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MATT HIRSCHMAN WINS U.S. OPEN 125 AT LANCASTER

Earns fourth career win U.S. Open Modified victory

Photo:  Joe Grabianowsi/STRN
Photo: Joe Grabianowsi/STRN

LANCASTER, N.Y. (September 27, 2015) – Matt Hirschman of Northampton, PA topped a field of 27 Modifieds to capture the 27th annual U.S. Open 125 Race of Champions Modified Tour event at Lancaster National Speedway on Sunday.

In other action from the final day of U.S. Open weekend, Dave Russell of Clarence, N.Y. won the 30-lap X-Press Signs Late Model feature presented by Abbott Rd Pizza. Jake Wylie of Blasdell, N.Y. was victorious in the 25-lap Super Stock feature.

Hirschman passed Mike Leaty for the lead with 18 laps to go and drove on to earn his fourth career U.S. Open win. He had to rally back after being caught up in a spin by Daren Scherer on lap 84 that forced him to the rear of the field.

Nick Pecko and Patrick Emerling the field to the initial green flag in front of a large crowd of Western New York race fans on a sun-splashed day. Pecko would develop troubles on the race’s second lap as he slowed on the backstretch. Rusty Smith ran into the back of Pecko has he lost power, which cut down Smith’s right front tire. Smith would return after a pit stop, but Pecko was done for the day.

This moved Emerling and T.J. Potrzebowski to the front row for the restart. Potrzebowski took command of the field on the race’s second lap, and he quickly established command over the rest of the field.

The race’s first 21 laps were plagued by four cautions, but then the field settled in for a long run of green flag laps. Potrzebowski ran away from the pack during this time while many competitors were concentrating on tire strategy.

One driver that wasn’t worried about tire wear was John Wilber of Elmira, N.Y. Wilber worked his way through the field to the runner-up spot on lap 36. He then chased down Potrzebowski who had built a sizable lead, but Potrzebowski began to develop a vibration in his left fire tire as the race approached lap 50. Wilber caught and passed Potrzebowski for the lead on lap 54 as Potrzebowski struggled to control his car.

As the green flag run wore on, Wilber extended his lead over the rest of the field to more than a straightaway. Wilber, however, gave up that margin when he spun in turn one on lap 63. The caution flag put an end to the green flag run that lasted 42 laps. The large majority of the field took the opportunity during the caution period to make a pit stop, with just Rusty Smith and Amy Catalano remaining on the speedway.

Chuck Hossfeld beat the rest of the cars off pit road to fill in behind Smith and Catalnao in third with Andy Jankowiak in fourth and Mike Leaty in fifth.

2014 U.S. Open winner, Tony Hanbury, brought out the race’s next caution when he stopped on the track with mechanical problems on lap 74. Smith and Catalano gave up their track position at this point to come down pit road. This moved Leaty into the lead followed by Bobby Holmes, Daren Scherer, Rick Kluth and Andy Jankowiak.

Holmes pressured Leaty for the lead as the race went back to green. On lap 80, Holmes drove too hard into turn one and nearly crashed into the wall. He managed to save the car, but gave up five positions in the process.

Four laps later Scherer was being challenged by Jankowiak for second when he spun in turn one. Hirschman had to stop on the track to avoid crashing into Scherer, and was forced to fall to the rear of the field.

Hirschman started 20th and spent the first half of the race conserving his tires. He nearly fell off the lead lap during the long green flag run as Potrzebowski was a few car lengths away from putting him a lap down. Potrzebowski’s handling problems allowed him to stay on the lead lap, and he pitted with the majority of the field on lap 64. 

During the caution period Patrick Emerling stopped on the track with mechanical problems. He would eventually return to action, but lost two laps in the pits while making repairs.

Hirschman had worked his way back to seventh on lap 97 when the caution flag flew for Bryan Sherwood stopping on the track. Seven laps later he was up to third, and then Hirschman set his sights on Leaty for the lead. Hirschman drove under Leaty in turn two on lap 107 to take over first place.

That pass proved to be the race winning one as Hirschman cruised the rest of the way for the victory. It was Hirschman’s first win of the year on the Race of Champions Modified Tour.

“It’s been over a year since we won an RoC race,” said Hirschman, “it’s been tough, there were some opportunities this year where things didn’t work out.”  “I was really focused in on this, I prepared hard for this, even with the stopping for that caution I was just determined to get it done.”

Hirschman inherited the series points lead following Emerling’s mechanical woes. Emerling led by 14 points at the start of the U.S. Open 125, but now Hirschman leads by 37 going into the season finale next weekend at Chemung for the Race of Champions 200.

Jankowiak finished second followed by Hossfeld, Holmes and Smith.

Dave Russell earned his first career U.S Open feature win as he won the 30-lap X-Press Signs Late Model feature presented by Abbott Rd Pizza. Russell passed Jeff Brown for the lead on lap 17 and drove away for the win.

Bobby Weber was denied a perfect season in the Late Models at Lancaster as he was involved in two incidents early on in the race. He received damaged when he tangled with Matt Alix on the race’s second lap. He then developed mechanical issues on lap nine, which eliminated him from competition.

Jake Wylie won the 25-lap Super Stock feature for his second win of the season at Lancaster. Wylie was running third on lap three when race leader Tommy Krawczyk slid up the race track in turn four. Wylie was able to dive under Krawczyk and second place Lee Sharpsteen to take over the top spot.

Wylie becomes the third member of his family to win an U.S. Open feature. Wylie’s father, Rick, is a three-time Late Model Pro Stock winner while his brother, Scott, has won twice in the Cup Lites and once in the IMCA-Style Modifieds.

Lancaster National Speedway has announced they will open the 2016 season on April 16 & 17. Sunday, April 17 will be the opener for the stock car program which will be headlined by the Sunoco Race of Champions Modified Tour. The RoC Modified Tour will make four visits to Lancaster in 2016 with the Ol’ Boy Cup 60, Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial 110 and U.S. Open 125 on next year’s schedule.

Lancaster closes the 2015 season with Pro Mod-A-Palooza on Saturday, October 10 for the Franco’s Pizza IHRA Drag Racing Series. We will crown our remaining dragway track champions with the final points races for all weekly classes and Quick 16. Plus, there will be a shootout between some of the top Pro Modified teams in the region. The Buffalo Street Outlaws will be part of this amazing show as well.. For more information log on to www.promodapalooza.com.

Founded in 1959, Lancaster National Speedway is a multi-use facility located on 77 acres just outside of metropolitan Buffalo, NY. The facility features a 1/8-mile drag, a 5/8-mile oval track and hosts several non-motorsports events such as car shows and concerts. For the latest information on Lancaster National Speedway & Dragway check out our all-new website www.lancasternationalspeedway.com. Additional information for racers and fans can be found on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/LancasterSpeedway) and on Twitter (@LancasterSpdwy).

RESULTS

RACE OF CHAMPIONS MODIFIED TOUR

Heat Winners: T.J. Potrzebowski, Partick Emerling, Chuck Hossfeld

Feature: MATT HIRSCHMAN, Andy Jankowiak, Chuck Hossfeld, Bobby Holmes, Rusty Smith, Karl Hehr, Will Thomas, George Skora III, Kevin Timmerman, T.J. Potrzebowski, Daren Scherer, Mike Leaty, Rick Kluth, Patrick Emerling, Dave Rigan, Amy Catalano, Bryan Sherwood, Kirk Totten, Sam Fullone, John Wilber, Tony Hanbury, Chris Ridsdale, Daryl Lewis, Jr., Donny Hartzell, Nick Pecko, Tommy Catalano, Bill Mislin

X-PRESS SIGNS LATE MODELS

Heat Winners: Bobby Weber, Dave Russell

Feature: DAVE RUSSELL, Jeff Brown, Dave Whittaker, Matt Alix, Sam Fullone, Ron Nurmi, Frank Batista, Jerry Dineen, JD Roberts, Billy Osborn, Nick Crassi, Ron Richter, Bobby Weber, Eldon King III, Terry Weldy, Dave Rigan

SUPER STOCKS

Heat Winners: Eric Brown, Mitchell Wright, Jake Wylie

Feature: JAKE WYLIE, Eric Brown, Joe Mancuso, Tommy Krawczyk, Bobby Schosek, Robert Fink, Nate Peckham, Lee Sharpsteen, Vern Headdrick, Chuck Tripp, Tom Zacharias, Pete Pieczysnki, Mike Nichols, Josh Hunter, Jason Dieter, Gary Now, Bill Frisbee, Jr., Billy Coyle DNS: Brandon Sherwood

Eric Beers scores second straight Mahoning Modified win

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Mike Sweeney extends win total to eight with Late Models; Ricky Yetter claims Dirt Mod title

(LEHIGHTON, Pa. 9-26-15) Eric Beers turned in a very impressive drive, coming from 12th to first in just 11 laps and then continued on to a dominating 3-second margin of victory. It was his second consecutive win and fifth of the season.

Beers may have had no one in sight of him, however, being in the thick of a very tight point battle and with just one race to go, he had his own concern and quickly turned to see who had parked behind him while in Victory Lane. Once seeing it was point leader Earl Paules, he knew the win was good but realized he still had his work cut out for him for a shot at another title.

“He’s (Paules) is still ahead of me and there’s more pressure on him then me. We’re going to go after him as good as we can,” said Beers, who sits third in the standings behind Paules and Austin Kochenash.

When the race got underway Chip Santee picked up the opening lap lead. Only one lap was scored before the yellow was waving for an incident that involved title hopeful Don Wagner and Brian DeFebo. Wagner got hit from behind and then slammed into DeFebo in turn four. Also collected was Calvin Carroll. Wagner was double-towed back to the pits and returned without losing a lap, thanks to a lengthy clean up. He then soldiered on to a 13th place tally.

That would be turn out to be the only caution of the race. Santee still led once the action resumed but Beers was clearly on a mission. On the restart he was in 11th but began picking off cars in quick order. By lap four he was in the top five. Three laps later he was running second and swiftly zeroed in on Santee.

After a few circuits of hugging Santee’s rear bumper, Beers then took the low line in turn three and executed his race winning pass by the completion of lap 11. From there on he was in a race of his own as the Freightliner No. 45 was one-sided to his counterparts.

“Once we get a nice rhythm going it’s a fun car to drive. It was good not to see a caution. All the lanes opened up tonight and we showed ‘em what we had,” said Beers.

“We worked really hard the last few weeks to get the car better and better and it’s getting close. We have a little bit more tweaking to do and it will be right where we want it. Hats off to my crew who put a great car under me tonight.”

It was the 45th career Mahoning win for Beers and the 20th time he was able to give his car owners Dave and Laura DeLange and feature victory.

“They’re the greatest car owners I’ve ever driven for. They’re great people and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to race for them,” said Beers.

Paules was able to take second spot after a close battle between himself, Santee and Kyle Strohl. On lap 22 the trio went three wide that almost became disastrous for all. Santee and Paules had been running side-by-side with Strohl right behind. The inside lane had slightly opened and Strohl took the chance to move in. As he did he bumped into Santee who then did the same to Paules. Amazingly all three kept pointed in the right direction, although Santee would fall off the pace. Paules took second spot from that point while Strohl raced home third.

“Eric (Beers) was just making holes and we were trying to go with him. When you’re point racing it’s only five points from first to second so he gained only five points tonight and I’m not really worried. I just have to keep those guys in front of me and hopefully it will all take care of itself,” said Paules, who is 25 points to the good heading into the finale.

Mike Sweeney made sure the Late Model championship fight will be decided at the season point finale as he captured his class leading eighth win of the year and will face off against Paul Koehler Jr. for the crown.

Sweeney took control of the lead with an outside pass on Kenny Hein with 12 complete and then sailed smoothly ahead the rest of the way. 

Koehler was able to secure second with four laps to go but had nothing for Sweeney. Hein had his best night of the year, running in the lead early on and maintained second until the final circuits.

Jamie Smith began and finished the Street Stock feature in first place. Smith was able to lead all 30 laps for his first win of the season and also becomes the 19th different race winner of the year. Jonathan Tracey was on Smith’s tail over the final laps and took second with Joe Mooney third.

In the Dirt Mods it was Aleia Geisler taking her second win of the season. Geisler started second but was leading by the end of lap one. Afterwards there was no stopping the talented lady racer as she was way too powerful to catch. Runner up Jack Ely did make a late race try but Geisler was not to be denied.

By virtue of his heat win, Ricky Yetter was able to clinch the 2015 championship despite one more race to go.

For the first time in nearly 10 years Josh Scherer has returned to Victory Lane, taking the top spot in the 20-lap Pro 4 main. Scherer led from lap two and was able to hold off Bobby Kibler Jr., by a slim margin.

Shayne Geist scored his fifth Hobby Stock win of the season, keeping his brother, Cody Geist at bay by a half car length. For Cody it wasn’t a total loss as he heads in the next week’s finale tops in points and in a solid position to win the class championship.

Larry Fisher made his first Mahoning start in over 10 years a good one as he cruised to victory in the Small Car Enduro.

Modified Feature Finish (35 Laps): 1. Eric Beers, 2. Earl Paules, 3. Kyle Strohl, 4. Kris Graver, 5. Roger Heffelfinger Jr., 6. Austin Kochenash, 7. John Markovic, 8. Lou Strohl, 9. Kevin Rex Jr., 10. Todd Baer, 11. Terry Markovic, 12. Eric Kocher, 13. Don Wagner, 14. Matt Higgins, 15. Chip Santee, 16. Tony Zatsko, 17. Broc Brown, 18. Brian DeFebo, 19. Don Wagner, 20. Calvin Carroll

Late Model Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Mike Sweeney, 2. Paul Koehler Jr., 3. Kenny Hein, 4. Jeremy Miller, 5. George Ramos, 6. Barry Kutz, 7. Broc Brown, 8. Jacob Kerstetter, 9. Travis Fisher, 10. Darryl Bruenig, 11. Troy Bollinger, 12. Don Wagner, 13. Geno Steigerwalt DNS: Greg Steigerwalt

Street Stock Feature Finish (30 Laps): 1. Jamie Smith, 2. Jonathan Tracey, 3. Joe Mooney, 4. Kristy Arthofer, 5. Joe Stangle, 6. Randy Schlenker, 7. Aaron Kromer, 8. Zach Graver, 9. TJ Gursky, 10. Todd Ahner, 11. Jared Ahner, 12. Gene Bowers, 13. Jason Frey, 14. Randy Ahner Jr., 15. Brian Labar, 16. Jillian Long, 17. Stacey Brown, 18. Jason Kuhn, 19. Chris Steigerwalt. 20. Josh Mooney DNQ: Mark Martini, Corey Edelman, Logan Boyer, George Ramos, Jeremy Scheckler

Dirt Mod Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Aleia Geisler, 2. Jack Ely, 3. Mike Stofflet, 4. Lorin Arthofer II, 5. Scott Adams, 6. Ricky Yetter, 7. John Banashefski, 8. Dave Gorbatuk, 9. Bill Sittler Jr., 10. Billy Lasko, 11. JP Curry, 12. Scott Hyland

Pro 4 Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Josh Scherer, 2. Bobby Kibler Sr., 3. JD Light, 4. Jake Kibler, 5. Bobby Kibler Jr., 6. Johnny Bennett, 7. TJ Kemmerer, 8. Eric Danyluk, 9. Kailyn Beers, 10. Cody Kohler, 11. Nick Baer

Hobby Stock Feature Finish (15 Laps): 1. Shayne Geist, 2. Cody Geist, 3. Michael Wambold, 4. Ken Reeder, 5. Rich Mutarelli, 6. Kyle Krempasky, 7. Thomas Hunsicker Jr., 8. Jeff Biegley, 9. Lyndsay Buss, 10. Steve Tito, 11. Waylon Speer, 12. Nicole Quinter, 13. Seth VanFossen, 14. Ryan Berger, 15. Bob Azarowitz, 16. Ron Heeter, 17. Kyle Scisco, 18. Devon Schmidt DNS: Tom Cavagnino

GEOFF BODINE TO RETURN AS GRAND MARSHALL FOR THE 65TH SUNOCO RACE OF CHAMPIONS 200

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BODINE A NATURAL FIT FOR CHEMUNG SPEEDROME EVENT.

BINGHAMTON, NY…Two-time Sunoco Race of Champions winner Geoff Bodine will be returning to the place he grew up as the Grand Marshall of the 65th Sunoco Race of Champions 200 this Sunday, October 4th.  For the first time the Chemung Speedrome will host the storied event, a race track originally built by the Bodine family and later re-built and opened by Bob Stapleton.

Bodine, a two time winner of the Sunoco Race of Champions will be returning to his roots for the 65th edition of the RoC.  His victories in the 1972 RoC at Trenton Speedway and the 1978 edition at Pocono solidified his standing as one of the greatest open wheel Modified drivers of all time.  His victory in the 1986 Daytona 500 came as no surprise to the northern race fans that saw him in action behind the wheel.  Bodine also had three International Race of Champions victories which pitted the best names in the world auto racing scene during the 1980’s and 1990’s.

“I’m looking forward to returning home for the RoC weekend,” said Bodine.  He added, “It will be great to be part of the first ever RoC 200 being hosted at Chemung.”  Race of Champions Director Andrew Harpell commented, “Geoff has provided our race fans with some amazing drives during his career and we are thrilled to have him returning for the weekend.”  He added, “This clearly has special meaning to him and his family with their connection and contributions to Modified racing.”

In July Race of Champions Director Andrew Harpell announced the change of venue from the long time host Oswego Speedway to the Chemung Speedrome.  After 20 plus years Harpell will conclude his involvement with the event this October as western, New York auto racing industry leader Joe Skotnicki has purchased the rights to the event. The sale will become official in January.  Harpell commented on the venue change, “We wanted to bring the event to the loyal fans of the southern tier region of New York and the Chemung Speedrome was a great fit.  We cannot wait to put on the 65th RoC this Sunday.”  He added, “So many great teams and fans have come out of our region to support the race over the years.  This is my personal way of saying thanks by hosting the event in this area.

The Sunoco Race of Champions Weekend will take place this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Chemung Speedrome in Chemung, New York.  On Friday there will be no racing activities but there will be a Chicken BBQ presented by Phil’s Chicken House famous BBQ.  Driver registration and pre-event ticket sales will continue on Friday at the Chemung Speedrome offices.

On Saturday the Race of Champions Sportsman 125 lap feature event will take center stage highlighting many of the weekly Chemung stars in competition.  Teams from all over the northeast will be on hand for that event.  The biggest INEX Legends Car event in the northeast will also be on the Saturday evening card.  Their 30 lap event will see one of the richest purse payouts in the entire northeast for the teams in competition.  Chris Zacharias has posted bonus money for the “Shirley Shootout” B-Main event that will see every non-qualifying Legend Car driver receiving some cash for their attempt to make the show.  Teams from six different states have shown interest in the Legend Showdown at the Drome presented by PA Notary Services.

Also on Saturday the Bandolero division will be in competition along with a Four Cylinder Open.  Area businessman Jerry Sinsabugh has raised over $700 in bonus money and gift certificates for all of the young competitor’s in the Bandolero division.  This will be an outstanding event for both of those classes as well.  Racing on Saturday will get underway at 6 p.m.

On Sunday the Chemung Speedrome will become the focus of all eyes in northeast auto racing as the 65th running of the Sunoco Race of Champions Modified 200 will take center stage.  The 200 lap event will pay a minimum of $10,000 to win with a driver able to walk away with well over $15,000 with additional posted bonus lap money.  The Race of Champions is the second longest consecutively run auto racing event in the United States.  Second only to the Indy 500.  The Super Stocks and Front Wheel Drive Four Cylinders will be part of the Sunday action with racing set to begin at 2:15 p.m.

The Race of Champions offices can be contacted at 607-775-5555 or by emailing the office at rocpavement@aol.com.  Tickets can be purchased by phoning the speedway offices and using your major credit card.  A full weekend schedule and pricing can be found at www.raceofchampionsweekend.com.  Kids 5 and younger will be admitted FREE of charge both days!