namars: Mercer Raceway Inaugural race report

Mercer raceway hosts inaugural midget event Mercer -"Saturday nights come alive" at Mercer Raceway Park. Mercer Raceway Park hosted the Inaugural Northern States Midget Classic." This is the first time for The American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC)...

Mercer raceway hosts inaugural midget event

Mercer -"Saturday nights come alive" at Mercer Raceway Park. Mercer Raceway Park hosted the Inaugural Northern States Midget Classic." This is the first time for The American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) and the North American Midget Auto Racing Series (NAMARS) to co-sanction an event, said Joe Mershon, NAMARS President." This is a historic event for both clubs." Both organizations are trying to reintroduce midget auto racing into western Pennsylvania, and the beautiful facility provided by Mercer Raceway Park was just the place to do it.

The crisp night air added ambiance to the evening's events. Thirty-three of the most talented midget drivers from the eastern United States were on hand to participate in the inaugural event. The one-third mile clay oval was a welcome site to drivers and crews that traveled from distant places like Maine, Indianapolis and North Carolina. The all-stars of both sanctioning bodies were ready to race.

Daunting rain showers earlier in the day had postponed racing for about two hours, while the track underwent severe preparations.

When racing got under way, the sun had set and fans were anxious for a performance they wouldn't forget.

The wingless midgets spread four wide coming out of turn four as they made a mad dash to the checkers during all four heat events. Heat winners included ARDC drivers Tim Dietz, Hanover Pa; Ray Bull, Bloomsburg Pa; and Marc Dailey Brownsburg IN. The fourth heat was won by NAMARS standout Travis Miniea, Sharon Pa.

Since there was a large number of participants, the 15-lap consolation race would start 15 midgets. Bryan Kobylarz, Birdsboro Pa jumped out to an early lead over Mark Wakefoose, Hopatcong NJ. Wakefoose battled back and lead from lap 4 to 11, when Kobylarz would overtake him again.

After the consolation race, 20 of the 24 starters would be named. The final four positions would be provisional starters, two from each sanctioning body based on driver's points.

The 40-lap feature event would not get underway until the wee hours of the morning. At 12:40 a.m., the drivers took the green flag for their final event of the night.

Tim Dietz and Marc Dailey would lead the field of midgets to the green flag. Dietz held the front position for the first four laps while Travis Miniea and Travis Beach, Donnelsville OH battled for second and third. By lap 5, Ray Bull would be challenging for the lead. Bull started seventh. Coming out of the third turn on lap 5, the cars of Mark Freeland, Ickesburg Pa, Gary Halteman, Gilbertsville Pa, and Doug Cross of Shaker Heights IN got together and brought out the first caution. While hearts were pumping, and emotions were rampant, the all-stars went back to racing. Bull held the lead for 2 laps when Aaron Pierce, Muncie IN spun out and delivered the second caution. As the hour grew to 1 a.m., the midget drivers kept on going. Bull would hold the lead for 3 more laps. Beach went wide in the fourth turn to pass a hard charging Bull. While Beach began to pull away and lap cars, Dietz challenged Bull for second. The front runners would hold position and work through lapped traffic as fourth, fifth and sixth position was being exchanged between Matt Sandy, Lafayette IN; Chris Coers, Columbus IN; and Dailey. The fourth caution came at lap 26 when the leader, Beach, came to a stop on the backstretch after suffering from a flat tire.

At that time, Tim Dietz would regain the lead. Dietz held the lead until Shane Hollingsworth, of Indianapolis IN overturned his midget on lap 28 bringing out a red flag condition. Hollingsworth was unscathed in the incident." It just grunted going into turn 1 and I hit the wall," said Hollingswoth." These ARDC drivers know what they are doing, we're coming into their backyard and trying to play."

Following the red flag condition, the Inaugural Northern States Midget Classic was called due to a thick fog.

Dietz claimed the top spot followed by Bull and Sandy.

" You can't control Mother Nature," said Dietz." I was tired, and the (NAMARS) guys are tough because they run wingless all the time." Dietz, who does his best on tracks where he hasn't previously run, was pleased with the official's call. This was his first visit to Mercer Raceway Park." If it wasn't for Mark Bassett," who builds Hawk chassis," I wouldn't have won," said Dietz." Tonight, I didn't have to turn a bolt, he did it all." he continued.

Bull, who finished second, was" happy, yet disappointed," he said." There was twelve laps to go when the final red came out. And I had found a line where we would've been good," Bull continued." I'm happy for Tim (Dietz) though, he had a lot of hard luck this year and if it couldn't be me, then I'm glad it was him."

Dietz, whose car is fielded by Roger McKeehan, had a teammate for the historic event. Mark Freeland fielded the 4R for McKeehan. Freeland won last year's ARDC race at Mercer.

Feature results: (1) Tim Dietz; (2) Ray Bull, (3) Matt Sandy, (4) Chris Coers, (5) Shane Hollingsworth, (6) Travis Miniea, (7) Ed. Stimely Jr., (8) Marc Dailey, (9) Critter Malone, (10) Bryan Kobylarz, (11) Randy Mausteller, (12) Doug Cross, (13) Gary Halteman, (14) Rob Clary, (15) Mark Wakefoose, (16) Steve Craig, (17) Lew Blair, (18) Teddy Beach, (19) Rick Vaughn, (20) Kathy Kurtz, (21) Aaron Pierce, (22) Brad Kuhn, (23) Mark Freeland, (24) Jim Jackson. The following cars did not qualify for the feature. Buddy Baker, Walt Stearly, Fred Schell, Shawn Burke, Brian Suchy, Duane Mausteller, Jerry Kobza, Pete Pavlick and Chris Mowray.

-MR-

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Series Midget
Drivers Brad Kuhn , Travis Miniea , Teddy Beach , Aaron Pierce , Doug Cross , Bryan Kobylarz , Marc Dailey , Shane Hollingsworth , Ray Bull , Buddy Baker