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Gravel gets richer on Lernerville track

Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks to fans in the box at the Commonwealth Clash Sprint race at Lernerville Speedway on Tuesday night. Laura Welsh/Special to the Eagle
Sprint driver takes $50,000 first prize at Commonwealth Clash

BUFFALO TWP — At Lernerville Speedway, Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet battled for the lead for most of the feature race of the inaugural Commonwealth Clash — but David Gravel took home the $50,000 prize of the High Limit Sprint Car Series event.

Gravel passed Sweet with five laps to go, then Sweet fell further behind after riding the hill on the second turn three go-rounds later.

“It’s good taking a little bit of Brad Sweet and Kyle Larson’s money tonight, that’s for sure,” Gravel said with a laugh. “The curb got really treacherous. It bit Justin Sanders, it bit Kyle, and it bit me, too. I followed him in the cushion and got really, really tight. I didn’t bike up like Kyle did.”

Sweet and Larson began the feature race in the front row. They finished third and eighth, respectively. Rico Abreu moved from the ninth starting spot to cross the finish line second in the 35-lap race.

Larson now leads Abreu by 20 points in the standings.

Eight laps through, 17-year-old Oklahoman Ryan Timms bounced and rolled into the safety fence out of the fourth turn. Timms was able to exit the car and walk off under his own power.

For a brief second on that restart, Larson overtook Sweet, but wobbled and allowed Sweet back in front. Sweet had to work through traffic on the 15th lap, allowing Larson to pass him up. Shortly after, Justin Sanders overshot the fourth turn and skidded into the wall.

Tim Schaffer rolled over with 19 laps left.

“After that last restart, I was able to run really good low and exit low,” Gravel said. “I felt like I was the first one to do it. Then, Brad started doing it in one and two.”

Larson went over the hill on turn two with nine laps remaining, working his car back over the hump, but Sweet took the advantage and Larson slipped to ninth.

Sweet, Sanders, Gravel, and James McFadden won the four heat races. Sanders spun in turn two on the last lap of his heat, but an advantage of more than five seconds was enough to keep him in front.

Sweet was the fastest qualifier from Group A, setting a track record at 12.300 seconds. Timms finished on top in Group B in 13.342 seconds

The event totaled 58 cars, with 44 of which qualifying for heat races.

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