Kemenah in Command at Mercer; Fink and LaLonde Also Score
Story By: LOU LONG / MERCER RACEWAY PARK MEDIA
Photos By: PAUL ARCH / RACERSGUIDE.COM
Mercer, PA – June 4, 2017 – Current Arctic Cat All Stars Circuit of Champions points leader and defending champion Chad Kemenah romped to victory at Mercer Raceway Park. Kemenah briefly surrendered the lead to Parker Price-Miller on lap 18, but regained the advantage when the younger driver slid out over the edge of the backstretch the very next lap. The win was number 32 in the illustrious career of the driver from Findlay, OH.
Kyle FInk scored his third win of the season, and second in a row, in the Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds. Landon LaLonde earned his second victory of the season in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprints.
“The lapped traffic was terrible,” Kemenah said. He had tucked in low behind a slower car in turn three and that allowed Price-Miller to rocket past him. “Parker got a run,” Kemenah said dryly. “We had a really good race there.”
Price-Miller and Kemenah led the field to the green for the start of the 30 lap affair. Tim Shaffer and Justin Barger had the second row, and Caleb Helms and local driver George Hobaugh, Jr. were in row three. Kemenah sailed into the lead, with Price-Miller and Shaffer close behind.
Kemenah was starting to slip away from the deuce of Price-Miller. Shaffer held down third, but Justin Barger and Jack Sodeman were hanging in the top five. A caution brought Kemenah back to the rest of the top runner with only six laps in the books. The stoppage was for a five-car tangle between turns one and two involving Hunter Mackison, his brother Jordan, Bradley Howard, John Garvin, and Brandon Matus. Nobody was injured, but a couple of the machines were unable to continue.
The next sixteen laps were run without any interruptions. While Kemenah was scored as the leader for all but two of those rounds, Price-Miller did sneak by on the outside of turn three to lead lap 18.
Price-Miller handed the lead back to Kemenah on the next lap by sliding high approaching turn three. “I got out over the brackstretch and kinda lost the groove,” he noted. Kemenah seized the opportunity and blasted by to assume command. Price-Miller recovered quickly to maintain second. “I think we had a better car in lapped traffic, but it is what it is.”
The final restart occurred with eight laps to go. Kemenah led the way, with Price-Miler second, but now Shaffer was in the mix. He looked to the inside of Price-Miller on a number of occasions, but he was unable to make the pass. “It’s been a blast,” Shaffer said. “We were struggling, but now we are getting pretty competitive.”
Kemenah, Price-Miller and Shaffer were the top three. Fourth went to current Mercer Precise Racing Products Sprint Car points leader and defending track champion Jack Sodeman, Jr. Ryan Smith snagged fifth in the closing laps. Justin Barger, Dean Jacobs, Hobaugh, Caleb Armstrong, and Danny Holtgraver rounded out the top ten.
Just missing the top ten was Brandon Spithaler. He started at the rear of the field and passed thirteen cars along the ay. Spithaler was using a substitute car after suffering motor porblems in his dash.
Heat winners were Justin Barger, Caleb Helms, Carl Bowser, and George Hobaugh. The dash victories belonged to Parker Price-Miller and Chad Kemenah. The B Main victor was T.J. Michael. Kemenah was the evening’s fastest qualifier. His lap of 14.158 was best in Broup B. Groap A’s fast man was Brandon Spithaler, at 14.232. Tops in Group C was Lee Jacobs, at 14.543. Tim Shaffer led Group D, at 14.180.
Lonny Riggs ducked inside Richard Whitney to take the early lead in the Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modified feature event. Jeff Schaffer, Jr. and Sid Unverzagt, Jr. were next. However, Unverzagt spun in between turns three and four. The remaining driver swere able to navigate around him.
Riggs slowed to a stop on the backstretch on lap two, handing the lead over to Jeff Schaffer, Sr. for the restart. Schaffer held off his son, Jeff Jr. on the restart and began to open up a slight lead. A caution on lap 5 slowed his pace and gave his son another chance to race wheel to wheel with him. Once again, Schaffer Sr. began to draw away from his son.
However, the car on he move after the restart was Kyle Fink. He moved into second on lap six and gained the lead on lap seven. Fink continued to pour on the coals, stretching his lead to more than five seconds before the checkers flew.
When Fink encountered some lapped cars near the end of the race, he did surrender some of his tremendous lead, but it was not nearly enough to give Schaffer Sr. a shot at the win. “I had no idea how close he was,” Fink said of Schaffer, “so I just kept running as hard as I could.”
Trailing Fink and Schaffer Sr. was points leader and defending champion Jimmy Holden. Jeff Schaffer, Jr. held on for fourth. Richard Whitney turned in a creditable fifth place run. Positions six through ten went to Cory Riffe, Jerry Bowser, Ethan Siple, Jerry Schaffer, and Unverzagt.
The qualifiers belonged to Kyle Fink and Jimmy Holden. Sid Unverzagt, Jr. set the fast time, at 17.269.
South Amherst, OH driver Landon LaLonde raced from his pole starting spot to the early lead in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprint Cars. LaLonde led C.J. Jones, Mike Marano, II,, and Darin Gallagher in the early going. The race was halted before the first lap was completed when Cody Bova spun in turn two, collecting several cars, including Justin Adams. Adms flipped in the caos, but was not hurt.
The race had a complete restart, which again had LaLonde setting the pace over Jones, Gallagher, and Marano. Gallagher picked off Jones on lap three, and set his sights on LaLonde. Gallagher slowly reeled him in, and began to challenge for the lead. Gallagher’s bid for the win ended on lap 18, though. After making an inside move, his car suddenly slowed and he headed towards the pits.
LaLonde finished the required 20 laps, ahead of Gregg McCandless, who took over second on just the last lap. Third went to Devin Litwiler. Fourth was Bob McMillin and Marano held on for fifth. Sixth was Jeremy Kornbaugh. Darin Gallagher was credited with seventh. Nevan O’Donnell, C.J. Jones and Cody Bova completed the top ten.
Cody Bova and Darin Gallagher won their respective heats. Bova also was the top qualifier, at 15.007.
Next week will be the Mid-Season Championships and Meet Your Heroes Night, presented by Herr’s Snack Foods. This will be the night that the fans will get to mingle with their favorite racers, and get photos and autographs. It is always popular event, especially with the younger set. Then, on June 17, the Twin State Auto Racing Fan Club will be the guests of the speedway for a Saturday Night Live! program. All club members in good standing will be admitted for free to the grandstands.
All Stars Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars: Chad Kemenah, Parker Price-Miller, Tim Shaffer, Jack Sodeman, Jr., Ryan Smith, Justin Barger, Dean Jacobs, George Hobaugh, Jr., Caleb Armstrong, Danny Holtgraver, Brandon Spithaler, Max Stambaugh, Caleb Helms, Michael Bauer, Lee Jacobs, Carl Bowser, T.J. Michael, Hunter Mackison, Jordan Mackison, Bradley Howard, Dan Kuriger, Dan Shetler, A.J. Flick, Brandon Matus, John Garvin. DNQ: Ryan Linder, Tyler Esh, Davey Jones, Roger Campbell, Brent Matus, Vincent Daugherty, Francis Sesco, Mike Lutz.
Turn 4 Toilets 358 Modifieds: Kyle Fink, Jeff Schaffer, Sr., Jimmy Holden. Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Richard Whitney, Cory Riffe, Jerry Bowser, Ethan Siple, Jerry Schaffer, Sid Unverzagt, Jr., Lonnie Riggs, Jim Bryce, Kyle Holden (DNS).
Bonnell’s Rod Shop 305 Sprint Cars: Landon LaLonde, Gregg McCandless, Devin Litwiler, Bob McMillin, Mike Marano, II, Jeremy Kornbaugh, Darin Gallagher, Nevan O’Donnell, C.J. Jones, Cody Bova, Justin Adams, Andy Priest (DNS).