After a rainout on Friday night that saw the Dog Hollow Speedway event get postponed to August 5, the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply RUSH Dirt Late Model Series presented by Born2Lubricants headed to Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway on Saturday night. Race #9 of the Flynn’s Tire Touring Series marked the first of four appearances of 2022 at “Dirt’s Monster Half-Mile” and served as a tune-up for the prestigious “Jook George Steel City Classic” on August 6.
Super Late Model standout Michael Norris passed Kyle Lukon on a restart on lap eight then fended off Daryl Charlier in a side-by-side duel that had the fans on their feet over the final 10 laps to capture a thrilling “Herb Scott Memorial” victory worth $3,000. Norris became the seventh different Flynn’s Tire Touring Series winner in the first nine races with his third straight Pittsburgh Tour victory! Norris will now look to become the first driver to ever win three straight “Jook George Steel Classic” events.
“That was awesome,” expressed the 30-year-old Sarver, Pa. winner, who now owns 18 career wins at Pittsburgh. “It’s great to win this race. I think I won the first one when it was a Super (Late Model) race- that was an honor. We’ve been trying for years again to win it, but it’s always seemed to allude me. Hats off to Daryl (Charlier). He was probably the fastest car and ran me super clean. Thanks to him for always leaving me a lane. He’s a class act and has more laps than I do around here and that’s saying something. This track was bad to the bone. You could go top, bottom, middle, anywhere. It’s cool to be able to come here and win. I’m happy for Nico (Dabecco) Mindy (Norris-Dabecco); they give me one heck of a hot rod, and for everyone that helps us. Racing is a family sport so to be able to race with both of my brother-in-laws, my sister, and wife- it’s just a lot of fun. The families that race together, stay together.”
Norris and Lukon led the 26-car starting field to green for the 30-lap feature, but it was Lukon using the outside to power into the early lead. Charlier started third, but dropped back to fifth on the opening lap. Charlier though would pass Tim Shaffer for fourth on lap two and three laps later drove under Logan Roberson to regain third. Eighth starting Michael Reft cracked the top five when he passed Shaffer on lap six.
The lead pack was bearing down on lapped traffic on lap eight when Tom Klein and Craig Graham tangled in turn three. Klein shot into the outside fence, while Graham spun to the bottom of the track. Thankfully everyone was able to avoid Klein and Graham. While Graham was able to restart, Klein suffered damage and was done for the event. Klein was selected as the TBM Brakes “Tough Brake of the Night” recipient and earned an extra $100 from Ontime Body & Graham. Klein’s name was drawn at the drivers meeting for drivers in the top 10 of Pittsburgh points and received another $100 from Ontime!
When racing resumed on lap eight, Norris made the outside work to charge into the lead. Charlier caught Lukon on lap 11. The two then ran side-by-side over the next three laps with Charlier slipping under Lukon in turn four for runner-up on lap 14. Charlier faced a half-straightaway deficit, but lapped traffic loomed for Norris. Charlier cut the lead in half on lap 17 and two laps later was right on Norris.
The final 10 laps of the event was absolutely tremendous as Norris and Charlier put on a side-by-side duel through lapped traffic in as good as Late Model racing you’ll see anywhere. At times, the two PPMS stars went three-wide through lapped traffic, and were nearly dead even some laps at the start-finish line even though Norris officially never lost the lead.
Norris opened up some ground on lap 25, but on lap 28 contact with the lapped car of Brady Wonderling sent Wonderling into a 360-spin that had cars scattering everywhere to avoid him and the caution was displayed. This setup a three-lap shootout to the finish. Even though the outside was where Lukon took the early lead from and Norris used it to take the lead on lap eight, Norris chose the inside for the double file restart. The decision paid off as Norris fended off Charlier by 0.748 seconds for his fourth career RUSH Tour win in the ND Motorsports-owned, Ingram Engines/Jones Racing Products/Woods Rod & Custom/Rocket/Lojacks Cycle/Fox’s Water/D&D Auto Salvage-sponsored #N1.
Charlier, who won on opening night on April 30 at Pittsburgh, earned $1,500 for his best Tour finish since October 1 last year in night one of the “Bill Hendren Memorial” at Pittsburgh. “The water pump came off the front of the engine in warm-ups,” explained the 38-year-old Bulger, Pa. racer. “We just made it out in time to qualify, but the best we could do was 14th so we had to fight our way back the rest of the night. I have to give thanks to my dad, John Adam, and my guys; it was pretty close to not being able to race tonight. I thought I was pretty good and had a better line than him initially. With that battle going back and forth he kind of knew where I was running and towards the end he started running lower in (turns) three and four and that hurt my momentum. To come home with a second, the car is one piece, we figured out our water pump problem so hopefully we’ll be at Sharon next week and can’t wait to come back for the ‘Jook’.”
Track regular, Michael Reft, had an excellent run going eighth to third after passing Roberson and Lukon on the final restart. It was a career best Tour finish for Reft easily beating his prior best of sixth back on August 31, 2013 at Pittsburgh! “I was running fifth, sixth and was going to be happy with that then picked off a couple cars on that restart so hopefully the bad juju is gone,” expressed the 28-year-old Pittsburgh, Pa. resident. “This is huge for us- we’re low budget and to get to run with these guys is a lot of fun. We’re three Pittsburgh boys (on the podium). We did a couple things different tonight so hopefully it’s a good adjustment for the ‘Jook’ race coming up.”
Roberson followed up his fourth place at the $20,000 to-win “Bill Emig Memorial” at Lernerville with another fourth place effort on unfamiliar territory giving the Flynn’s Tire points leader his eighth top five in nine races and remains the only multiple winner this year. After leading the first seven laps, Lukon faded to fifth at the finish.
Matt Latta had a solid sixth place after starting 11th to match his best Tour finish of the year with his fourth top 10. The “Steel City Outlaw” and National Sprint Car Hall of Famer, Tim Shaffer, was seventh in his first Tour start of the season. Ben Policz was eighth also in his first Tour race of 2022. Three-time Tour champion, Jeremy Wonderling, was ninth for his sixth top 10 in nine races. Wonderling received a spoiler kit from Ontime Body & Graphic in addition to $100 cash. Second place point man, Joe Martin, dropped from fifth to 10th for his worst finish since the April 13 opener at Delaware International Speedway.
Tony Musolino was the final car on the lead lap in 15th and earned an extra $100 from Ontime Body & Graphic aboard Matt Dobnak’s #42. Tour regular, Andy Michael, made his first Pittsburgh start and earned his first Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger award of the season after gaining six spots in the feature. Michael not only earned a $50 gift card from Precise, but also $100 cash from Ontime Body & Graphic.
Lukon set fast time in FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock” Qualifying with a lap of 20.220 to earn $100. Picking up the $25 FK Rod Ends heat race victories were Lukon, Martin, and Norris. Norris received a $100 Sunoco gift card for winning the Sunoco Dash. Tour regulars Wonderling and Ashton Briggs were selected for the $100 Sunoco fuel card drawings, while John Garvin, Jr., Lukon, Klein, and Charlier were drawn for $50 Sunoco fuel cards.
The Flynn’s Tire Touring Series will be right back in action next weekend with a pair of Marquee Events. On Saturday night (July 9), the second annual “Bill Forney Memorial” will pay $3,199 to-win in the only appearance of the season at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio. On Sunday night, Eriez Speedway will host their second and final Tour race of 2022 with the annual “Manufacturers Night” presented by MSD Performance. Not only will $3,000 on the line to the winner, but drivers will share in over $25,000 of valuable prizes with each driver taking home a package valued at a minimum of $400!
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply RUSH Late Model Flynn’s Tire Touring Series “Herb Scott Memorial” Race #9 (30 laps, $3,000 to-win): 1. MICHAEL NORRIS (Dabecco N1) 2. Daryl Charlier (Centerline 3RK) 3. Michael Reft (9R) 4. Logan Roberson (17) 5. Kyle Lukon (184) 6. Matt Latta (21) 7. Tim Shaffer (45) 8. Ben Policz (14B) 9. Jeremy Wonderling (3J) 10. Joe Martin (Snyder 10s) 11. Justin Lamb (Goble 20G) 12. Will Thomas III (9) 13. Philip Bubeck (4) 14. Brady Wonderling (z1) 15. Tony Musolino (Dobnak 42) 16. Brandt Graham (14) 17. Ashton Briggs (11A) 18. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 19. Andy Michael (17x) 20. Kassidy Kamicker (72B) 21. Craig Graham (98) 22. Bill Kessler (9) 23. John Garvin, Jr. (Chernik 5x) 24. Breyton Santee (9) 25. Jonathan Stockdale (31) 26. Tom Klein (77).
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