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Gerster and Gibala Win Big at Jennerstown Speedway

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Teddy Gibala
Teddy Gibala won for the second time in 2020 / Jennerstown Speedway Photo

Gerster and Gibala Win Big at Jennerstown Speedway

By Mike Lysakowski

(Jennerstown, PA)  The television cameras of the MAV-TV cable network were rolling at the Jennerstown Speedway Complex on Saturday night, as the “Must See Sprint Car Series” brought open-wheel racing to the Laurel Highlands for the third consecutive year.  Veteran Brian Gerster won the Sprint Car race, defeating a field of drivers from six states on September 12th.  Defending Jennerstown Champion, Teddy Gibala won for the second time in 2020, after a memorable duel in the Martella’s Pharmacies Late Model division of racing.   Also celebrating in Stoney’s Beer Victory Lane were Anthony Aiello (Stoystown Auto Wreckers Modifieds), Aaron Van Fleet (Ron’s Collision Center Street Stocks), Steve Singo (Farmers Union Co-Op Chargers), and Michael Saler (Somerset Trust Company Fast ‘n Furious 4-Cylinders) as Allied Milk Producers and Stoney’s Beer presented the racing action. 

Rick Holley, Brian Gerster, and Troy DeCaire won preliminary heat races for the 410-cubic-inch-engined, winged Sprint Cars of the “Must See Touring Series,” after DeCaire set the fastest qualifying time of 15.200 seconds.  DeCaire averaged over 123.6 miles per hour, during the time trial effort.  In the 30-lap David Mateer Tribute Race, former series Champion Jimmy McCune led the most laps, but was passed by Gerster on a restart.  Gerster, of Fishers, Indiana, pulled away and then held off McCune during a side-by-side restart with just two laps to go.  Gerster continued the Jennerstown tradition of sipping chocolate milk during the post-race interview, in a coveted 50-year old Allied Milk glass bottle.  McCune placed second, with Joe Liguori third, series points leader Anthony McCune fourth, and Charlie Schultz fifth, following a mid-race pit stop. 

Teddy Gibala Ethan Myers is okay after a crash in his Late Model heat race.
Ethan Myers is okay after a crash in his Late Model heat race. / Jennerstown Speedway Photo

After Barry Awtey, Jarred Barclay, and Albert Francis won preliminary heat races for the Martella’s Pharmaices Late Model division, the 30-lap feature race began with teenager Brandan Marhefka as the early leader.  Third generation driver, Marhefka, led two laps in the quest for his first victory.  Point standings leader Albert Francis grabbed the top spot on lap three, as the only repeat winner of the season.  Francis opened up an advantage of a few car lengths, while Teddy Gibala advanced from his sixth starting position.  Gibala, a winner already in 2020, showed great strength by reeling in leader Francis.  Fans then rose to their feet, as Gibala used the outside lane to challenge Francis.  The duo remained door to door for more than six laps, officially swapping the lead three times. Franics held the inside groove, and neither car touched the other.  Both drivers are in contention for the 2020 championship crown.  By lap 15, Gibala had secured the lead by one full car length.  While all attention was focused on the battle for first place, Awtey climbed into third position after starting back in twelfth spot.  As the most recent winner, Awtey sits in second place in the season-long points tally, right between Francis and Gibala who were leading the race.   Awtey’s ascent through the field peaked at third place, however, as the leaders were out of his reach during a race which was never slowed by a caution flag.  In the late stages, Barclay closed in on Awtey, and challenged for third place.  Barclay, in his second year of Late Model racing, nearly stole the spot from five-time former Champ Awtey, more than once.  Up front, Francis remained within striking distance, but could not reclaim the lead.  The most dominating winner of 2019, Gibala, scored his second victory of 2020, getting closer to defending the title of Champion he earned last year.  Also a former Street Stock division Champ, Gibala is the driver of the E.H. Schwab Metal Spinning/Day and Night Sealcoating/Chevrolet.   By earning the trophy, Gibala closed the gap to a nine point deficit behind Francis, with one event remaining.  Francis, the young Ohioan, placed second in the race, and held on to the top spot in the championship standings.  Awtey finished third, and is merely six points behind Francis headed into next week’s finale.  Barclay started tenth, and finished fourth after the stellar heat race run.  Former Champion Garry Wiltrout placed fifth.   

Teddy Gibala Anthony Aiello
Anthony Aiello / Jennerstown Speedway Photo

Rookie Doug Glessner and veteran Adam Kostelnik led the Stoystown Auto Wreckers Modified division to the green flag, for the 20-lap feature race.  Glessner, a converted dirt track Late Model superstar, led one lap.  Kostelnik, one of the all-time leading Modified winners in Western PA, also led one lap  – before retiring his new ride with mechanical problems.  Kostelnik was making his return, after a devastating crash two weeks prior.  R.J. Dallape, a three time winner in 2020, grabbed the lead on lap three.  Young Dallape started the race in sixth position, but roared to the front early.  At the halfway mark of the race, defending Champion Anthony Aiello passed rookie John Fama for third place.  One lap later, Aiello stole second position from Glessner.  In only three laps of pursuit, Aiello caught and passed his off-track friend Dallape for the lead.  As the top spot changed hands, the previous week’s winner Tom Golik advanced.  Golik started tenth, and claimed third position late in the event.  He then hit the outside wall, but continued on.  When the checkered flag waved, Aiello earned his division-leading fourth victory of 2020, extending his advantage in the point standings.  Finishing second through fifth were Dallape, Golik, Modified division newcomer Adam Henry, and Glessner, respectively, in the caution-flag free event.  Kostelnik and Dallape won the heats. 

The Ron’s Collision Center Street Stock divisions’ 20-lap feature race launched with veteran Mel Wilt as the early leader.  A multi-division winner in his Jennerstown career, Wilt is seeking his first win of 2020.  On lap five, championship contender Aaron Van Fleet took lead, after starting in fourth place.  Ninth place starter, Josh Coughenour, advanced into second position by lap eight.  Both Van Fleet and Coughenour are recent Street Stock Champions.  The duo raced close, while tenth place starter Casey Fleegle climbed into third spot.  Fleegle, the most recent winner and points leader, could not catch the lead duo, as the race was completed without a caution flag.  Van Fleet won his heat race with a last-lap pass and a “photo finish,” then drove to his third feature race victory of the year, with his sponsors all in attendance. Coughenour scored a second place finish, seeking his first win of 2020, while Fleegle won his heat race and finished third. Wilt and veteran Rick Meehleib completed the top five.  Fleegle holds a six point advantage over Van Fleet in the standings, going into the final race of the year, next week. 

Aaron Van Fleet
Aaron Van Fleet / Jennerstown Speedway Photo

Teddy Gibala Steven Singo
Steven Singo / Jennerstown Speedway Photo

After teenage rookie Will Hemminger led the opening laps of the Farmers Union Co-Op Chargers’ 15-lap feature race, veteran Steven Singo took the top spot.  Singo started in fourth position, after a stellar performance one week prior.  Rookie Kyle Burkholder moved up to second place before the halfway point of the race, seeking his first win on asphalt, as a former dirt tracker.  Defending Champion, Dale Kimberly, started in eighth place and advanced to third spot.  But, Kimberly, the dominant winner of 2020 was unable to catch the leaders.  The crowd roared with delight, as the very popular home track favorite, Singo, earned his first win of 2020.  Burkholder, Kimberly, Hemminger, and 4-Cylinder graduate, rookie Chris Ament, placed second through fifth.   Kimberly won the heat race, and will be crowned Champion next week. 

After wild start to the 15-lap Somerset Trust Company Fast ‘n Furious 4-Cylinder division feature race, rookie Michael Mohle grabbed the early lead.  Seeking a first ever win, Mohle was at the head of the pack for six laps.  Sophomore driver Michael Saler took the lead on lap seven, after starting back in the ninth position.  Saler found Stoney’s Victory Lane as a rookie in 2019.  Point standings leader Jeff Vasos started in tenth place, and claimed the second position at the midpoint of the race.  But, in heavy lapped traffic, Saler pulled away and scored his first win of the season.  Saler also won his heat race, earlier in the night. Vasos finished second and clinched the 2020 Championship title.  Former Champion Steve Settle placed third, with Lance Shawley and Jason Truscott completing the top five.   Former Champion Evan Nibert won his heat race, but dropped out of the feature race early with heavy damage to the rear of his car. 

Michael Saler
Michael Saler / Jennerstown Speedway Photo
Teddy Gibala
Brian Gerster wins the Must See Racing David D. Mateer Tribute race
Teddy Gibala
Troy DeCaire wins the Must See Racing Fast Time Award

Saturday, September 19th, the 2020 racing season comes to a close.  The final night of “5 Division Racing” will decide the Jennerstown Champions, when the action begins at 6pm.  For more information visit www.jennerstown.org

September 12th Results: 

Late Models 

Pos       Start    Driver  Hometown      Car 

1          6          Teddy Gibala   Coulter, PA      #3 

2          3          Albert Francis  Painesville, OH            #33F 

3          12        Barry Awtey    Jenners, PA      #75 

4          10        Jarred Barclay Somerset, PA   #92 

5          2          Garry Wiltrout Somerset, PA   #95 

6          1          Brandan Marhefka      Windber, PA    #13 

7          9          Joe Maruca     Slickville, PA    #90 

8          7          Paul Fess         Mt. Pleasant, PA          #89 

9          11        Bryan Shipp     Scottdale, PA   #40 

10        4          Todd Price       Bedford, PA     #96 

11        5          Jeremy Shaffer            Derry, PA         #16 

12        17        John Komarinski          Greensburg, PA           #33 

13        13        Lauren Butler  West Mifflin, PA          #53 

14        14        Zane Ferrell     Ruffs Dale, PA #14 

15        8          Mike Hemminger        Stoystown, PA #72 

16        15        Chris Brink       Penn Run, PA  #77 

17        16        Andrew Kostelnik        Irwin, PA          #57 

18        18        Ethan Myers    Latrobe, PA     #19 

Modifieds 

Pos       Start    Driver  Hometown      Car 

1          2          Anthony Aiello White Oak, PA #31 

2          6          RJ Dallape       Jennerstown, PA         #75 

3          10        Tom Golik        West Newton, PA        #98 

4          4          Adam Henry    Friedens, PA    #62 

5          1          Doug Glessner Boswell, PA     #17G 

6          5          John Fama       Central City, PA           #55 

7          11        Dustin Gursky  Friedens, PA    #29 

8          8          Brad Milburn   Schellsburg, PA           #95 

9          9          Cindy Shaulis   Somerset, PA   #83 

10        3          Adam Kostelnik           E. McKeesport, PA      #60 

11        7          Jim Bodziak     Hollsopple, PA #2 

Street Stocks 

Pos       Start    Driver  Hometown      Car 

1          4          Aaron VanFleet           Scottdale, PA   #95 

2          9          Josh Coughenour        Gray, PA          #20 

3          10        Casey Fleegle  Friedens, PA    #113 

4          1          Mel Wilt          Hollidaysburg, PA        #33 

5          3          Rick Meehleib Stoystown, PA #37 

6          6          Scott Mitchell Somerset, PA   #20M 

7          2          Angie Kimberly            Sutersville, PA #9 

8          11        Brent Bickerstaff         Herminie, PA   #53 

9          8          Zac Todaro      Johnstown, PA #4 

10        7          Jeff Barclay     Rockwood, PA #74 

11        5          Steve Long       Rockwood, PA #27 

12        13        Marvin Sleith   West Newton, PA        #69 

13        12        Harold Meyers            Friedens, PA    #64 

Fast 4s 

Pos       Start    Driver  Hometown      Car 

1          9          Michael Saler  Somerset, PA   #38 

2          10        Jeff Vasos        Stoystown, PA #12 

3          5          Steve Settle     West Leisenring, PA    #3 

4          4          Lance Shawley Stoystown, PA #13 

5          7          Jason Truscott Johnstown, PA #26 

6          11        Jason Fulton    Normalville, PA           #19 

7          6          Mark Gustafson           Mt. Pleasant, PA          #66G 

8          3          Rebecca Horner          Berlin, PA        #9 

9          2          Michael Mohle            Johnstown, PA #8 

10        14        Brianna Mohle Johnstown, PA #56 

11        8          Nate Valente   BROWNSVILLE, PA      #69 

12        1          Kurtis Frampton          Boswell, PA     #77 

13        12        Evan Nibert     Somerset, PA   #7 

14        13        Matthew Ruffing         Johnstown, PA #47 

Chargers 

Pos       Start    Driver  Hometown      Car 

1          4          Steven Singo   Hooversville, PA          #7 

2          3          Kyle Burkholder          Mill Run, PA     #27 

3          8          Dale Kimberly Sutersville, PA #22 

4          2          Will Hemminger         Stoystown, PA #76 

5          1          Chris Ament    Latrobe, PA     #2 

6          7          Bob Mostoller Somerset, PA   #43 

7          6          Nick Niemiec   Acosta, PA       #19 

8          5          Cody Gaynor   Greensburg, PA           #61  

Saturday, September 19th, the 2020 racing season comes to a close.  The final night of “5 Division Racing” will decide the Jennerstown Champions, when the action begins at 6pm.  For more information visit www.jennerstown.org

PC Jennerstown Speedway Photos

By Mike Lysakowski

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