Max Blair Wins 50-Lap Caution Free Rush LM Series Bill Emig Memorial At Lernerville

Story By: MIKE LEONE / RUSH RACING SERIES – SARVER, PA – After the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the first two and a half months of the 2020 season, the Pace Performance RUSH Late Model Touring Series together with Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC finally was able to get the green light to kickoff the year this past weekend with the running of the 30th annual “Bill Emig Memorial” presented by Hovis Auto & Truck Supply at Lernerville Speedway.

For the second straight year, RUSH was part of the 14th annual “Firecracker 100” weekend with the World of Outlaws that features one of dirt Late Model racing’s crown jewel events, and RUSH is truly grateful to both Lernerville and the World of Outlaws. Despite rain all three days including round after round of storms Saturday afternoon into the evening, Lernerville’s track crew led by Dan Bauman had the track in perfect condition all weekend long.

In the 2019 “Bill Emig Memorial”, Max Blair passed Ross Robinson in the closing laps to earn the $10,000 payday. On Saturday night, Blair tracked down then stalked National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame racer, Chub Frank, in lapped traffic before making the winning pass on lap 32. Blair then drove an immaculate race through lapped traffic extending his lead and going unchallenged late in the event for a second consecutive $10,000 payday. The 50-lap feature went non-stop in 15:50.544. It was a surreal three nights for Blair, who won Thursday’s $6,000 World of Outlaws feature and finished runner-up in Saturday’s feature for $15,000 bringing his “Firecracker 100” weekend earnings to well over $31,000!

“Man what a night,” expressed the 30-year-old Centerville, Pa. standout. “Racing two cars at this event is hard. It’s the most fast-paced event I’ve ever been at. The mud tonight made it even worse so I can’t thank my guys enough- it looks like they’ve been rolling around in the mud. I want to thank the fans- it’s awesome to see this big of a crowd. Hopefully the rest of the race tracks in our area can get opened up and we can get full swing soon.”

“The RUSH Series got me to where I’m at today,” added Blair. “I couldn’t afford Super Late Models when I started. We won a lot of crate races, it opened a lot of doors for me, and helped me meet some great people so there’s absolutely no question crate racing is why I am where I’m at today. These cars drive so much different than the super so if anything it hurts you because it takes you four or five laps to remember you only have 400 horsepower and you don’t have to pedal it through the corners. Chub has been one of my heroes since I was a kid. He’s one of the best to come out of our area. Anytime I get to race with Chub for the win it’s a lot of fun and it’s been happening a lot lately.”

Frank, who earned the feature pole by winning Friday’s $100 “John Buzzard Memorial” Dash, took off in the lead over Boom Brigs with Blair and sixth starting Chad Sines getting by Jason Genco for third and fourth respectively. Defending and two-time Tour champion, Jeremy Wonderling, was on the move as he advanced from his eighth starting spot into the top five on lap two dropping Genco back another spot.

As Frank continued to set a strong pace with a comfortable lead, Blair began to put the pressure on Briggs as the battle for second heated up on lap 10. Frank caught lapped traffic on lap 12 and one lap later Briggs and Blair closed in making it a three-car race for the lead. With heavy traffic in play on lap 17, Briggs, who was making his first ever Chevrolet Performance crate engine start, made a bid for the lead as he got alongside Frank in turn two but Frank continued to hold serve.

Blair had the best seat in the house as Frank and Briggs went at it. Blair then seized his opportunity two laps later to make a great move using the lap car of Nathan Smith as a pick to nab second on the 19th circuit. Blair then went to work on Frank as he closed in on lap 20 and by lap 26 was all over the leader; meanwhile, Sines and Wonderling were going at it for fourth as they gained ground on the front trio. Wonderling finally worked his way around Sines on lap 27.

Back up front, Blair pulled even with Frank and the lead duo would race side-by-side for the next five laps! Blair ducked under Frank in turn four to lead for the first time on lap 30, but Frank didn’t go away as he made a tremendous move in lapped traffic to regain the lead on the 31st circuit; however, that would be the last Frank would be shown in P1 as Blair made the winning move one lap later.

By lap 35, Blair began to stretch out his lead and his torrid pace would continue as his margin increased over the final 15 laps. Blair’s Murphy’s Logging/C&J Dairy/Previty’s Auto Wrecking/Specialty Products/Moody & Son Welding/Upstate Auto-sponsored #111 would take the checkered flag first by a winning margin of 6.148 seconds for his all-time leading 28th career RUSH Tour victory. Blair also was the Ontime Body & Graphics “Spoiler Alert” recipient as well as receiving a Sunoco 5-Gallon Race Jug and the beautiful hardwood engraved “Bill Emig Memorial” award.

(Note: Blair’s engine was tore down in post-race tech and was found to be 100% legal per the Chevrolet Performance 604 Technical Manual, and the win will be official once the results of the fuel and tire samples that were taken are verified to be in compliance. Also, all of Blair’s shocks were tested by Keith Berner of Accu-Force Shocks & Dynos and were found to be compliant per the rules.)

Frank, who has finished runner-up to Blair in both Pace Performance Weekly Series events this year at Eriez Speedway, came home in the bridesmaid spot once again matching his best career RUSH Tour finish from June 2, 2019, which ironically came at Eriez behind Blair.

“I saw Boom one time when I was in lapped traffic,” explained the 58-year-old Bear Lake, Pa. racer, who earned $5,000. “When I saw the 111 on the scoreboard I knew he (Blair) wasn’t far away. Lapped traffic was really tough for us to get through. Max’s car was really good on the bottom where he could jump up off the bottom. I probably should have been more aggressive with the lapped cars, but I didn’t want to tear stuff up. Max is tough. He’s beat me three times this year. He’s been doing it for a long time. We’re working on it. The car isn’t that bad. From last year’s car to this year’s we’re a heck of a lot better. The crate is a lot different than the super cars. If you tighten these cars up too much especially on these corners you can’t turn off the corner and you lose so much momentum.”

Briggs fended off Wonderling over the final seven laps to earn the $2,500 third place honors and the Dirt Defender “Defensive Drive of the Night” honor. Wonderling’s fourth place finish and $2,000 payday is an excellent start in his title defense as he seeks his third straight Tour championship.

Talk about what a difference a year makes. Last year, Chad Sines made 10 RUSH Tour starts qualifying for only one feature event with a 24th place finish as he’d go on to win the “Wheelman” Non-Qualifier Championship. In fact, in his last three years of Tour competition, his best prior finish was a seventh at Tri-City Raceway on June 17, 2018. Saturday’s career best fifth place finish earned him $1,500 on a national stage in an impressive performance all weekend long that began with timing in second fastest overall in qualifying.

Genco was sixth. Kyle Lukon, who finished second in last year’s Tour points, was seventh ahead of Matt Latta. Joe Martin made his first RUSH Tour start in five years and brought Tom Snyder’s #10s home in ninth. John Waters put himself behind the eight-ball qualifying just 32nd fastest on Thursday night. Waters then went eighth to fifth in his heat race on Friday night then battled from the 20th starting spot in the feature to complete the top 10 and earn the $100 Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger award for car owner Dale LeBarron.

Jamie Wrightsman was the 2017 “Wheelman” Champion for the Tour’s Non-Qualifier events. On Saturday night, Wrightsman led the entire distance in a wild affair to become the all-time winningest Non-Qualifier victor. Wrightsman earned $400 for his fourth career victory in the Jim Wrightsman-owned, King Bros/Quaker Steak & Lube/RKR/Reese Services/Hover Racing/Holko Roofing/King Sanitary-sponsored #21J. Nico Dabecco brought Matt Dobnak’s #42D home in second. After getting tore up in his B main battling for a feature transfer spot, Bryan Benton went 11th to third over John Oaks and two-time “Wheelman” Champion Tony White.

Lukon set fast time in Thursday’s FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying with a lap of 17.192 to earn $100. Picking up $25 FK Rod Ends heat race victories were Briggs, Wonderling, Blair, and Ross Robinson. Michael Duritsky, Jr. and Justin Kann won Saturday’s last chance B mains.

Pace Performance RUSH Late Model Touring Series “Bill Emig Memorial” presented by Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Race #1 (50 laps, $10,000 to-win): 1. MAX BLAIR (111) 2. Chub Frank (1*) 3. Boom Briggs (99B) 4. Jeremy Wonderling (3J) 5. Chad Sines (15) 6. Jason Genco (Craig 29J) 7. Kyle Lukon (184) 8. Matt Latta (21) 9. Joe Martin (Snyder 10S) 10. John Waters (LeBarron 11) 11. John Mollick (Bentz 60M) 12. David Pangrazio (136) 13. Josh Ferry (33) 14. Kyle Murray (21) 15. Ross Robinson (7) 16. Michael Duritsky, Jr. (90J) 17. Ryan Frazee (11F) 18. Christian Schneider (Maniecki 1ST) 19. Logan Zarin (1z) 20. Bill Kessler (09) 21. Kyle Zimmerman (z17) 22. Joey Zambotti III (948) 23. Nathan Smith (Stockdale 31) 24. Justin Kann (66) 25. Dan Angelicchio (14). (Note: Bill Kessler took a Tour provisional)

Non-Qualifier (13 laps, $400 to-win): 1. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 2. Nico Dabecco (Dobnak 42) 3. Bryan Benton (52) 4. John Oaks (11S) 5. Tony White (27T 6. Eric Hamilton, Jr. (33X) 7. Chuck Recker (6) 8. Collin Burke (41) 9. Jared Kane (7) 10. Cory Sines (25) 11. Colin Casale (24).

Car Count: 36
Time of the Feature Event: 15:50.544 (non-stop)
Feature Margin of Victory: 6.148 seconds
Feature Lap Leaders: Chub Frank (1-29, 31), Max Blair (30, 32-50)
Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down Hard Charger”: John Waters (+10)
Dirt Defender “Defensive Drive of the Night”: Boom Briggs
TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night”: Dan Angelicchio
Sunoco 5-Gallon Race Jugs: Max Blair
Ontime Body & Graphic “Spoiler Alert”: Max Blair

FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying Flight ($100 for fast time) (Track record 16.776 by Alex Ferree 10/18/19): 1. 184-Kyle Lukon, 00:17.192[26]; 2. 15-Chad Sines, 00:17.303[4]; 3. 111-Max Blair, 00:17.313[19]; 4. 11F-Ryan Frazee, 00:17.328[11]; 5. 99B-Boom Briggs, 00:17.381[17]; 6. 3J-Jeremy Wonderling, 00:17.384[16]; 7. 136-David Pangrazio, 00:17.438[8]; 8. 7R-Ross Robinson, 00:17.449[7]; 9. 33-Josh Ferry, 00:17.510[14]; 10. 21L-Matt Latta, 00:17.562[20]; 11. 10S-Joe Martin, 00:17.588[30]; 12. 21-Kyle Murray, 00:17.624[21]; 13. 1Z-Logan Zarin, 00:17.677[15]; 14. 09-Bill Kessler, 00:17.713[9]; 15. 1*-Chub Frank, 00:17.793[12]; 16. 7K-Jared Kane, 00:17.801[33]; 17. 41B-Collin Burke, 00:17.823[1]; 18. 14A-Dan Angelicchio, 00:17.888[31]; 19. 24C-Colin Casale, 00:17.911[6]; 20. 29J-Jason Genco, 00:17.926[22]; 21. 60M-John Mollick, 00:17.926[23]; 22. 11S-John Oaks, 00:17.959[2]; 23. 52-Bryan Benton, 00:17.973[5]; 24. 66-Justin Kann, 00:17.980[18]; 25. 27T-Tony White, 00:17.995[10]; 26. 21J-Jamie Wrightsman, 00:18.024[25]; 27. 948-Joey Zambotti III, 00:18.057[27]; 28. 25S-Cory Sines, 00:18.071[13]; 29. 42D-Nico Dabecco, 00:18.075[29]; 30. 90J-Michael Duritsky Jr, 00:18.081[32]; 31. 31-Nathan Smith, 00:18.093[24]; 32. 11L-John Waters, 00:18.111[3]; 33. 1ST-Christian Schneider, 00:18.262[28]; 34. Z17-Kyle Zimmerman, 00:18.262[34]; 35. 6-Chuck Recker, 00:18.262[36]; 36. 33X-Eric Hamilton Jr, 00:19.661[35]

FK Rod Ends Heat 1 (10 laps, Top 5 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. 99B-Boom Briggs[2]; 2. 184-Kyle Lukon[1]; 3. 60M-John Mollick[6]; 4. 1Z-Logan Zarin[4]; 5. 33-Josh Ferry[3]; 6. 1ST-Christian Schneider[9]; 7. 42D-Nico Dabecco[8]; 8. 41B-Collin Burke[5]; 9. 27T-Tony White[7].

FK Rod Ends Heat 2 (10 laps, Top 5 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. 3J-Jeremy Wonderling[2]; 2. 15-Chad Sines[1]; 3. 21L-Matt Latta[3]; 4. 14A-Dan Angelicchio[5]; 5. Z17-Kyle Zimmerman[9]; 6. 90J-Michael Duritsky Jr[8]; 7. 11S-John Oaks[6]; 8. 21J-Jamie Wrightsman[7]; 9. 09-Bill Kessler[4]

FK Rod Ends Heat 3 (10 laps, Top 5 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. 111-Max Blair[1]; 2. 1*-Chub Frank[4]; 3. 10S-Joe Martin[3]; 4. 136-David Pangrazio[2]; 5. 948-Joey Zambotti III[7]; 6. 52-Bryan Benton[6]; 7. 24C-Colin Casale[5]; 8. 31-Nathan Smith[8]; 9. 6-Chuck Recker[9]

FK Rod Ends Heat 4 (10 laps, Top 5 transfer to A, $25 to-win) 1. 7R-Ross Robinson[2]; 2. 29J-Jason Genco[5]; 3. 11F-Ryan Frazee[1]; 4. 21-Kyle Murray[3]; 5. 11L-John Waters[8]; 6. 66-Justin Kann[6]; 7. 25S-Cory Sines[7]; 8. 7K-Jared Kane[4]; 9. 33X-Eric Hamilton Jr[9]

Last Chance B Main 1 (12 laps, Top 2 transfer to A): 1. 90J-Michael Duritsky Jr[2]; 2. 1ST-Christian Schneider[1]; 3. 21J-Jamie Wrightsman[6]; 4. 42D-Nico Dabecco[3]; 5. 09-Bill Kessler[8]; 6. 27T-Tony White[7]; 7. 11S-John Oaks[4]; 8. 41B-Collin Burke[5]

Last Chance B Main 2 (12 laps, Top 2 transfer to A): 1. 66-Justin Kann[2]; 2. 31-Nathan Smith[5]; 3. 33X-Eric Hamilton Jr[8]; 4. 24C-Colin Casale[3]; 5. 7K-Jared Kane[6]; 6. 6-Chuck Recker[7]; 7. 25S-Cory Sines[4]; 8. 52-Bryan Benton[1]

“John Buzzard Memorial” Dash (6 laps, $100 to win): 1. 1*-Chub Frank[1]; 2. 99B-Boom Briggs[4]; 3. 29J-Jason Genco[5]; 4. 111-Max Blair[8]; 5. 7R-Ross Robinson[6]; 6. 15-Chad Sines[7]; 7. 184-Kyle Lukon[2]; 8. 3J-Jeremy Wonderling[3]