effect crash involving four cars in which Justin Owen and Chuck Wilson got upside down.
Mercer outlaw sprint warrior regular Andy Feil led the race early from the outside pole, but spun in front of the field in turn four on lap three. He collected BOSS regular Shawn Westerfield. Feil was done for the night, but Westerfield continued before bowing out a few laps later.

Ruth, Westerfield, Feil, and Spithaler were victorious in the heat races and Chad Wilson won the B Main.

In the 358 modified division JR McGinley led from wire to wire, but had to stave off a challenge from Lonny Riggs after a late race caution to score an emotional victory. McGinley’s mother passed away last week after a battle with cancer.

“I saw Lonny’s nose and was like it’s time to go,” McGinley told track announcer Mike Dutko in a post-race interview. “I really needed this one.”

McGinley took a victory lap after the race and received a standing ovation from the Mercer crowd.

Other feature winners on the night included Cody Bova in the outlaw sprint warriors, Curt Bish in the stock cars, and Tyler Fulton in the mini stocks.

Darren Pifer got his first career Mercer outlaw sprint warrior heat race win a little over a year after being severely burned in an accident at Sportsman’s Speedway. Pifer finished fourth in the feature.

B.O.S.S. Sprints: (30 Cars)

Top 10: 

1. Brandon Matus
2. Gale Ruth Jr
3. Mike Miller
4. Cooper Clouse
5. Kent Walters
6. Arnie Kent
7. Chad Wilson
8. Jack Sodeman Jr
9. Aaron Middaugh
10. Bob McMillan

358 Modifieds: (16 Cars)

Top 10: 

1. JR McGinley
2. Tommy Kristyak
3. Lonny Riggs
4. Kyle Fink
5. Richard Whitney
6. Jimmy Holden
7. Clyde Gumpp
8. Brian Schaffer
9. Max Smoker
10. Frank Guidace

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