Saxonburg driver claims emotional victory at Lernerville
The two men most influential in Alex Ferree's racing career played a part in his winning the Dave Hoffman Memorial on Friday night at Lernerville Speedway.
“Dave (Hoffman) was pretty big for our family,” said Ferree of Saxonburg. “Dave helped teach me what I know about setup and how to drive this car. And tonight I passed my dad in wins here. So this race means more to me than the points championship.”
Ferree's victory is his 22nd at Lernerville and puts him one in front of his father Ed.
Hoffman, a four-time Lernerville Late Model champion who died this past winter, had 19 career victories at the track.
In fact, it was Ferree's car that was used before the night's races by Bobby Hoffman to drive a victory lap that would have given his father his symbolic 300th career victory.
Russell King started the feature in the 10th spot and finished second, Jared Miley was third, Mike Pegher Jr. fourth and Garrett Krummert fifth.
Krummert led the first 20 laps, but after the restart on Lap 13 Ferree gradually cut into the lead. Coming out of Turn 2, Krummert made a mistake and Ferree took the lead.
“We've been fast the past five weeks,” Krummert said. “It always seems like this, at least lately, either the car breaks or the driver makes a mistake. I just missed it going into Turn 1, and that led to it coming out of 2.”
Ferree did not hesitate to say how Krummert's bobble influenced the race.
“If (Krummert) had not make a mistake, I probably wouldn't have passed him,” Ferree said. “Getting to someone and passing them is completely different.”
Miley appreciated the significance of the Hoffman Memorial.
“We were just kind of riding around out there tonight,” Miley said. “I'm just glad we finished. Our car was too tight tonight. The track looked drier than it was, so I am happy with a third.
“You do put more meaning to races like this,” Miley added. “Especially when you are old enough to remember the person that the night is for. And I remember Dave Hoffman.”
Miley will race Saturday in the Red Miley Rumble at Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway. That race honors Miley's uncle, Red, with a special Late Model race.
Just a few weeks ago John Garvin Jr. was leading the championship race, but Friday night he had yet another issue, this time a broken motor. And now, with just two points races left in the season, he is in unfamiliar territory.
“It's pretty frustrating,” said Garvin, who finished second to Miley in last season's championship. “I'm not really sure how to come back and win the championship. I don't know how to do that yet. I have never been that good and then had to do this.”
In other action, Wampum's Brandon Matus, who turned 19 last week, won his second career Sprint Car feature. Dave Murdick of Slippery Rock won his 28th career V-8 Modified feature and second of the season. Murdick's victory broke a tie with Dick Rankin on Lernerville's all-time Modified list.
Chicora's Mike Miller won his fourth Sportsman Stock feature of the season. Miller, the 2011 track champion, has won three of the past four features. Paul Bacchus, on his 60th birthday, won the Nostalgia Night feature.
The night started out with three accidents. The first came in the first heat of the night when Late Model driver Ron Davies slammed into the catch fence off Turn 3. His car went airborne, started to roll and ended upside-down in the fence.
Davies got out of the car and appeared for the most part unharmed. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation.
The second incident occurred during the second Sprint Car heat when Eric Williams slammed sideways into the wall over the top of Turn 4. Williams was shaken up but exited the car under his own power and was taken via ambulance for evaluation.
The other accident took place in the third Sprint Car heat race when Charlie Cornelius rolled his car through Turn 3 and into Turn 4. He also exited the car under his own power, but all three drivers were done for the evening.
Thomas Zuck is a freelance writer.