(Jennerstown, PA) Former Champion Barry Awtey returned to victory lane in the Martella’s Pharmacies RUSH Late Model division at Jennerstown Speedway Complex, on Saturday, July 28, 2018. Anthony Aiello continued his hot streak, winning in the Stoystown Auto Wreckers RUSH Modified division, while Josh Coughenour won his second consecutive J&J Truck Equipment RUSH Street Stock event. Casey Fleegle won the Farmers Union Co-Op Charger division event, and Andrew Pluta was victorious in the Somerset Trust Company Fast ‘n Furious 4-Cylinder division, on Martella’s Pharmacies Night at the Races. Dustin Brown won round two of the Ron’s Collision Center Enduro Series.
The Martella’s Pharmacies RUSH Late Models’ 30-lap feature had a rough beginning. Two separate accidents damaged several cars, including the one operated by the most recent winner, Mike Hemminger, the point standings leader. After a career-best second place finish the previous week, rookie Zane Ferrell was eliminated, and the recently hot Joe Maruca was also knocked out of competition; all before five laps were completed. Former Champion Garry Wiltrout led the first lap, after winning a heat race earlier in the night, and starting the feature event from the pole position. On lap two, Barry Awtey grabbed the top spot. Awtey, the all-time leading winner in Jennerstown history, began to pull away from the field immediately. Teddy Gibala, after taking a couple weeks off from competition, returned to action and made a pass of Bryan Shipp, early on, to move into third place. Both Gibala and Shipp were winners in 2017, and both are seeking a first victory of 2018. The race proceeded without a caution flag incident, after the early race turbulence, and Awtey stretched out the margin between himself, and two-time winner Wiltrout. There was no doubt that Awtey was the fastest man on the speedway, as he cruised to his fifth victory of the season, unchallenged. Along the way, his Wheeler Show Cattle/Stoystown Auto Wrecking/Pizza Hut Chevrolet turned the fastest lap times of the entire season. Awtey, from nearby Jenners, PA, may now be the favorite to win the upcoming “Motor Mountain Masters” event on August 11, among a an expected field of nationally renowned racers. Wiltrout placed a distant second, with Gibala finishing in third position after winning his heat race. Defending Champion, and 2018 winner, Jeremiah Kuntz started in seventh place, and avoided the early race melees to finish fourth. Shipp placed fifth.
Fans are describing the 20-lap Stoystown Auto Wreckers RUSH Modified feature as the race of the year. When the green flag waved, a frightening accident involving the pole position starter, Mike Carlson, and 2017 winner Tom Golik. Both of the their race cars were destroyed, but the drivers were uninjured. A second incident occurred on lap one, involving three cars, sending Jim Bodziak and Matt Smith to the pits, and sending Pete Rech to the tail of the field. Popular veteran Gary Scott led the first five laps, before recent winner Adam Kostelnik grabbed the top spot. Kostelnik’s pass was a daring, high-side move, which allowed Anthony Aiello to advance at the same time, into the runner-up spot. Rech was gaining positions after the lap one crash, and was in third position by the midpoint of the race. A three car battle for the lead, then, lasted the entire second half of the event, with Adam Kostelnik, Pete Rech, and Anthony Aiello racing inches apart. Changing lanes and nearly brushing wheels each lap, the trio had fans gasping, as they displayed masterful car control. Rech, a 2017 winner, repeatedly traded second place with Aiello, while both drivers were surrounding leader Kostelnik. Headed to the white flag, Rech made light rear bumper contact with leader Kostelnik, causing the leader to spin from contention. Both Rech and Kostelnik were placed at the rear of the lineup for the restart, handing Aiello the lead. When the checkered flag waved, points leader Aiello scored his seventh win of the year, with Scott finishing second. Kostelnik used the two-lap dash to the finish line to advance to a third place finish, as the previous week’s winner Jarred Barclay earned fourth. Rech finished fifth. Aiello and Kostelnik won the heats.
Josh Coughenour turned in another dominating performance in the J&J Truck Equipment RUSH Street Stocks’ 20-lap feature. Starting from the pole position, he held off 2018 winner Mel Wilt for a couple of laps, before driving far away from all competitors. Coughenour was in contention for the division Championship throughout 2017, and currently leads the standings by a healthy margin in the chase toward the 2018 title. While no other driver has won more than twice in Street Stock racing this year, Coughenour grabbed his fifth trophy of the season, with a sizable lead at the finish. Wilt, after making repairs from a heat race crash, placed second, with defending Champion Lauren Butler finishing in third place. Rookie and recent winner, Jeremy Shaffer claimed fourth position and the previous week’s winner Aaron Van Fleet finished fifth. Butler and Van Fleet won the preliminary heat races, earlier in the evening.
A rookie to the Farmers Union Co-Op Chargers earned his first victory in the division; Casey Fleegle. Many times a winner in 4-Cylinder competition, Fleegle held off a thrilling late race charge by points leader Dale Kimberly. Nearly touching bumpers several times in the closing stages of the race, the battle polarized fans as the duo are opposites in many ways. The lead duel was Ford vs. Chevrolet; rookie vs. veteran; dominator vs. winless newcomer. Fleegle and Kimberly crossed the finish line less than a car length apart, to conclude the 15-lap event, and Fleegle parked in victory lane after only his eighth-career attempt. Six time winner, Kimberly, settled for second place, while his teammate Adam Kostelink finished a close third. Rookie Dan Jackson continued to impress, with a strong fourth place run, and fellow rookie Steven Brown finished fifth; three of the top five drivers across the finish line were “freshmen.” Fleegle also won the heat race.
The leading 2017 winner in the Somerset Trust Company Fast ‘n Furious 4-Cylinders, Andrew Pluta again proved that he could compile the leading victory total in 2018. Pluta won his heat race, then started the feature in third spot. He wrestled the lead away from Joe Laposky on lap three, and pulled away by a few car lenghts. Pluta thwarted an aggressive charge by 2017 winner David Campbell near the halfway point of the race, and steered to his fourth win of the year. Three time winner, Evan Nibert, grabbed second place from Campbell with just two laps to go, and the pair finished second and third respectively. Heat race winner Bently Miller placed fourth, and defending Champion Brent Bickerstaff finished fifth.
Dustin Brown was the third different leader, during the 75-lap, Round Two of the Ron’s Collision Center Enduro Series. The former dirt track racer earned the victory over Michael Strouse and Robert Pluta, who both led laps and placed second and third.
Next Satuday, August 4, Omega Home Improvements presents “Autograph Night” at Jennerstown Speedway Complex. Fans will have the chance to meet the drivers, touch the cars, take photos, and collect autographs on the speedway, prior to the start of racing action. “Motor Mountain Mania” five division racing, will immediately follow the on-track autograph session.