Sweeney RUSH LM Tour Sharon 9/16-17 story & results; Thomas wins 1st ever
WILL THOMAS WINS 1ST EVER SWEENEY RUSH LATE MODEL TOUR EVENT SATURDAY AT SHARON IN $2,000 "GARY KNOLLINGER MEMORIAL" & BECOMES 9TH DIFFERENT WINNER OF 2016; BICKNELL SPORTSMAN MOD TOUR FEATURE RAINED OUT & PPD TO 2017
By Mike Leone
September 16-17, 2016 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Hartford, OH)...The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Racing Series powered by Pace Performance competed at Sharon Speedway on Friday and Saturday night as part of the track's annual "Apple Festival Nationals" in doubleheader action for the Sweeney RUSH Late Model Touring Series and the Bicknell Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modified Touring Series. Heat races were completed on Friday night for both divisions with the remainder of the program for the Late Models finishing up on Saturday night before heavy rain hit the speedway that washed out the Sportsman Modified feature. That feature will be completed in the spring of 2017.
Will Thomas III out-dueled Matt Latta for his first career Sweeney RUSH Late Model Tour victory in the 30-lap "Gary Knollinger Memorial" feature event. Thomas got by Latta on lap 18 following a restart and held him and several other racers off that challenged for the lead in the final laps for the $2,000 win. Thomas, who was awarded the Maxima Racing Oil "Maximum Performance" award winner, became the ninth different winner of the season, and also the sixth different "Gary Knollinger Memorial" winner in as many years!
"I've always wanted to win this," acknowledged the 40-year-old Sharpsville, Pa. driver. "We've been blessed to win several races over our career at Sharon Speedway, but from what everyone has told me about Gary Knollinger he was a class out and would help any racer, any time. It feels great to win a race in his honor. Matt (Latta) and I work together. We have a great relationship. He's a first class guy and has a great family. I knew he'd race me clean and I'd do the same. Russ King helps me a ton and we made a last minute tire change and that won us this race. Matt had a really good car, but we were able to be a little better late in the race."
Following his K&N Dash win, Latta took off in the lead over Thomas and Dave Airgood, Jr., who got by John Waters for third on the opening lap. The top four quickly began to distance themselves from the pack on lap two as Waters regained the third spot. Latta opened up some breathing room by lap five as it was a three-car race for second with Airgood taking third once again from Waters. Eric Wilson joined the battle making it a four-car race for the runner-up position on lap seven. Lap after lap Airgood and Waters raced side-by-side for third. On lap 11, Waters regained control of the spot.
As the laps ticked off caution-free, Latta caught the lapped cars of Tony White and Chuck Recker, while Thomas and Waters broke free of Airgood and Wilson. Airgood and Wilson battled for fourth with Wilson moving up a spot on lap 15. The event's first caution slowed action when Recker spun with 16 laps completed. When racing resumed, Waters ran out of room on the backstretch fighting for position and spun to the infield.
The caution proved critical as when racing resumed, Thomas made the outside stick through turns one and two to come out with the lead- one he'd never relinquish. The man on the move was ninth starting Alan Dellinger. Dellinger took fourth from Wilson on lap 22. A few more late race cautions bunched up the field with the last occurring with 25 laps scored involving Tour regulars Dave Lyon and Jason Knowles. Lyon had a rough night getting caught up in three accidents and was awarded the TBM Brakes "Tough Brake of the Night".
The final five laps would go green-to-checkered as Thomas pulled away, while the battle was on for second and on back. Dellinger finally got by Airgood for third on lap 28, but would run out of time to make a bid for second on the #B1D of Latta. Thomas took the win by 1.377 seconds over Latta in his Hallman Foundry/Colonial Metal Products/Russell King Racing/Allstar Performance/955 Automotive-sponsored #9. The win was Thomas' all-time leading 15th of his career at Sharon in the RUSH Late Models.
Latta, who won the 2015 "Apple Festival Nationals" make-up back on April 16, came up just shy of his second Tour win of the season at Sharon for the former track regular. "I had to give one to Will- I didn't want to hear about it Monday morning," joked the 24-year-old Andover, Ohio resident, who earned $1,000 for second. "We have fun. There's always jokes in the office. I beat him in the spring so I guess it was his turn to beat me. How about that move! I wasn't expecting that. I had good restarts, but I screwed that one up. He stayed right with me. When I saw his nose still here at the flag stand, I knew whoever gets through the center of (turns) one and two is going to have the lead. I slipped up and once that #9 gets in front of you- you aren't going to get him."
Dellinger was less than seven tenths of a second behind Latta in third place. It was Dellinger's third top five of the season in Tour action, but best since a runner-up back on July 15, 2015 at Expo Speedway. Dellinger was able to advance two positions in Tour points, and sits third in the "Bilstein Bandits" points as he closed in on runner-up Justin Lamb. Dellinger, who has excelled now for three straight years on the $135 sealed, spec Bilstein Shocks, was awarded the Precise Racing Products "Pedal Down" hard charger award for advancing the most positions and received a $100 Precise gift card.
"There was all kinds of traction out there tonight," explained the 52-year-old Hermitage, Pa. standout, who is the all-time E-Mod and Stock Car winner at Sharon in addition to five RUSH Late Model wins at the track. "Run around there with your foot on the floor and steer it in the right place and that's what you get. He (Airgood) was tight in the center and tried to drive in deep, cut across the middle, and it wouldn't turn on him. Bob Williams (car owner) and Bob Jones work on this car- a couple old retired guys. They have nothing better to do and have a race car."
Airgood was a solid fourth in his first ever Sweeney RUSH Tour start beating out Wilson, who matched his best finish of the season from back on June 3 at Freedom Motorsports Park. Davis, the Sweeney Tour point leader, was never a factor in the event finishing sixth, but was able to stay ahead of Waters, the runner-up point man, who finished right behind him in seventh after coming from the tail in the final 13 laps. Wrightsman was eighth matching his best Tour finish of the season as Brian Knowles and Bob Diver completed the top 10. Wrecker finished 16th and was the last car on the lead lap to earn the $25 CrateInsider.com gift certificate.
On Friday night, Waters set fast time in Bobby Lake Motorsports "Shock the Clock" qualifying with a lap of 16.803. Thomas and Latta won the $25 Bobby Lake Motorsports heat races. Latta picked up his first K&N "Cold Air Induction" Dash win of the season for a $100 K&N certificate over Thomas, who received a $50 K&N certificate, Waters and Airgood earned $25 cash for their third and fourth place efforts.
A strong field of 24 Sweeney RUSH Sportsman Modifieds were on hand for their fifth Bicknell Touring Series event. Friday's heat race winners were point leader Chas Wolbert along with Kyle Martell and Calvin Clay. Chelsie Kriegisch became the fifth different K&N "Cold Air Induction" Dash winner in as many races earning an $100 K&N certificate. Her sister Jessica Kriegisch was runner-up and a received a $50 K&N certificate, while Jacob Jordan and Shayne Izzo added $25 for their third and fourth place finishes respectively. Wolbert and Jeremy Weaver will lead the field to the green when the event is made up in the spring of 2017. All member racers will receive show-up points. Like this past year, the event will award 2017 Bicknell Weekly Series points; however, will be a non-point 2017 Bicknell Tour event.
The Bicknell Sportsman Modified Tour will resume action Sunday afternoon at Tri-City Raceway Park in a $600 to-win event, while the Sweeney Late Model Tour is off until Saturday, October 1 at McKean County Raceway in East Smethport, Pa. for a $1,500 to-win Platinum event.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Touring Series “Gary Knollinger Memorial” Race #13 (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. WILL THOMAS III (9) 2. Matt Latta (B1D) 3. Alan Dellinger (Williams 8) 4. Dave Airgood, Jr. (42) 5. Eric Wilson (27W) 6. Bryce Davis (94) 7. John Waters (LeBarron 11) 8. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 9. Brian Knowles (7) 10. Bob Diver (23) 11. Clay Ruffo (14R) 12. Zach Kane (10) 13. Jake Gunn (14G) 14. Ed Bolyard II (Patrick 05) 15. Tony White (27) 16. Chuck Recker (6R) 17. Jason Knowles (4) 18. Dave Lyon (14L) 19. Clinton Hersh (16).
Bobby Lake Motorsports “Shock the Clock” RUSH Late Model Qualifying ($100 for fast time): 1. John Waters 16.803 2. Matt Latta 16.844 3. Will Thomas III 16.861 4. Dave Airgood, Jr. 16.922 5. Bryce Davis 17.158 6. Jamie Wrightsman 17.168 7. Jason Knowles 17.191 8. Dave Lyon 17.227 9. Bob Diver 17.239 10. Eric Wilson 17.243 11. Alan Dellinger 17.288 12. Jake Gunn 17.288 13. Brian Knowles 17.330 14. Clay Ruffo 17.426 15. Chuck Recker, Jr. 17.588 16. Clinton Hersh 17.687 17. Tony White 18.065 18. Zach Kane 18.510 19. Ed Bolyard II 18.664.
Bobby Lake Motorsports RUSH Late Model Heat 1 (10 laps, $25 to-win) 1. Thomas 2. Waters 3. J. Knowles 4. Davis 5. Dellinger 6. Diver 7. Bolyard 8. B. Knowles 9. White.
Bobby Lake Motorsports RUSH Late Model Heat 2 (10 laps, $25 to-win): 1. Latta 2. Airgood 3. Wilson 4. Wrightsman 5. Gunn 6. Ruffo 7. Lyon 8. Kane 9. Recker 10. Hersh.
RUSH Late Model K&N Dash (4 laps, $100 K&N certificate to-win): 1. Latta 2. Thomas 3. Waters 4. Airgood.
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