Expect fierce competition for Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway | TribLIVE.com
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Expect fierce competition for Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway

Jerin Steele
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Sprint car driver A.J. Flick, a three-time winner at Lernerville, will be among the competitors at the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup.

When the World of Outlaws come to Lernerville for the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup, they bring a challenging field of cars. With the potential of NASCAR driver Kyle Larson returning to defend his win from last year, competition rises.

Add Danny Dietrich and Logan Wagner from the PA Posse as well as All-Star Circuit of Champions regulars such as Dale Blaney, and it makes for a field full of top-notch drivers.

One thing is certain: local drivers such as Apollo natives AJ Flick and Sye Lynch and Buffalo Township resident Carl Bowser will be ready to defend their home track Tuesday for the 27th annual Silver Cup.

“(The Silver Cup) is one of the crown jewels with it being $25,000 to win,” said Flick, a three-time Lernerville track champion and the current points leader. “With a field like that, we’ll be happy to make the show. We’ve done it before and run top 10, but if we finish in the top 20, I’ll be happy with that.”

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Larson, who races the No. 42 car for Fox Chapel resident Chip Ganassi in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series took the lead from Ian Madsen on lap 9 of last year’s Silver Cup and rolled to victory. He got his start racing sprints in California and owns a World of Outlaws team piloted by Carson Macedo.

Flick admitted it’s hard not to think about racing wheel to wheel with Larson or Outlaws drivers such as Donny Schatz and Brad Sweet leading up to the race, but he is able to put that aside once he straps into his car.

“It really is intimidating to think about, but honestly, when I put my helmet on, all of that goes away,” Flick said. “When you’re in the zone, it doesn’t affect you that much.”

Flick earned his third Lernerville win of the season Friday in the final tune up for the Silver Cup. He holds a 16-point lead in the standings over Jack Sodeman Jr., and Bowser is 22 points behind.

Aside from racing at Lernerville, Flick has run against the PA Posse at Port Royal Sppedway in Juniata County on Saturdays the last couple of years and has fared well. He scored a win at Port Royal last year and is fourth in the points there this season.

“A lot of the driving that I’ve learned out there has helped me here,” Flick said. “Anytime Danny Dietrich or Lucas Wolfe passes you, you learn something. You see how they drive and how their car works. I’m able to feel how the dirty air affects your car out at Port Royal, and that helps me when I come here, because I know how to put my car in a better position whatever the situation is.”

Bowser has one win this season at Lernerville and has been improving since starting a team late last year after parting ways with Chiappelli Motorsports. He also picked up a win at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway. The race Tuesday provides a good measuring stick for his budding No. 11 team.

“I always say you can judge yourself by how you run with the Outlaws,” Bowser said. “Ideally, you want to qualify really well and make the show right out of a heat race. We’ve run a few time trial shows to get ready for it, and we’ve got a good engine, so we’ll see how it goes.

“If we can make the show and run in the top 10, I’d be really happy with that considering the short amount of time we’ve had a team. Really you just want to get in, because this is an important race for our sponsors and partners.”

The Outlaws enter Tuesday with one of the more intriguing points battles in recent history. Sweet leads the standings by 20 over Schatz, the 10-time and defending series champion.

Sweet earned his 11th win of the season at Saturday’s $175,000-to-win Kings Royal at Eldora (Ohio) Speedway. He hasn’t won a Silver Cup, but earned his first Lernerville victory last year at the Commonwealth Clash in September.

Schatz hasn’t had the results, but he has shown speed of late, winning two of the four features at Eldora. He has six wins on tour and ended a monthlong drought with a win at Wilmot, Wis., two weeks ago.

Qualifying will be important Tuesday, something Sye Lynch did well at Eldora. Lynch hooked up with Willman Racing, a 305 team his uncle Chad Hill had been racing with for Eldora. The team dropped a 410 motor in the car, and Lynch set fast time for the Kings Royal.

Lynch, who’s fourth in Lernerville points, made the race three of four nights at Eldora and placed 21st in the Kings Royal main.

The World of Outlaws use a straight-up qualifying format with the field split into two flights, meaning the fastest qualifiers in each flight start up front in heat races.

“With them you have to qualify well all the time,” Bowser said. “If they take four out of a heat race and you start fifth you’re not going just go up there and pass one of them. You have to start in the front.”

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