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Murdick makes move in Modifieds at Lernerville

| Friday, June 20, 2014, 11:30 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Modified driver Tom Winkle speeds through Turn 4 during the second heat race on Friday, June 20, 2014, at Lernerville Speedway.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Late Model driver Boom Briggs (99) leads the pack through Turn 4 during the first heat race on Friday, June 20, 2014, at Lernerville Speedway.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Modified driver Mat Williamson (6) takes the lead during the first heat race on Friday, June 20, 2014, at Lernerville Speedway.

Late June provides a strong opportunity for many racers to position themselves for the back half of the Fab Four racing season at Lernerville Speedway.

A number of drivers did just that in the Mid-Season Championships on Friday night.

Slippery Rock's Dave Murdick made up ground in the points race with a victory in the Modifieds feature, his second straight in the division.

Murdick entered the night in third place in the standings, behind leader Rex King Jr. and Rex King, both of Bristolville, Ohio. Only 13 points separated the three drivers before Friday.

“We gained a few points tonight,” Murdick said. “We closed the gap, but it might be a bit early to start counting points.”

Murdick took the lead after starting in the second spot, coming out of a caution on Lap 2.

“I thought the outside was going to be the place. We put in about five good laps on that outside at the beginning,” Murdick said. “I started struggling there, then (King) got behind me. When I saw where he was running, I decided to try that line again. I made that work for us.”

The win guarantees Murdick, as well as all of Friday's winners, a spot in next week's World of Outlaws Firecracker 100 event.

Murdick hopes the things he and his crew have done will carry on through the rest of the season.

“I think we're getting better. I think we're hitting our stride,” Murdick said. “In the first half of the year, we're trying some stuff. Now we can apply what we've learned.”

Yellow flags, meantime, plagued the Late Model feature. Six cars were knocked out of commission early, whittling the field to 14.

By the end of the race, just 11 drivers finished. Outlasting the field was Waterford's Dave Hess Jr. It was the first Fab Four event for Hess this season.

“It feels good to get one this year,” Hess said. “I've been running (in Erie). I've got a bunch of seconds, but no wins. I knew coming down here we always do well.”

Hess moved ahead of points leader Alex Feree of Saxonburg on the backstretch of the 22nd lap. He started 13th.

“It's always very racy. You can make something happen,” Hess said.

Hess, who has not raced Fab Four since last season, knew his way around the oval, and he made the best of it.

“I knew a lot of those guys have been running real tough here. I just had to be patient, the way the track was,” Hess said. “I knew guys were going to make mistakes trying to run the top. The bottom was a real touchy deal, too. I knew it was going to be a survival deal.”

Dave Yohe is a freelance writer.

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