Successful 2019 Rush Series Season Completed With Top Racers Honored At Banquet

Story By: MIKE LEONE / RUSH RACING SERIES – EDINBURG, PA – While the 2020 racing season is only a few months away, Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Racing Series powered by Pace Performance Directors Vicki Emig and Mike Leone put a final wrap on the 2019 racing season with the annual awards banquet and dinner on Saturday night at the Gatherings Banquet & Event Center in Edinburg, Pa.

A large number of attendees filled the beautiful banquet hall as over $130,000 in cash was distributed to Sweeney RUSH Late Model, Sprint Car, Sportsman Modified, Pro Mod, and Pro Stock racers. All told well over a quarter million dollar in point fund monies and useful product contingencies were distributed to RUSH racers throughout the 2019 season.

The Sweeney RUSH Late Models had events at 23 different speedways in 2019 with over 350 different racers participating in either a weekly-sanctioned and/or tour events. The non-wing RUSH Sprint Cars completed year two number with growing car counts and more participation. Year six for the Sweeney RUSH Sportsman Modified season saw more cars participate than any other year. The Sweeney Pro Stocks continued in year five of their Weekly Series, while the fourth year Sweeney Pro Mods again produced great racing at Stateline and Old Bradford Speedways on a weekly basis.

Crowned 2019 Sweeney Late Model champions were Jeremy Wonderling-Touring Series, Max Blair-National Weekly Series and “Summer Chase”, Jakob Piper-“Futures Cup”, and Chad Sines-Wheelman Bonus Event Challenge Series. In the Sweeney RUSH Sprint Cars, Chad Ruhlman captured the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Weekly Series crown again, while his son Kevin won the inaugural “Futures Cup” title. In the Sweeney RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, it was Garrett Krummert again taking both the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Weekly & Touring Series titles, while David Kalb, Jr. won the Hovis “Futures Cup” and Cameron Nastasi the “Wheelman”. Dennis Lunger, Jr. won the Sweeney Pro Mod Weekly Series Championship once again. Tyler Dietz captured the Sweeney Pro Stock title for the second straight year.

All of the champions received their point fund monies, laser etched championship marble awards, large championship checks thanks to Ontime Body & Graphic, inscribed RUSH championship jackets, and Hoosier championship jackets

Jeremy Wonderling of Wellsville, NY edged out Touring Series newcomer Kyle Lukon to earn the $5,000 Tour title for the second time in three years of trying. Wonderling started the year off strong at the “Battle of the Bay” presented by Wehrs Machine finishing in the top 11 all three nights against a fields of 40-53 cars each night. Wonderling returned home and went on a tear winning three straight Tour races in his home state. Wonderling had a tough stretch with four finishes of 12th or worse in a five-race span; however, his runner-up in the finale at Lernerville for the second straight year allowed him to cop the title- this time by one over Lukon, whose three wins at Pittsburgh were worth $18,800!

Max Blair left Saturday’s banquet once again as RUSH’s top point fund earner garnering $9,000. Despite again focusing his efforts on his Super Late Model program, Blair again won enough and was efficient enough to capture the National Weekly Series & Pace Performance Summer Chase titles for the Late Model division. In addition, Blair finished eighth in the Touring Series thanks to six wins and two runner-ups as he knocked down $27,250 in those eight starts.

The third generation racer led the way with 18 wins with those coming at seven different tracks. Blair finished in the top five in all 26 races he competed in! The 30-year-old Centerville, Pa. driver’s $5,000 National Weekly Series Championship was his fifth in seven years also winning in 2013, 2015-2016, 2018. His $3,000 Summer Chase title was also his fifth in seven years as he also won titles in 2013 and now four straight years from 2016 on!

In his fourth year of trying, Jakob Piper became the latest to enshrine his name as a “Futures Cup” Champion. He was able to record top 10 finishes at five different speedways including, but really made a statement at his home track, Winchester. There he was able to record eight top 5s and an impressive 14 top 10s in 15 starts. He also picked up a win on June 8. Piper earned $500 for his “Futures Cup” efforts alone joining past champs Ryan Montgomery, Nico Dabecco, Michael Lake, Eric Wilson, Clinton Hersh, Wyatt Scott, Devin Brannon, and David Pangrazio.

In his second year on the Touring Series, Chad Sines finished 12th in points and won his first “Wheelman” Bonus Event Challenge Series title. The Orwell, Ohio driver won two of the non-qualifier races including the $400 one at the “Bill Hendren Memorial” and the finale at Lernerville that propelled him to the $300 title.

In addition to the above point funds, the top five in RUSH member points at each of the 14 RUSH Late Model weekly-sanctioned track shared in $800 cash ($300,200,100,50) as part of the “Track Pack” Weekly Bonus Program.

One of the biggest stories throughout the region in 2018 was not only that veteran and versatile racer, Chad Ruhlman, was getting into a Sprint Car, but in the end the success he would have. Ruhlman won the inaugural title thanks to 15 victories; and even though he didn’t win as much in 2019, he was still the driver to beat. The Erie, Pa. racer captured 10 wins in route to his second straight $5,000 Bonnell’s Rod Shop Weekly Series title. His son, Kevin, meanwhile beat out Nolan Groves to win the inaugural $300 “Futures Cup” championship. It was quite the year for the first year Sprint Car driver as he finished in the top 5 at six of the seven tracks he raced at. All told, Kevin had 8 top 5s and 12 top 10s. His best finish was a third at Genesee, Pittsburgh, and Sharon.

In 2018, Garrett Krummert simply wanted to race more thus was why he decided to team up with Jerry Schaffer in the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds in route to their championship. And while the 31-year-old Ellwood City, Pa. racer continued to focus his efforts on the Big-Block Modifieds in 2019, Krummert was spot on every time the #10s hit the track. In 15 races, Krummert never finished worse than fourth. He won a total of six times including three at Sharon and three at Pittsburgh with three of those wins coming in Tour races. At the “Betsy Kriegisch Memorial” Tour race at Pittsburgh, Krummert won a record $2,200 along with another $600 in contingencies. Krummert earned $3,800 in championship monies, and joins Greg Martin as the only repeat Weekly Series Champions and the only driver to win multiple Tour Championships.

All young racers strive to improve each year. And that’s something David Kalb, Jr. has certainly done each of his three years in the RUSH Sportsman Mods. In 2017, the go-kart standout finished fourth in the Futures Cup, 17th in Weekly, and 19th in Touring. In 2018, he finished second in the Futures Cup, tied for 14th in Weekly, and was 11th in Touring. The 2019 season was another improvement for the 17-year-old Aurora, Ohio racer as he recorded seven top 10 finishes including a pair of fourths at Raceway 7 and a pair of fifth at Sharon, which would propel him to 13th in Weekly, 10th in Touring, but more importantly the “Futures Cup” crown. Kalb also added two wins in the “Wheelman” Series races at Sharon.

Speaking of the “Wheelman”, thanks to Ohio Intra Express, C&R Tire, and Sharon Speedway, a non-winners race was held nightly in 2019 for the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. Cameron Nastasi competed in all 11 races with three top 5s including a victory on August 3. The 21-year-old Hubbard, Ohio driver earned an additional $300 from RUSH for his “Wheelman” championship.

The RUSH Pro Mod Weekly Series Champion is no stranger to RUSH competing over the years in the Late Model division with lots of accolades. In 2017, Dennis Lunger, Jr. decided to return to his E-Mod roots as he’d do double duty on most nights racing both the Late Model and Pro Mod for car owner Rueben Schwartz where he’d go on to win the RUSH Pro Mod Weekly Series title.

2018 and 2019 was much of the same though this time Lunger did double duty with his Open E-Mod and the Pro Mod winning both track titles for both years at Stateline. Lunger was again the top winner in the Pro Mods at six and never finished worse than fourth all season long. Those statistics allowed the 51-year-old Albion, Pa. racer to easily become the $3,500 Weekly Series Champion for the third straight year.

For the second straight year, Tyler Dietz garnered the RUSH Pro Stock Weekly Series Championship. The 30-year-old Saxonburg, Pa. driver had an impressive stat line with 11 podium finishes in 13 starts at Lernerville including four wins. In addition, for the first time Dietz earned the Lernerville track championship- something he had dreamed of since growing up as a child at Lernerville.

The highlight of the banquet was the special awards ceremony. The Series’ major sponsors, Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC/Pace Performance, Hovis Auto & Truck Supply, and Bonnell’s Rod Shop were each recognized with a special appreciation plaque for their continued support of the Series. Also, new marketing partner, Zarin Truck & Automotive, was awarded a sponsorship appreciation plaque for his presenting sponsorship of the new “$500 Club” in addition to presenting the “Jook George Steel City Classic”. His son Logan was in his second year of RUSH racing and competed on the Tour as well weekly at Pittsburgh. He finished sixth in Tour points along with fifth in both RUSH member points at Pittsburgh and in the “Futures Cup”.

Rueben Schwartz was awarded the 2019 RUSH “Car Owner of the Year”. Schwartz has been involved with Dennis Lunger, Jr. since 2003 first as a sponsor then transitioned to a car owner in 2006. The duo had prior success in the RUSH Late Model division before focusing on the RUSH Pro Mod. Lunger won his third straight $3,500 Pro Mod Weekly Series title and has won 28 RUSH-sanctioned Pro Mod events during that stretch. Schwartz’s wife Kim passed away in October and Lunger has been really struggling of late with medical issues and wasn’t able to attend the banquet. Schwartz gave an emotional, heartfelt speech imploring attendees to stop and appreciate their time with their loved ones before it’s too late.

Three “Miles Traveled” awards were doled out. When the RUSH Late Model Tour kicked off last April at the “Battle of the Bay”, three young racers ranging in age from 16 to 22 would begin a journey that would take them to 14 different speedways in five states and a Canadian province. Although they all had various types of racing experience under their belts, nothing compared to the journey they embarked on. With a strong family bond and their parents by their side, Ryan Frazee, Braeden Dillinger, and Michael Duritsky, Jr. took on the Tour. All three live in southwest Pennsylvania and fulfilled their commitment of following the Tour to all 16 events. This included a trip to the East Coast during the “Battle of the Bay”, three trips to New York, and most impressively a trip to Quebec to Autodrome Granby and Le RPM Speedway. The Quebec adventure was roughly a 1400-mile, 22-hour roundtrip for each of these racers!

RUSH Series announcer, Brian Spaid, emceed the affair and also previewed the upcoming 2020 season, which will be a historic season. The RUSH Late Model Touring Series point fund will nearly double with $12,000 going to the champion. The Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Weekly Series point fund for the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds will increase by 36% with $3,500 going to the champion. Raceway 7 will run a bi-weekly schedule of events on Friday night. There will also be a $2,500 “Route 7 Rumble” point fund presented by Wedge Motorsports for the Raceway 7 and Sharon RUSH Mod events. The RUSH Sprint Cars will have a strong schedule of events and the RUSH Pro Mods will see events at new venues in 2020. Ken Potter photographed the event.

2019 Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Touring Series Top 12 Driver Points: 1. Jeremy Wonderling 1241 2. Kyle Lukon 1240 3. Michael Duritsky, Jr. 1201 4. Braeden Dillinger 1171 5. Ryan Frazee 1143 6. Logan Zarin 1091 7. Bill Kessler 1047 8. Max Blair 866 9. Jason Genco 787 10. Kyle Murray 765 11. Chad Sines 702 12. John Waters 681.

2019 Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Weekly Series Top 40 Points: 1. Max Blair 1344 2. Logan Roberson 1334 3. Matt Hill 1333 4. Jeremy Wonderling 1330 5. Chad Homan 1329 6. Darrell Bossard & Matt Latta 1326 8. Kyle Zimmerman 1322 9. Jason Genco 1314 10. Kurt Stebbins 1309 11. Scott Gurdak 1307 12. Sparky White 1306 13. Darren Alvey 1305 14. Derek Magee 1299 15. Dale Hollidge 1298 16. Devin Brannon 1297 17. Chris Fleming 1285 18. Jason Knowles 1282 19. J.J. Mazur 1280 20. Ben Policz 1279 21. John Waters & Michael Duritsky, Jr. 1278 23. Jimmy Johnson & David Pangrazio 1275 25. Breyton Santee 1274 26 Jakob Piper & Joe Warren 1271 28. Bruce Hordusky, Jr. 1270 29. Chuck Bowie 1268 30. Damian Bidwell & Tyler Reed 1267 32. Ward Schell 1265 33. Kevan Cook 1261 34. Dale Caswell & Brian Knowles 1259 36. John Mollick & Sam Pennacchio 1252 38. Jeremy Pilkerton 1251 39. Brett Belden 1250 40. Levi Crowl 1249.

2019 Pace Performance “Summer Chase” Late Model Top 10 Points: 1. Max Blair 114.65 2. Darrell Bossard 112.7 3. Matt Latta 111.28 4. Scott Gurdak 110.57 5. Kyle Zimmerman 110.31 6. Chad Homan 110.29 7. Jason Genco 110.09 8. Devin Brannon 109.83 9. Sparky White 109.79 10. Matt Hill 109.

2019 Late Model “Futures Cup” Points: 1. Jakob Piper 1271 2. Jeremy Pilkerton 1251 3. Kyle Murray 1246 4. Ryan Frazee 1223 5. Logan Zarin 1212 6. Max Hill 1194 7. Jacob Peterson 1166.

2019 “Wheelman” Bonus Event Challenge Series Late Model Champion: Chad Sines 480.

2019 Bonnell’s Rod Shop RUSH Sprint Car Weekly Series Top 20 Points: 1. Chad Ruhlman 1321 2. Zach Morrow 1310 3. Brian Woodhall 1297 4. Jeremy Weaver 1280 5. Kevin Ruhlman 1251 6. Brandon Blackshear 1243 7. Shawn Smith 1227 8. Andy Feil 1208 9. Arnie Kent 1208 10. Brad Blackshear 1207 11. Steve Pedley 1194 12. Dave Hawkins 1185 13. Matt Sherlock III 1174 14. Brian Hartzell 1171 15. Tyler Powell 1142 16. Brian Ruhlman 959 17. Nolan Groves 850 18. Brandon Hawkins 775 19. John Mollick 763 20. Scott Hawkins 673.

2019 RUSH Sprint Car “Futures Cup” Points: 1. Kevin Ruhlman 1251 2. Nolan Groves 850.

2019 Hovis Auto & Truck Supply RUSH Sportsman Modified Weekly Series Top 20 Points: 1. Garrett Krummert 1326 2. Rob Kristyak & Chas Wolbert 1326 4. Kole Holden 1296 5. Tony Tatgenhorst 1263 6. Jim Rasey 1255 7. Josh Deems 1237 8. Chelsie Kriegisch 1199 9. Kyle Martell 1189 10. Jacob Jordan 1183 11. Gary Haupt 1175 12. Jessica Kriegisch 1172 13. David Kalb, Jr. 1163 14. Greg Porter 1154 15. Amelia Clay 1132 16. Clayton Deems 1131 17. Cameron Nastasi 1125 18. Preston Cope 1109 19. Calvin Clay 1107 20. Jacob Wolfe 939.

2019 Hovis Auto & Truck Supply RUSH Sportsman Modified Touring Series Top 10 Driver Points: 1. Garrett Krummert 588 2. Jim Rasey 557 3. Rob Kristyak 548 4. Chas Wolbert 538 5. Kole Holden 535 6. Kyle Martell 503 7. Jacob Jordan 483 8. Greg Porter 482 9. Tony Tatgenhorst 441 10. David Kalb, Jr. 323.

2019 Hovis Auto & Truck Supply RUSH Sportsman Modified “Futures Cup” Points: 1. David Kalb, Jr. 1163 2. Nathen McDowell 701.

2019 RUSH Sportsman Modified “Wheelman” Top 5 Points: 1. Cameron Nastasi 995 2. Amelia Clay 993 3. Tony Tatgenhorst 913 4. Clayton Deems 909 5. Greg Porter 869.

2019 Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Pro Mod Weekly Series Points: 1. Dennis Lunger, Jr. 1321 2. Chad Carlson 1294 3. Adam Ashcroft 1293 4. Nate Hartzell 1246 5. C.J. Irons 1235 6. Vaughn Nystrom & Jarrod Silvis 1187 8. Brian Mohawk 1182 9. Michael Johnstone 1175 10. Nick Mohawk 1088 11. Scott Gurdak 1053 12. Steve Dixon 936 13. Justin Carlson 693 14. Jeramy Williams 492.

2019 Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Pro Stock Weekly Series Points: 1. Tyler Dietz 1310 2. Corey McPherson 1300 3. Ryan Moyer 1285 4. Jason Fontaine & Joey Zambotti III 1255 6. Mike Bordt 1210 7. Brett McDonald 1203 8. Terry Young 1189 9. Chase Lambert 1185 10. Dale Tuche 1179.