Mike Pegher Holds Off Max Blair In Another Sweeney Rush LM Tour Thriller; Packed House & 33 Cars Take Part In Mckean County Fair Race
August 15, 2013 (East Smethport, PA)…The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series returned to McKean County Raceway for the third of five appearances during the 2013 season on a beautiful, fall-like Thursday night. Event #13 of 25 on the 2013 Sweeney Tour slate was run in conjunction with the 108th McKean County Fair as a packed grandstands watched 33 cars from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and New York compete.
There’s no love lost between Mike Pegher, Jr. and Max Blair. The standouts have been the leading winners in Crate Late Model racing throughout the Northeast for the last five years and have each garnered their share of national honors. After a dominating performance in the first 21 caution-free laps of the feature event, Pegher had to hold off a hard charge by Blair over the final four laps to garner his Series leading fourth victory of the season. Pegher’s win was worth $1,200 and extended his Sweeney Tour point lead to 30 over Ryan Montgomery.
“I don’t know what Blair’s problem is,” expressed the 27-year-old Wexford, Pa. winner regarding contact after the event. “He must be mad I beat him two times in a row. It’s awesome to win and I had a lot of fun. There’s guys you can race with and not have to worry about beating and banging with then you come up here and get your stuff tore up, but we showed ‘em who won tonight!”
After drawing pill number two, Pegher raced past pole-sitter Paul Grigsby on the start with Ed Carley in tow. Blair, who had won seven of the nine features he’s competed in this season at McKean, was able to get by Adam Sixt and Jeremy Wondering on the opening lap for fourth. On lap two it was three-wide for third, but no change in positioning took place. On lap three, Blair drove under Carley in turn four for the spot.
While Pegher began dealing with lapped traffic on lap nine, Blair caught Grigsby and the two put on a great side-by-side battle for second from laps 7-10. Blair finally made the inside pass stick in turn four on lap 10. As Blair and Grigsby battled, Carley was able to catch the duo making it a three-car race for third on lap 11. Montgomery, who started ninth, creeped into contention on lap 13 as he cracked the top five getting by Sixt.
Blair was slowly closing on Pegher around the halfway point, but on lap 14 Pegher made a three-wide move in lapped traffic and then cleared another lapped car to gain separation. After a side-by-side battle on lap 15, Carley was able to take over third from Grigsby with an inside pass.
By lap 16, Pegher had a clear track in front of him and was able to gain additional ground. After 21 non-stop laps, Justin Smith came to a rest off turn three to bring out the event’s first caution. On the restart, Butch Lambert, Cody Dawson, and Damian Bidwell got stacked up in turn one. Dawson was awarded his first Brake Man “Tough Brake of the Night” distinction after his 22nd place finish. Lambert would come back to finish 14th and move into fifth in points.
The last four-lap dash then went green-to-checkered. Blair tried everything and was able to get alongside of Pegher on several occasions, but Pegher had enough to hold on by just 0.469 of a second in the Lynn Geisler-owned, #1 Cochran/Alternative Power Sources/Pegher Painting/Triple-S Auto Outlet/Zero Wraps-sponsored Rocket Chassis #1c. After winning three of the first six Sweeney Tour events, it was Pegher’s first win since June 22.
“I could run the top or bottom,” stated the winner, who also leads the $5,000 to-win Sweeney Weekly Series Championship. “I really didn’t want to see the caution because I knew he (Blair) was back there, but I was confident I was better than him and I knew the inside was better on the restarts.”
“The fans just don’t like me and my dad because we win up here every week,” stated the 23-year-old Blair of Centerville, Pa. “Mike (Pegher) is always fast and I thought I had a shot on the restart until he ran us out of room getting into (turn) one. That’s not the first time he’s done that to us- it is what it is and we’ll talk about it; we’re friends and it’ll stay that way. I want to thank every single fan for supporting racing. Every time you boo louder, it’s motivation so keep it coming!”
Carley improved on his fourth place finish at the last McKean event with a third. “I had a good spot for that deal,” explained Carley of Freedom, NY regarding the Pegher-Blair battle. “I didn’t know if I was going to win or get taken out. I was just riding. I knew I had a good spot and just wanted to stay there if something happened to those guys. I would have taken it, but I wasn’t going to force it.”
Montgomery was fourth after getting past Grigsby on lap 23. Chad Ruhlman, who started 12th, had a solid run to place fifth after passing Sixt and Grigsby in the closing laps. Grigsby dropped to sixth, but it was his best Tour finish of the season. Jeremy Wondering subbed for Brad Mesler and had a respectable seventh. Sixt, Jason Genco, and Zack Carley completed the top 10.
After receiving the ARbodies “Just Nosed Out” award ($250 nose kit) for being the first non-qualifier, Garrett Mott went out and led all six laps of the non-qualifier event to become the eighth different winner in as many events! The victory was worth $125 for the Smethport, Pa. driver.
The non-stop race was a good one as it was a three-car race for the win between Mott, Chad Silleman, and Scott Fitch. Mott’s #43x took the checkered flag by just 0.137 of a second over Fitch, who passed Silleman on the final lap for second. Fitch now takes over the point lead in the “Wheelman” Bonus Event Challenge Series. Silleman was third and Craig Dean was fourth.
Grigsby, Ruhlman, Sixt, and Montgomery won the four heat races, while Mesler and Hemphill copped the last chance B mains. Zack Carley became the amazing 13th different K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash winner. Carley received a $100 K&N certificate, while Dawson received a $50 certificate for second and is now tied for second in the K&N Championship standings. Bidwell and John Haggerty received an additional $25 for finishing third and fourth.
The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Touring Series will be back in action this Saturday night (August 17) as race #14 of 25 will be the “Gary Knollinger Memorial” paying $2,000 to-win! The Bobby Lake Motorsports $100 “Shock the Clock” qualifying and $25 “Beat the Heat” heat races will be in effect. Also, an extra $25 will be paid to positions three and eight in memorial of Knollinger.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series Race #13 (25 laps, $1,200 to-win): 1. MIKE PEGHER, JR. (1C) 2. Max Blair (111) 3. Ed Carley (28) 4. Ryan Montgomery (12) 5. Chad Ruhlman (Suppa 4s) 6. Paul Grigsby (24) 7. Jeremy Wonderling (Mesler 24B) 8. Adam Sixt (6T) 9. Jason Genco (29J) 10. Zack Carley (8) 11. Bruno Mowery (48) 12. Rick Singleton (Enyeart 99*) 13. Michael Lake (27) 14. Butch Lambert (27) 15. Richard “Critter” Hemphill (31) 16. Damian Bidwell (17) 17. Bryce Davis (94) 18. John Haggerty (49) 19. Bill Mesler (15) 20. W.L. Stile (1W) 21. Justin Smith (22) 22. Cody Dawson (36) 23. Cody Mason (MR1) 24. Ward Schell (Baker 74).
Non-Qualifier (6 laps, $125 to-win): 1, Garrett Mott (43x) 2. Scott Fitch (28F) 3. Chad Silleman (47) 4. Craig Dean (21) 5. Lauren Longbrake (27)-DNS 6. Bob Kish (5)-DNS 7. Dusty Waters (14)-DNS 8. Doug Gavette (9)-DNS 9. Doug Ricotta (01)-DNS.
Feature Lap Leaders: Pegher (1-25)
Margin of Victory: 0.469
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Rick Singleton (+8)
The Brake Man “Tough Brake of the Night: Cody Dawson
ARbodies “Just Nosed Out: Garrett Mott
Heat 1 (8 laps, Top 5 transfer)1. Grigsby 2. Pegher 3. Mowery 4. Dawson 5. Davis 6. Mesler 7. Longbrake 8. Mott 9. Mason.
Heat 2 (8 laps, Top 5 transfer): 1. Ruhlman 2. Blair 3. Lake 4. Z. Carley 5. Smith 6. Waters 7. Ricotta 8. Dean.
Heat 3 (8 laps, top 5 transfer): 1. Sixt 2. Wonderling 3. E. Carley 4. Haggerty 5. Stile 6. Hemphill 7. Schell 8. Fitch.
Heat 4 (8 laps, top 5 transfer): 1. Montgomery 2. Genco 3. Lambert 4. Bidwell 5. Singleton 6. Silleman 7. Gavette 8. Kish.
K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash (4 laps/$100 K&N certificate to-win): 1. Zack Carley 2. Cody Dawson 3. Damian Bidwell 4. John Haggerty.
B Main 1 (8 laps, top 2 transfer): 1. Mesler 2. Mason 3. Mott 4. Longbrake 5. Dean 6. Waters 7. Ricotta .
B Main 2 (8 laps, top 2 transfer): 1. Hemphill 2. Schell 3. Silleman 4. Kish 5. Gavette 6. Fitch-DSQ.
2013 RUSH marketing partners include Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, Pace Performance, RainEater Wiper Blades, Hoosier Tire, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Precise Racing Products, ARbodies, The Brake Man, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, TurboStart, K1 RaceGear, Beyea Headers, FK Rod Ends, Bobby Lake Motorsports, Wrisco Industries, High Gear Speed Shop, Utsinger’s Towing, RockAuto.com, and Valley Fashions.
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