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Author Topic: RUSH honors champs & top racers at 2018 awards banquet; Over $130,000 doled out  (Read 128 times)

RUSH Racing Series

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SUCCESSFUL 2018 SWEENEY RUSH SERIES SEASON COMPLETED AS CHAMPIONS & TOP RACERS HONORED IN RUSH DIVISIONS WITH OVER $130,000 DOLED OUT AT AWARDS BANQUET
By Mike Leone
 
January 26, 2019             FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
(Edinburg, PA)…While the 2019 racing season is only a few months away, Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Racing Series powered by Pace Performance Directors Vicki Emig and Mike Leone put a final wrap on the 2018 racing season with the annual awards banquet and dinner on Saturday night at the Gatherings Banquet & Event Center in Edinburg, Pa.  A record number of attendees filled the beautiful banquet hall as over $130,000 in cash and thousands in contingencies were distributed to Sweeney RUSH Late Model, Sprint Car, Sportsman Modified, Pro Mod, and Pro Stock racers.  All told well over a quarter million dollar in point fund monies and useful product contingencies were distributed to RUSH racers throughout the 2018 season.

The Sweeney RUSH Late Models had events at 23 different speedways in 2018 with over 350 different racers participating in either a weekly-sanctioned and/or touring series events  The new non-wing RUSH Sprint Cars debuted as a cost-containment division and saw 21 different cars compete at least one of the 11 speedways in four different states amongst the 27 scheduled events. Year five for the Sweeney RUSH Sportsman Modified season saw seven different speedways hold events with a record 56 different drivers competing in 48 different cars with a record turnout of 38 cars at Sharon Speedway for "Manufacturers Night" presented by MSD Performance.  The Sweeney Pro Stocks continued in year four of their Weekly Series, while the third year Sweeney Pro Mods again produced great racing at Stateline and Old Bradford Speedways on a weekly basis.

Crowned 2018 Late Model champions were Jeremy Wonderling-Sweeney Touring Series, Max Blair-Sweeney National Weekly Series and Pace "Summer Chase", David Pangrazio-"Futures Cup", and Bill Kessler-Wheelman Bonus Event Challenge Series.  In the Sweeney RUSH Sprint Cars, Chad Ruhlman captured the inaugural Bonnell's Rod Shop Weekly Series crown, while Arnie Kent won the "Wednesday Night Lightning" title.  In the Sweeney RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, it was Garrett Krummert taking the Bicknell Racing Products Weekly & Touring Series titles and Blaze Myers in the Bicknell "Futures Cup".  Dennis Lunger, Jr. won the Sweeney Pro Mod Weekly Series Championship, while Jarrod Silvis earned the “Futures Cup” honors.  Tyler Dietz captured the Sweeney Pro Stock title.  All of the champions received their point fund monies, laser etched championship marble awards, inscribed RUSH championship leather jackets, and Hoosier championship jackets

In his second year of trying, Jeremy Wonderling of Wellsville, NY edged out Touring Series newcomer and fellow New Yorker, Jason Genco, to earn $5,000.  Wonderling started the year off strong at the "Battle of the Bay" presented by Pancho's Racing Products finishing in the top 12 all four nights against a field of more than 40 cars each night.  His second place on the final night at Winchester seemed to kick start his season as he wouldn't finish outside the top nine in the final 14 events.  During that stretch, he recorded six podium finishes including a thrilling win at Outlaw Speedway.  After leading early in the season finale at Lernerville, Wonderling got into a fierce battle with Colton Flinner and Mike Pegher, Jr..  Wonderling saw the bigger picture and settled for a second, which clinched him his first title.   

Max Blair left Saturday's banquet once again as RUSH’s top point fund earner garnering $8,150.  Despite again focusing his efforts on his Super Late Model program, Blair again won enough and was efficient enough to capture the National Weekly Series & Pace Summer Chase titles for the Late Model division. 

The third generation racer led the way with 17 wins with those coming at six different tracks.  Blair finished in the top five in all 25 races he competed in!  The 29-year-old Centerville, Pa. driver's $5,000 National Weekly Series Championship was his fourth in six years also winning in 2013, 2015, and 2016.  His $3,000 Pace Summer Chase title was also his fourth in six years as he also won titles in 2013 and now three straight years from 2016 on.

David Pangrazio became the latest to enshrine his name as a “Futures Cup” Champion.  Pangrazio made the move from E-Mods to a RUSH Late Model in 2017, but 2018 was the breakout season for the 19-year-old.  The Elba, NY racer quickly became a factor night in and night out.  He battled for the title at Genesee Speedway  before finishing second in the RUSH member points to J.J. Mazur.  He picked up three wins with two coming at Genesee and his biggest was the prestigious "All Canadian" at Humberstone.  He'd total 13 top 5s and 20 top 10s good enough for a tie for 10th in the National Weekly Series standings.  Pangrazio earned $500 for his "Futures Cup" efforts alone joining past champs Ryan Montgomery, Nico Dabecco, Michael Lake, Eric Wilson, Clinton Hersh, Wyatt Scott, and Devin Brannon.

In his first year on the Touring Series, Bill Kessler finished sixth in points and won his first “Wheelman” Bonus Event Challenge Series title.  The New Brighton, Pa. driver had season best non-qualifier finishes of second at Georgetown and third at Pittsburgh to garner the $200 title and became the third new champion in as many years. 

In addition to the above point funds, the top five in RUSH member points at each RUSH Late Model weekly-sanctioned track shared in $800 cash ($300,200,100,50) as part of the “Track Pack” Weekly Bonus Program. 

One of the biggest stories throughout the region was not only that veteran and versatile racer, Chad Ruhlman, was getting into a Sprint Car, but in the end the success he would have.  When Ruhlman made his debut at Bradford on May 20 not only had he never raced a Sprint Car, but he didn't even know to fire it off.  That would be a fading memory as the 2018 season would be an unforgettable one for the Bemus Point, NY racer.

It didn't take long for Ruhlman to find the fast way around Bradford as won in his debut- a popular one to say the least.  In the end, he was victorious 15 times in 17 tries with his only blemishes being a pair of runner-ups.  He swept the two-day "Empire State Classic" at Genesee for $2,000.  Back in 2014, Ruhlman he was the $5,000 RUSH Late Model National Weekly Series Champion and now is the inaugural $5,000 Bonnell's Rod Shop Weekly Series title for the RUSH Sprint Cars!

Arnie Kent was instrumental during the off-season testing of the new RUSH Sprint Car division.  The former "410" Sprint Car standout was one of the top racers during Series Director Vicki Emig's ownership at Mercer Raceway Park.  So it was no surprise when the New Castle, Pa. veteran found victory lane the first night out making history winning the first ever RUSH Sprint race on May 16 at Lernerville.  He never finished worse than fifth during the "Wednesday Night Lightning" programs to win the $1,000 title; and collected $2,500 in point fund monies for his overall efforts in 2018.   

The 2018 Bicknell Weekly and Tour Champion simply wanted to race more thus why he decided to team up with Jerry Schaffer for his first year in a RUSH Sportsman Modified.  Garrett Krummert has won in Big-Block Modifieds, 358 Modifieds, Mod Lites, and Super Late Models over the years so it was no surprise he'd find success in the RUSH division.

The 2018 season was a strong one for the 30-year-old New Castle, Pa. racer, who was victorious three times at Pittsburgh, twice at both Sharon and Tri-City, and also added wins at Lernerville and Mercer.  He racked up an amazing 22 top 5 finishes in 26 starts and only finished out of the top 10 twice.  He was able to outgain Chas Wolbert by 10 points in the Weekly and 4 in the Touring to take home $3,800 in point fund monies. 

It's hard to imagine more of a dramatic way to win a title than how the 2018 RUSH Sportsman Mod "Futures Cup Champion" did it.  Blaze Myers held off 2017 Weekly Champion, Rocky Kugel, to win the last chance B main at the season finale at Lernerville.  He then lined up 19th in the feature and methodically worked his way to front using the moisture at the bottom of the speedway from the heavy rains that fell overnight.

With five laps to go, Myers was up to fifth, but would lose the handle doing a 360-spin that cost him five positions.  Not giving up, Myers remained committed to the bottom.  He drove to the front in the closing laps and snuck by the 2018 Weekly and Tour Champion, Garrett Krummert, on the final lap for what was probably the most popular RUSH win of the year.  The 14-year-old Franklin, Pa. racer did the unthinkable pulling off a huge upset for his first career Tour win, worth $800, that propelled him past season-long point leader, David Kalb, Jr.  Myers opened 2018 victorious over a 31-car field at Sharon for his first career win and ended the season where he started...in victory lane at Lernerville over a 30-car field. Myers earned $300 and joins past champs Kole Holden, Kyle Martell, and Jeremy Weaver.

The RUSH Pro Mod Weekly Series Champion is no stranger to RUSH competing over the years in the Late Model division with lots of accolades.  In 2017, Dennis Lunger, Jr. decided to return to his E-Mod roots as he'd do double duty on most nights racing both the Late Model and Pro Mod for car owner Rueben Schwartz where he'd go on to win the RUSH Pro Mod Weekly Series title.

2018 was much of the same though this time Lunger did double duty with his Open E-Mod and the Pro Mod winning both track titles at Stateline.  Lunger even made several late season starts in his RUSH Late Models.  Lunger started his title defense off at Stateline winning the first three Pro Mod races and would add two more victories while never finishing worse than second.  Lunger also made four Bradford starts picking up two more wins.  Those statistics allowed the 50-year-old Albion, Pa. racer to easily become the $3,500 Weekly Series Champion for the 2nd straight year. 

Eighteen-year-old Jarrod Silvis became the third "Futures Cup" Champion for the Pro Mod division, worth $300.  After taking over the #4Q ride in 2017 from his father Bill, the Corry, Pa. driver was able to improve six spots in the 2018 Weekly Series standings.  Silvis raced weekly at Stateline where he had a pair of 6th place finishes.  On August 26th, he made his first ever appearance at Bradford and recorded a career best 5th place.   

Tyler Dietz, the $1,000 2018 RUSH Pro Stock Weekly Series Champion, is another driver that worked his way up the ranks from Micro Sprints and Crate Late Models back when Emig owned Mercer.  This past season, the 29-year-old driver picked up the ride in the Chuck Neely/Bob Lambert-owned #27 and what a year they had!

The team won the first two races out of the box at Lernerville and would add two more victories at the track.  Amazingly the Saxonburg, Pa. driver finished in the top four of all 12 RUSH Pro Stock features in 2018 at Lernerville.  He would add a fifth place finish in his only start against the open engine cars at Pittsburgh.  And most impressive of all, the team towed down to Virginia's Winchester Speedway on September 22 and beat a field of more than 50 cars at their "Small Car Nationals" with a crate engine in the "open" engine event taking home the $2,000 top prize!

The highlight of the banquet was the special awards ceremony.  The Series’ major sponsor, Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC/Pace Performance, was recognized with a special appreciation plaque for their continued support of the Series.  Don Blackshear, Director of Circle Track Development of Pace, accepted on behalf of both companies.  Bonnell's Rod Shop will receive a beautiful laser-etched marble recognition award for their backing of the new RUSH Sprint Car division that will continue in 2019; owner, Scott Bonnell, was out of town and was unable to attend.

The “Legacy” Award is to honor historical significance as RUSH directors Vicki Emig and Mike Leone have completed their 12th year of directing crate engine racing in the Northeast.  The 2018 winner was the Miley Family of Pittsburgh's PA Motor Speedway.  The Imperial, Pa. "Monster Half-Mile" owners have worked with Emig and Leone for the past nine years and have never wavered in their support of the Series.  Pittsburgh produces some of the highest RUSH Late Model weekly car counts in the region and will host three Tour events in 2019 including "Manufacturers Night" along with the prestigious "Jook George Steel City Classic" and "Bill Hendren Memorial".  Pittsburgh also hosts the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds and RUSH Sprint Cars every chance they have.  Promoter Matt Miley, sister Ty, and mother Bertha accepted the award.   

Jason Ore of 955 Automotive was awarded the fourth annual Bill Hendren Memorial RUSH "Engine Rebuilder of the Year”.  Ore's engines captured 58 GM Performance crate engine victories, 46 with a 604 and 12 with a 602.  His engines won the RUSH Late Model track championships at both Eriez and Genesee Speedways with Jason Genco and JJ Mazur driving respectively; the RUSH Late Model "Futures Cup" title with David Pangrazio, and 2018 RUSH Late Model Touring Champion Jeremy Wonderling claims him as his primary motor man.   Pittsburgh's RUSH Sportsman Modified Champion Chas Wolbert, who finished second in both Weekly and Touring points, also uses Ore.  Ore's business is located in Erie, Pa.

Two "Miles Traveled" awards were doled out.  RUSH Sprint Car racer Steve Cousins won the first and RUSH Late Model driver Adam Ferri the second.  Cousins was a raw rookie in 2018 and competed in all 25 events in four states including all five of the "Wednesday Night Lightning" events at Lernerville- a six-hour midweek roundtrip from his home in Eldred, Pa.  Cousins racked up over 6,000 miles.  Ferri meanwhile returned to racing after a six-year hiatus and chose the Late Model Touring Series as his destination.  He kicked off the season towing more than nine hours from his home in Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada to Delaware, USA to open the season.  He raced in the first 15 completed Tour events, but unfortunately missed the final two due to some health issues.  Ferri accumulated over 4,500 miles crossing the border back and forth during those events.     

RUSH Series announcer, Brian Spaid, emceed the affair once again and also previewed the upcoming 2019 season, which will be a historic season.  Mike Lysakowski photographed the event. 

2018 Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Touring Series Top 12 Driver Points: 1. Jeremy Wonderling 1305  2. Jason Genco 1299  3. Brady Wonderling 1248  4. Adam Ferri 1071  5. John Waters 1003  6. Bill Kessler 976  7. J.J. Mazur 957  8. Cory Lawler 955  9. Jason Knowles 840  10. Damian Bidwell 772  11. Darrell Bossard 704  12. Chad Sines 634.

2018 Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Weekly Series Top 40 Points: 1. Max Blair 1344  2. Jason Genco 1338  3. Logan Roberson 1327  4. Matt Hill 1326  5. Darrell Bossard 1325  6. Damian Bidwell 1324  7. Chad Homan 1323  8. Jason Parkhurst 1311  9. Kevan Cook 1306  10. David Pangrazio & Charlie Sandercock 1303  12. Jeremy Wonderling 1302  13. Chuck Bowie & Justin Lamb 1301  15. Dale Caswell & Scott Gurdak 1295  17. Chris Fleming 1294  18. Sean Beardsley 1292  19. Brad Mesler 1291  20. Bret Belden 1289  21. John Waters 1288  22. Daren Alvey & Matt Latta 1285  24. Billy Thompson, Eric Wilson & Brady Wonderling 1284  27. J.J. Mazur 1282  28. Clate Copeman & Joe Moyer 1280  30. Kyle Zimmerman 1278  31. Breyton Santee 1277  32. Daryl Charlier 1275  33. Andy Michael 1273  34. Mike Franklin 1266  35. Joe Warren 1255  36. Tanner Kerr & John Mollick 1254  38. Kyle Murray 1251  39. Beamer Guzzardi & Ward Schell 1250.

2018 Pace Performance “Summer Chase” Late Model Top 10 Points: 1. Max Blair 114.0  2. Darrell Bossard 112.43  3. Damian Bidwell 112.15  4. Jason Genco 112.08  5. Matt Hill 110.67  6. Chad Homan 110.38  7. Jason Parkhurst 109.50  8. Matt Latta 108.7  9. Justin Lamb 108.06  10. Chris Fleming 107.97.

2018 Late Model “Futures Cup” Points: 1. David Pangrazio 1303  2. Kyle Murray 1251  3. Levi Crowl 1232  4. Max Hill 1207  5. Cory Lawler 1169  6. Jakob Piper 978  7. Justin Jesmer 546.

2018 “Wheelman” Bonus Event Challenge Series Late Model Champion: Bill Kessler 377

2018 Bonnell's Rod Shop RUSH Sprint Car Weekly Series Top 20 Points: 1. Chad Ruhlman 1343  2 Gale Ruth, Jr. 1313  3. Zach Morrow 1305  4. Arnie Kent 1304  5. Shawn Smith 1262  6. Brandon Hawkins 1250  7. Joe McEwen 1247  8. Scott Hawkins 1224  9. Dave Hawkins 1222  10. Brad Blackshear 1203  11. Steve Cousins 1195  12. Tyler Powell 1192  13. Steve Pedley 963  14. Jim Kurpakus 730  15. Dalton Daniels 717  16. Brian Woodhall 689  17. Phil Thornton 676  18. Brian Ruhlman 596  19. Mike Lutz 419  20. John Mollick 292.

2018 RUSH Sprint Car "Wednesday Night Lightning" Top 10 Points: 1. Arnie Kent 484  2. Gale Ruth, Jr. 478  3. Zach Morrow 474  4. Scott Hawkins 453  5. Dave Hawkins 451  6. Steve Cousins 436  7. Brandon Hawkins 352  8. Dalton Daniels & Joe McEwen 282  10. Brad Blackshear 269.

2018 Bicknell Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modified Weekly Series Top 20 Points: 1. Garrett Krummert 1338  2. Chas Wolbert 1328  3. Josh Deems 1293  4. Rocky Kugel 1284  5. Kole Holden 1282  6. Brandon Ritchey 1272  7. Kyle Martell 1255  8. Jeremy Weaver 1249  9. Justin Shea 1245  10. Brian Schaffer & Tony Tatgenhorst 1233  12. Rob Kristyak 1228  13. Blaze Myers 1207  14. David Kalb, Jr. & Steve Slater 1202  16. Chelsie Kriegisch 1196  17. Alan Dellinger 1186  18. Gary Haupt 1163  19. Jordan Ehrenberg 1148  20. Jacob Jordan 1143.

2018 Bicknell Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modified Touring Series Top 10 Driver Points: 1. Garrett Krummert 550  2. Chas Wolbert 546  3. Kyle Martell 524  4. Brandon Ritchey 522  5. Kole Holden 510  6. Steve Slater & Blaze Myers 498  8. Jeremy Weaver 485  9. Jordan Ehrenberg 391  10. Darin Gallagher 338.   

2018 Bicknell Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modified "Futures Cup" Points: 1. Blaze Myers 1207  2. David Kalb, Jr. 1202  3. Preston Cope 1082.

2018 Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Pro Mod Weekly Series Points: 1. Dennis Lunger, Jr. 1321  2. Chad Carlson 1298  3. Nate Hartzell 1226.  4. Justin Carlson 1222  5. Adam Ashcroft 1152  6. Scott Gurdak 1048  7. Zach Johnson 895  8. Jarrod Silvis 884  9. Nick Mohawk 873  10. Jeremy Wonderling 632  11. Jason Covey 624  12. Vaughn Nystrom 583  13. Jeramy Williams 580  14. Matt Harvey 503  15. Brian Mohawk 396  16. Kyle Babcock 290.

2018 RUSH Pro Mod "Futures Cup" Points: 1. Jarrod Silvis 884.

2018 Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Pro Stock Weekly Series Points: 1. Tyler Dietz 1322  2. Corey McPherson 1316  3. Jason Fontaine 1285  4. Ryan Moyer 1281  5. Jeremy Pilkerton 1264  6. Bob Egley 1215  7. Brett McDonald 1194  8. Scott Byers 1157  9. Mike Bordt 1141  10. Dale Tuche 1098  11. Chase Lambert 941  12. Terry Young 548.

Special Award Winners:
"Legacy”: Miley Motorsports (Pittsburgh's PA Motor Speedway)
Miles Traveled: Steve Cousins, Adam Ferri
Bill Hendren Memorial “Engine Rebuilder of the Year”: 955 Automotive (Jason Ore)

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