The JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds kicked off its 2015 racing season on Wednesday, May 13, with wins going to Tim Buckwalter (USAC All Pro SpeedSTR’s), Billy Pauch Jr. (Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600 Sprints powered by Engler Injection Systems), and Brett Bieber (NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots) as the speedway presented its annual Goldie and Elton Meitzler Memorial Race.
The Meitzler Memorial is the traditional season opener at the Berks County oval, and co-promoters Rich Tobias and Doug Rose were rewarded with a sunny, albeit somewhat chilly, day on Wednesday. The stands and pit area were filled to near capacity, and the racing action was hotly contested in each of the three weekly divisions. In the end, it was a pair of young chargers, Buckwalter and Pauch Jr., who shared the limelight as both throttle-jockeys finished in the top three in the SpeedSTR and Wingless 600 Sprint main events.
The 30-lap SpeedSTR feature, paying $2,000 to win, was the first A-Main of the night, and it was a dandy.
Buckwalter, driving the Slinger Warehouse No. 7, shot from the pole to a comfortable lead over fourth-starting Pauch Jr. The first half of the event was highlighted by close quarters racing from second on back until Billy Pauch Sr. spun out of third and brought out the yellow silk
On the restart, Pauch Jr. saw his opportunity to strike, diving under Buckwalter then easing up in front of the No. 7 to snare the top spot. But it was far from over at that point.
From laps 16 through 20, Pauch Jr. and Buckwalter traded slide jobs at both ends of the speedway while running wheel-to-wheel and side-by-side on the straights. Buckwalter forged ahead and was scored again as the leader one lap before the final caution flag of the race was unfurled with seven to go.
On the restart, Buckwalter immediately dropped to the bottom as the lead duo charged into turn one. Buckwalter’s dive effectively shut the door on Pauch Jr., preventing Billy from getting a run out of corner 2. Buckwalter then steadily pulled away and Pauch Jr. had to deal with Doug Manmiller (in his SpeedSTR debut), Jay Hartman, and Jeff Strunk.
Douglassville’s Buckwalter went on to record the victory, his first in a SpeedSTR, after that scintillating mid-race tussle with Pauch Jr., who held on for a runner-up finish over Manmiller. Jay Hartman, also in his maiden voyage aboard a SpeedSTR, wound up fourth and Strunk completed the top five.
The Wingless 600 Sprint feature was a reversal of fortune for Pauch Jr. and Buckwalter, with a little James Morris thrown in for good measure.
Morris jumped to the lead from his outside front row starting position as the 30-lapper went green. Tommy Kunsman Jr. bolted from fourth to second in the early laps and challenged Morris for the lead on numerous occasions. Several times, Kunsman shoved the nose of his Kunsman Paving No. 21k in front of Morris as they rocketed down the chutes, only to see Morris reclaim the top spot a lap or two later.
Eighth starting Billy Pauch Jr. threaded his way toward the front, finally reaching third and almost instantly closing the gap on the race leader. He, Morris, and Kunsman waged a battle royale during the middle stages of the event, with Pauch sweeping past Morris on the front stretch to snatch the lead as lap 18 was scored.
Driving Lamar Shaffer’s LHS Racing Engines No. 91s, Pauch created a bit of separation between himself and Morris over the final ten circuits. Tim Buckwalter’s Greth Racing No. 71 got better as the race went on, navigating his way to third with a pass of Kunsman in the closing laps.
Pauch held on for the victory, beating Morris to the stripe by 0.983-seconds, with Buckwalter settling for third. Kunsman earned fourth-place cash and Tony DiMattia sliced his way from 22nd on the starting grid to a fifth place finish.
Two National Slingshot Champions lined up on the front row of the All Star Slinger’s 20-lap main. Three-time National Champ Brett Bieber, from Oley, took advantage of starting on the pole, rolling out to a nice lead over last season’s National Tour Point Champion Dylan Hoch of Mertztown.
Bieber, the only driver in the history of the Slingshot division to win multiple National titles – not to mention three consecutive crowns – pulled away after each caution period to re-establish command of the race. Recently scoring his 100th career Slingshot victory on the asphalt at Mahoning Valley Speedway, Bieber zipped to the checkered for triumph number 101.
Hoch finished second, with Andrew Kreis, John Gilroy, and Henry Anderson rounding out the top five.
Action Track Sidebites…
Awesome car counts in each division at the Goldie and Elton Meitzler Memorial, with the breakdown as follows…36 SpeedSTR’s, 46 Wingless 600 Sprints, and 39 All Star Slingshots. That’s a total of 121 racecars and 19 qualifying races before the night was capped off with the three A-Mains. And it was all completed with time to spare before the 10:30 p.m. curfew!
Timed Hot Laps are being used again this season to determine the heat race lineups for the USAC All Pro SpeedSTR’s. On Wednesday, Tim Buckwalter recorded the quickest lap at 12.0002 seconds. He, Jay Hartman, and Mike Bednar transferred directly to the A-Main after finishing the Timed Hot Lap sessions with the three quickest cars.
Frank Cozze, Pauch Sr., Pauch Jr., and Kenny Brightbill were victorious in qualifying heats for the SpeedSTR’s. Kevin Graver Jr. and Brad Brightbill won the twin B-Mains.
Winning heat races for the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600 Sprints powered by Engler Injection Systems were Chris Stockham, Morris, Jacob Severn, and Kunsman. Two C-Mains were needed to pare down the large field, with Austin Quick and DiMattia winning those races. The B-Main went to Brandon Azzalina.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot heat winners included B. Bieber, Hoch, Kreis, and Gilroy. The two B-Mains fell to Louden Reimert and Jordan Knepp.
Wild incident took place during the second heat race for the SpeedSTR’s as three cars flipped simultaneously on the homestretch. As the field went green on a restart, a couple of cars got into each other, causing cars behind them to get out of shape. Wayne Weaver, Ray Nemeth, and Nick Baer began flipping after running over the wheels of cars in front of them. Fortunately, all three drivers climbed from their wrecked mounts without assistance, but the damage caused all three to watch for the rest of the night.
This Wednesday, May 20, is the first big race of the year for the Wingless 600’s. It’s the King of No Wing Shootout, a 40-lapper for the wingless wonders that pays $1,000 to win (with Gambler’s Challenge) and will also reward the victor with a guaranteed starting spot in October’s National Open at Linda’s Speedway in Jonestown, Pa.
Rita’s of Blandon, Kutztown, and Shillington is sponsoring the night of excitement on Wednesday and they’ll have giveaways for the fans, along with their mascot at the speedway. And it’s Little League Night; wear your Little League uniform and receive free admission.
The SpeedSTR’s and All Star Slingshots are also on Wednesday’s menu, with hot laps beginning at 6:15.
Come on out for your midweek motorsports adrenaline rush at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA…where the Superstars come to race!
USAC All Pro SpeedSTR Feature, 30 laps: 1.Tim Buckwalter, 2.Billy Pauch Jr., 3.Doug Manmiller, 4.Jay Hartman, 5.Jeff Strunk, 6.Mike Bednar, 7.Mike Mahaney, 8.Larry Solomon, 9.Tim Iulg, 10.Dale Planck, 11.Frank Yankowski, 12.Brandon Grosso, 13.John Bockhorn, 14.Earl Paules, 15.Andy Haus, 16.Jason Miller, 17.Joey Thompson, 18.Kevin Graver Jr., 19.Joe Vaccaro, 20.Brad Brightbill, 21.Billy Pauch Sr., 22.Damon Paul, 23.Sam Piazza, 24.Kyle Lick, 25.Chris Graver, 26.Stephen Nederostek, 27.Frank Cozze, 28.Kenny Brightbill, 29.Rick Kirkendall.
DNQ: Ryan Krachun, Jason Esterly, Mike Vermuelen, Nick Baer, Wayne Weaver, Ray Nemeth, Matt Janisch.
Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600 Sprint Feature, 30 laps: 1.Billy Pauch Jr., 2.James Morris, 3.Tim Buckwalter, 4.Tommy Kunsman Jr., 5.Tony DiMattia, 6.Zach Bealer, 7.Brandon Azzalina, 8.Shelby Harper, 9.Eddie Strada, 10.Jacob Severn, 11.Jason Swavely, 12.Kyle Lick, 13.Heath Hehnly, 14.Jarid Kunkle, 15.Sam Kravitsky, 16.Jeff Hartman, 17.Joey Jarowicz, 18.Blaine Emery, 19.Matt Roselli, 20.Bobby Butler, 21.Jay Hartman, 22.Chris Stockham, 23.Jake Smith, 24.Stephen Reynolds, 25.Will Butler, 26.Taylor Troxel, 27.Billy Ney.
DNQ: Rob Adams, Kameron Morral, Mackenzie Harper, Jermain Godshall, Austin Quick, Eric Ankiewicz, Molly Chambers, Jeff Carman, Danny Buccafusca, Jordan Mohr, Shawn Rooney, Dave Dimaio, Doug Snyder, Nate Brinker, Aaron Bowes, Robert Hocker, Ryan Greth, Daniel Schumaker.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots Feature, 20 laps: 1.Brett Bieber, 2.Dylan Hoch, 3.Andrew Kreis, 4.John Gilroy, 5.Henry Anderson, 6.Mark Sensenig, 7.Travis Bieber, 8.Dave Carragahn, 9.Jeff Kemp, 10.Louden Reimert, 11.William Mohring, 12.Matt Miller, 13.Dave Galloway, 14.Anthony Raisner, 15.Taylor Schoenly, 16.Jordan Knepp, 17.Seth Spayd, 18.Kassidy Kreitz, 19.Simon Whitnell, 20.Dylan Swinehart, 21.Jackson Ring, 22.Dave Burns, 23.Dylan Steuer, 24.Joe Toth, 25.Kip Troesill, 26.Dave Morrell.
DNQ: Mike Sherman, Robert Schlenker, Blaire Schoenly, Taylor Santee, Dakota Kohler, Austin Silfee, Jake Bedell, Austin Stufflet, Tim Roeder, Steve Svanda, Lee Schantzenbach, Chris Kurtz, Erik Jones.
By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts&ref=br_tf