Blair, Blair, Michael, Frederes, Withers, and Beach enjoy opening night wins at Eriez
By Jay Pees
Hammett, PA (May 11, 2014): One of the most pleasant opening nights in memory greeted fans as they arrived at Eriez Speedway after an exceptionally brutal winter. 2013 Jay’s Auto Wrecking Super Late Models champion Rob Blair took the lead with three laps remaining when race-long leader Mike Knight, himself a former champion, spun out of the lead. Blair had started the event from the eighth position on the grid. Max Blair, Rob’s son, who had started to the inside of his father, came to second at the finish. The younger Blair also won the Bonnell Collision Center FASTRAK Late Models feature, leading every lap after starting from the pole position. 2013 champion Rich Michael Jr started sixth but was the leader by the time twelve laps were completed, going on to the win. Kelly Frederes returned to the Conway & O’Malley Limited Late Models after an absence, started outside front row, and then proceeded to lead every lap of their feature. Former champion Chris Withers won his heat, then started the Waterford Hotel Street Stocks feature from outside the front row and also led every lap on his way to his first win of the season. Joe Beach, points runner-up in 2013, took the lead on lap two of the Kandy’s Gentleman’s Club Challengers feature, going on to his first win of the season.
Opening night saw 23 cars start the Waterford Hotel Street Stock feature with 2013 Champion John Phelps Jr on the pole with former champion Chris Withers to his right. Withers immediately assumed the lead with Phelps second and Brandon Groters third. The race went green until Eric Paulus spun in turn two of lap four. After restarting Phelps and Shawn Fawcett tangled on the back stretch with most of the field behind them, eventually involving eight cars. When the race resumed it was again Withers leading the pack, this time. Groters was right behind with Rob Bates and Jeremy Williams fighting for third. At lap seven Carl Marcy looped it in turn four, again slowing the event. After one lap of green Williams was second but Withers was opening a lead. With two to go yellow waved again, this time for Guy Adams, who had spun out in turn four. With the white flag flying Fawcett and Rob Bates spun in four, setting up a final one lap dash for the win. Withers was up to the task but Groters was able to get back by Williams for second. Pat Fielding was fourth and Ron Boardman fifth.
Sixteen Plyler Overhead Door E-Mods started their feature with former champion John Boyd on the pole and Mike McGee outside. After a lap one restart Boyd led the way with Dave Hess Jr in hot pursuit. On lap two Mike Smith spun in turn one, eventually gathering up three more competitors. By three laps in, 2013 champion Rich Michael Jr was up to third and a lap later three champions, Michael inside, Boyd in the middle, and Hess outside, went into turn three side by side by side. Hess came out with the lead with Michael second. By halfway it was Hess, Michael, Boyd, Shane Crotty, and Joel Watson, another past champion. On lap twelve Michael came by Hess for the lead and proceeded to open up a five car length lead when Rob Middleton his engine explode on lap fourteen, catching fire and bringing a red flag condition over the event. Only one lap of green was accomplished when second-running Dave Hess Jr looped his mount in turn two, again slowing the race. Michael again brought the field back to green with Boyd, Crotty, Watson, and Mike Kinney now the top five. After another caution period, the final run to the checkers was all Michael with Boyd and Watson fighting over second with Watson gaining the spot at the white flag. After restarting twelfth, Hess fought his way back to fourth, getting by Dan Davies on the final turn.
Former champions Max Blair and Chad Wright led the fifteen Bonnell Collision Center FASTRAK Late Models to Spanky Hall’s green flag with Blair leading the way over Wright, Mike Knight, Dennis Lunger, and Darrell Bossard. Blair caught the back markers one lap before halfway, then weaving his way through the field up to the tenth running car by the time the checkers flew in the all-green event. Wright finished second with Knight third, Lunger fourth, and Kyle Zimmerman fifth.
Rookie contender Mark Frontera sat on the pole position for the Conway & O’Malley Limited Late Models feature with Kelly Frederes on the outside. Frederes led from the start with fourth starting Chris Ottaway second by five laps into the event. Sixth starting Dan Maxim was up to third six laps in with reining champion Ryan Scott up to fourth. By the end of the fifteen lap event Frederes had a ten car-length lead over Maxim with Scott third, Ottaway, a former champion, falling back to fourth and Chris McGuire fifth. The race went green to checkers with no cautions.
The Jay’s Auto Wrecking Super Late Models started sixteen cars for their feature with Scott Gurdak and former champion Mike Knight on the front row. Knight and Gurdak ran side by side through lap one with caution flying at the end of the lap for Bob Dorman, against the wall in turn three. After green was again shown, Knight took off with the lead with 2014 champion Rob Blair coming to second at the end of five laps from his eighth spot of the starting grid. At halfway Knight still had a comfortable lead over Blair with Chris Hackett third, Gurdak fourth, and Boom Briggs fifth. With ten to go Blair appeared to be closing the gap, but not by much. At lap eighteen Max Blair was challenging Briggs for fifth getting by a lap later then going to work on Gurdak for fourth, claiming that spot at the end of nineteen. Darrell Bossard got by Briggs at lap twenty-two. Just as Knight was coming out of turn four to complete lap twenty three, he spun, bringing caution over the field with only three laps to go. The final dash to the green had Rob Blair leading with Hackett second, Max Blair third, Bossard fourth, and Briggs fifth. During the yellow period Scott Gurdak took his smoking mount to the pit as did Knight. On the final dash for the glory it was Max Blair getting by Hackett with two to go then making it a Father-Son finish. Darrell Bossard got by Hackett for third on the final lap with Briggs winding up fifth.
Heat winners Andy Proper and Joe Beach brought the Kandy’s Gentleman’s Club Challengers to the green with caution flying before one lap was complete. When the racing got started Travis Darling led the way but Beach made his way to the front at the end of three laps with Tom Cupp coming to second and Darling retiring to the infield. At the checkers Beach was the winner with Cupp second, Matt Marcy third, Stephen Enlow fourth, and Jason Brightman fifth.
Feature: Rob. Blair, Max Blair, Darrell Bossard, Chris Hackett, Boom Briggs, Dave Hess Jr, Greg Oakes, Doug Eck, Ryan Scott, Rich Gardner, Steve Kania, Mike Knight, Scott Gurdak, Bob Dorman, Michael Oakes, Andy Boozel
Feature: Max Blair, Chad Wright, Mike Knight, Dennis Lunger, Kyle Zimmerman, Darrell Bossard, Bruce Hordusky, Bobby Rohrer, Matt Latta, Khole Wanzer, Mark Tatalovic, Wendell Pinckney, Wyatt Scott, Mike Lozowski, Chad Schauers, Michael Mitchell
Feature: Rich Michael Jr, Joel Watson, John Boyd, Dave Hess Jr, Dan Davies, Shane Crotty, Mike Smith, Mike Kinney, Gary Eicher, John Boardman, Eric Reinwald, Steve Simon, Rob Middleton, Mike McGee, Steve Sornberger Jr, Chad Carlson, Shawn Shingledecker
Feature: Kelly Frederes, Dan Maxim, Ryan Scott, Chris Ottaway, Chris McGuire, Nate Short, Mark Frontera, John Cline Sr, John Cline Jr
Feature: Chris Withers, Brandon Groters, Jeremy Williams, Pat Fielding, Ron Boardman, Mark Thompson, Eric Paulus, Ken Lamp Jr, Bill Reeves, Elaine Best, Wade Watson, Matt Lozowski, Guy Adams, Rob Bates, Tyler Lyngarkos, Shawn Fawcett, Jimmy Kennerkknecht, Carl Marcy, John Phelps, Bryan Johnson, Ron Johnson, Geoff Maloney Don McGuire
Heat 1: Andy Proper, Travis Darling, Tim Fisher, Gary Olson, Justin Boardman, Jessee Phelps, Tim Brightman, Eddie Orton, Wes Stull, Kelsey Parker
Heat 2: Joe Beach, Matt Marcy, Tom. Cupp, Stephen Enlow, Jason Brightman, Drew Panko, Steve Morse, Kevin Covell, Ryan White, Dennis Wisniewski
Feature: Joe Beach, Tom Cupp, Matt Marcy, Stephen Enlow, Jason Brightman, Andy Proper, Gary Olson, Justin Boardman, Tim Fisher, Drew Panko, Jessee Phelps, Steve Morse, Travis darling, Wesley Stull, Tim Brightman, Eddie Horton, Kevin Covell, Ryan White, Kelsey Parker (DNS), Dennis Wieniewski (DNS