Evergreenraceway logo

Rygielski Jr. Pounces After Leaders Collide At Evergreen

BUTLER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — For Evergreen Raceway, the third time was the charm in finally getting the season of weekly racing underway after twice being rained out, and it was racing under the lights for the first time also for owner/promoter Jason Makarewicz as the track hosted a Saturday evening program.

In the headline class 602 Crate Modifieds, Brian Rygielski Jr. picked up the opening night victory and one that was well earned and overdue.

When front runners Jayden Harman and Paulie Hartwig III collided just as they were about to receive the white flag, Rygielski, who was maintaining third spot at the time, stopped in avoiding them.

He was then placed at the head of the field and for the final two trips around would hold off Steve Shultz in garnering his first win in almost two years.

For Rygielski, he knows all too well what it means to be in the same position as Harman and Hartwig. Last year especially when on several occasions he was caught up in the same type of scenarios and saw chances of victory slip away.

“This feels like a major relief. Last season wasn’t the best for us with a lot of hard luck moments but getting this win right out of the blocks is hopefully a sign of good things to come,” said the 17-year old Rygielski.

When the race got underway, polesitter Harman took to the early lead over Shultz and they soon began a close nose-to-tail battle.

Although leading, Harman had his hands full in fending off Shultz who stayed glued to his rear bumper. Hartwig meanwhile had maneuvered his way to third and when a caution flew after 17 laps he was able to overtake Shultz for the runner-up spot on the restart.

From there the action really increased as the Harman and Hartwig began an intensified duel. Lap after lap Hartwig was trying to get by and each time his efforts were foiled as Harman stood his ground.

Rygielski meanwhile, had taken over third after a lap 20 restart and was getting an eyeful of the close racing unfolding in front of him.

“I had a vision in my head that maybe something was going to happen and sure enough it did,” Rygielski said. “I was taking it easy and just waiting for something to play out.” 

That it did. After his persistent and unyielding tries to pass Harman, Hartwig made what he had hoped would be his race winning move but instead it turned sour when exiting turn four at the completion of lap 33, he made contact with the leader. Harman spun and taken in was Hartwig.

Rygielski, who had stopped just in the nick of time to escape the incident, was now the new leader. When the action resumed Shultz passed Micah Adams for second and despite his hard fought efforts, Rygielski stood his ground and drove to the win.

“Those two guys are top runners everywhere they go and are tough to beat but for us we were able to take advantage of their mistake tonight,” said Rygielski on Harman and Hartwig.

“It happened a bunch last year to us it seemed and those are always tough. But tonight it showed that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”

Gordie Buchman Jr. won the street stock feature while Johnny Bennett won in four cylinders action.

Feature Finish (35 Laps)

1. Brian Rygielski Jr., 2. Steve Shultz, 3. Micah Adams, 4. Jayden Harman, 5. Paulie Hartwig III, 6. Rick Smith, 7. Kevin Makarewicz, 8. Deegen Underwood, 9. Paul French Jr.