Story By: MIKE LEONE / RUSH RACING SERIES – DELMAR, DE – The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series presented by Pace Performance kicked off the 2019 season on Wednesday night at Delaware International Speedway (DIS).
Night one of the second annual “Battle of the Bay” Speedweek presented by Wehrs Machine & Racing Parts brought out a Speedweek record 53 race teams from seven different states plus Ontario, Canada. It was the inaugural “Raelyn Huffman Memorial” as over $6,000 was raised by friends and family of the Huffmans, which went directly into the purse.
Last year, Max Blair opened the “Battle of the Bay” Speedweek victorious at DIS in his first ever race in the “First State”. Blair returned on Wednesday night with a tribute car for Raelyn Huffman and left little doubt he was the class of the field. Blair set fast time, won his heat race, the dash, and led all 40 laps of the feature to earn $4,325! In addition, Blair received one of the new Sunoco 5-Gallon Race Jugs and a rear spoiler from Ontime Body & Graphic adding an additional $200 in contingencies.
“I love this place,” expressed the 29-year-old Centerville, Pa. standout. “I was really looking forward to coming down here- it’s smooth, slippery, and beautiful. If this place was five hours closer to home you’d probably see me a lot more, but it’s a long way down here. This is a brand new car and I didn’t know what to expect, but we were fast out of the box. We were a little tight in hot laps, but tweaked on it and got better as the night went on. What a stout field of race cars- it doesn’t get much better than that when you talk about crate racing! Over 50 cars- that’s awesome.”
“It means a lot to win this,” added Blair. “I didn’t know Raelyn very well, but I knew her dad (Ray) really well. He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met in racing. He’d give his shirt off his back for you. His family is great and I’ve gotten to know them over the years. Ray and I raced together for a few years when he owned my stuff. I had a lot of fun and we’re going to do some more racing with him this year. I’m really glad we could pull this one off for him. When this race was first announced, I messaged Shelby (Ray’s daughter) and asked if we could do this memorial door for Raelyn. She liked the idea and we surprised Ray and Brenda with it down here. I think they were pretty happy with it and there’s no better way to end this night than right here. We’re going to take this door off and send it home with them.”
Blair took off in the lead at the start of the feature with Ross Robinson, Amanda Whaley, and Dillon Brown in tow. Seventh starting Kyle Lukon quickly moved into fourth after one lap. As Blair opened up some ground on Robinson, Brown took third from Whaley on lap three. With caution-free racing, Blair caught lapped traffic on lap 10. His half-straightaway lead on the half-mile track began to shrink on lap 12 as Robinson closed in; meanwhile Logan Roberson was on the charge from his 11th starting spot as he moved to seventh. Blair got the caution he needed when Derek Magee, who was making his first ever Sweeney Tour start, spun with 14 laps completed.
When racing resumed on lap 15, Robinson had a poor restart as Brown, Whaley, and Matt Hill all moved by to take positions two through four. Jason Genco, who finished second in 2018 Sweeney Tour points, looked good as he raced into the fifth position on lap 17 from his 13th starting spot. A caution for Canadian Charlie Sandercock slowed action with 17 laps completed.
Back under green, Whaley and Robinson slipped past Brown for second and third, while Roberson cracked the top five on lap 18. Five laps later, Roberson began to put pressure on Brown in the race for fourth. The event’s final caution was displayed for Trevor Collins with 26 laps scored. After falling from second to fifth on lap 15, Robinson worked his way back to second on lap 27, while Roberson nipped Brown at the start-finish line for fourth. Roberson went to work on Whaley on lap 32, while Genco challenge Brown for fifth on lap 33.
Back up front though it was all Blair. With the last 14 laps going caution-free, Blair stretched his lead out and took the checkered flag first by a comfortable 4.224-second margin for his all-time leading 22nd career Sweeney Tour win in his Murphy’s Logging/C&J Dairy/Previty’s Auto Wrecking/Specialty Products/Moody & Son Welding-sponsored #111.
Robinson, who won last year’s $2,000 “Battle of the Bay” event at Georgetown, earned $2,000 for his runner-up finish. “I got beat,” lamented the 28-year-old Georgetown, DE driver. “They did their homework and it showed. Max was the class of the field all night long. We’re going to have to go to work to have a shot at beating him the rest of the week. I couldn’t do this without all my sponsors. My mom, dad, and grandparents are here. It’s a group effort. It takes a lot and I appreciate everything.”
Whaley was third and earned $1,000 for her third top four finish in the five all-time “Battle of the Bay” races. “I really didn’t need that last restart,” explained the 24-year-old Millsboro, DE racer. “I want to go back and rewind that to keep Ross behind me, but it’s all good- we’re one spot better than last year. Congrats to Max. He ran a great race and so did Ross. We’ll try to get a little better and go get them tomorrow.”
Roberson finished fourth and earned the Precise Racing Products $100 “Pedal Down” Hard Charger gift card for advancing seven positions. South Carolina’s Brown dropped to fifth after being as high as second in his first ever RUSH start. Jason Genco was sixth and was selected as the Dirt Defender’s “Defensive Drive” award for backing out of a near accident in a wild three-wide battle. Hill was seventh. Trevor Feathers and Dale Hollidge made their first ever Sweeney Tour starts and the Mid-Atlantic Super Late Model standouts finished eighth and ninth respectively. Chuck Bowie was 10th.
Joe Warren ended the night victorious in the 10-lap “Wheelman” Bonus Event Challenge Series Non-Qualifier event worth $200. The former DIS track champion led the entire way of the non-stop race and took the checkered flag first by a margin of 3.470 seconds in his #11. The 44-year-old Georgetown, DE resident became the 35th different winner in 39 races run all-time. Jakob Piper was second. “Futures Cup” contender, Logan Zarin, who is in his sophomore season of RUSH racing passed Mike Wharton on lap three to finish third. Brad Rigdon and Kyle Murray also got by Wharton to take fourth and fifth at the finish.
Blair set fast time in FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying presented by Resurrected Electric to earn $200 with a lap of 19.624 over Dillon Brown ($100) and Matt Hill ($50). Picking up $25 FK Rod Ends heat race wins were Blair, Brown, Hill, Whaley, Robinson, and Hollidge. Blair’s Davis Trucking Dash win was worth $100 beating out Robinson, who earned $50. Nick Davis, Cody Dawson, and Braeden Dillinger captured the three last chance B mains.
Jamie Wrightsman was selected as the TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night” recipient after the Cortland, Ohio driver lost an engine during warm-ups. Mark Pettyjohn of PJ1 Motorsports presented the first ever “$500 Club” drawings. The following DIS regulars earned $100 by a random draw: Hill, Brandon Sturgis, Joe Pete, Magee, and Trevor Collins.
“We cannot thank the Huffman Family, the racers, and the four speedways part of the Battle of the Bay enough,” stated RUSH Director Vicki Emig. “The Huffman Family contacted us about doing a memorial event for Raelyn and the outpouring of support was amazing. The R&J Poultry name has been a big part of Crate Late Model racing for many years especially on Cody Dawson and Max Blair’s cars. They raised over $6,000 to take the event from a $2,000 to-win to a $4,000 to-win show, and then the promoters of Georgetown, Potomac, and Winchester followed up by raising their events to $3,000 to-win. To have 53 cars from seven states plus Canada to remember Raelyn was tremendous.”
The Sweeney Tour will resume action on Thursday night at Georgetown (DE) Speedway for night two of the “Battle of the Bay” Speedweek presented by Wehrs Machine & Racing Parts. Racing moves to Potomac Speedway in Mechanicsville, Maryland on Friday night with Speedweek closing out on Saturday night at Winchester (VA) Speedway. All three events will pay $3,000 to-win.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Touring Series “Raelyn Huffman Memorial” Race #1 (40 laps, $4,000 to-win): 1. MAX BLAIR (111) 2. Ross Robinson (7) 3. Amanda Whaley (4) 4. Logan Roberson (17) 5. Dillon Brown (6) 6. Jason Genco (29J) 7. Matt Hill (84) 8. Trevor Feathers (Royston 20) 9. Dale Hollidge (0) 10. Chuck Bowie (14C) 11. Jeremy Wonderling (3J) 12. Darrell Bossard (Winans 213) 13. Kyle Lukon (184) 14. Nick Davis (92) 15. Cody Dawson (36) 16. Matt Glanden (01) 17. Derek Magee (96) 18. J.J. Mazur (13) 19. Sparky White (16) 20. Bill Kessler (09) 21. Michael Duritsky, Jr. (90J) 22. Trevor Collins (11) 23. Charlie Sandercock (57) 24. Braeden Dillinger (14) 25. Tyler Reed (Klink 49) 26. Billy Thompson (55). (Note: Bill Kessler took a Series provisional & Sparky White a Track provisional.)
Non-Qualifier (10 laps, $200 to-win): 1. Joe Warren (11) 2. Jakob Piper (21) 3. Logan Zarin (1z) 4. Brad Rigdon (09) 5. Kyle Murray (21) 6. Mike Wharton (100) 7. Chad Sines (15) 8. Jonathan Raley (05) 9. Timmy Booth (95) 10. Zac Weller (1*) 11. Brandon Sturgis (91) 12. Jeremy Pilkerton (8) 13. Scott Gunn (14G)-DNS 14. Joe Pete (8/78)-DNS 15. Ben Scott (1)-DNS 16. Jason Dean (7)-DNS 17. Darren Alvey (30)-DNS 18. Andy Michael (17x)-DNS 19. Sam Pennacchio (311)-DNS 20. Matt Quade (47)-DNS 21. Levi Crowl (5c)-DNS 22. Ryan Frazee (11F)-DNS 23. Kerry King (KB)-DNS 24. Jamie Wrightsman (21J)-DNS 25. Ken Scott, Jr. (WWC 72)-DNS 26. Dana Walker (33)-DSQ (seals) 27. Charles Shawver (WWC 74)-DSQ (fan).
Car Count: 53
Feature Margin of Victory: 4.224 seconds
Feature Lap Leaders: Max Blair (1-40)
“$500 Club” presented by PJ1 Motorsports: Matt Hill, Brandon Sturgis, Joe Pete, Derek Magee, Trevor Collins.
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: Logan Roberson
Dirt Defender “Defensive Drive of the Night”: Jason Genco
TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night”: Jamie Wrightsman
Sunoco 5-Gallon Race Jugs: Max Blair
Ontime Body & Graphic “Spoiler Alert”: Max Blair
FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying presented by Resurrected Electric ($200 for fast time): 1. Max Blair 19.624 2. Dillon Brown 19.774 3. Matt Hill 19.858 4. Amanda Whaley 20.015 5. Ross Robinson 20.112 6. Dale Hollidge 20.115 7. Jason Genco 20.146 8. Chuck Bowie 20.233 9. Cody Dawson 20.263 10. Derek Magee 20.266 11. Braeden Dillinger 20.278 12. Trevor Collins 20.309 13. Darren Alvey 20.314 14. Kyle Lukon 20.324 15. Trevor Feathers 20.335 16. Darrell Bossard 20.337 17. Michael Duritsky, Jr. 20.362 18. Logan Roberson 20.363 19. Jeremy Wonderling 20.408 20. Kerry King 20.432 21. Charlie Sandercock 20.514 22. Zac Weller 20.518 23. Joe Pete 20.542 24. Tyler Reed 20.580 26. Nick Davis 20.635 27. Billy Thompson 20.683 28. Levi Crowl 20.711 29. Matt Glanden 20.764 30. Kyle Murray 20.783 31. Sam Pennacchio 20.833 32. Logan Zarin 20.845 33. Sparky White 20.872 34. Jakob Piper 20.873 35. Scott Gunn 20.932 36. Chad Sines 20.933 37. Bill Kessler 20.955 38. J.J. Mazur 20.965 39. Brad Rigdon 20.988 40. Matt Quade 20.988 41. Mike Wharton 21.048 42. Andy Michael 21.089 43. Jeremy Pilkerton 21.182 44. Joe Warren 21.235 45. Brandon Sturgis 21.249 46. Jason Dean 21.383 47. Timmy Booth 21.560 48. Jonathan Raley 21.806 49. Ben Scott 24.544 50. Jamie Wrightsman NT 51. Dana Walker NT 52. Ken Scott, Jr. NT 53. Charles Shawver NT.
FK Rod Ends Heat 1 (8 laps, Top 2 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Blair 2. Lukon 3. Genco 4. Davis 5. Dean 6. Rigdon 7. King 8. Zarin 9. B. Scott-DNS.
FK Rod Ends Heat 2 (8 laps, Top 2 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Brown 2. Bowie 3. Feathers 4. Thompson 5. Pennacchio 6. Quade 7. Warren 8. Alvey 9. Wrightsman-DNS.
FK Rod Ends Heat 3 (8 laps, Top 2 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Hill 2. Bossard 3. Sandercock 4. Dawson 5. Crowl 6. Wharton 7. Sines 8. White 9. Walker-DSQ.
FK Rod Ends Heat 4 (8 laps, Top 2 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Whaley 2. Duritsky 3. Magee 4. Michael 5. Reed 6. Gunn 7. Weller 8. Booth 9. K. Scott-DNS.
FK Rod Ends Heat 5 (8 laps, Top 2 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Robinson 2. Roberson 3. Glanden 4. Dillinger 5. Pete 6. Pilkerton 7. Kessler 8. Raley 9. Shawver-DSQ.
FK Rod Ends Heat 6 (8 laps, Top 2 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. Hollidge 2. Wonderling 3. Collins 4. Mazur 5. Piper 6. Murray 7. Frazee 8. Sturgis.
Last Chance B Main 1 (10 laps, Top 2 transfer to A): 1. Davis 2. Thompson 3. Warren 4. Zarin 5. Rigdon 6. B. Scott 7. Dean 8. Alvey 9. Pennacchio 10. Quade 11. King-DNS 12. Wrightsman-DNS.
Last Chance B Main 2 (10 laps, Top 2 transfer to A): 1. Dawson 2. Reed 3. Wharton 4. Gunn 5. Weller 6. Sines 7. Booth 8. Michael 9. White 10. Crowl 11. Walker-DSQ. 12. Shawver-DSQ.
Last Chance B Main 3 (10 laps, Top 2 transfer to A): 1. Dillinger 2. Mazur 3. Piper 4. Pete 5. Pilkerton 6. Murray 7. Sturgis 8. Raley 9. Kessler 10. Frazee 11. K. Scott-DNS.
Davis Trucking Dash (6 laps, $100 to win): 1. Blair 2. Robinson 3. Whaley 4. Brown 5. Hollidge 6. Hill.