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posted July 02, 2001 02:36 AM
EYLER RACES TO FIRST CAREER SPRINT WIN AT TRI-CITY; HOFFMAN, RHEBERGEN AND WHITLING REPEAT AGAIN
by Brian Spaid
July 1, 2001
FRANKLIN, PA ... Tri-City Speedway was back in action Sunday night, and the fans enjoyed the Giant Eagle/Edward Jones Investments Fireworks Extravaganza as well as four exciting feature events won by Rob Eyler (Allegheny Land & Lumber Super Sprints), Jeff Hoffman (Titusville Motor & Auction Co. DIRT Modifieds), Brent Rhebergen (RE/MAX E Mods) and Bobby Whitling (E.F. Rogers Plumbing & Heating Stock Cars). Despite heavy thunderstorms that rumbled through the area late in the morning, cooler temparatures and cloudy skies combined with the extra moisture and provided excellent racing conditions on the half-mile Venango County oval.
After Sportsman's Speedway rained out, Rob Eyler of Franklin, Pa., traveled to Tri-City, which hasn't been kind to the former Micro Sprint driver. On this night, however, Eyler raced into the lead with a brilliant outside move on the start from the fourth starting spot in his Bahama Breeze Tanning Salon/Griffin Excavating Maxim No. 5. Once in front, Eyler could not be stopped as he captured the 20-lap Super Sprint main, which was his second win of the weekend. He also won Saturday at Mercer Raceway Park.
"This was a dream weekend," said Eyler in victory lane. "I thought I could get by the front row on the outside. It didn't work on the first start. The second time, it worked. I was a little worried about (Jarod) Larson at the end, but we made it."
Point leader Scott Bonnell and Mike Marano made up the front row at the start of the race, but a collision between Mark Cassella, Brent Covell and Jason Jacoby slowed the action on the opening lap. On the second start of the race, Eyler rocketed to the outside lane to pass Marano. He then slipped under Bonnell into three. By the end of the first lap, Eyler was in front and he raced away unchallenged despite two additional cautions.
Larson passed Bonnell for second on the fourth lap. He tried to keep pace with Eyler, especially after the final restart on the 12th lap. Eyler was not to be denied the win, however. Larson finished second followed by Chad Hill, Doug Kekich and Bonnell. It was Hill's best career finish at Tri-City. He passed Bonnell on the 12th lap restart. Kekich actually passed Bonnell and sixth place finisher Covell on the final circuit. Cassella and Hill were the heat race winners.
In the 20-lap DIRT Modified main, Jeff Hoffman of Franklin, Pa., raced to his third win of the season and added a little more cushion to his point lead as he continues to chase his first track title. The win was Hoffman's 19th career victory at Tri-City.
"The track came to us," said Hoffman beside his Hoffman Door/Spanky's Tobacco World/Lippert Sales Troyer No. 00. "We were set up for a dry track, and watering it before the race slowed us a little. I was worried it wouldn't dry. On the restart, I got under Dave (Muridck) and slid in front of him. I didn't want to pinch him off and the move worked. The crew earned this win."
Murdick paced the field for the first 15 circuits from the pole position. He maintained the advantage through three caution periods and it appeared Murdick would race to his first career win at Tri-City. This was mainly due to the fact that Hoffman, Brian Swartzlander and Jim Rasey dueled for second in a hot contest. The drivers exchanged positions several times on the half-mile in a crowd-pleasing race. Then, on the 15th lap, Hoffman's brother, Kevin, suffered a mechancial problem and stopped in turn one.
The ensuing restart gave J. Hoffman the chance to bolt under Murdick in turn two. From there, J. Hoffman led the last five laps using the inside lane in turns one and two and the outside lane at the opposite end of the track to open an advantage over Murdick, who finished a disappointed second. Swartzlander, Rasey and Chris Schiffer rounded out the top five. Schiffer had a good battle with Kevin Bolland, who placed sixth, over the final half of the race. Swartzlander and Schiffer won the heat races.
In the 15-lap E Mod feature, Brent Rhebergen of Clymer, N.Y., set a new record for the most consecutive wins in any division in Tri-City's modern era as he snared his fifth win in a row. It was Rhebergen's sixth win of the season and the seventh E Mod win of his career at Tri-City.
Fellow Clymer, N.Y., driver Dale Applebee led the first seven laps of the race as he fended off Rhebergen, who moved into second from the outside of row two at the start. As Rhebergen chased his neighbor Applebee, Todd Roncaglione moved from seventh to third on the first lap before battling with Bob McCann and Mike Hess. Hess and Roncaglione exchanged third place a few times over the rest of the race.
On a seventh lap restart, Rhebergen used the outside lane in turns one and two to perfection. Making the pass, he rocketed away from the field in his Sharp Tool & Die/Finish Line Racing No. 69. Applebee was no match for Rhebergen and settled for a career best second at Tri-City. Roncaglione was third over Hess and McCann. Scott Stiffler and Roncaglione won the E Mod heats.
Bobby Whitling of Seneca, Pa., was the star of the 17-lap Stock Car main after a fantastic battle with former track champion Doug Iorio Sr. The final four circuits were slowed by seven cautions, which sent the race into extra distance. In the end, Whitling won his fourth feature of the year and the 24th of his career at Tri-City.
"I showed Doug my secret on those restarts," said Whitling. "I wanted to pass him on the inside, and I just tried the outside on that last restart. The high groove in three and four was fast tonight."
Until the final four laps, the race was caution-free. Jamie Shetler led the first six laps. On the seventh circuit, Iorio took the lead from Shetler, and Whitling moved into second one lap later. For the first three restarts on the 14th lap, Whitling slipped under Iorio for the lead in turn two only to revert back to second on each subsequent caution. Iorio held off Whitling on the next four restarts, but Whitling shot to the outside of the track for the final two laps. Using the cushion, Whitling passed Iorio at the white flag and held him off the rest of the way with the crowd on its feet.
Iorio finished second for the fourth week in a row followed by his brother Ron Iorio, Danny Exley and Bob Sloss. Andy Buckley, Shetler and Whitling won the heats. Sloss won the consolation race and started 19th before racing his way forward to finish fifth.
This coming Sunday July 8th, Tri-City Speedway hosts another four-star show of the Allegheny Land & Lumber Super Sprints, Titusville Motor & Auction Co. DIRT Modifieds, RE/MAX E Mods and E.F. Rogers Plumbing & Heating Stock Cars. The Pittsburgh Circle Track Club Senior Series will also be in action. Gates open at 4 p.m. and racing starts at 6 p.m.
JUNE 24 CORRECTION: The box score in last week's press release indicated that Ray Bullis finished second in the Super Sprint feature. As noted in the release, Rod George finished second piloting The Notary Express No. 19 normally driven by Bullis.
SUPER SPRINTS (20 Laps): 1. ROB EYLER, 2. Jarod Larson, 3. Chad Hill, 4. Doug Kekich, 5. Scott Bonnell, 6. Brent Covell, 7. Jason Jacoby, 8. Mike Marano II, 9. Gregg McCandless, 10. Brian Woodhall, 11. Chris Matthews, 12. Jeff Weaver, 13. Brian Hartzell, 14. Mike Markey, 15. Frank Stella, 16. Randy Cox, 17. Sheila Rankin, 18. Skip Dougherty, 19. Gary Rankin, 20. Mark Cassella.
DIRT MODIFIEDS (20 Laps): 1. JEFF HOFFMAN, 2. Dave Murdick, 3. Brian Swartzlander, 4. Jim Rasey, 5. Chris Schiffer, 6. Kevin Bolland, 7. Rex King, 8. Carl Murdick, 9. J.R. McGinley, 10. George Hobaugh, 11. Tim Engles, 12. Jim Weller, 13. Dave Schrader, 14. Del Rougeux Jr., 15. Jeremiah Shingledecker, 16. Chanda Reitz, 17. Kevin Hoffman.
E MODS (15 Laps): 1. BRENT RHEBERGEN, 2. Dale Applebee, 3. Todd Roncaglione, 4. Mike Hess, 5. Bob McCann, 6. Ron Roncaglione, 7. Mike Samuelson, 8. Kevin Decker, 9. Rick Robinson, 10. Scott Stiffler, 11. Ron Loney, 12. Kari Petrosky, 13. Chuck List Sr., 14. Shawn Shingledecker, 15. Mike Petosky, 16. Bill Taylor, 17. Dean Ruth, 18. Jim Mechling, 19. Jim Abbott, 20. Dale Fuller, 21. Bob Craig, 22. Dave Ferringer. DNS: Bootie Petsko.
STOCK CARS (15 Laps): 1. BOBBY WHITLING, 2. Doug Iorio Sr., 3. Ron Iorio, 4. Danny Exley, 5. Bob Sloss, 6. Brian Counselman, 7. Gary Norman, 8. Andy Buckley, 9. Jim Green, 10. Darrell Bossard, 11. Arthur Edwards, 12. Todd Titus, 13. Lonny Blair, 14. Scott Peterson, 15. Corey Ruffo, 16. Scotty Carbaugh, 17. Bud Shontz, 18. Leigh Wheeler, 19. **** Pascorell, 20. David Atkinson, 21. Jamie Shetler, 22. Dave Ferringer. DNQ: Doug Calvert, Rod Laskey, John Sutley, Bob Garris, Everett Wade, John Shetler, Tim Hinkle, Jason Reagle, Jason Jones, Rod Urey, Jay Feely, J.R. Ziegler.
July 8 - Sprints, DIRT Modifieds, E Mods and Stock Cars with Pittsburgh Circle Track Club
Senior Series (Fireworks Raindate)
July 15 - Sprints, DIRT Modifieds, E Mods and Stock Cars with Lowry Auto Wrecking
Demolition Derby (Selker Bros. Pennzoil Night)
July 20 & 21 - Motor Madness Monster Jam Featuring SFX Wrenchead.com USHRA Monster
Trucks and Amateur and Professional Quad Wars Presented by Snyder of Berlin
and Schwab Ford (Gates Open 4 p.m., Show Starts 7:30 p.m. each night)
July 22 - NO RACING (Midsummer Break)