Holden wins his seventh Little Guy Nationals race
By Pam Baker
CLARION NEWS Racing correspondent
Hello race fans. There are only two more weekends of racing left in the 2021 season. This weekend, weather permitting the BRP Modified Tour will return to Latrobe Speedway for their second race at that track this season. Then the following weekend will be the grand finale of local auto racing as the 13th Annual Steel City Stampede will be held at Lernerville Speedway which will feature 10 different divisions and end with a 100-lap Enduro. And don't let us forget that in Clarion the Autumn Leaf Festival is taking place which is very important to the town of Clarion. I just hope that the weather cooperates better for Friday Craft Day and Saturday Parade Day then it did last weekend for the car show.
This past weekend, Michaels Mercer Raceway held its 22nd annual Little Guys Nationals which was a two-day event on Friday and Saturday night.
Picking up the win in the Small Block Modified feature on Friday night was six time track champion, Jimmy Holden. Holden who has won six of the prior Little Guys National events made it seven as he overtook leader Shannon Whaley on lap two of the event and go the rest of the distance to pick up the win. Kyle Fink had his motor expire on lap 15 putting him out of the race. Finishing second to Holden was Ron Cartwright, Jr., followed by Whaley, JR McGinley and Rick Regalski.
In Pro Stock action, Knox's Jamie Colwell would lead the first seven laps of the feature before becoming tangled with Rich Chess, Sr. in turn four. Colwell stopped on the track and was sent to the tail of the field. Coleton Longwell then took over the lead and went on to win the race. Finishing second was Ray Gregory with Tyler Wyant third. Fourth went to Jim Fosnaught and Josh Sieppel rounded out the top five.
Brandon Ritchey led final laps of the caution plagued FASTRAK Modified feature to pick up the win. Finishing second was Eric Gabany followed by Aiden Cipriano, Brian Schaffer and Frank Guidace.
The Econo Mods made their first appearance of 2021 and in one of the biggest upsets of Mercer history, 15-year old Jordan Simmons held off Garrett Calvert and Alan Dellinger to win his first career full-size car victory. Finishing fourth was Jason Gracey followed by Kyle Adkins.
In the Mini Stock feature Carl Ealy added to his win total as he picked up his eighth feature win this season. Willie Aley battled with both Carl and Randy Ealy for the lead, but Carl was too strong and picked up the win. Randy Ealy finished second ahead of Willie Aley, Jordan Wheeler and Mike Porterfield.
The 305 Sprints were also on hand and it was Logan McCandless who won the 20-lap feature event over Ayrton Olsend, Jimmy Morris, Jacob Gamola and Vivian Jones. Kyle Colwell rode home sixth. In the Young Gun Jr. Sprints Mason McAndrew and Kalen Jackson picked up wins.
On night number two of the Little Guys Nationals Phil Vigneri, Jr. made the trip from New York worthwhile as he picked up the Small Block Modified feature win. Vigneri came from the fourth starting position to take the lead away on lap three from Eric Grice and go on to pick up his fifth overall Mercer win. Fellow New Yorker, Eric Grice finished second with Rick Regalski third. Fourth went to another New York driver, Shannon Whaley with Frank Guidace rounding out the top five.
The Pro Stock feature found another first time winner at Mercer as Tyler Wyant picked up the feature win after starting outside pole position. The caution filled event found several stoppages along with a red flag for William Blum whose car ended upside down after going across the nose of Doug Iorio's ride. No one was injured in any of the incidents. Finishing second was Rusty Wheeler followed by Chris Wither, Josh Sieppel and Ron Boardman.
Jacob Gomola led the 305 Sprint feature until the final two laps when Logan McCandless used the high side of the speedway to take away the lead and went on to pick up his second feature win of the weekend. Gomola would finish second ahead of Kyle Colwell, Jarrett Rosencrance and Ayrton Olsen.
Chas Wolbert continued his winning ways in the FASTRAK Modified feature as he picked up his 14th Crate Modified feature win of the season on Saturday night. Jeff Schaffer, Jr. finished a solid second with Eric Gabany third. Fourth went to Preston Cope with Jeremy Weaver fifth.
Andy Priest substituted for Rod George, who took ill during the week, in Ted Hull's #41 Wingless Sprint Car and picked up the feature victory. Andy has driven for Hull for 23 years so he knew the car and had no trouble getting the win. Blaze Myers finished second with John Mollick, Nolan Grove and Ryan Fraley rounding out the top five.
Garrett Calvert was looking for his Econo Mod feature win of the season, but Andy Buckley took that win away as he got around Calvert and picked up the win. Finishing second was Calvert followed by Gary Olsen in third. Fourth went to Jason Garvey with Dale Reiser in fifth.
Carl Ealy repeated his winning ways from Friday night in the Mini Stock feature by picking up his 8th win this season. Finishing second was Ealy's cousin Andy Thompson followed by Mike Slasgiver, Summer Pitts and Jordan Reges.
In the Young Gun Junior Sprints Garrett Davenport and Grady Rinehart picked the two different feature wins.
A big announcement was made during the drivers meeting on Friday night at Mercer the 305 Sprint Car driver, Steve Cousins, will be hanging up his helmet and becoming the new promoter at Michaels Mercer Raceway for 2022.
Edward Michaels will still own the speedway, but Cousins will take over the promoters position and they also announced that the track will be reclayed this winter with red clay that is on Lernerville, Sharon and Port Royal Speedways surfaces. This concluded the 2021 racing program at Michaels Mercer Raceway and they will return next season with announcements during the winter as to divisions and special events for 2022.
Have a great weekend everyone. Enjoy the festivities of Autumn Leaf Festival and stay safe and I will see you around the speedways in the next two weeks.