Brad Brightbill’s road to victory was not an easy one on Wednesday, August 13, as the 143rd Annual Kutztown Fair served as the backdrop for an exciting night of racing at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
First, Brightbill had to fend off the challenges of his dad, Kenny, and then thwart the efforts of Billy Pauch Jr. But the son of the dirt Modified legend was up to the task, charging to his first-ever triumph in the USAC Championship SpeedSTR division.
“It was fun racing with dad in the beginning,” stated Brad as he described the early laps and the duel with his father. “And I always look at the scoreboard to see who’s behind me…when I saw the number one, I got nervous because I know how good Billy is here.”
Pauch Jr. started seventh and barreled into third just past the halfway point of the 30-lap feature race. He took second away from Kenny Brightbill, then set his sights on the leader. Pauch ran the bottom while Brad Brightbill utilized the top groove, and it was the momentum generated by running up high that kept Brad in front.
At the finish, it was fairly close, but Brad Brightbill, from Shillington, got the big win in the Fair Week National for the SpeedSTR’s.
Pauch Jr. trailed in second, while Wayne Weaver rallied to finish third. Kenny Brightbill wound up fourth, while Frank Cozze finished fifth.
With his victory, Pauch Jr. leap-frogged over his dad, Billy Sr., and into first place in the point standings. Unofficially, Billy Jr. should now be in front by 35 points with only Sunday’s season finale remaining.
Asked if the tight point chase will cause some drama at the breakfast table on Sunday morning, Pauch Jr. smiled and said, “nah…well, maybe for mom. Dad and I just take it in stride.”
Mike Rutherford passed Tony DiMattia for the top spot in the Pioneer Pole Buildings, 40-lap Fair Week Nationals for the wingless 600cc Sprints. A couple of laps later, DiMattia returned the favor, sweeping past Rutherford on the top side.
As the dicing up front continued, eighth-starting Billy Pauch Jr. was maneuvering his way through the heavy pack of traffic. Headed off turn four and about to complete the 15th trip around the clay, “the kid’s kid” shot the middle off turn four, darting between Rutherford and Alex Bright to snare the runner-up position. And then the fun really began…
Pauch Jr. and DiMattia traded slide jobs over several laps at each end of the race track until, finally, Pauch Jr. drifted up in front of DiMattia in turn two and prevented the Malvern, Pa. chauffeur from driving back underneath him.
Pauch Jr., from Frenchtown, NJ, went on to notch his second win of the season, with a margin of 0.903-seconds over DiMattia, who held off Bright for the runner-up cash. Tim Buckwalter, in Barry Greth’s No. 71, seemed to get faster as the race went on. Buckwalter finished fourth and Kyle Lick, who started at the back of the pack because he came out late for the feature, rambled all the way to fifth at the finish.
Leesport’s Mark Sensenig captured his third win of the season in the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot main event.
Sensenig passed polesitter and early leader Austin Stufflet on the fourth circuit, and he was never out of the lead from that point on. Danny Buccafusca moved into second, passing Billy Osmun at the halfway mark of the 20-lapper. Danny B then ran down Sensenig, the race leader, but could not pull alongside. A restart with one to go did not alter the outcome, as Sensenig drove to victory over Buccafusca, last week’s winner Larry Raifsnider, Joe Nemeth, and Jordan Knepp.
Point leader Brett Bieber was collected in an early tangle, then fought his way back to a tenth place finish. Buccafusca’s runner-up effort chopped 55 points off Bieber’s cushion in the standings, setting up a tense duel for the championship in the Sunday night, August 17th, season finale.
Action Track Sidebites…
Yet another terrific car count, as 25 SpeedSTR’s, 45 Wingless 600cc Sprints, and 33 Slingshots took part in (what was for them) their second-to-last event of the season at Action Track USA. The grand total was 103 racecars in competition on Wednesday night.
James Morris, whose nasty flip a few weeks ago forced him to go out and purchase his third chassis of the year, can pay a few bills after winning the Hump Day Challenge for the Wingless 600’s. Morris, from Rieglesville, PA, recorded the win in the special race for this year’s feature winners who took the Hump Day Challenge of starting 18th or worse in the race following their feature victory. No one collected the bonus (for winning the feature after starting that far back) – which rolled over from race to race – so the 5-lap, winner-take-all match race was set between Morris, Pauch Jr., Kyle Lick, Mike Rutherford, and the most recent 600cc winner, Jarid Kunkle.
Morris started third but made a quick move to snatch the top spot from Kunkle. He then held off Kyle Lick for the $1,000 triumph. Lick finished second with Pauch Jr., Kunkle, and Rutherford rounding out the finishing order.
USAC Championship SpeedSTR Feature, 30 laps: 1.Brad Brightbill, 2.Billy Pauch Jr., 3.Wayne Weaver, 4.Kenny Brightbill, 5.Frank Cozze, 6.Tim Buckwalter, 7.Steve Yankowski, 8.Billy Pauch Sr., 9.Frank Yankowski, 10.Ryan Krachun, 11.Sammy Piazza, 12.JJ Grasso, 13.Gary Huber, 14.Jeff Strunk, 15.Earl Paules, 16.Jason Miller, 17.Mike Vermuelen, 18.Dale Planck, 19.Ryan Smith, 20.Mike Bednar, 21.Larry Solomon, 22.Kyle Weiss, 23.Brandon Grosso. DNS: John Kovatch.
DNQ: Brittany Wixon.
Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprint Feature, 40 laps: 1.Billy Pauch Jr., 2.Tony DiMattia, 3.Alex Bright, 4.Tim Buckwalter, 5.Kyle Lick, 6.Jay Hartman, 7.Mike Rutherford, 8.James Morris, 9.Jarid Kunkle, 10.Eddie Strada, 11.Blaine Emery, 12.Billy Ney, 13.Robbie Hocker, 14.Jeff Hartman, 15.Frank Cozze, 16.Sam Kravitsky, 17.Marty Gorr, 18.Jermain Godshall, 19.Shawn Rooney, 20.Shelby Harper, 21.Joey Jarowicz, 22.Mackenzie Harper, 23.Rhett Long, 24.Brandon Azzalina, 25.Jim Radney, 26.Wayne Scott, 27.Peter Michael.
DNQ: Eric Heydenreich, Austin Quick, Zach Fisher, Bobby Scherff, Bobby Butler, Zack Bealer, Jeff Carman, Joe Kay, Steve Kemery, Mark Conrad Jr., Molly Chambers, Jacob Severn, Will Butler, Dave Dimaio, Wayne Scott Jr., Colin White, Jake Smith, Andrew Hannula.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot Feature, 20 laps: 1.Mark Sensenig, 2.Danny Buccafusca, 3.Larry Raifsnider, 4.Joe Nemeth, 5.Jordan Knepp, 6.Louden Reimert, 7.Billy Osmun, 8.Dave Carraghan, 9.Donny Hockman, 10.Brett Bieber, 11.Pete Knappenberger, 12.Matt Miller, 13.John Bockhorn, 14.Kassidy Kreitz, 15.Matt Massone, 16.Jeff Kemp, 17.Erik Jones, 18.Ray Nemeth, 19.Wes Hearn, 20.Dave Galloway, 21.Tayllor Schoenly, 22.Travis Bieber, 23.Dylan Hoch, 24.Austin Stufflet, 25.Mark Hartman, 26.Dakota Kohler.
DNQ: Jackson Ring, Tess Horvath, Antoine Parent, Taylor Santee, Damian Nemeth, Dave Morrell.
By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts&ref=br_tf