Swartzlander dominates V-8 Modifieds for victory
Brian Swartzlander continued his assault on the Lernerville Speedway record book Friday with his 80th V-8 Modified victory.
The Leechburg native pulled away from points leader Mat Williamson to score the victory. Williamson finished second, followed by Dave Murdick, Rex King Sr. and Rex King Jr.
Other winners included Bristolville, Ohio native Russell King (Late Models), Sarver's Carl Bowser (Sprint Cars) and Tarentum's Corey McPherson (Sportsman Stocks).
Swartzlander is the all-time leader in Modified victories at Lernerville. Murdick, who last week won his 27th Modified feature, is second among active drivers and ninth all-time.
Swartzlander started the feature in the second row, next to Williamson. King Sr. started on the pole and held the lead for the first four laps. Swartzlander, then, took the lead coming out of Turn 2 and led the final 21 laps for the victory.
“We got out front, and I was able to find my groove,” Swartzlander said.
“Late in the race, though, and we've been having issues with the fuel all year, but the engine was sputtering. It's possibly too much fuel. We are not sure yet.”
Swartzlander also finished sixth in the Late Model feature. After he took the lead, the main battle was for second between King and Williamson, who took the second spot on Lap 17.
“Brian was better than we were tonight,” Williamson said. “We missed the shocks tonight. We should have changed them after the heat. I just didn't think the track would get as slick as it did. After that last restart, I think we could have raced with him (Swartzlander), but I am not sure we could have passed him.”
King's Late Model victory was his second of the season at the track. The other came in the Uncle Sam 30 during the World of Outlaws Firecracker 100 weekend in June. Alex Ferree finished second, follwed by John Mollick, Jared Miley and Mike Pegher Jr.
King and Ferree waged a terrific battle and traded the lead late with King riding the very top of the track and Ferree just below.
“You really could get so far off if you hit that slick spot in two,” Ferree said.
“I could have gone higher, but that would have put me into him. The cushion was just so fast, too fast. I'm not a big fan of slide jobs, and that was the only way to pass out there, or you'd knock someone out.”
King also battled early with Garrett Krummert, who has showed a lot of speed the past few weeks. With 19 laps completed, Krummert, running fourth at the time, spun at the top of Turn 4 and brought out the final caution. Krummert recovered to finish 12th. On the restart, King held the lead for the victory.
“He's (Ferree) a class act,” King said. “I knew I had to be married to the outside, and I also knew Alex could (get) into the turn better than I could, but he gave me room, and I gave him room. It was the same out there with Garrett (Krummert). We gave each other room.”
Carl Bowser rebounded nicely from last week's mechanical failure to win his second Sprint car feature of the season.
It's his ninth career win at Lernerville. Eric Williams finished second. Gary Rankin, Daryl Stimeling and Scott Priester rounded out the top five.
“Last week, I think we should have won if we hadn't broken,” Bowser said. “The car has been fast. It feels good, and my confidence is up. I really think I lacked that last year and the year before when I won the championship.”
The final feature of the night had defending Sportsman Stock champion McPherson nearly letting one slip away. On the final lap, McPherson had a bobble coming out of Turn 2, and that made it possible for A.J. Flick to just about squeeze by on the outside of the back straight.
Flick didn't get by, and McPherson reversed his luck from last week when he had a flat tire late in the feature and finished well off the pace. It also allowed McPherson to pull within 10 points of Flick in the championship race.
Tuesday night Lernerville featured its Summer Vacation races. Jordon Myers won the School Bus race, Rose Spithaler won the Powder Puff Bus race, Jason Moore won the Trailer race, and Mike Roberts won the $1,000 to win 100-lap Enduro.
Roberts was the star of the night even before 50-car field hit the track, announcing that if he won, he would donate half of his winnings to the American Cancer Society, which he did.
Thomas Zuck is a freelance writer