Story By: GARY HEEMAN / LERNERVILLE SPEEDWAY – SARVER, PA – The annual Peluso Roofing Sprint Car Spectacular took center stage at The Action Track on Saturday night, and with a dry weather forecast, comfortable temperatures and a very racy track at the ready, a robust 79 Sprint Cars graced the pit area for the three division Sprint Car frenzy.
There was extra money on the line for the FAST on DIRT Sprint Car Series and Allegheny Sprint Tour 305 Sprint Cars, while the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply RUSH Sprint Car Series distributed to their drivers, over $15,000 worth of racing products, supplies and gift certificates on their annual Manufacturers Night presented by MSD Performance.
On the track, AJ Flick kept the winner’s check local by besting the 29 car field, collecting $5,000 in the process by winning the 30 lap FAST on DIRT Series main event, while Jeremy Kornbau swept the night in Allegheny Sprint Tour 305 Sprint Car action, producing quick time on the night as well as a heat win and a $2,000 win in the 20 lap feature. However, perhaps the race of the night belonged to the RUSH Sprint Cars as the savvy veteran John Mollick crossed back under an oncoming, red hot Blaze Myers coming out of turn four and won the drag race to the checkered flag, collecting his second RUSH Series victory at Lernerville in 2023 in a thrilling finish.
Flick Tops Fast on DIRT Sprints
AJ Flick came into the night looking to add to what was an already impressive season in 2023, including 13 feature wins, and his odds were immediately enhanced by drawing the pole heading into the $5,000-to-win, 30 lap main event for the Ti22 Performance FAST on DIRT Sprint Car Series. However, a formidable roster of drivers which included Tim Shaffer and Dale Blaney, as well as series points leader Brandon Spithaler who started the night within reach as Spithaler found himself joining Flick on the front row.
When the green flag waved, Spithaler found the bite on the top side of turns one and two and rocketed his way around Flick for what appeared to be the early race lead. However, Austin Bishop slowed dramatically down the backstretch following contact with Carl Bowser to bring out the yellow with a complete double file restart to follow. When racing got back underway, Flick got a better jump on the bottom through the middle groove and slid nearly all the way up to the top of the surface, and with little room to work with, Spithaler could not manage to keep his car from going off the top side of the speedway in turn two which brought out yet another yellow flag as Spithaler joined the tail of the field on the restart. The third time was the charm as action resumed without interruption as Ryan Smith now found himself alongside Flick on the front row, and when the green flag waved, Flick rocketed out to a sizable early lead over Smith while eighth starting Dale Blaney came forward with authority to make his way around Smith for the second spot with just four laps in the books.
Behind Flick and Blaney were Smith, Tim Shaffer and Matt Farnham, comprising a formidable chase pack with 26 laps remaining. Out front, Flick used the top side momentum around the entire speedway while Blaney was close enough to take looks underneath as lapped traffic awaited them at the six lap mark. Flick made his way around the first few pieces of traffic with relative ease, and with nine laps down, Blaney bobbled slightly on the top of turn four, allowing Flick a greater advantage. With 11 laps in the books, Blaney found himself with clean air behind Flick and lappers ahead for the race leader and was able to make the gap closer, but not close enough to challenge the top spot at the halfway point.
Flick managed to lap up to the eleventh spot with 13 laps to go and was seemingly on cruise control, moving down low to put more pieces of traffic behind him for Blaney to deal with as was necessary and found himself in cleaner air over the final 10 laps, amassing a nearly three second lead over Blaney while Spithaler worked his way back to the sixth spot. But out front, Flick was in his own zone en route to the feature win adding to his list of accomplishments thus far in 2023.
“I was really scratching my head back in the pit area before this race started,” Flick said. “I wasn’t really sure if we had a car that could compete. I put it on its lid last Friday. Dan had the track phenomenal. We went nonstop for 30 laps and it’s a testament to the quality of cars that were on the speedway.
Ti22 Performance FAST on DIRT Feature: (Finish-Name-[Start]) 1. 2-AJ Flick; 2. 32-Dale Blaney; 3. 6R-Ryan Smith; 4. 49X-Tim Shaffer; 5. 7NY-Matt Farnham; 6. 22-Brandon Spithaler; 7. 29-Dan Shetler; 8. 2P-Ricky Peterson; 9. 20B-Cody Bova; 10. 12-Darin Gallagher; 11. 25R-Jordan Ryan; 12. 6-Bob Felmlee; 13. 08-Danny Kuriger; 14. 5-Jeremy Weaver; 15. 17-Cale Young; 16. 33-Brent Matus; 17. (DNF) 86-Michael Lutz Jr; 18. (DNF) 24D-Danny Sams III; 19. (DNF) 11-Carl Bowser; 20. (DNF) 35-Austin Bishop
Kornbau Gets out the Broom in Solid Performance
Jeremy Kornbau took his first victory at The Action Track in Allegheny Sprint Tour action and had to be one of the potential candidates to pick up a second win on Saturday night. But Kornbau put any doubts on who had the fastest car at the speedway was during his qualifying effort where he scored the fastest lap. Still though, he had his work cut out for him when the 20 lap main event rolled to the track as he started on the second row alongside the always tough Greg Doborosky and behind a front row comprised of Brett Brukenhofer and Andy Priest.
Priest bolted out to the early lead ahead of Brukenhofer and Kornbau, working the top side of the speedway as Kornbau was locked in a battle with Jim Morris to keep the third spot. By lap three, Brukenhofer, Kornbau and Morris all found themselves in a furious three way battle for the second spot that occasionally went three wide as Priest gained some margin in the lead. Morris took the second spot away from Brukenhofer and Kornbau also made his way around for the third spot just one lap later with Kornbau moving to the bottom to collect the position. The caution flag then came out for a Hunter Hite spin with four laps down. Priest made a clean getaway on the restart as Morris and Kornbau resumed the battle for the second spot with Morris down low and Kornbau on the top side. However, out front, Priest’s advantage began to shrink as Kornbau made his way past Morris for a firm hold on the second spot and almost took the lead from Priest which was negated by a Justin Kovach spin in turn four.
When action resumed with eight laps in the books, Kornbau when directly to the bottom into turn one, then moved back to the top in turns three and four, drawing to Priest’s tail tank at the halfway mark, then with nine laps to go, he slid up in front of Priest with just enough momentum coming out of turn two to take the lead with nine laps to go. Meanwhile, Jake Gomola was on the move, climbing to the top five from his sixth starting spot while taking the fourth spot away from Steve Kenawell Jr. with three laps to go before the yellow flag waved again for another Tyler Kovach spin. When action resumed, Kornbau got a huge jump on his pursuers as Gomola climbed to the second spot while Kornbau came to the white flag with clear sailing ahead towards a $2,000 payday, en route to his second win of the season at The Action Track to complete the evening sweep.
“We were swinging on the slick, and I knew we would be tonight because we were the last feature,” Kornbau said. “It wasn’t slick on the cushion, but it was a handful and it was fun.”
Allegheny Sprint Tour 305 Sprint Car Feature: (Finish-Name-[Start]) 1. 27K-Jeremy Kornbau; 2. 4J-Jacob Gomola; 3. 16-Jim Morris; 4. 17K-Steven Kenawell Jr; 5. 47-Brett Brunkenhoefer; 6. 4W-Kasey Wearer; 7. 21N-Andy Priest; 8. 88-Greg Dobrosky; 9. 42-Jim Pattock; 10. 3J-Jacob Begenwald; 11. 880-Drew Ritchey; 12. 25G-Nolan Groves; 13. 26-Ryan Lynn; 14. 17-Owen Dimm; 15. 25-Tyler Graves; 16. 3-Ryan Beatty; 17. 30-Jazlyn Boyles; 18. (DNF) 23-Todd Lynn; 19. (DNF) 4G-Justin Kovach; 20. (DNF) 21-Hunter Hite; 21. (DNF) 99-AJ Barton; 22. (DNS) 72-Mike Mathieson
Mollick Edges Myers in Thrilling RUSH Sprint Battle
Veteran wheelman John Mollick has experienced wins of every type imaginable in nearly every kind of car over his storied career. And on Saturday night, he added what may be remembered as one of his finest moments in his career at The Action Track.
Mollick started the 20 lap main event on the pole alongside Gale Ruth Jr. and quickly assumed command of the field with Ruth tucked just behind him as the early laps clicked off without incident. Behind them, Jeff Metsger and Brian Hartzell remained within reasonable striking distance until the yellow flag for a stopped Tyler Graves, halted all momentum with four laps in the books. Behind all the action up front, 13th starting Blaze Myers, winner of three consecutive RUSH Sprint Series events, was ramping up his assault on the field in front of him, climbing into the top 10 on the restart.
Out front, the top four remained in place as Mollick got out to a sizable advantage over Ruth and Metsger. Zach Wilson made his way around Metsger for third with 11 laps down and series points leader Chad Ruhlman’s car came to life as he made the pass around Wilson for the third spot with nine laps to tgo. Meanwhile, Mollick was into considerable lapped traffic with Myers pressing forward hard and into the fourth spot when the yellow flag came out for a Billy Myers spin with five laps to go. On the single file restart, Myers took off as If he were shot out of a cannon and vaulted himself to the second spot with four laps remaining. Ruhlman made his way past as the drivers swapped the position temporarily while out front Mollick tried to put as much distance between himself and the oncoming pack as he could. Myers took the second spot for good one lap later and set his sights on Mollick out front with time running out to catch the leader. With the white flag in the air, Myers made it to Mollick’s tail tank and dove low heading into turn three in what looked as if would be the pass for the win, but Mollick kept cool and crossed under coming out of turn four, then won the drag race down the front stretch to the checkered flag, collecting his second win at Lernerville in 2023.
“I heard him (Myers) coming.” Mollick said. “But I was shocked it wasn’t Ruhlman and it was the Joker. He must have had a good car because we were just hanging on there the last five laps, the cushion was getting narrow. We’re lucky we started up front. These things are very difficult to drive and make quick and make fast. They don’t handle like a Late Model or like a Modified, they’re kind of their own animal and it’s a challenge to drive it and be quick with it. I tried to move down there just a smidge there and make a better line and he come sliding across, I thought he had me there and it was going to be one heck of a move by him, I was just lucky to get the win.”
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply RUSH Sprint Car Feature: (Finish-Name-[Start]) 1. 4J-John Mollick; 2. 43JR-Blaze Myers; 3. 68-Chad Ruhlman; 4. 24-Gale Ruth Jr; 5. 9-Arnie Kent; 6. 68K-Kevin Ruhlman; 7. 12-Ryan Fraley; 8. 1-Zack Wilson; 9. 23-Charlie Utsinger; 10. 20-Jeff Metsger; 11. 69-Brian Hartzell; 12. 5B-Joe Buccola; 13. 6-Zach Morrow; 14. 5BX-Rick Regalski; 15. 69X-AJ MacQuarrie; 16. 1T-Rick Tucker; 17. 43S-Billy Myers; 18. 41-Brian Cressley; 19. 17-Trent Marshall; 20. 25G-Tyler Graves; 21. 316-Brandon McWilliams; 22. 29-Brandon Shughart; 23. 54-Devon Deeter; 24. 13K-Kevin Kaserman