Feature winners and National Champions shared victory lane on an incredibly blustery Sunday at the Grandview Speedway, as Speedway Entertainment wrapped up its season with the running of the Fourth Annual Fall Jamboree.
While it was the fourth Jamboree for the Rich Tobias-led organization, it was the first time the event was held at Grandview. Scheduled as a two-day program, rain on Saturday cut the show in half and placing even more emphasis on Sunday’s A-Mains, which were claimed by Billy Pauch Sr. (USAC Championship SpeedSTR’s); Dylan Hoch (All Star Slingshots); James Morris (Wingless 600cc Sprints); and Dillon Steuer (Junior Slingshots).
The Fall Jamboree was also Championship Weekend for the three Speedway Entertainment divisions, with National titles going to Canadian sensation Maxime Plante (USAC Championship SpeedSTR’s); Dylan Hoch (All Star Slingshots); and Damon Paul (Junior Slingshots).
The 35-lap, $3,000 to win A-Main for the SpeedSTR’s saw polesitter Kris Graver wiggle a bit in turns one and two, allowing Grandview Modified ace Duane Howard to grab the early lead. Howard, making his SpeedSTR debut, was in front at the completion of lap one, but his time at the head of the pack would be short-lived.
On a restart with one down, Kyle Weiss took the green right behind Howard’s No. 24. Using a big run off turn four, Weiss stormed into the lead, passing Howard on the high side.
Weiss set the pace for the next several circuits, but all eyes were on the Bob Hilbert Sportswear/ Fatt Kat No. 9 driven by Billy Pauch Sr. A three-time winner at Action Track USA this season and the most recent All Pro Tour winner on dirt (at Five Mile Point), Pauch was rumbling from his seventh starting position, taking third from Howard – who was passed by Frank Cozze for the runner-up spot – by the time the second caution flag was thrown with ten tours complete.
The SpeedSTR’s were making good use of the ample racing room provided by the high banked Grandview oval, scrambling in two and three-wide fashion throughout the field. Asphalt standout Earl Paules charged from his 15th starting spot to break into the top five, while Wayne Weaver and Brad Brightbill began to make their presence known near the front of the pack.
On a lap 13 restart, Pauch Sr. blasted by Cozze to snare second place, then ducked under Weiss and grabbed the lead on the 14th revolution. Cozze moved to second on the next trip around the clay as Pauch, from Frenchtown, NJ, separated himself from the field.
A terrific battle for fourth between Brad Brightbill and Weaver ended with 24 down as Brightbill, Paules, and Craig Whitmoyer were knocked out after tangling in turn four. On the restart, Cozze hung with Pauch for a few laps, challenging the leader with a few attacks in the low groove, but Pauch eventually pulled away once again. One final restart, with just one tour remaining, did not alter the outcome as Pauch motored to the victory over Cozze, Tim Buckwalter (who rallied from sixth to third late in the race), Weaver, and Frank Yankowski.
“They watered the top just before the feature, and that was nice because it gave us a top groove for a while, and that’s what I used to pass my way to the front,” noted race winner Pauch Sr.
“But I knew it was going to rubber up, and I think I may have been the first one to find the rubber,” he added. “And that got me to the lead. After that, it was just trying to save the tires, but the track wasn’t really too rough on the tires today.”
Maxime Plante, from St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, did exactly what he needed to do in order to secure his second All Pro National Tour Championship. Plante’s closest challenger for the title was Billy Pauch Jr., who had to borrow a ride for the A-Main after his Wayne Subaru No. 98 suffered mechanical issues while leading a heat race.
Plante survived an early race spin, rebounding to pass Pauch Jr. in the latter stages of the 35-lapper. Plante finished eighth, one spot in front of Pauch Jr., and that was more than enough to clinch the championship, his second National SpeedSTR crown in the past three years.
The battle for the All Star Slingshot’s National title was a three horse race, with Mertztown, Pa.’s Dylan Hoch holding a narrow advantage over Larry Raifsnider and three-time National Champ Brett Bieber.
Hoch’s title-clinching philosophy was simple: win the race and the championship would be his…so that is precisely what the high school student did.
With Bieber and Raifsnider sharing the front row for the 20-lap main event, it was Bieber snatching the early lead as fourth-starting Hoch dueled with his good buddy, Cody Kline, for third.
Hoch eased in front of Kline on the fourth circuit, then set his sights on Raifsnider, who was losing ground to the Oley Jet in the No. 32 as Bieber continued to extend his lead. Hoch darted past Raifsnider, then reeled in Bieber as the race headed toward its halfway point.
As they rocketed off turn four to take the crossed flags, Hoch went a bit higher than normal to get a run down the banking as the lead duo moved onto the homestretch. His strategy worked as his No. 35 pulled even with Bieber at the start/finish line. They rubbed in one and two, with Hoch nosing ahead on the back chute. The National Tour’s point leader was now the race leader, with nine laps remaining, and he was not about to give it up.
Bieber tried to surprise the leader on a restart with a couple of circuits left, but the attempt was called back by track officials and the subsequent restart had Hoch accelerate away from Bieber, putting an end to any potential late race drama.
Hoch flew to the checkered, capping a late season comeback in the National standings that culminated in a final race win and championship. Bieber’s three-year strangle-hold on the National title came to an end with his second-place finish in the finale, and Raifsnider, who led the National standings for a while during the summer, wound up third in the Fall Jamboree’s A-Main for the All Star Slingers. Demetrious Drellos and Kenny Heffner completed the top five when starter Mike Feltenberger waved the checkered flag.
The Wingless 600cc Sprint feature was a good one, with Riegelsville’s James Morris fending off the challenges of Robbie Hocker and Simon Egan to claim the victory.
When the 20-lapper went green initially, polesitter Tim Buckwalter dashed to the lead ahead of Morris, his front row partner. Morris stayed with the leader as Bobby Butler and Hocker tussled for third and Stephen Reynolds navigated his way from 11th on the starting grid to run fifth by the time lap five was scored.
An incident in turn four brought out the yellow with six complete, and Kyle Lick got pinched into the backstretch wall as the field slowed for the caution. Lick’s No. 8 flipped wildly, converting the yellow slowdown to a red flag stoppage.
During the red flag period, officials noticed that Buckwalter’s car had a flat right-front tire, and the Greth Racing No. 71 was sent to the pits to have the tire changed. That handed the lead to Morris, who had slipped past Buckwalter just prior to the yellow/red…the pass was negated by the incident, but Buckwalter gave up the top spot when he headed to the pits for a new right front sneaker.
When the green reappeared, Morris gassed his No. 85 to a slim lead over Hocker, but Hocker’s Grime Boss No. 54 nipped at the leader’s heels as he waited for Morris to bobble. The lead pair was soon joined by 17th starting Simon Egan, who rumbled into fourth, then third, before making it a three-car dance for the lead in the waning laps.
Morris never bobbled, locking his car to the bottom groove and going on to win by a narrow margin (0.087 seconds) over Egan, who edged Hocker for runner-up honors. Reynolds finished up his stellar run with a fourth-place effort, and Doug Snyder came from the back after his involvement in an early race mishap to record a fifth-place payday. After his pit stop, Buckwalter sliced his way from the rear of the field to finish sixth.
The Junior Slingshot National Tour A-Main was a tale of two (young) drivers; while one of them captured the day’s battle, the other wheel-twister won the season-long war.
Dillon Steuer, from Bohemia, NY, entered Sunday’s program trailing Junior National point leader Damon Paul. Steuer went out and did everything he could possibly do to overtake his Stoney Point, NY rival…he won his heat race, then passed Paul for the lead in the 15-lap feature and going to on register the big win in the season finale. But he came up a little bit short in the point tally, as Paul’s runner-up finish was enough to clinch the championship.
Paul appeared to be cruising out front, sprinting from his inside front row starting position to lead the initial six circuits. Steuer, however, was not going to throw in the towel without a fight, as he ran down the race leader, then motored by Paul and into the top spot. It was then Steuer who was on cruise control, as Paul and Dakota Kohler battled for second over the final laps.
At the finish, it was Steuer in for the win, with Paul settling for runner-up status over Kohler. Chloe Andreas and Tyler Peet finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Fall Jamboree Fodder…
Despite losing Day One to rain and facing a cold, blustery Sunday, a total of 114 entries took part in the Fourth Annual Jamboree which, until this year, was held at New Egypt Speedway (2011) and Path Valley Raceway Park (2012 and 2013). The car count breakdown is as follows: 28 SpeedSTR’s; 29 Wingless 600cc Sprints; 39 of the All Star Slingshots; and 18 Junior Slingshots.
Group time trials set the starting lineups for the qualifying heats in the two Slingshot classes, as well as the USAC Championship SpeedSTR’s.
Billy Pauch Sr. set the tone for his SpeedSTR victory by turning the quickest lap, with Kyle Lick second fastest and Duane Howard, in his maiden voyage in a SpeedSTR, clocking in with the third-fastest lap.
Brett Bieber and Larry Raifsnider were the two quickest drivers in All Star Slingshot timed dashes, while Damon Paul was the fastest Junior Slinger over Justin Mills and Dillon Steuer.
Tim Buckwalter, James Morris, and Bobby Butler were heat race winners in the Wingless 600cc division, while Howard, Kyle Weiss, and Frank Cozze captured heat race victories for the SpeedSTR’s.
Claiming Junior Slingshot heat race triumphs were Paul, Mills, and Steuer. The four heats for the All Star Slingers went to B. Bieber, Raifsnider, Cody Kline, and Dylan Hoch.
Earl Paules won the SpeedSTR’s B-Main, with Devin Gundrum and Danny Buccafusca winning the last-chance qualifiers for the Wingless 600’s and All Star Slingshots, respectively.
Tex Snyder, the ageless wonder who steers a 600cc Sprinter, was launched into a scary series of flips in the Wingless 600 main when his right-rear wheel broke off and the axle dug into the turn one racing surface. Snyder exited the car (with some help) and was taken to the hospital for further evaluation after being examined by the EMT’s at the track.
Kris Graver, who won his second SpeedSTR race of the year on the Mahoning Valley Speedway pavement the week before the Fall Jamboree, was not as fortunate
on Grandview’s dirt surface. Graver started on the pole of Sunday’s feature, but fell back fairly quickly. He dropped into heavy traffic in the middle of the pack and appeared to get squeezed into the backstretch wall as several cars scrambled for position with 12 laps complete. Graver’s No. 29b flipped wildly at the midpoint of the back chute, but he emerged unhurt after the tumble.
Quote from Tim Buckwalter after his third place run in the SpeedSTR main: “I wish it was 40 laps, instead of 35…under the one yellow, I found an adjustment in the car that I had no idea was there…and I am still not sure what it does, exactly, but I was running so bad that I decided to turn it as far as I could. It did something, because the car was awesome after that…it’s how I got to third at the end. I think it (the adjustment) has something to do with the brake bias…”
Damon Paul, even though he’s only 13-years-old, handled his defeat in the Junior Slingshot feature with a maturity and professionalism that is sadly lacking in many racing divisions and sports in general.
Although the disappointment was evident on his face, Paul congratulated race winner Dillon Steuer, who passed him for the lead just before the halfway mark of the 15-lapper. In addition, when Paul was interviewed as part of the victory lane ceremony immediately following the race, it was not yet known who’d just won the Junior Slingshot National Championship – him or Steuer.
“He’s really good, and he was really fast today, so I don’t mind losing to him,” said the little driver with the heavy right foot. “He’s got a real good crew behind him, too, so I have to be satisfied with second today.
When the final points were tallied, of course, Paul, who won four consecutive Junior Slingshot features at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA this season, could break into a smile because his runner-up finish was good enough to win the National Championship for the Junior Slingers.
Next year, the Stoney Point, NY racer will be moving up to the All Star Slingshot division, with an eye on the National title in that class.
USAC SpeedSTR All Pro Tour, 35 laps: 1.Billy Pauch Sr., 2.Frank Cozze, 3.Tim Buckwalter, 4.Wayne Weaver, 5.Frank Yankowski, 6.Ryan Smith, 7.Kyle Weiss, 8.Maxime Plante, 9.Billy Pauch Jr., 10.Jeff Strunk, 11.Francis Methot, 12.Brandon Grosso, 13.Mike Vermuelen, 14.Nick Baer, 15.Mike Bednar, 16.Brad Brightbill, 17.Craig Whitmoyer, 18.Earl Paules, 19.John Kovatch, 20.Jason Miller, 21.Duane Howard, 22.Joey Thompson, 23.Kris Graver, 24.Steve Yankowski, 25.Kyle Lick, 26.Larry Solomon.
DNS: Kenny Brightbill, Barry Christman Jr.
2014 All Pro Tour National Champion: Maxime Plante.
All Star Slingshot National Tour, 20 laps: 1.Dylan Hoch, 2.Brett Bieber, 3.Larry Raifsnider, 4.Demetrious Drellos, 5.Kenny Heffner, 6.Cody Kline, 7.John Bockhorn, 8.Joe Nemeth, 9.Wes Hearn, 10.Mark Sensenig, 11.Louden Reimert, 12.Alex Schoffstall, 13.Travis Bieber, 14.Danny Buccafusca, 15.Ryan Quackenbush, 16.Justin Thompson, 17.William Mohring, 18.Kassidy Kreitz, 19.Dale Kober, 20.Don Schmidt, 21.Joe Howey, 22.Matt Stangle, 23.AJ Wright, 24.Sam Scicchitano, 25.Tes Horvath, 26.Anthony Raisner, 27.Kurt Bettler. DNS: Corey Cormier, John Gilroy, Dave McCullough.
DNQ: Joe Malson Jr., Joe Malson, Dave Morrell, Dawson Landis, Dave Carraghan, Jackson Ring.
2014 All Star Slingshot National Champion: Dylan Hoch.
Wingless 600cc Sprints, 20 laps: 1.James Morris, 2.Simon Egan, 3.Robbie Hocker, 4.Stephen Reynolds, 5.Doug Snyder, 6.Tim Buckwalter, 7.Jermain Godshall, 8.Bobby Butler, 9.Jon Smith Jr., 10.Louie Horvath, 11.Jerry Seabridge, 12.Troy Musselman, 13.Eric Ankiewicz, 14.Kurt Bettler, 15.Dave Ogin, 16.Rob Pajauis, 17.Tex Snyder, 18.Kyle Lick, 19.Devin Gundrum, 20.Eric Whitby, 21.Bruce Ginther Jr., 22.Craig Fox, 23.Sam Kravitsky, 24.Ricky Leaper Jr.
DNQ: Ron Lewis, Jimmy Snyder, Blaine Emery, Billy Pauch Jr., Steve Svanda.
Junior Slingshot National Tour, 15 laps: 1.Dillon Steuer, 2.Damon Paul, 3.Dakota Kohler, 4.Chloe Andreas, 5.Tyler Peet, 6.Dylan Swinehart, 7.Justin Mills, 8.Daniel Morgiewicz, 9.Andrew Kreis, 10.Ryan Graver, 11.Kyle Smith, 12.Alex Yankowski, 13.Logan Bauman, 14.Michael Samony, 15.Aidan Svanda, 16.Joe Toth, 17.Wyatt Hager, 18.Cole Stangle.
2014 Junior Slingshot National Champion: Damon Paul.
By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts&ref=br_tf