By Gary Thayer
Special to The Meadville Tribune
The FASTRAK Northeast Touring Series had a doubleheader this past weekend with races held at Raceway 7 on Friday night and Mercer Raceway Park Saturday night.
At the Conneaut, Ohio track there was 19 cars vying for the 25-lap $1,500-to-win feature. Max Blair of Centerville started on the front row along with Matt Latta of Conneaut Lake. When the green flag dropped, Blair took off with the lead while Latta was close behind for second. By halfway, Blair had caught up with lapped traffic but didn’t have any trouble passing on his way for his fifth tour victory of the year. Latta was second, Mike Mitchell from Sagertown was third.
At Mercer on Saturday, Colton “The C-Man” Flinner of Allison Park led all 25 laps for the $1,500 payday. Flinner stated that he has been racing in the crate class for six years and has always wanted to win one of the tour races.
“And (Saturday) I did it. I’m speechless,” said the 19-year-old Flinner. “I couldn’t have ever dreamed of having a car that was set up so good that I could drive it anywhere on the track.”
Flinner also stated that this win may not fully set in until later in the week, but for now he is certainly happy.
Some Crawford County drivers Flinner a chase. Blair got by Latta for second and looked to sweep the weekend’s series. But over the closing laps Flinner maintained his lead to take the checkered flag. Blair was second, Latta third and Springboro’s Chad Wright was fourth.
Sodeman reflects on Smoke’s injuries
I sat down with 410 Sprint car driver Jack Sodeman Jr. before the races started Saturday at Mercer. A couple weeks ago, Sodeman fractured a couple vertebrea after wrecking his ride during a heat race at Lernerville. He was back racing the following week. I asked how he was with his injuries and Sodeman stated that he was released from his doctor to race but he knows he has to be careful. He said he is happy to be there and looks forward to the rest of the season.
Sodeman also stated that two years ago he had a bad flip in a race and he suffered the same injuries as NASCAR’s Tony Stewart, who broke his right leg during a Sprint car race in Iowa last week and will be out indefinitely.
Sodeman stated the when he flipped his car the drive shaft broke and the drive shaft started slapping his legs, which ended up breaking one of his legs. He knows what Stewart is going through.
Some may wonder what the drive shaft injuries are all about. Well, in these types of open-wheel cars, the driver sits just above the drive shaft and the shaft goes between the legs to the transmission on some cars.
In the Sprints, there isn’t a transmission. It is an in-and-out gear in the rear end. In the Big Block Modifieds there is a tranny.
Speaking of Sprint cars ...
That takes me to Saturday’s 410 Sprint feature at Mercer. There were a full field of Sprints with 24 cars starting the event. Sodeman showed he can still put the pedal down. He started 11th and, yes, he was on a mission as he started moving up positions. By lap 15, Sodeman was third and moving toward the leaders. But Adam “The Bomb” Kekich of Hermitage, driving the 5L sprinter, started on the front row and kept complete control, crossing the checkered flag to a standing crowd.
There wasn’t a dry eye at the raceway for Kekich, who won this race for his grandfather, Paul Kekich. The elder Kekich was a driver that raced around the region in his day and passed away earlier this year.
Back at Raceway 7...
SARVER — There was another first time winner at Raceway 7 on Friday night as Sherman, N.Y.’s Mark Ramsey, making his first visit to the track, won the Street Stocks feature.
Another New Yorker, Rich Michael Jr., continued his winning ways as he grabbed the victory in the E-Mods, his second in a row at 7.
It was another newbie taking a checkered flag in the Mini Stocks as “The Trooper” Tim Callahan, a Pennsylvania State Trooper, was first across the finish line.
In the Econo Mods, Brain Hathaway of Bristolville, Ohio, continues to impress, picking up his fifth feature win of the year.
King Sr., Lunger, Eucker collect wins at Sharon
HARTFORD, Ohio — With Lernerville Speedway canceling due to weather this past weekend, we move to Sharon Speedway Saturday night where Bristolville, Ohio’s Rex King Sr. snatched up his fourth feature win of the year by passing Jim Weller Jr. in the late laps of the DIRTcar Big Block Modified feature
In the RUSH Late Models, Dennis Lunger of Albion won his fourth feature of the year — his first since May 4. He leads the point standings for the class.
In the E-Mods, Scott Stiffler, of Farmdale, Ohio, won his first feature of the year after a caution filled race. Stiffler is the 11th different driver to win an E-Mod feature at Sharon this season — and Sharon has held 15 races.
In the Street Stocks, Greenville’s Tim Burns won his first feature of the year, shooting him up to second in the class standings.
Jacob” The Kid” Eucker, a 12-year-old out of Hartford, Ohio, won his fourth feature of the year in the Econo Mods, winning by just .554 seconds over Jeremy Double, who barreled out of the 12th spot to take runner-up by a heartbeat. Those two young men have put on some great shows for the crowds this year at Sharon.
Finally, in the Mini Stocks, Warren, Ohio driver and points leader Scott Gilliland claimed victory No. 6 on the season, solidifying his status as the division’s points leader.
The Wild Child grabs another win at Eriez
HAMMETT — On Sunday, Chad Wright of Springboro picked up his third feature win of the year at Eriez Speedway in the FASTRAK Late Models over second place finisher Max Blair. Blair had got by Wright at one point during the race, but a red flag stopped the lap before it was completed, putting Wright in the lead for the restart. Wright then pulled away over the second half of the race to claim the checkers.
Bear Lake driver Boom Briggs last visited victory lane two months ago. Sunday night he made a return trip, winning the Super Late Models feature at Eriez Speedway, overtaking former leader Robbie Blair who had engine trouble with five laps to go.
Albion’s Shawn Fawcett picked up the win in the Street Stocks.
Tim Fisher led from the pole to claim his first win of the season in the Challengers.
Joel Watson of Conneaut, Ohio was back in victory lane for the third time this year in the E-Mods.
And the last feature of the night belonged to last year’s track champion, Steve Kania, in the Limited Late Models. This is the Waterford driver’s fourth feature win of the year.
Next week at Raceway 7 is the Chris Clinger Memorial E-Mod race along with its regular divisions. This is one of the best E-mod races of the year to see.
On Saturday at Sharon Speedway will be the RUSH Late Model Touring Series along with the BOSS NW Non-Wing Sprints. Then on Tuesday Night it’s the Lou Blaney Memorial Alzheimer’s Benefit and NASCAR night. The evening will include 410 Sprints for $5,000-to-win and BRP Modifieds for $2,000 to win.
At Mercer Raceway Park on Saturday, the BRP Big Block Modifieds will be in town along with the regular divisions.
Until next week, take your family to the races.