Everyone said it was just a matter of time for Earl Paules. His time arrived, in grand style, on Wednesday night at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
Paules, in his first year of competition in the USAC Championship SpeedSTR division, has shown steady improvement during the season. On Wednesday night, on a smooth and tacky clay surface, he improved all the way up to victory lane, winning his first SpeedSTR main event.
“Great night to win,” stated the asphalt Modified and Late Model veteran, who has accumulated plenty of feature wins and point titles on blacktop. “This is the Schneider No. 8,” he said as he pointed toward his red racecar, “and Mr. Schneider is here tonight. Proud to win for him and everyone who supports us.”
The Kunkletown resident jumped into the lead at the start of the 30-lapper, outgunning polesitter Kenny Brightbill into turn one. Paules built a comfortable advantage over Brightbill from laps two through 12 as the defending point champ battled with Jeff Strunk and the Pauch family (Billy Sr. and Billy Jr.) in a dogfight for positions two through five.
A restart at the halfway point produced a three-car tussle for the top spot, as Paules, Brightbill, and Pauch Jr. went three-wide at both ends of the speedway, with Strunk right behind the lead trio.
The three-way battle turned into a two-car duel between Paules and Brightbill over the final 11 circuits. Paules was not coming down from the cushion, so Brightbill had to wheel his Weichert Realtors No. 19 around the bottom in an effort to overtake the race leader. They ran side-by-side from lap 19 through 30, with Paules throttling off the top of the corners and pulling ahead by a slight margin.
That’s exactly what transpired off turn four on the last trip around the oval, with Paules gassing his mount under the checkered flag by less than a car-length over Brightbill.
“Oh, I had to run the top because I just can’t ever run the bottom here,” smiled Paules in the winner’s circle. “When we started here in the spring, I asked Kenny what stagger to run. He said, ‘oh, somewhere between three and seven inches, I guess.’ I thought he would get me within a half-inch or so, not four inches! But he’s a great guy and he’s been a big help to me. That was a fun race with him,” said Paules.
Pauch Jr. nipped his dad for third and Strunk finished fifth with 15-year-old Ryan Krachun an impressive sixth.
In less than a month, Jarid Kunkle will begin his Freshman year of college across the street from the speedway. It’s a good bet that the Kutztown native will peer across the road as he walks to class each day, and he’ll smile as he recalls Wednesday’s Pioneer Pole Buildings Wingless 600cc Sprint feature.
Kunkle picked up the first 600cc triumph of his career, and he’ll gladly re-live the memory of Wednesday’s race because of the manner in which he claimed the top prize.
He blasted into the early lead from his outside front row starting spot, then charged to a big lead as the talented field of wingless warriors put together 24 consecutive laps of green flag action. Given that long stretch of green, Kunkle naturally caught the back of the field and had to deal with drivers who were racing one another for position, even as the leader attempted to put them one lap down.
The heavy traffic allowed runner-up Frank Cozze and third place Billy Pauch Jr. to catch Kunkle, but just as it appeared the twosome were prepared to strike, Kunkle made the move that, according to both Cozze and Pauch, most likely won him the race.
Roaring off turn four with five to go, Kunkle threaded the needle in a daring three-wide maneuver. He zipped through the middle lane between Jermain Godshall and James Morris, lapping both and propelling his No. 75 away from his closest pursuers.
A caution period with one tour remaining gave Cozze and Pauch a final shot at the leader, but Kunkle mashed the speed pedal to the floor one more time, narrowly beating the duo of Pauch Jr. and Cozze, who crossed the line in a photo finish for second-place money. Pauch Jr. earned the position by inches – literally – over Cozze. Jacob Severn and point leader Jay Hartman were fourth and fifth, with Alex Bright finishing sixth.
“I REALLY wanted to win here…I’m so glad I got my first 600 win at Kutztown,” grinned Kunkle in victory lane. Asked about his thrilling three-wide move between Godshall and Morris, Kunkle laughed and said, “I knew those guys (Cozze and Pauch) were right behind me, so I told myself that I had to go for it and make that move off of four. I’m glad it worked!”
The NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots took part in a Slinger Speedweek event, and Bernville’s Larry Raifsnider picked up his first win of the season as he moved closer to the top of the Speedweek point standings.
Raifsnider darted into the lead on lap one, accelerating past polesitter Dave Carraghan off corner number four on the first revolution of the progressively banked oval. Raifsnider’s McCoy Home Improvement No. 11R survived a few restarts, including one with 24 of the 25 circuits complete, to register the popular victory.
That final, frantic lap saw Raifsnider scoot away from the pack, but a three-car fight for the runner-up spot had Louden Reimert work the inside lane in three and four, sneaking past Joe Nemeth and Carraghan in a wild run to the checkered. Reimert ended up second with Carraghan scoring a career-best third and Nemeth, winner of the previous week’s Dutch Classic, finishing a close fourth. Jerry Schott Jr. and his Slinger Warehouse teammate, Mark
Sensenig, wound up fifth and sixth.
Stoney Point, NY driver Damon Paul is enjoying a fantastic season in Junior Slingshot competition, winning several times at Hamlin Speedway and now two in a row at Kutztown’s Action Track USA.
Paul trailed early leader Dylan Swinehart for three trips around the clay before he motored past Swinehart’s machine on lap four. Paul cruised to the 15-lap win as Andrew Kreis moved up to challenge Swinehart for second. Swinehart held on to finish as the runner-up to Paul, with Kreis crossing the stripe in third. Kyle Smith and Dillon Steuer completed the top five as the race concluded.
Action Track Sidebites…
With all four divisions prepping for next week’s Kutztown Fair Nationals, along with the final few point shows of the 2014 season, the car counts were extremely solid as 24 SpeedSTR’s, 37 Wingless 600cc Sprints, 33 All Star Slingshots, and 9 of the Junior Slingers took part in Wednesday’s program. That’s a grand total of 103 racecars providing a boatload of side-by-side action for another large and appreciative crowd.
Kyle Lick took a nasty tumble in SpeedSTR hot laps, flipping crazily from the flagstand into turn one. Lick slowly climbed out of his heavily damaged car, but returned in his family owned 600cc Sprinter. Lick qualified for the Wingless 600 main, advancing from 20th to eighth in the 25-lapper that nearly went non-stop after a yellow on the opening lap.
John Bockhorn got squeezed into the backstretch wall during the All Star Slingshot feature, with his No. 97 turning over several times in the incident. Bockhorn was angry but unhurt as he quickly exited his badly beat-up Slinger.
Kenny Brightbill set quick time in the SpeedSTR’s group time trials, with Paules second-fastest. The SpeedSTR heat wins went to Brad Brightbill, Strunk, and Billy Pauch Sr. The B-Main winner was Frank Cozze.
Will Butler was victorious in the Wingless 600cc Mad Scramble for drivers who did not qualify for the previous week’s main event. Butler transferred directly to the feature, where he finished 18th.
Pauch Jr., Alex Bright, and Cozze won heat races for the 600’s, while the C-Main went to Blaine Emery. Lick put on quite a show in the B-Main, running down Mike Rutherford before sweeping past him to score the victory.
In group time trials for the All Star Slingshots, Dave Carraghan set quick time with Raifsnider turning the second quickest lap. The top 12 in time trials were locked into the Speedweek feature.
Henry Anderson captured the Slingers’ A-Qualifier and Bockhorn won the last chance B-Main.
Dylan Swinehart notched the victory in the lone heat race for the Junior Slingshots.
Coming up on August 12, 13, and 14 are the annual Fair Week Nationals, with three big nights of racing headlining the entertainment at the Kutztown Fair. It all leads up to the season finale on Sunday, August 17, when the SpeedSTR’s take part in the second Dick Tobias Classic, a 60-lap main event paying $5,000 to the winner.
On Tuesday, August 12, the wingless 270cc Micro-Sprints return in a preliminary event to their Fair Week National. They’ll be joined by the SpeedSTR’s and the Junior Slingshot National Tour.
Wednesday, August 13 will find the SpeedSTR’s and Wingless 600cc Sprints competing in their Fair Week Nationals. The All Star Slingshots are also penciled in for Wednesday night activity.
Thursday the 14th will see a Fair Week National event for the wingless 270cc Micros, plus the Daniel Boone 100 Stock Car Race.
Saturday, August 16th, is the Night of Destruction as the speedway plays host to a giant Demolition Derby.
The Dick Tobias Classic takes center stage on Sunday the 17th as the curtain lowers on the 2014 racing season at the Kutztown Fairgrounds. In addition to the 60-lapper for the SpeedSTR’s, the Wingless 600’s and All Star Slingshots will crown their respective point champions, as will the USAC Championship SpeedSTR division.
All races get underway with practice and transponder checks at 6 p.m.
Only four more chances to get your weekly motorsports adrenaline rush at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds…where the superstars come to race!
USAC Championship SpeedSTR Feature, 30 laps: 1.Earl Paules, 2.Kenny Brightbill, 3.Billy Pauch Jr., 4.Billy Pauch Sr., 5.Jeff Strunk, 6.Ryan Krachun, 7.Mike Bednar, 8.Brad Brightbill, 9.Frank Cozze, 10.Sammy Piazza, 11.Larry Solomon, 12.John Kovatch, 13.Wayne Weaver, 14.Frank Yankowski, 15.Pancho Lawler, 16.Brandon Grosso, 17.Kyle Weiss, 18.Steve Yankowski, 19.Bobby Trapper, 20.Jason Miller, 21.Mike Vermeulen, 22.Nick Baer. DNS: Brittany Wixon, Kyle Lick.
Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Jarid Kunkle, 2.Billy Pauch Jr., 3.Frank Cozze, 4.Jacob Severn, 5.Jay Hartman, 6.Alex Bright, 7.Jeff Hartman, 8.Billy Ney, 9.Kyle Lick, 10.Mike Rutherford, 11.Rob Adams, 12.Tony DiMattia, 13.Bobby Butler, 14.Peter Michael, 15.Jim Radney, 16.Eddie Strada, 17.Blaine Emery, 18.Will Butler, 19.Eric Heydenreich, 20.James Morris, 21.Molly Chambers, 22.Jermain Godshall, 23.Drew Richmond, 24.Tim Buckwalter, 25.Sam Kravitsky, 26.Marty Gorr.
DNQ: Austin Bishop, Joe Kay, Shawn Rooney, Stephen Reynolds, Joey Jarowicz, Paul Quear, Heidi Hedin, Tex Snyder, Jason Van Doren, Daniel Schumaker, Simon Egan.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot Speedweek Feature, 25 laps: 1.Larry Raifsnider, 2.Louden Reimert, 3.Dave Carraghan, 4.Joe Nemeth, 5.Jerry Schott Jr., 6.Mark Sensenig, 7.Dylan Hoch, 8.Brett Bieber, 9.Travis Bieber, 10.Kyle Gruber, 11.Don Schmidt, 12.Kurt Bettler, 13.Danny Buccafusca, 14.Donny Hockman, 15.Kassidy Kreitz, 16.Pete Knappenberger, 17.Mark Hartman, 18.Billy Osmun, 19.Cody Kline, 20.Jeff Kemp, 21.Dakota Kohler, 22.Henry Anderson, 23.Jordan Knepp, 24.John Bockhorn, 25.Matt Miller, 26.Matt Massone.
DNQ: Austin Stofflet, Tess Horvath, Dave Morrell, Taylor Santee, Matt Stangle, Ryan Updegrove, Mike Lapicki.
Junior Slingshot Feature, 15 laps: 1.Damon Paul, 2.Dylan Swinehart, 3.Andrew Kreis, 4.Kyle Smith, 5.Dillon Steuer, 6.Ryan Graver, 7.Gavin Santee, 8.Alex Yankowski, 9.Logan Bauman.
By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts&ref=br_tf