FRANKLIN, Pa. – The conclusion to the three-day Applefest Weekend wrapped up the season at Tri-City Raceway Park Sunday, awarding huge paychecks to the winners across seven different divisions.
A first time winner collected a $5,000 paycheck in the 30-lap feature for the Shawgo Real Estate 410 sprint cars presented by Krill Recycling, as Darin Gallagher earned his first career victory in the top engine class of sprint car racing.
The Shawgo Real Estate sprint cars’ 30-lap Applefest race was led early on by pole starter Jack Sodeman Jr., who was carrying a six-point advantage in the year-long point standings into the final race of the year.
Sodeman, seeking a first Tri-City victory of the season, headed the race over recent winner A.J. Flick, while Darin Gallagher was holding the third position, as championship contender Brandon Spithaler was advancing through the field after starting in seventh spot.
Spithaler, second in the point standings to Sodeman, needed to finish several positions higher than Sodeman to tie for the championship. But on lap nine, the two-time winner spun in turn one while racing in second behind Sodeman.
Spithaler had to restart from the tail of the field, as Sodeman remained in the top spot.
On the restart, Gallagher darted from third place into the lead, with an impressive low-groove “slide job” pass in turn two. As Sodeman was falling back in the field, Spithaler was again marching toward the front.
Spithaler climbed back into the top five, passing Sodeman and others. At one point in the race, Spithaler was ahead of Sodeman by just enough positions to earn the title.
But at the conclusion, Spithaler placed fifth and Sodeman clinched the championship with a seventh place finish. The title is Sodeman’s 10th-career track championship, but his first at Tri-City.
In the closing laps, race leader Gallagher was challenged by Dan Shetler, repeatedly. Shetler, a former Sharon Speedway champion, started in fourth place and first caught, then passed Gallagher on lap 25.
After a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle for multiple laps, Gallagher re-claimed the lead with three laps remaining. Gallagher, a successful 305 sprint car division winner and champion, moved up to 410 sprint car racing last year.
After his Applefest preliminary heat race victory the night before, Gallagher started in third place and finished first, claiming the largest paycheck of the year, for his first-ever 410 sprint car feature victory.
Shetler crossed the finish line just four tenths of a second behind the young winner. Flick, two-time winner Carl Bowser, and Spithaler completed the top five in the finishing order.
Gallagher was overcome with emotion while standing next to his family-owned, Texas Roadhouse/Kozminski Auto Body/Shaner Automotive No. 12 car.
“This is one of the biggest wins I’ve ever had,” he noted.
In other action, New York resident Erick Rudolph won both the big block modifieds’ 30-lap feature and the small block modifieds’ feature, taking a total of $8,000 back to the Empire State.
The Hovis Auto and Truck Supply Pro-Stock cars battled for 50 laps, with Chris Schneider earning another Tri-City win, while the RUSH non-wing Sprint Cars competed in the Bruce Smith Construction 20-lap feature race, with Zach Morrow claiming the victory.
The crate-engine modifieds’ 20-lap feature race was dominated by Jeff Schaffer Jr., who was racing for the first time in two years, with Pat Hanlon II finishing off a tough luck season by earning a big win the 4-Your-Car-Connection Mini Stock division.
1. 12-Darin Gallagher, 2. 7k-Dan Shetler, 3. 2-AJ Flick, 4. 11-Carl Bowser, 5. 22-Brandon Spithaler, 6. 13-Brandon Matus, 7. 23jr-Jack Sodeman Jr., 8. 27k-Jeremy Kornbau, 9. 40-George Hobaugh, 10. 33-Brent Matus, 11. 19-Joe Kubinec, 12. 4j-Jacob Jamola, 13. 5-Bob McMillin, 14. 154-Shamus O’Donnell, 15. 347-Nevin O’Donnell, 16. 13b-Steve Bright, 17. 76-Davey Jones, 18. 08-Dan Kuriger, 19. 42-Sye Lynch, 20. 1LEFT-Ivan Johnson, 21. 38-Leyton Wagner, 22. 55-Gary Kreiss, 23. 34m-Mike Marano II (DNS), 24. 4b-Walt Tutak (DNS).