Craiger Race Engines and Erie Beer sponsored the final night of points racing at Eriez Speedway with track and circuit champions being crowned.
Up until Sunday night at Eriez Speedway the record for championships in the Late Model class was jointly held by the legendary Bobby Schnars and Rich Gardner at four apiece. Gardner had the chance to make history by not only breaking the tie but breaking it with his fifth championship in a row! Mike Hess prevailed in the E-Mods at Eriez with Dale Applebee capturing the circuit title by a wide margin. Nathan Short won the circuit race for the Cadets by only nine points over Lou DeDionisio, the Eriez winner. Don McGuire was awarded the points title on both Eriez and the circuit. Brian Crandall was crowned the Spectator Champion at Eriez and on the circuit. Dan Osborne, on the strength of ten feature wins, was the run-away champion of the 4-cylinder class.
Paul Briggs and Chris Hackett started on the front row of the Late Model feature with points contenders Rich Gardner and Doug Eck starting in the seventh and fifth rows respectively. Briggs grabbed the lead at the start and set sail with Hackett close behind. Coming out of the fourth turn Hackett came by Briggs on the high side with Percy McDonald, running deep in the pack, collecting the wall as he exited the same turn. At this stage Eck had advanced to eighth and Gardner was eleventh with Eck needing to finish 13 positions ahead of Gardner to win the track title. Gardner had locked up the circuit championship, his third, at Stateline the night before. At the restart Briggs again blasted off to the lead with Hackett right behind. In only two laps Hackett began challenging Briggs for the lead finally getting by on the fourth turn of lap thirteen after the two ran side-by-side all the way around the track. Caution fell just after the pass for the lead with Eck now ninth and Gardner still eleventh. On the restart, Gardner and Ward Schell got tangled in turn, closing up the race for the championship with Gardner being forced to restart at the tail of the field. With Eck now eighth and Gardner sixteenth, the points title was decidedly closer, but with only seventeen cars remaining, Eck’s hope were dimming. After another accident involving Kevin Weise slamming the wall on the front straight, the field was whittled down to fourteen cars, allowing Gardner to clinch his fifth Eriez Championship in succession. Weise was removed from his car and taken from the track by ambulance. Two more yellows were to fly before Hackett was able to secure the win with Briggs second and Andy Kania third. Fourth at the checkers was Wendell Pinckney with Bruce Hordusky fifth. Eck wound up eighth and Gardner tenth.
Dave Will and Justin Carlson paced the E-Mod feature with Carlson taking the lead at the start. Carlson led until lap seven when he spun coming out of turn four and was hit by another car, ending his evening. Dave Will inherited the lead for the restart. Although one more caution slowed the event, Will drove a steady race, winning over Bill Thomas, Mike Hess, K C Decker, and Dale Applebee. Mike Hess prevailed in the point race while Applebee was crowned the circuit champion.
The Outlaw Cadets had Dennis Lunger and Lee Ryder on the front row for their 15-lap finale. Lunger took off to the lead at the drop of the green, but only one lap was completed before caution came over the speedway for a 2-car incident in turn three. After the restart, the race for the championship was heated with Lou DeDionisio leading Nathan Short by 61 points coming into the evening. The two got together on the back straight on lap eight, nearly ending the race for both, but they were able to continue on the restart, starting side by side. Lunger re-assumed the lead when green was displayed. John Cline ran side by side for the lead but Lunger was able to hold on until two laps to go when the two leaders got together in turn one with Cline spinning into the infield and Lunger weaving from side to side trying to regain control. DeDionisio came through the mess and was able to get by Lunger for the lead and the win, which also gave him the points title. Nathan Short, the points champion at Stateline, was second in points at Eriez and won the circuit championship. Second at the line after Lunger’s misfortune was Phil Knight, third was Brian Zimmerly, fourth Andy Knight, with Lunger winding up fifth.
The Budweiser Sportsman had caution on the speedway even before all the cars had taken the green with Scott Kuschel spinning in traffic and getting hit hard enough to require a wrecker to remove him from the track. Chad Carlson was very strong when the race finally got underway, opening a sizable lead over Jim Leonard and Pete Volpe. Volpe took over the runner-up spot at lap nine but Carlson was not to be caught. He cruised to the win over Volpe, Pat McGuire, Aaron Robinson, and Don McGuire. Don McGuire wound up the point champion at Eriez and on the circuit.
Bill Grover and Mike Rhines paced the first Spectator feature composed of 13 cars for their 10-lap finale. Grover led first for a lap before being replaced at the front by Don Standley, who held on for the win over Steve Keith, Brian Johnson, Rhines, and Jeff Burger.
Bob Kinney and “Rocket” Rick Thompson brought the second Spectator feature to Spanky Hall’s green flag with Thompson grabbing the lead at the start with Lester Shoff falling in behind him. Caution fell at lap three for a spin in turn one involving Mark Thompson and Chris Couchenour. On the double-file restart Thompson again assumed the lead, which would steadily lengthen over the remaining distance. Scoff wound up second with English third. Brian Crandall, with a 32 point margin, won the points title over Matt Lozowski. Crandall was also the circuit champion by only nine points over Lozowski.
The 4-cylinder feature was a wild affair among the 9 cars present. Stanley Davis Jr. led until lap 5 when Dan Osborne came by for the lead going into turn three. Davis went wide out of four and slammed the retaining wall, ending his fine run. By virtue of the high attrition, Davis was sixth in the final rundown. Osborne won his fourteenth consecutive feature of the season and the points race. Tom Bean and Sam Trace were second and third.
Debbie Galinistia won the “Powder Puff” event and Brianna Downes won the mechanic’s race.
1: Don Standley, Steve Keith, Brian Johnson, Mike Rhines, Jeff Burger
2: Rick Thompson, Lester Shoff, Wade Slaney Jeremy English, Tom Norland
Dan Osborne, Tom Bean, J R Cross, Sam Trace, Dale Wise
Lou DeDionisio, Phil Knight, Brian Zimmerly, Andy Knight, Dennis Lunger
1: Mike Murray, Pete Volpe, Jake Eller, Bob Van Arsdale, Eric Ester
Dave Will, Bill Thomas, Mike Hess, K C Decker, Dale Applebee, Troy Carr, Brian
Fardink, Bill Taylor, Mike Boyd, Brad Pease
Chris Hackett, Paul Briggs, Andy Kania, Wendell Pinckney, Bruce Hordusky,
Steve Halpainy, Randy Lobb, Doug Eck, Andy Boozel, Rich Gardner, Ward Schell,
Jason Morell, Mike Coyle, Moose Dunnewold, Merle Terry, Kevin Weise, Mile
Stitzinger, John Lobb, Percy McDonald, Mick Brocious