(Pulaski, PA)…Coming off a successful debut in 2013 with well over 200 competing racers, the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Series has forged ahead in 2014. And with racing a little more than a month away, drivers, speedways, and Series Directors continue to make final preparations for an exciting new year.
RUSH will again have over $70,000 in cash point funds up for grabs, and is expected to crown four new champions for their major point championships. In fact, the Sweeney Weekly Series Championship has been increased and expanded to 40 points paying positions due to the addition of four speedways, for 2014!
In 2013, Max Blair won over $10,000 in point fund monies highlighted by his Sweeney Weekly Series and Pace Performance Summer Chase crowns. Blair has moved on as a full-time Super Late Model competitor driving for John Kennedy as a rookie of the year candidate for the NDRL “Kings of Dirt” Series.
After years of trying and coming up just short, Mike Pegher, Jr. finally captured a Sweeney Touring Series Championship. In addition, Pegher also finished second to Blair in the Weekly Series Championship and third in Pace Summer Chase standings. His take in Sweeney RUSH point fund monies was also around $10,000. While Pegher will continue to run some of the special RUSH Late Model events, his focus like Blair’s will be on the next level in Super Late Models for Lynn Geisler.
With his “Futures Cup” Championship, Eric Wilson will automatically not be eligible for the 2014 honors meaning this past year’s runner-up, 12-year-old Michael Lake, will be the leading candidate. Lake, who ran one of the Warrior House Cars in World of Outlaw Late Model competition at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, FL, is also expected to compete in the majority of the Sweeney RUSH Tour events. Lake won four races at Roaring Knob in 2013 including a $2,000 Sweeney Tour event plus a “Futures Cup” Trifecta race.
With these changes and of course the retirement of third place Sweeney Tour point man Butch Lambert, things will really be wide open in 2014! Blair also dominated action at his home track, McKean County Raceway, winning 10 of the 14 features he competed in along with a pair of runner-ups, and a third place finish. McKean always has a strong car count and with several new drivers making the move to Crate Late Models, the competition level will increase with the racing to victory wide open.
“Looking back we could not be prouder of both Max and Mike’s accomplishments,” expressed RUSH Co-Director Vicki Emig. “I don’t think anyone will ever forget their numerous door-to-door battles that helped develop them into the stellar racers that they are today. They truly helped us lay the groundwork and pave the way for all of the great racers that participate with us today- many of which will be vying for the titles they held for so many years. It really is going to be exciting to watch the changing of the guard, so to speak, as it take place right in front of our eyes throughout the 2014 season.”
Not far behind Blair and Pegher’s accolades was Ryan Montgomery. The soon to be 17-year-old from Fairmont, West Virginia enters the new season as one of the odds on favorites. Montgomery, the 2011 “Futures Cup” Champion, will now vie for three titles in 2014. He came up just shy in 2013 finishing second in both the Sweeney Tour and Pace Summer Chase point titles and third in the Sweeney Weekly Series title earning $7,000 for those three point funds alone. At times in 2013, Montgomery was the driver to beat and he hopes to continue that into 2014.
Dennis Lunger, Jr. is a driver that worked his way up the ranks starting in Stock Cars before advancing to E-Mods and then running a mix of Crate, Steel-Block, and Super Late Model races in recent years. Lunger focused on the Crates in 2013 driving for Reuben Schwartz and it paid dividends. Lunger will go down in the history books as the very first winner of RUSH taking a Sweeney Weekly Series event at Sharon then ended the season with the $2,000 Sweeney Tour victory- the final race of the 2013 campaign! Lunger won his first championship at Sharon while winning five features, tied Will Thomas III for fifth in the Sweeney Weekly Championship, and made a late surge to finish 13th in the Sweeney Tour title. Lunger plans to go after his first Sweeney Tour Championship in 2014!
Fourth and fifth place 2013 Sweeney Tour racers Cody Dawson of Maryland and Chad Ruhlman of New York hope to improve on their placing for the upcoming 2014 season. The teenage Dawson, who had limited experience in 2012 at New Egypt Speedway, decided to hit the road with the Sweeney Tour in 2013 and improved his skills as the season progressed. Dawson is anxiously looking forward to making a run at the championship in 2014.
Meanwhile, the veteran Ruhlman will again be behind the wheel of the Terry Suppa-owned #4s and is a threat to win anywhere he competes. Ruhlman had seven top five finishes with the Sweeney Tour in 2013. He also had four runner-up finishes at McKean and finished fourth in their weekly track points.
Like Dawson, Matt Glanden was another teenage racer from Maryland that was part of the “Futures Cup” and hit the majority of the Sweeney Tour events. Glanden improved throughout the season in his first year in the Crate Late Models. Both Dawson and Glanden will have options closer to home when the Tour is not in action with the Mid-Atlantic speedways of Potomac and Winchester sanctioning under RUSH with their bi-weekly Sweeney Weekly Series programs.
Kyle Lukon has long been known for his accomplishments at his home track Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedweek. In 2013, the Burgettstown, Pa. driver won five features including his $1,700 first career Sweeney Tour win on his way to the PPMS track title. Lukon also grabbed $1,550 in RUSH point money with an eighth place in the Sweeney Weekly and a seventh in the Pace Summer Chase standings. In 2014, Lukon will make his first effort at hitting the road and running with the Sweeney Tour.
The Waters Brothers will all be full-time RUSH Crate Late Model competitors in 2014. Last year, Dusty made the move from the BRP Can-Am 360 Late Models and ran predominately at McKean. John, the reigning BRP Champion, dabbled with RUSH in the fall and looked strong. He finished off 2013 running six of the final seven Sweeney Tour races and is expected to be a championship contender in 2014. And finally, Scott picked up a Crate Late Model at season’s end and will be running the car in 2014.
Andrew Wylie continues to improve his dirt skills after moving over from the asphalt ranks several years ago. Wylie, a 2011 UNC Charlotte graduate with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Aerodynamics, always has an immaculate ride when he shows up to compete. The soon to be 27-year-old builds his own Wylie Race Cars, and certainly found speed in 2013. The Saltsburg, Pa. racer finished 11th in Sweeney Tour points despite missing several events, and plans to go after the championship for the upcoming season.
2012 “Futures Cup” Champion Nico Dabecco is a driver on the rise. The soon-to-be 17-year-old Pittsburgh racer won a Sweeney Weekly Series event at Pittsburgh on August 17, and ran more Sweeney Tour events than ever before to finish 14th in the final 2013 standings with four top 10 finishes. Dabecco is expected to compete in more Sweeney Tour events to improve on his final points finish.
Will Thomas III is set to begin his third full season of Crate Late Model racing. The former standout asphalt racer quickly picked up on dirt track racing winning the 2012 Sharon Speedway title in his first try. Last year, the Sharpsville, Pa. driver finished second in Sharon points to Lunger. Thomas is already the division’s all-time winner at Sharon with nine victories. Thomas, who already went to Florida to race at Bubba’s and got rained out five times, is expected to do some more traveling in 2014.
While they don’t compete in all of the Sweeney Tour events, drivers like Chad McClellan, Rick Singleton, Joe Martin, Josh Holtgraver, John Over, Dan Angelicchio, Josh Double, and Bryce Davis are threats anytime they hit the track, whether for weekly or tour shows. Other drivers who have already joined the Sweeney Tour include Bob Kish, Junior Peters, Jamie Brown, Jamie Wrightsman, and Reese Masiello- a newcomer who will also be part of the “Futures Cup”.
2014 Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Series Touring Series Tentative Schedule*
* Friday, May 30 Freedom Speedway (Delevan, NY)
* Saturday, June 7 Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex (Markleysburg, PA) $2,000 to-win
(“Bill Hendren Memorial”)
* Sunday, June 8 Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway (Imperial, PA) $4,000 to-win plus bonuses
(“Steel City 100” – 100 laps/30-car starting field)
“MID-ATLANTIC STATES CLASSIC”
* Friday, June 20 Potomac Speedway (Mechanicsville, MD) $2,500 to-win
* Saturday, June 21 Winchester Speedway (Winchester, VA) $2,500 to-win
BILL EMIG MEMORIAL “WILD CARD WEEKEND”
* Friday, July 4 Lernerville Speedway (Sarver, PA) $1,500 to-win
* Saturday, July 5 Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH) $1,500 to-win
Plus $1,500 “Wildcard Weekend” point fund
* Wednesday, July 9 Expo Speedway (Fair race) (Cortland, OH) $2,000 to-win
* Saturday, July 12 Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway (Imperial, PA) $1,500 to-win
(Sweeney/Pace Night with GM 604 engine giveaway)
* Sunday, July 20 Humberstone Speedway (Port Colborne, ON, Can) $2,000 to-win
(“Canadian National Late Model Championship”)
* Thursday, August 14 McKean County Raceway (Fair race) (East Smethport, PA) $1,200 to-win
$50,000 “END OF SUMMER BLOWOUT”
* Saturday, August 30 McKean County Raceway (East Smethport, PA) $1,500 to-win
(Plus $30,000 “Manufacturers Night”)
* Sunday, August 31 Wayne County Speedway (Orrville, OH) $1,500 to-win
* Friday, September 12 Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH) $1,500 to-win
(“Apple Festival Nationals” – “Gary Knollinger Memorial”)
* Saturday, September 13 Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway (Imperial, PA)
(“Pittsburgher” with NDRL “Kings of Dirt” – details TBA)
* Saturday, September 27 Woodhull Raceway (Woodhull, NY) $1,500 to-win
* Fri & Sat, October 3-4 Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex (Markleysburg, PA) $2,000 to-win
(Qualifying & heats Friday & main events Saturday)
* Fri & Sat, October 10-11 McKean County Raceway (East Smethport, PA)
(“Fall Classic” – Weekend Details TBA)
* Fri & Sat, October 24-25 Lernerville Speedway (Sarver, PA) $2,000 to-win
(“Steel City Stampede” with heats Friday & main events Saturday)
*Schedule subject to change.
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, Valley Fashions, and B.R.A.K.E.S.
E-mail can be sent to the RUSH Racing Series at firstname.lastname@example.org and snail mail to 4368 Route 422, Pulaski, PA 16143. Office phone is 724-964-9300 and fax is 724-964-0604. The RUSH Racing Series website is www.rushracingseries.com. Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rushlatemodels and follow us on Twitter @RUSHLM.