Behind the Wheel
Kings Without Wings
JONATHAN PEPE AND RICHIE HITZLER WINNERS IN DRAMATIC WEEKEND FOR XCEL CHASSIS 600 MODIFIEDS
Just when you think you know who the winner is going to be , lady luck or should I say the racing gremlins show their faces. No one expected their appearances on both nights of a double header weekend. First on tap was Penn Can Speedway, located in Susquehannna,Pa with 30 modifieds ready for some Friday May 17th night under the lights.
The gremlins were the first to appear with Penn Can regular Nick Mady having electrical issues and having to use a provisional after not making the call for the heat or the consi. Heat race winners Paul DeRuyter, Justin Dimorier and Jonathan Pepe along with consi winner John Ayer showed the fast line and with a quick turnaround 25 mods were ready for action.
Schnecksville native, Jonathan Pepe, hoped to keep the family owned #17 finishing in the top five but wondered when would he pull into victory lane. While Richie Hitzler clicked off the lap counter having the dominant car, Pepe settled into holding off Will Eastman for a second place finish. Lap 16 would see the final caution and a 4 lap shoot out.
Nick Mady had worked the top line from 25th to 4th hoping to finish in the top three. On the restart, The #9 of Hitzler had mechanical issues and would pull pit side giving Pepe the opening he needed to take his first career win in the 600 modifieds.
Jonathan Pepe is in his first full time season moving from the quarter midget ranks. The majority of Rookie of the Year contenders have also moved from the quarter midget racing circuit. Nathan Brinker qualified the #14 in 20th place and worked the track to bring home his best finish of 7th place moving him up in dramatic style in the Rookie of the Year point standings.
A turn and burn would keep the modifieds on their toes pulling into Five Mile Point Speedway on Saturday May 18th. Richie Hitzler looked forward to shaking the car down after the tough loss the night before. Five Mile has eluded Hitzler in his bid to bring home the checkered flag so every time the #9 sponsored Myerstown Beverage pulls into the Kirkwood, Ny. facility it has become a personal mission. After finishing a disappointing 5th in his heat race, Richie and his father worked on the car making the changes they hoped would bring the car to the track and vice versa.
Aaron Bowes and Brian Mady hoped the shake the gremlins off from the night before and started the night off right with heat race wins along with Will Eastman rounding out the top three.
Once the modifieds started rolling the action heated up just as fast. Kailee Dimorier had worked her way from her 22th starting place to a solid eighth spot only to have the caution flag fly and start in the rear of the field. She would not let that hold her back working her way back to the front bringing an 11th place finish home. Nathan Brinker kept his momentum going from the previous night working the car thru the field from his 16ht starting spot and placing the #14 in the top ten with a 6th place finish putting him as the top rookie in the point standings.
Brian " Big Daddy" Mady was fast right off the trailer having the strongest car in qualifying and led the field thru the first 4 circuits only to have the chain break on the lap 5 restart putting Aaron Bowes on the point. Aaron had a wild ride the previous night after being involved in three car mishap ending his night early. On the first lap on the race, Aaron could hear the birdcage but hoped to finish the race. Now that he had the lead, he prayed the car could stay strong but lap #13 would be the lap that Aaron Bowes didn't want to see has the #64 pulled off the track ending not only a strong comeback but a disappointing weekend.
Meanwhile Richie Hitzler knew on the first lap the changes they had made from the heat races were the right ones. He ran the car on the bottom clicking off 11 cars by lap #6 and set his sights on Bowes. The feelings were two fold has he saw Bowes pull pit side and take the lead. " I know exactly how Aaron and Brian are feeling right now. You just can't describe it unless you been in those shoes. Five Mile has always been a track I wanted to win and tonight I feel like I hit one of my career highlights. Next week we head to Shippensburg Speedway. That's what makes the tour division what it is. One weekend we are at Five Mile where you have plenty of room to downsizing to the smallest track on the circuit. This makes the drivers adapt to different scenarios and makes everybody better for it."
The Xcel Chassis Tour Division will head south to Shippensburg Speedway on Saturday May 25th for their first appearance of the year followed by Big Diamond Speedway to close out the month of May on the 31st.
PENN CAN FEATURE FINISH
JONATHAN PEPE, Will Eastman, NIck Mady, Jamie Frantz, John Ayre, Steve Sherwood, Nathan Brinker, Marty Bunker, Korey Inglin, Tim Frantz, Ian Williamson, Shaun Burd, Justin Dimorier, Tim Van Horn Jr., Richie Hitzler, Abbey Price, Jordyn Mohr, Brian Mady, Kyle Fallis, Nick Ciquanti, Paul DeRuyter, Aaron Bowes, Scott Adams, Sean Barchik, Kailee Dimorier, Ronnie Molnar, Shawna Schibilia, Josh Pepe, Bobby Scherff, Chris Stockholm
FIVE MILE POINT FEATURE FINISH
RICHIE HITZLER, Jonathan Pepe, Justin Dimorier, Nick Mady, Will Eastman, Nathan Brinker, Kyle Fallis, Brad French, Shaun Burd, Marty Bunker, Kailee Dimorier, Ronnie Molnar, Tim Van Horn Jr., Abbey Price, Steve Sherwood, Sean Barchik, Shawna Schibilia, Mark Ludwig, Aaron Bowes, Paul DeRuyter, Brian Mady, Jordyn Mohr, Korey Inglin, Ian Williamson, Josh Pepe
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