Billy Pauch Jr. captured his second consecutive victory in USAC Championship SpeedSTR competition on Wednesday night at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds. The 30-lap SpeedSTR triumphs provided bookends to his Friday night, 358 Modified win at Big Diamond and his victory on Saturday, also in a 358 Modified, at New Egypt Speedway.
“The cars are great everywhere we go right now,” understated the winner in Kutztown’s NAPA Auto Parts Victory Lane. “And the breaks are goin’ my way. My guys are working hard and it’s paying off. My sister and her boyfriend even gave me their cold this week, but that couldn’t stop us tonight, either,” smiled a confident Pauch Jr. in his post-race interview.
Mike Rutherford, from Lititz, Pa., notched his first Pioneer Pole Buildings Wingless 600cc Sprint victory of the season. It was the first time Rutherford visited the Action Track USA winner’s circle since a PA 600 Speedweek triumph in July of 2013.
Brett Bieber, the three-time and defending National Slingshot Champion, registered his first win of the year at the fairgrounds across from Kutztown University. And the Oley driver picked a good race in which to record his initial victory, as the All Star Slingshots took part in the Kutztown Komet 100 on Wednesday. The race honors the memory of the late, great dirt Modified legend Freddy Adam, who was known far and wide as “the Kutztown Komet” during his long and distinguished racing career.
After he spent the past three years as a Race Director, Assistant Announcer, and host of the popular Racers Roundtable.com Internet radio show, Pete Knappenberger climbed back behind the wheel a few weeks ago. It didn’t take very long for Knappenberger to shake off the rust, as the Emmaus wheel-twister drove to victory in the 20-lap Slingshot main that fell victim to the curfew (after a lengthy delay caused by a heavy storm that drenched the race track just before the normal starting time) on July 9.
This past Wednesday was Scout Night, where any Boy and/or Girl Scout in uniform received free admission, a free drawstring backpack courtesy of Bob Hilbert Sportswear, and had their picture taken with the 100 lap Slingshot feature winner, Brett Bieber. The Scouts were treated to some outstanding racing as well…
Double-file restarts produced an exciting, drama filled main event for the USAC Championship SpeedSTR’s. Billy Pauch Jr. started on the pole but lost the lead immediately to New Jersey’s Wayne Weaver.
Pauch Jr. returned the favor on lap five, scooting under Weaver’s Overhead Door No. 0 to regain the top spot. Brad Brightbill slipped past Weaver on a lap ten restart, then set his sights on the race leader. Brightbill ducked under Pauch and had his nose in front when they crossed the stripe to complete lap 11.
With the leader having the opportunity to choose which lane he/she would like to start in, the outside appeared the place to be on the early restarts as Pauch Jr. went back in front after lining up to the right of B. Brightbill on a 12th lap restart. The yellow flags continued to provide excitement, as Brightbill and Pauch swapped the lead position a few times before Brightbill led the 20th circuit – just before another caution period slowed the field.
As the green waved again, Pauch Jr. shot back in front when he and Brightbill stomped their respective accelerators and their mounts leaped off turn two. Pauch Jr., from Frenchtown, NJ, became the leader one more time, and this time, he wasn’t giving it up.
His dad, three-time winner this year Billy Pauch Sr. suddenly came to life. The elder Pauch stacked up three-wide for third with Weaver (down low), and Mike Bednar (on the high side). Senior threaded the needle, running the middle groove to steal third from Weaver.
At the finish, it was Pauch Jr. for his second win in a row and third overall of the season. Billy Jr. beat Brad Brightbill, Billy Pauch Sr., Mike Bednar, and Weaver to the finish line.
When the evening began, Billy Pauch Sr. and his son were tied at the top of the SpeedSTR point standings. Junior’s victory, combined with his dad’s third place effort, propelled Billy Jr. to the top spot in the battle for this season’s point championship.
Shelby Harper led the field of Wingless 600cc Sprints to Mike Feltenberger’s green flag. With Harper in command, a quick red flag was needed when a multi-car skirmish bottled up turn three with only one lap scored. As the melee unfolded, Ryan Neil hopped another car’s right-rear wheel, launching his No. 19 into a series of wild tumbles at the end of the backstretch. Neil continued to flip up the turn three banking and out over the wall! Fortunately, Neil was not hurt in the mishap, but his car was pretty badly beat up.
Robbie Hocker grabbed the top spot from Harper on the restart, with seventh-starting Rutherford charging into the runner-up position. The “Master of the Micros” continued his march to the front, passing Hocker for the lead as they dashed off corner number two.
As the laps clicked off rapidly, Rutherford pulled out to a fairly comfortable advantage and Eddie Strada edged his way into second by the time the crossed flags were displayed, signifying the halfway point of the race.
Brandon Azzalina, driving the Rapp Pallets No. 43, moved up a couple of times during the 25-lap affair, only to fall back a few spots before climbing once again toward the head of the pack.
With Rutherford in front and Strada desperately trying to reel him in, a five-car tussle for third ensued between Azzalina, Alex Bright, point leader Jay Hartman, Pauch Jr., and Hocker.
Rutherford, in Gary Hunter’s CARSTAR No. 7h, maintained control and zipped to his first Action Track USA victory since July of 2013.
Strada finished second with Azzalina third, 12th starting Alex Bright in fourth, and Jay Hartman rounding out the top five.
Thirty-five All Star Slingshots took the green in the NAPA Auto Parts Kutztown Komet 100 for the All Star Slingshots. It was a two-car race for most of the event that turned into a wild battle for the lead and the win.
Joe Nemeth and John Bockhorn waged an entertaining duel for the race lead, with Larry Raifsnider in the mix as well, shoving the nose of his No. 11R under Nemeth on numerous occasions. By the 20th trip around the clay, Brett Bieber had navigated his way from 12th on the starting grid to fourth, right behind Kutztown’s defending Slingshot point champ, Danny Buccafusca.
Nemeth and Bockhorn traded the top spot on several occasions, with Nemeth leading early and then Bockhorn putting his No. 97 in front on lap 32. Nemeth went back to the head of the pack just before the halfway mark, which also happened to be the “halftime break” of the event.
The cars were stopped on the front stretch, in full view of the packed grandstand. Crews were permitted to do anything they wanted to the cars, as long as their mounts were ready to roll at the end of the five-minute stoppage.
Back under green, Bockhorn forged ahead once more on the 58th tour, but Nemeth roared past again with 35 to go. As the race reached lap 70, the intensity picked up noticeably, and Brett Bieber decided it was time to go.
Bieber wrestled the runner-up slot away from Bockhorn, then snatched the lead from Nemeth in turns one and two with only ten circuits remaining. Buccafusca and Pete Knappenberger went to work on Nemeth, and Knappenberger took advantage of the opportunity when Nemeth got sideways in one and two and Buccafusca hopped over his left-front wheel.
At the finish of the century grind, the Oley Jet, Brett Bieber, cruised to the win over Knappenberger, Buccafusca, Raifsnider, and Kurt Bettler (who raced back to the front after spinning just prior to the halfway break and restarted in 29th position).
With the victory, Bieber also leap-frogged over Buccafusca to take the point lead.
In the Slinger’s makeup feature from July 9, Larry Raifsnider took command early and appeared to be on course for his first win of the year at Action Track USA.
Pete Knappenberger moved up to challenge Raifsnider for the lead, and the pair ran side-by-side from laps seven through nine before a yellow flag slowed the action. Raifsnider took off on the restart, and the track officials penalized him for starting too soon. Raifsnider was set back two spots on the ensuing restart, putting Knappenberger in front and Brett Bieber in the runner-up spot.
That’s the way they finished, with Knappenberger scoring the victory over Bieber, Raifsnider, Kassidy Kreitz, and Dylan Hoch (who started 22nd).
Action Track Sidebites…
What may have been the largest crowd of the season, or at least very close to it, cheered on another excellent field of competitors on Wednesday. Signing in for battle were 21 SpeedSTR’s, 39 of the Wingless 600’s, and 35 All Star Slingshots, bringing the total car count to 95!
Robbie Hocker won the Wingless 600 Mad Scramble, the 12-lap race at the beginning of the night for drivers who did not qualify the prior week. With the Scramble victory, Hocker transferred directly to the night’s main event and into the handicap for an up-front starting spot. He went on to finish seventh in the feature.
Jarid Kunkle, Jay Hartman, Mike Rutherford, and Kameron Morral were victorious in the Wingless 600cc heat races. Sam Kravitsky won the C-Main, and Jacob Severn triumphed in the B-Main.
The Fast Five in the SpeedSTR timed dashes were: Wayne Weaver (12.232-seconds), Billy Pauch Jr., Mike Bednar, Ryan Krachun, and Kenny Brightbill.
Kenny and Brad Brightbill notched wins in the two heats for the SpeedSTR division. Frank Cozze won the B-Main.
The All Star Slingshots competed in group time trials to determine the starting lineup for the Kutztown Komet 100. Turning the quickest lap was Joe Nemeth at 13.399-seconds. Second through fifth included John Bockhorn, Dave Carraghan, Mark Sensenig, and Travis Bieber.
Wingless 600cc Sprint driver Ryan Neil joined Brett Michalski as the only drivers to “leave the ballpark” in the 1 1/2 seasons of operation under co-promoters Rich Tobias and Doug Rose. Both Neil and Michalski (who exited the speedway through the air in 2013) flipped over the third turn wall in Wingless 600cc competition. Both were unhurt in the spectacular mishaps.
This Wednesday, July 23rd, the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprints will be featured in not one, but a pair of 30-lap main events. They will be joined by the USAC Championship SpeedSTR’s, the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots, and the Junior Slingshots make their second appearance of 2014.
Pit gates open at 4 p.m. and grandstand gates swing open at 5:00. The Wingless 600 Mad Scramble starts things off at 6:15, followed by warm-ups for all divisions and then qualifying activity gets underway at 6:35.
You don’t want to miss Twin 30’s for the Wingless 600cc warriors, so come get your midweek motorsports adrenaline rush at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds…where the Superstars come to race!
At the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds:
USAC Championship SpeedSTR Feature, 30 laps: 1.Billy Pauch Jr., 2.Brad Brightbill, 3.Billy Pauch Sr., 4.Mike Bednar, 5.Wayne Weaver, 6.Kyle Lick, 7.Kenny Brightbill, 8.Nick Baer, 9.Brittany Wixon, 10.Larry Solomon, 11.Earl Paules, 12.Ryan Krachun, 13.Steve Yankowski, 14.Jeff Strunk, 15.Kyle Weiss, 16.Jason Miller, 17.Frank Cozze, 18.Pancho Lawler, 19.Brandon Grosso.
DNQ: Frank Yankowski, Bobby Trapper.
Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Eddie Strada, 3.Brandon Azzalina, 4.Alex Bright, 5.Jay Hartman, 6.Billy Pauch Jr., 7.Robbie Hocker, 8.Tim Buckwalter, 9.Peter Michael, 10.Kyle Lick, 11.Shelby Harper, 12.Jarid Kunkle, 13.Tommy Kunsman Jr., 14.Joe Kay, 15.Bobby Scherff, 16.Rhett Long, 17.James Morris, 18.Jeff Hartman, 19.Donny Smith, 20.Simon Egan, 21.Frank Cozze, 22.Kameron Morral, 23.Mackenzie Harper, 24.Jacob Severn, 25.Ryan Neil, 26.Blaine Emery.
DNQ: Billy Ney, Jermain Godshall, Greg Stevens, Tex Snyder, Molly Chambers, Sam Kravitsky, Zach Fisher, Daniel Schumaker, Colin White, Mark Conrad Jr., Heidi Hedin, Louie Horvath, Eric Whitby.
Kutztown Komet 100 for All Star Slingshots, 100 laps: 1.Brett Bieber, 2.Pete Knappenberger, 3.Danny Buccafusca, 4.Larry Raifsnider, 5.Kurt Bettler, 6.Joe Nemeth, 7.Ray Nemeth, 8.Cody Kline, 9.Jay Hartman, 10.Matt Miller, 11.Erik Jones, 12.William Mohring, 13.Donny Hockman, 14.Scott Heilman, 15.Tess Horvath, 16.Tayllor Schoenly, 17.Kim Glass, 18.Damian Nemeth, 19.Dylan Hoch, 20.Justin Thompson, 21.John Bockhorn, 22.Carl Bittenbender, 23.Jordan Knepp, 24.Matt Massone, 25.Matt Stangle, 26.Mark Sensenig, 27.Jackson Ring, 28.Simon Whitnell, 29.Austin Stufflet, 30.Louden Reimert, 31.Kassidy Kreitz, 32.Dave Carraghan, 33.Travis Bieber, 34.Mark Hartman. DNS: Steve Svanda.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot Feature (Postponed on July 9), 20 laps: 1.Pete Knappenberger, 2.Brett Bieber, 3.Larry Raifsnider, 4.Kassidy Kreitz, 5.Dylan Hoch, 6.Louden Reimert, 7.Matt Massone, 8.Matt Miller, 9.Danny Buccafusca, 10.Jordan Knepp, 11.Joe Nemeth, 12.Mark Sensenig, 13.John Bockhorn, 14.Travis Bieber, 15.Cody Kline, 16.Ray Nemeth, 17.Mark Hartman, 18.Matt Stangle, 19.Jackson Ring, 20.Austin Stufflet, 21.Dave Carraghan, 22.Tayllor Schoenly, 23.David Morell, 24.Damian Nemeth, 25.Erik Jones, 26.Arnold Messmahl. DNS: Joe Bodenshatz, Dakota Kohler, Billy Osmun, Blaire Schoenly, Jeff Kemp.
JULY 16 CLIFF NOTES:
*The SpeedSTR victory was the second in a row for Billy Pauch Jr., and his third of the season. Pauch Jr. and Brad Brightbill swapped the lead on several occasions before Pauch took over for good with nine laps remaining.
*When the night began, Billy Pauch Sr. and Pauch Jr. were tied for the point lead in the SpeedSTR division. With the win, Pauch Jr. takes a narrow lead over his dad, who finished third in Wednesday’s feature race.
*The Wingless 600cc Sprint triumph was Mike Rutherford’s first of the season at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds. Rutherford, from Lititz, captured the PA 600 Speedweek race at the Action Track last season, but Wednesday’s victory was his first at the speedway since last July. He does have one other wingless win this year, at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway in Newmanstown, on Memorial Day weekend.
*Rutherford powered to the outside of Robbie Hocker to take the lead in the Wingless 600cc main, darting into the top spot as he and Hocker accelerated off turn two and onto the backstretch.
*Ryan Neil was involved in a multi-car incident on the second lap of the Wingless 600cc feature. Neil flipped up and over the turn three wall, landing outside the track. He was uninjured, but his car was heavily damaged. The melee began when Frank Cozze spun and Kameron Morral, with nowhere to go, hit Cozze’s front end and flipped. The next five or six cars in the running order went spinning and colliding as they tried to avoid Cozze and Morral. Neil got turned and started to flip at the end of the backstretch and kept tumbling into turn three, finally going up and over the wall. No one was hurt in the mishap.
*Pete Knappenberger, from Emmaus, had not driven a racecar in three years before he returned a few weeks ago to drive Randy Smith’s No. 5s.. He shook off the rust quickly, winning Wednesday’s make-up feature that was postponed due to curfew on July 9. Knappenberger then went on to finish second to Brett Bieber in the Kutztown Komet 100, the race that honors the memory of Kutztown’s own Freddy Adam, the dirt Modified legend who resided in Kutztown. Adam’s wife, Mary, was on hand to present the winner’s trophy to Bieber.
*35 All Star Slingshots took part in the Kutztown Komet 100, with group time trials utilized to set the starting lineup.