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The Story From Lernerville; Sodeman Jr. Adds Name to Record Books; Champions Crowned; King Jr. Lux and Spithaler Find Victory Lane

All good things must come to an end. And so it was with the fab four regular season at Lernerville Speedway on Friday night as the final championship to be determined was collected by Jack Sodeman Jr. capping a tremendous season in the Peoples Natural Gas DIRTCar Sprints. Corey McPherson earned all the glory in the Millerstown Pic-A-Part Sportsman by virtue of his previously earned track championship and a thrilling feature win in the closing laps. Coming into the night, Mat Williamson and Russ King had already punched their track championship tickets punched and there respective features saw Rex King Jr. and Matt Lux take the honors in the Diehl Automotive Modified and Precise Racing Product Late Models, while Brandon Spithaler held off a hard charging Carl Bowser to take his second feature win of the season.

Diehl Automotive Big Block Modifieds

Rex King Jr. came into the evening not in contention for any end of season honors, but he was hungry for a high note to end the regular season on. So hungry in fact, that he battled and passed his father who was in need of a win of his own en route to his second victory of the season. And what a battle it was, as evidenced by a top four that were separated by mere tenths of a second for the majority of the race.

The father/son tandem started on the front row and when the green flag waved, King Sr. got out to the early lead while behind them both, Mat Williamson had made his way to the third spot from his seventh starting position. The conditions looked ripe for Williamson to collect his eighth feature win of the season in the early laps following a pair of early cautions that re-stacked the field.

Once action resumed, King Sr. and King Jr. both made for the top side of the surface with King Jr. taking looks to the inside, sizing up a potential pass while Williamson was looking to King Jr’s inside. Meanwhile, Brian Swartzlander had been moving through the field with authority in the early going, and following a caution for a Travis Walsh spin with six laps in the books, moved into the fourth spot by virtue of a well timed restart.  However, King Sr. was still in control once action got underway again and Williamson was having more difficulty than normal running both front runners down. Catching the two was one thing for Williamson, but getting around appeared to be more difficult than normal.

Pat Miller Photo

Swartzlander had no trouble passing though, and he made his way around Williamson going down the backstretch on lap 10 when the caution flag waved again for a Chelsie Kriegisch spin in turn four. Williamson used the ensuing restart to get around Swartzlander and dive under King Jr. taking the second spot away briefly, and at that particular moment, a blanket could be thrown over all four drivers as just one lap later, King Jr. and Swartzlander both made their way back around Williamson and began serious pursuit of King Sr.

And on lap 17, King Jr. found a way to get around his father, sliding by him coming out of the last set of turns. Lapped traffic came into play for the leader with six laps to go, but King Jr. was not phased in the least bit and cruised the rest of the way as King Sr. held off Swartzlander over the final laps to keep it a family affair in positions one and two.

“Me and dad looked like we had the same problem, we were both real tight up on the top  and he just missed it in turn three and I had enough momentum to get by. I felt the pressure from Mat and Brian and I knew it was go time and I’m happy it worked out the way it did. In this area we have some great guys. In the top five you know you can run side by side and I’ve never really had a problem running with any of them.”

Top 10:

1. Rex King Jr.
2. Rex King Sr.
3. Brian Swartzlander
4. Mat Williamson
5. JR McGinley
6. Dave Murdick
7. Jeremiah Shingledecker
8. Steve Feder
9. Jimmy Weller III
10. Rick Regalski

“It’s pretty awesome, there’s a lot of competition in that pit area we have to beat every night and it says a lot about our program to be standing here at the end,” Williamson said. “I’m happy for my guys, I’m happy for my sponsors and hopefully we can do it again next year. We’ll be back for the Stampede in October, it’s always a good party so we can’t miss that and we’ll be doing some tour racing before and after then.”

Top 10 Points FINAL: 

1. Mat Williamson- 471
2. Rex King Jr. – 419
3. Brian Swartzlander- 405
4. Dave Murdick- 340
5. Jeremiah Shingledecker- 336
6. Steve Feder- 301
7. JR McGinley- 274
8. Jimmy Weller III- 260
9. Garrett Krummert- 259
10. Tom Winkle- 252

Peoples Natural Gas DIRTCar Sprints

The book ended victory seasons continued in the sprints as opening night feature winner Brandon Spithaler followed suit with a win on the final night. But if fans in attendance saw that outcome happening after witnessing Dan Shetler’s opening pace, you may want to ask them for lottery numbers soon.

Having the issue of who would be the 2016 track champion settled before the start of the race, Alex Paden and Shetler lead the field to the green flag following an early caution, and from the get go, Shetler looked unstoppable, pounding the top side of the speedway with precision and purpose while behind him, Spithaler had moved into second from his fifth starting spot.  John Garvin Jr. brought out the next caution with five laps down, and on the restart Shetler was once again in command with clean air in front of him.

Pat Miller Photo

But it was a scenario too good to be true for Shetler who had been among the fastest cars over the second half of the season and had victory fall through his fingers on more than one occasion. On lap nine Shetler suffered a mechanical failure that sent his car out of the surface behind turn two and upside down, ending his bid to collect a feature win in 2016. Shetler was able to get out of the car on his own, as Spithaler inherited the lead with Ralph Spithaler right behind him when action resumed.

Behind them, a formidable chase pack consisting of Carl Bowser, Jack Sodeman Jr. Brandon Matus, AJ Flick and Bryan Sebetto formed and looked prime to strike.  However none of them seemed to be having much luck chasing down the leaders, with the exception of Carl Bowser who was the fastest car on the track over the second half of the race.  With lapped traffic coming into play, Bowser managed to hunt down Ralph Spithaler, but it took just a little to long for him to overtake as he made the pass for the second spot on lap 22, leaving not enough laps to make his way around Brandon who stood in victory lane for the second time in 2016.

“We’ve had an up and down season, we’ve had fast cars almost every night and something seemed to happen, ” Spithaler said. “Two weeks ago we thought we had it and the car was great, but we got one tonight.”

Top 10:

1. Brandon Spithaler
2. Carl Bowser
3. Ralph Spithaler
4. Brandon Matus
5. Jack Sodeman Jr.
6. Bryan Sebetto
7. AJ Flick
8. Alex Paden
9. Dan Kuriger
10. Brent Matus’

“It’s one of the tracks that you definitely want to win a championship at,” Sodeman said. “I looked up to my dad my whole life. He always had that track championship and Lernerville was his favorite place. So I’ve always wanted to get one. We set the goal at the beginning of the year and we knew we just had to finish all the races, stay healthy, we’d have as good a shot as anybody and it just worked out for us.”

Top 10 Points FINAL

1. Jack Sodeman Jr.-424
2. AJ Flick- 392
3. Carl Bowser- 343
4. John Garvin Jr. – 329
5. Dan Kuriger- 323
6. Dan Shetler- 306
7. Brandon Matus- 304
8. Brent Matus- 298
9. Scott Priester-278
10. Alex Paden- 270

Precise Racing Products Late Models

It’s a good thing that Russ King had clinched the season championship in the late models before the night even started. If he hadn’t, it might not have gone his way. King retired before one lap had been completed in the 25 lap main event and mechanical gremlins in his heat caused Alex Ferre to start at the tail, opening the door for a new winner.  Matt Lux seized the opportunity, and made certain not to let it out of his sight over the course of the race, his first of the 2016 campaign.

Lux and Joe Martin started on the front row, and once Martin was dispatched by Mike Pegher Jr.,  the two drivers then put some substantial distance between themselves and the remainder of the field with Kenny Schaltenbrand running third.  Behind them, Michael Norris, Jared Miley and Dave Hess Jr. had their sights set on making their way around Schaltenbrand. Norris was first to make his way around, and then with Lux and Pegher making their way around their first bout of lapped traffic, Miley followed and overtook Norris for the third spot with nine laps in the books.

Miley was in need of a caution to overtake the leaders, but wound up being the cause of it when he spun on the following lap. On the subsequent restart Lux looked to be the man to beat, while Alex Ferree joined the party coming from the back of the field to join Hess and Miley who had worked his way forward again. At the halfway point, with most drivers electing to run upstairs, the race turned into a battle of attrition as one by one, drivers fell by the wayside, including Pegher and Ferree on lap 15 as both slowed on the speedway.

On the following restart, Norris and Hess made contact which sent Hess over the cushion in turn four to provide one last chance for Norris to take the lead on the last restart of the race. But Lux was too strong and kept everyone at bay for the remainder to cruise to his first victory of the season.

“After the heat race I told Jim, this car is awful,” Lux said. “It wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do so we kind of threw everything at it. I didn’t know the top was still going to be that dominant and everybody was running up there in the sprints. So you knew you had to get to the top to be quick. I tell you, Mike Norris, I give him all the credit in the world. I knew I kind of pinched him getting to the top in turn one but he gave me room up there.”

Top 10:

1. Matt Lux
2. Michael Norris
3. Jared Miley
4. Gary Lyle
5. Kenny Schaltenbrand
6. Joe Martin
7. Mike Miller
8. Ed Ferree
9. John Myers
10. Clayton Kennedy

Pat Miller Photo

“It means a lot to be standing here, I’m just glad we had enough of a lead. I told everybody to give it time because we’d been so consistent, so I said give it time because I’ll crash this thing up at some point and sure enough on the first lap I went in there and ran over Hess and probably ruined his night. But as far as the championship goes, it’s a great thing, they’re a good group of guys and when I started racing modifieds, just coming here and watching Alex Ferree and Flinner and all these guys, it’s unbelievable.”

Top 10 Points FINAL:

1. Russ King- 434
2. Alex Ferree- 380
3. Michael Norris- 357
4. Matt Lux- 356
5. Mike Pegher Jr. – 315
6. Gary Lyle- 277
7. Kenny Schaltenbrand- 251
8. Brandon Wearing- 209
9. Mike Miller- 205
10. Tommy Schirnhofer- 168

Millerstown Pic-A-Part Sportsman

And then, there was the exclamation point. Over the course of the past five seasons, there has been no driver more dominant in his division than Corey McPherson, amassing four track championships in the past five years. And on this night, his performance displayed why he has been so dominant as he took yet another victory, coming form deep in the field and on the high side where he’s seen so much success over the years.

Aaron Easler and Colin Burke led the field to the green flag as Easler cook control of the early portion of the race cruising his way to a ten car length advantage over the second running car of Joey Zambotti.  Behind them, Joe Kelley, McPherson and Bob Egley would be the closest pursuers, but none were too threatening. In fact, nothing threatened Easler much at all in the early going. But at the half way point, it became clear that Zambotti was running down Easler bit by bit on each lap.

The action slowed with 11 laps in the books as Sadie Siegel spun in turn four and once racing resumed, Easler was being hunted furiously by Kelley , McPherson and Zambotti. With five laps to go, McPherson decided he’d had enough of following Kelley and moved to the top of the speedway where he gained valuable time on the leader with the laps winding down, passing Kelley in the process. And them with just two laps remaining, McPherson blew by Easler down the front stretch and never looked back en route to the victory.

“I was told by my crew in the lineup area before the feature, to not share victory lane with anybody else tonight,” McPherson said.  “At first I looked up top and there wasn’t much bite there but as the race went on, I think all the dirt from everyone running down low made it’s way up top and it wasn’t really packed down but I was able to get enough traction that I could get a run off of two and four to get some good straightaway speed.”

Top 10:

1. Corey McPherson
2. Aaron Easler
3. Joe Kelley
4. Joey Zambotti
5. Terry Young
6. Bob Egley
7. Butch Lambert
8. Paul Schreckengost
9. Greg Beach
10. John Hartman

Top 10 Points FINAL: 

1. Corey McPherson- 522
2. Joey Zambotti- 456
3. Aaron Easler- 452
4. Tyler Dietz- 422
5. Bob Egley- 390
6. Terry Young- 389
7. Joe Kelley- 380
8. Brett McDonald- 356
9. Paul Schreckengost- 344
10. Brandon Wearing- 320



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