Pauch Notches SpeedSTR Win; Lick Takes 600cc Nail-Biter; Sensenig Is Slingshot Victor As Action Track USA Opens With Goldie Meitzler Memorial
Kutztown, Pa. – The JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA welcomed 112 race teams and a large crowd on Wednesday, May 14, as the speedway kicked off its 2014 slate of events with the running of the Goldie Meitzler Memorial.
Celebrating at night’s end were feature winners Billy Pauch, Sr. (USAC Championship SpeedSTR’s); Kyle Lick (Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprints); and Mark Sensenig (NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots).
“We’ve been good in the Modified this year, and it’s nice to get off to a good start with this car, too,” smiled Pauch after he fought off strong challenges from Mike Mahaney and Jeff Strunk to claim the SpeedSTR victory. “I was glad to see the end of this one because Mahaney was really good and then I knew Jeff was there,. too, and he’s always tough.”
Pauch started sixth in the talent-laden field, but quickly threaded his way toward the front. Mahaney inherited the lead when Kyle Lick’s machine suddenly slowed – the victim of a broken power steering box – after leading the first lap.
Pauch throttled past Mahaney on a third lap restart, and that would prove to be the winning pass, although the Frenchtown, NJ veteran had to withstand several assaults, first from Kenny Brightbill, then from Mahaney and, finally, it was Strunk’s turn to challenge. But Billy Sr. repelled each attack.
The competition behind the leader was furious, too, as Brightbill moved up to duke it out with Mahaney, and soon Strunk joined that party to make it a three-way tussle for the runner-up spot. One by one, as they took turns gassing their mounts into second place, Brightbill, Mahaney, and Strunk attempted to wrestle the top spot away from Pauch.
Steve Buckwalter, subbing for Brian Monteith, charged from 14th to fourth prior to the 30-lapper’s halfway point, but fell out of the race with 19 complete.Brittany Wixon, the polesitter, ran a solidly in the top six for the entire distance, and Billy Pauch, Jr. came from 12th starting position to battle Wixon for fifth during the final, frantic laps.
At the finish, Pauch Sr. narrowly held off Strunk for the $2,000 triumph, with Mahaney finishing third. Brightbill faded a bit in the race’s second half, but the Sinking Spring resident and defending point champion still managed a fourth-place effort. Pauch Jr. wound up fifth, with Wixon settling for sixth.
Ninth-starting Kyle Lick, from Catasauqua and now living in Bethlehem, Pa., worked to the inside of Eddie Strada and grabbed second from “the Edge” with six tours remaining in the Wingless 600cc Sprint feature. Lick proceeded to run down race leader and defending track champion Jay Hartman, then muscled under Hartman as the duo entered turn one on the final trip around the ultra-racey banked oval.
They banged wheels in the corner and Lick accelerated off turn two with the lead as Hartman struggled to recover and muster one final challenge. Lick zoomed away to win the 25-lapper by almost a half-second over Hartman.
“I guess Jay’s mad, and I’m sorry we touched wheels down there,” noted Lick as he stood in NAPA Auto Parts Victory Lane. “But I really believe it was just good hard racing; we probably both had a bit to do with the contact; he probably feels that I came out on him a little, but I think he came down on me a little bit. It was just one of those things…but we pulled it out.”
Prior to the last lap drama, the action was incredible from second on back, as Hartman led comfortably but it was a mad scramble behind the Flagtown, NJ resident. At least ten cars were dicing and trading positions, throwing slide jobs on one another and keeping the energetic crowd of spectators on the edge of their seats.
Strada, Shelby Harper, Lick, Jeff Hartman, Billy Pauch Jr., Mike Rutherford, Tim Buckwalter, Tommy Kunsman Jr., Joe Kay, and others were locked in an entertaining battle royale, with the duel for second eventually coming down to the aforementioned battle between Strada and Lick. Buckwalter came from the back, spun, then roared up through heavy traffic again.
At the finish, it was Lick over Jay Hartman, with Strada confirming himself as a legitimate Action Track USA contender by taking the checkered in third. Pauch Jr. and Rutherford made up the top five when the extremely intense event concluded.
Leesport’s Mark Sensenig, a three-time Slingshot winner last season, picked up right where he left off, winning the Goldie Meitzler Memorial for the All Star Slingers on Wednesday.
Sensenig, in the Slinger Warehouse No. 7L, took the green from the inside of row one and never looked back. He led all the way, but the activity behind him was hot and heavy.
Kassidy Kreitz, moving up from the Junior Slingshot division to compete with the All Stars this year, ran second to Sensenig for the first 12 of the 20 circuits that made up the main. Unfortunately, her night ended prematurely when a mechanical malfunction forced her to stop on the homestretch.
Danny Buccafusca, who won the Slingshot title at the Action Track USA in 2013, had his S&S Speedways No. 55 hooked up and flying in the high groove. Buccafusca, the Rockaway Rocket from NJ, blasted from the outside of row six to run fourth by the eighth revolution. He and Joe Nemeth, who started sixth, battled door to door for the runner-up slot as Sensenig cruised out front. Nemeth finally secured the position near the conclusion of the 20-lapper, with Buccafusca racing home in third.
With the final checkered flag of the season opener in the air, Sensenig flashed across the stripe to win by a healthy margin over Nemeth. Buccafusca was third, while Brett Bieber and Dave Carraghan completed the top five.
Action Track Sidebites…
A tremendous field of 112 competitors filled the pit area, with the breakdown as follows: 23 SpeedSTR’s; 52 of the Wingless 600cc Sprints; and 37 All Star Slingshots. While the SpeedSTR count was down (it is believed there are several cars still in various stages of preparation), the quality of the drivers in that division is second-to-none, with names like Pauch Sr. and Jr., Brightbill, Cozze, Strunk, Mahaney, Planck, Buckwalter, Lick, Paules, Schutz, and others putting on a terrific show for the fans.
Because the car count was over 36 in the Wingless 600 and Slingshot classes, drivers were able to race for additional money in their respective main events. And because Lick took the $20 Gambler’s Challenge, he went home with $700 for winning the Wingless 600 feature. Sensenig decided on the $10 Gambler’s Challenge, so he walked away with an extra $100 in his pay envelope, making it a $450 payday for his Slingshot victory.
The SpeedSTR’s ran timed hot lap sessions to determine their heat race lineups. The Fast Five included quick timer Billy Pauch Sr. (11.816 seconds), Lick, Dale Planck, Mahaney, and Frank Cozze.
Winning SpeedSTR heat races were Anthony Perrego and Mahaney. The B-Main went to Larry Solomon.
Jay Hartman, Tommy Kunsman Jr., Will Butler, Brandon Azzalina, and Eddie Strada were victorious in qualifying heats for the Wingless 600cc Sprints. Jermain Godshall and Peter Michael captured C-Mains, and Alex Bright won the B-Main.
Slingshot heat winners included Mark Sensenig, Kassidy Kreitz, and Larry Raifsnider. Twin B-Mains were needed, and the winners were Blaire Schoenly and Henry Anderson.