Local racing gets underway

By Pam Baker

CLARION NEWS Racing correspondent

Welcome back race fans. Racing season has started already in our local area and will get into full swing here in a couple weeks as all the tracks start to open. This past weekend the Chiller Thriller was held at Michaels Mercer Raceway Park.

There were 29 drivers registered in the pit area for the first of seventeen races on the BRP Modified Tour schedule. By the top 12 redraw, Brad Rapp and Rex King, Jr. brought the 27 car starting field to the drop of the green flag. On the initial start, Gale Ruth, Sr. came to a stop in turn four to bring out the caution before a lap could be completed. On the second start a melee of cars came together in turn two bringing out the second caution. A third start found Jim Rasey stopping on the front stretch to bring out the third caution.

According to BRP rules after the third caution the field goes single file the rest of the race and once this happened a clean start took place with Rex King, Jr. jumping out into the lead. The race went green for seven laps with King, Jr. in the lead and Garrett Krummert trying everything to get by King, Jr. A caution flag on lap seven for Paul Kot brought the field together once again. On the restart, King, Jr. once took command but Krummert was hot on his rear bumper and once the leaders got into lapped traffic on lap fourteen the race between King, Jr. and Krummert really heated up.

Rex King, Jr. was able to keep his cool and total control of his car and was able to lead until lap twenty-one when the caution flew once again for debris on the track. Another restart found King, Jr. once again in the lead and with five to go the caution flag flew for the last time for Brad Rapp who spun on the front stretch. The final restart saw King, Jr. in control and went the final five laps to get his first win of the season. King, Jr. picked up where he left off last season with the BRP Modified Tour as he captured the season finale last year at Hummingbird Speedway and now has his first win under his belt for 2021.

The final finish saw Rex King, Jr. ahead of Garrett Krummert, Justin Haers, Chad Brachmann, and Erick Rudolph, Rex King, Sr., Dave Murdick, Rick Regalski, Greg Martin, Kyle Fink, Brad Rapp, Eric Gabany, Tom Glenn, Mark Frankhouser, Steve Barr, Shawn Kozar, Marshall Hurd, James Sweeting, Jim Rasey, John Venuto, Paul Kot, Jeremiah Shingledecker, Tony Pangrazio, Brian Sadler, Curt Bish, Jr., Rodney Beltz, Gale Ruth, Sr., Kevin Green DNS; Steve Slater DNS. Heat races were won by Haers, Krummert and Dave Murdick.

Second generation driver Logan McCandless who has only been racing for a few years in the 305 sprints put it all together and led flag to flag in the racesaver 305 sprint feature. Jeremy Kornbau hounded Logan the entire race but could not get around him and ended up in second place. Jake Gomola moved up four spots to finish third, Steve Cousins fourth and Knox's Kyle Colwell finished fifth.

In the pro stock main event an exciting contest occurred when Jamie Duncan, who has never won at Mercer, took the early lead but then suffered a small fire under the car to bring out the red flag. He was able to restart at the tail. Jamie Barber inherited the lead, but Barber got tangled up with a lap car in turn four putting him to the tail as well. That put Dave Shagla Jr. in the top position, and went on to get his first career Mercer feature. Jimmy Kennerknecht moved up five spots to finish second and challenged Shagla in the remaining laps. Chris Withers was third, Knox's Jamie Colwell finished fourth with Ray Gregory fifth.

Garrett Krummert redeemed himself after his second place big block finish by dominating the FASTRAK modified feature leading flag to flag. Chas Wolbert and Brian Schaffer swapped second and third place back and forth and Wolbert went on to finish second, Shaffer was third, Justin Shea 4th and Jordan Ehrenberg 5th.

The mighty Mini Stocks started with 27 cars that was whittled down to 10 running at the end. Carl Ealy and newcomer Greg Kiehl started on the front row with Kiehl taking control early. Kiehl was ready to take the checkered flag but broke with a few laps remaining sending him to the pits. Ealy gained control and picked up his first career win in the shortened 10 lap affair. Jacob Wheeler was impressive coming from 21st place to second, Leonard Baker Jr up six to third, Mike Porterfield fourth and Trevin Schaffer up 17 positions to fifth.

Lernerville Speedway will open its 2021 season on Friday, April 16. Tri City Speedway will be holding a practice session on April 10 and its opener will be on April 18. Michaels Mercer Raceway will be back in action on Saturday, April 24 with the 410 Sprint Cars on tap for their headliner. Opening night at Thunder Mountain Speedway on April 30 and Hummingbird Speedway will turn the lights on for the first time this season on May 1.

I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Easter. Take care and I will return in a couple weeks with more racing action.