Sorry, this is from 8/16/20,
Matus and Brunell Score Big Wins At Tri-City Raceway Park
(Franklin, PA) Brandon “Wheelman” Matus turned around a tough luck season by scoring his first win of 2020 in the Shawgo Real Estate Sprint Cars, on August 16th, at the Tri-City Raceway Park. The Homak Penn-Ohio Pro Stock tour visited the speedway for the 3rd Annual “Ray’s Race,” and young Noah Brunell was victorious. Other winners during “Sunday Thunder” included New York’s Greg Martin in the Modified division of racing, and championship standings leader Dillon Speer in the 4-Your-Car-Connection Mini Stock division.
Veteran Gary Kreiss, championship contender Brandon Spithaler, and Brandon Matus won preliminary heat races for the Shawgo Real Estate Sprint Cars early in the evening. When the 25-lap feature race launched, Kreiss was on the pole position with Matus along side. A caution flag on lap one halted the action, and Kreiss headed to the pits, ending his night, after showing great speed in the prelim. Matus grabbed the lead and set a torrid pace when racing resumed. Jack Sodeman, Jr. started the race in fourth position and passed George Hobaugh, Jr. to take the runner up spot. Sodeman was the winner at Mercer Raceway the night before, but was losing ground to leader Matus in the early stages of the race. When lapped traffic became a factor, Matus used every lane of the speedway to maintain the lead. Sodeman had two mid-race opportunities to restart on Matus’ tail, as minor spinouts slowed the action with caution flags. But, each time the green flag was displayed, Matus ran off from the challenge. Matt Farnham, a New York Modified ace, made a rare Sprint Car start and advanced from ninth place into the top five, during the second half of the contest. In the closing laps, Farnham faded, eventually placing a respectable eighth as a rookie. With five laps to go, rookie Ivan Johnson spun in turn two, directly in front of leader, Matus. With quick reflexes, Matus avoided contact, and maintained the top spot even after the restart. With masterful use of lapped traffic, and a blistering average speed of over 108.4 miles-per-hour, Matus notched his first victory of the year. Matus is a previous winner at Lernerville Speedway, Sharon Speedway, and Pittsburgh PA Motor Speedway. A third-generation racer, Matus’ grandfather Jerry Matus was a ten time winner at Tri-City, and Matus’ father was in competition with him, placing 18th after suffering a flat tire. Sodeman, a nine-time track Champion in the region, placed second, and maintained his lead in Tri-City’s championship point standings. Two-time Tri-City winner, Spithaler, started sixth, and placed third. Recent winner Carl Bowser finished fourth and Hobaugh nailed down fifth place at the finish.
The Homak Penn-Ohio Pro Stock Series made its’ first stop of 2020 at Tri-City for the 3rd annual “Ray’s Race” sponsored by R.K. Virgile Scrap Metals and R&R Enterprises. The 20-lap special event was held in memory of the late Ray Virgile, a long time supporter of numerous race teams and speedways. Rod Laskey, a winner this season at Tri-City, started the race from the pole position. But, young Noah Brunell grabbed the early lead, as cars battled three-wide for top five spots behind him. Curtis J. Bish, Laskey, and series points leader Andrew Gordon were fighting for positions, when Laskey made hard contact with Gordon. Gordon’s car barrel-rolled several times, flipping all the way through turn four, after starting in the third position. Laskey was disqualified for his actions, as Gordon climbed out of his car uninjured. Bish, in second place for the restart, could not keep pace with Brunell, and Bish’s car displayed notable trails of smoke for several laps. Brunell, a second generation driver, maintained the lead with a smooth, consistent line around a track on which he has seldom competed. Two-time 2020 winner at Tri-City, Josh Seippel, advanced from deep in the pack to join the front-runners late in the event. But even after a restart with four laps to go, Brunell never surrendered the lead. A former go-kart champion and part time asphalt track Late Model racer, Greensburg, PA native Brunell earned his second career victory on the Penn-Ohio tour, defeating home track veterans for the giant paycheck. Bish placed second and Seippel finished third after starting in the 14th position. Tim Bish crossed the finish line in fourth place, and series championship contender Jackson Humanic started 15th and placed fifth. Seippel also won the “Ray’s Dash” while preliminary heat races were won by Rusty Martz, Tim Bish, and Laskey.
Eric Beggs grabbed the lead from the pole position, at the start of the 20-lap feature race for the 358-cubic-inch-engine Modified division. On lap three, veteran Steve Barr passed Beggs for the lead, but the duo crashed in turn one, collecting several other top drivers. When racing resumed, opening night winner Kyle Fink was the new leader. At the midpoint of the event, Greg Martin made a pass for the top spot. Martin, one of several New York competitors in action, is a former Champion of the Ransomville Speedway in his home state. Martin led the remainder of the distance, to become the second driver to win more than once in 2020 Tri-City Modified racing. As the previous week’s winner, he became the first driver to pull off the difficult feat of consecutive victories. Fink placed second; the same position he holds in the championship standings. Barr rallied back from the collision to place third, with a last lap pass for the position. Heat race winners finished fourth and fifth – young Jeff Schaffer, Jr. placed fourth and Ryan Riffe had his best night of the season conclude with a stellar fifth position finish. Points leader Tom Holden dropped out of the event with mechanical problems.
Heated battles for top spots in the 4-Your-Car-Connection Mini Stock division’s 12-lap feature race, proved to be entertaining, as Pat Hanlon, II led the most laps. Point standings leader Dillon Speer was in a second place duel with Dillon Kineston, when Kineston made hard contact with Speer, and continued plowing Speer’s car all the way through turn two. Kineston was disqualified for excessive rough driving, while Speer made an unbelievable “save,” keeping the car from flipping over and maintaining the runner up spot. After winning his heat race, Speer made a thrilling late race pass of Hanlon to score another win, after the closest margin of any of his five victories. Hanlon placed second, with J.R. Shaner posting his best finish of the year, third place. Many time Stateline Speedway winner Rick Feeley finished fourth and heat race winner Bondy Stoyer placed fifth.
“Sunday Thunder” continues next week, August 23rd, with gates opening at 4pm and racing action at 6pm.