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Steel City Stampede – Saturday Night Recap

 

John Stivason Photos

418 laps. 324 cars. 20 races. 13 divisions. Three days. One track.

The 10th Annual DIRTcar Roundup “Steel City Stampede” at Don Martin’s Lernerville Speedway was another spectacular display of Saturday night short-track racing; this time, in marathon mode.

The last of the 270 Micro-Sprint Car qualifying heats kicked off Pennsylvania’s biggest racing extravaganza promptly at 4 p.m. on Saturday evening to a very chilly Sarver crowd. 48 degrees was the warmest temperature the fans saw all day, and it only got colder as the night went on. It may have been cold outside, but things were heating up on the racetrack…

The DIRTcar Open Pro Stocks kicked off the feature racing action with a great come-from-behind victory by Chris Schneider. Lernerville regular and fourth-place point man Joey Zambotti led most of the race before losing the lead on a restart to Schneider.

Schneider started eleventh and broke into the top five just before halfway. Zambotti gave Schneider the inside line on the final restart and paid for it almost immediately as Schneider took advantage not even a full lap later, throwing a slidejob out of turn four and blasting by on the frontstretch. He would hold the lead the rest of the way to pick up his very first Stampede win.

“There was a lot of traction on the bottom,” Schneider said in Victory Lane. “There was a top groove too, but there was a lot of grip on the bottom. So that’s the way to restart!”

Schneider’s night actually wasn’t done there, as he quickly hopped back to the pits in preparation for his then-upcoming DIRTcar Super Late Model feature race, where he placed eighth. He quickly thanked his sponsors and crew members before he left Victory Lane and drove off, a first-time belt buckle winner.

2018 Lernerville Pro Stock Track Champion, two-time and then-defending Stampede winner Corey McPherson unfortunately did not see the same success he saw last year and throughout his 2018 campaign, as he was only able to muster a seventh-place finish in his heat, putting him 19th on the starting grid. He made up a lot of ground in just 20 laps, but it was too little, too late for the track champ, as he crossed the line in fifth to pick up his 12th top-five of the season at Lernerville.

The next DIRTcar feature to hit the track was the Super Late Models. David Scott started on the pole and lead all 25 laps in dominating fashion to grab his first victory in his first start of the season at Lernerville. 2014 Stampede winner Russ King made it an exciting finish with a bonzai move to the outside in a last-ditch effort to grab the win, but came up short. He sandwiched himself between Scott and the outside wall, puncturing Scott’s right-rear tire. Scott limped his No. 4S into Victory Lane, a very tired, but happy camper.

“The winning’s fun – the racing’s really not that fun, just winning’s fun!” Scott exclaimed in Victory Lane. “Especially when you’ve done it as long as I have.”

Speaking about his battle with King in the last five laps, Scott said “I just went to go by the lapped car on the outside right at the checkered and Russ had a head of steam coming. We both got some damage out of it, but me and Russ are buddies so it’ll be cool.”

The DIRTcar Northeast Big-Block Modifieds took to the track as the next DIRTcar event on the schedule for a 20-lap, would-have-been dash to the finish. A contender for Lernerville’s “wreck of the year” reared its ugly head on the frontstretch of the race’s first restart (view the destruction on our Twitter page @DIRTcar_Racing).

A total of 14 cars were involved in the incident, taking nine back to the pits with terminal damage. The other five made repairs in the pits under the red and rejoined the field for the restart. The rest of the race, or lack thereof, went green to checkered, as polesitter Garrett Krummert checked out almost immediately, going unchallenged and leading the rest of the way to pick up his first Lernerville win of the season and first Stampede victory.

“We’ve been good the past few weeks,” Krummert said in Victory Lane. “But we just either start really bad or we get caught up in a mess or something like that, so this is pretty awesome.”

2018 Lernerville Big-Block Modified Points Champion and then-defending Stampede winner Rex King Jr. got caught up in the wreck on lap two. He took it back to the pit area but was unable to make repairs, leaving him with a disappointing 15th-place finish.

The final DIRTcar race of the night was the UMP Modified 20-lap feature event, where Jonathan Taylor picked up his second straight Stampede win and third belt buckle of his career.

Taylor started seventh and quickly broke into the top three by lap five. He took the lead at the halfway point and never looked back, fending off a late-race charge by Dennis Lunger and facing numerous restarts to pick up the victory.

“Those last couple laps with the cautions – those were killer,” Taylor said in Victory Lane. “All I tried to do was hang on. A lot of those guys had a good run, a lot of good starts.”

Taylor thanked the fans and promoters for their support before heading back into the pits, a now-three-time belt buckle winner.

As the event’s 10th year comes to a close, General Manager Tim Tomson said the cold weather might have worked against the track’s fan attendance, but the car count was even higher than the last and will continue to improve year by year. Overall, another successful event. To the fans, a small message for each of his supporters in the grandstands.

“We appreciate them coming, we appreciate their support and their dedication to this track,” Tomson said.

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