Ferree claims Late Model win at Lernerville
Alex Ferree had one chance, and he took it.
That's why Ferree is a six-time and three-time defending Lernerville Speedway Late Model champion.
Ferree of Saxonburg took a big chance on Lap 13 as the leaders encountered lapped traffic in Turn 4 and got around leader Michael Norris and the second-place car of Matt Lux.
“Norris got pinned in lapped traffic, and I got lucky because Matt (Lux) decided to go high,” Ferree said. “I went straight to the bottom.”
Russ King finished second, Norris was third, Lux fourth and Michael Lake rounded out the top five. Gary Lyle, who separated his shoulder during a heat-race incident and had it popped back in place by paramedics to continue the heat, finished sixth in the feature.
The victory is Ferree's 35th at Lernerville and that put him alone in fourth all-time. Ferret was tied with four-time track champion Ben Miley.
“There were two lapped cars, and that meant five of us were rammed in there together,” Lux said. “I give credit to Alex because he was able to make it stick, and it took me a while to regroup. I think the track was just too fast tonight. The cushion has been too low, and we have the Firecracker in two weeks, but we have not yet seen the track we will see for that yet this season.”
After Ferree grabbed the lead, most of the action was behind him. Lake had trouble most of the race at the top of Turn 4 and jumped the cushion on more than a few laps. Late in the race, Ferree had a little trouble getting around a lapped car, but once he did the final margin of victory was just over one second.
On an early restart with six laps completed, Doug Eck, running second, spun in Turn 2. After the caution flag, Todd Bachman, on the back straight, broke and his car veered to the left and slammed into Mike Pegher Jr., who was running in the top five at the time. Both cars went over the inside berm and were done for the night.
“There are six or seven really good cars out there that can win any race,” Ferree said. “I'm not sure I would have been able to pass Norris without that lapped traffic. For the Firecracker, I think the track will be much more like opening night than it was here tonight.”
After so many close calls, you can't blame Steve Feder for thinking the regularly scheduled fireworks display that began once he pulled into his pit slot was just for him.
Feder of Butler, who began his V-8 Modified career in 2007, won his first career Lernerville feature Friday night. Feder led the first 22 laps without much drama, but then the first caution of the race came out and things got interesting.
Coming in to the night Feder's only other victories had come at Sharon Speedway.
“Had it stayed green I don't think we would have had much trouble,” Feder said. “But then, on that restart when those guys passed me I was worried.”
On the restart Feder started on the inside and lost the lead to Michael Maresca and then also lost a spot to Rex King Sr. On the final lap, Feder worked his magic. Feder ran the fastest lap of the race, for any car, on the final lap.
“When those two passed me, I got a bit rattled,” Feder said. “I figured that I had not been up top the whole race, and that's where I went and I ran harder, and it kept sticking so I ran even harder.
“The car has been good all year. But it has been tough to get the balance. We debated making changes tonight since we started up front, but we did. I also bought a new tire tonight, a left rear, so that helped. It feels amazing to finally get that win, and then to have someone like Brian (Lernerville all-time leader in Modified victories Brian Swartzlander) come down and congratulate you after a race.”
Maresca finished second, Mat Williamson was third, King was fourth and Swartzlander finished fifth.
In the Sprint Car feature Danny Mumaw of Wooster, Ohio, won his first career Lernerville feature.
Thomas Zuck is a freelance writer.