Spending close to four hours on the road – one way, mind you – does not bother Mike Mahaney in the least.
“I don’t mind the long ride because I just love racing here,” he told the fans after winning his second USAC All Pro SpeedSTR feature of the season at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on Wednesday night.
“The competition is intense, Rich (Tobias) prepares a great track, and I really enjoy racing in front of these large crowds each week. I can’t be here (for the season finale) on Sunday, unfortunately, but I’ll definitely be back next year,” said the dirt Modified standout from Kings Ferry, NY.
Mahaney captured an exciting 30-lap All Pro Tour main for the SpeedSTRs during the annual Kutztown Fair Week Nationals, but it was the second feature of the evening that had the capacity crowd standing and applauding during a caution period with four laps remaining.
The Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprints Powered by Engler Injection took part in Wednesday’s Touch of Green Landscaping 600 Nationals, and the 60-lap feature became an instant classic, with many in attendance quickly proclaiming that “it was one of the best races I ever saw, anywhere!”
Pat Bealer has gained a reputation as a top-notch wheel man in 270cc Micro-Sprint competition. On Wednesday night, however, Bealer proved he was just as skilled behind the wheel of a wingless 600cc Sprinter as he emerged from a scintillating, six-car battle to win an incredibly entertaining main event.
In the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot feature, Louden Reimert of Oley, Pa., captured his second triumph of the season at Action Track USA.
Mahaney started on the outside of the front row for the 30-lap SpeedSTR test, and he bolted into the top spot on the opening lap. He and Matt Janisch, the TQ Midget ace from Nazareth, raced side by side for several laps, with Janisch sticking the nose of his No. 48 in front on a few occasions, only to have Mahaney battle back to reclaim the lead on the next revolution. Unfortunately for Janisch, he suffered a flat tire while the field circulated under caution with six circuits complete.
Tim Buckwalter then moved up to challenge Mahaney until Kyle Lick scooted past Buckwalter for the runner-up position on lap 13. Lick hounded Mahaney for the next few laps before he charged to the lead on a restart with 17 tours in the books.
With Lick firmly in command, attention turned to 11th starter Mike Bednar, whose No. 46 came to life in the second half of the event, as Bednar rocketed down the backstretch, then threw a slide job on Buckwalter to grab third place with nine to go.
A restart with seven trips remaining proved costly to Lick, as a broken shock prevented his No. L1 from taking off and the field took evasive action to get around his wounded car.
Lick’s misfortune allowed Mahaney to inherit the lead once again, with Bednar now hot on his heels. But Mahaney’s No. 33 was up to the task, holding on to record his second victory of the year at the Berks County oval. Bednar settled for a well deserved runner-up finish, with point leader Billy Pauch Jr. fending off his dad, Billy Sr. for third. Dale Planck rounded out the top five finishers.
The Touch of Green Landscaping 600 Sprint National is difficult to describe because all of the position swapping, slide job executing, three and four-wide racing among the top six or, at times, eight cars had to be seen to believe and to be truly appreciated. It was an amazing display by the wingless 600cc competitors, as there was very little contact between the top six cars, even though their pilots were using every inch of the speedway and running inches apart.
Jason Swavely, in Dave Bodine’s No. 99, and Pat Bealer wrestled for the lead in the early going, while Kyle Spence throttled his No. 44k right behind the two leaders.
Spence moved to second on lap 16, and Alex Bright, in the other Hyper Racing house car, blasted into fourth position around the time the race was one-third complete. At the halfway mark, it was Swavely, Spence, Bright, and Bealer in the top four spots.
The second half was simply insane; it was open wheel, mud-slinging mayhem at its very best. The top eight cars, driven by Swavely, Spence, Bright, Bealer, Robbie Hocker, Sam Kravitsky, James Morris, and Daniel Schumaker ran under a virtual blanket with all of them trading positions on a consistent basis.
Spence made numerous attempts to overtake Swavely for the lead, throwing huge sliders on the leader in turns one and two, only to have Swavely launch off the banking and drive back under him to re-assume the top spot. Bealer, meanwhile, was right there with the top two, as he remained committed to the low groove at both ends of the speedway. He had to stay in the gas to defend his position from Bright, but at the same time be wary of Spence, who repeatedly threaded the needle between Swavely and Bealer on the front chute as he intiated yet another attempt to execute a slide job on the race leader.
Bealer eventually succeeded in passing Spence for second, and his perseverance on the bottom finally paid off as he accelerated off the inside of turn two ahead of Swavely to snatch the lead on lap 56. A yellow flag with four to go meant that Bealer was scored as the leader just in time…had the caution appeared before the lap was scored, then Swavely would have gone back in front.
During the caution period, the crowd showed their appreciation, applauding the effort by the drivers and wishing the race was even longer than its designated distance of 60-laps.
As the green reappeared, Bealer took off and opened a comfortable advantage over Swavely, who how had to contend with Alex Bright for second place. On the final lap, a tangle in three and four messed up a good finish for Swavely and Morris, but it did not deter Pat Bealer from winning the biggest 600cc race of his career.
Bealer crossed the stripe in front of Alex Bright, and the last lap, final corner mishap between Swavely and Morris permitted Billy Pauch Jr. to claim third place money. Robbie Hocker wound up fourth and 26th starting Jermain Godshall completed the top five.
A total of 53 drivers signed in for wingless 600cc competition on Wednesday.
Louden Reimert passed three-time winner Chris Kurtz to take the lead with seven circuits remaining, then went on to win his second NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot feature of the season.
Reimert and Dylan Swinehart fought for the runner-up slot as Kurtz set the pace in the first half of the 20-lap event. Point leader and winner of the previous night’s Kutztown Komet 100, Brett Bieber, moved to third just before the halfway point.
Reimert muscled past Kurtz for the lead on a restart with seven to go and went on to win by just over a half-second. Kurtz held on for second place cash, and Dylan Hoch (who started 11th) passed Bieber late in the race to finish third. Bieber and Austin Silfee ended up fourth and fifth, respectively.
The season finale at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA takes place this Sunday, August 16. The Dick Tobias Classic, highlighted by a 75-lap main event for the USAC All Pro SpeedSTRs that will pay $5,000 to the winner, lowers the curtain on the 2015 racing season at the progressively banked oval located on the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
Joining the SpeedSTRs on Sunday will be the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprints Powered by Engler Injection and the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots. The point championships will be decided in all three of the weekly divisions, ratcheting up the intensity in three classes that are already earmarked by incredibly exciting wheel to wheel action. Warm-ups begin at 6:15 on Sunday evening, with qualifying heats immediately following the hot lap sessions.
Prior to Sunday’s finale, Club Wago presents their Summer Bash behind the grandstands, beginning at 1 p.m. There will be games, a slip n’ slide, prizes, giveaways, and a DJ will supply a musical background to the festivities. Racing related items, including a tail tank from Greg Hodnett’s Sprint Car, will be raffled off with all proceeds going to the family of Mike Bailey, who recently succumbed to medical issues while seated in his race car, waiting to take the green flag for a feature at Grandview Speedway.
Come for the Club Wago party and stay for the spine-tingling excitement of the Dick Tobias Classic this Sunday at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA…where the Superstars come to race!
USAC All Pro SpeedSTR Feature, 30 laps: 1.Mike Mahaney, 2.Mike Bednar, 3.Billy Pauch Jr., 4.Billy Pauch Sr., 5.Dale Planck, 6.Ryan Smith, 7.Jay Hartman, 8.Steven Nederostek, 9.John Bockhorn, 10.Brad Brightbill, 11.Frank Yankowski, 12.Kevin Graver Jr., 13.Skylar Sheriff, 14.Kris Graver, 15.Phil Meisner, 16.Andy Haus, 17.Earl Paules, 18.Tim Buckwalter, 19.Matt Janisch, 20.Kyle Lick, 21.Jared Umbenhauer, 22.Doug Manmiller, 23.Joe Vaccaro, 24.Bobby Trapper, 25.Jason Miller, 26.Kenny Brightbill.
Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprints Powered By Engler Injection – Touch of Green Landscaping 600 National, 60 laps: 1.Pat Bealer, 2.Alex Bright, 3.Billy Pauch Jr., 4.Robbie Hocker, 5.Jermain Godshall, 6.Sam Kravitsky, 7.Jacob Severn, 8.Jason Swavely, 9.Colin White, 10.Brandon Azzalina, 11.Kyle Lick, 12.Jarid Kunkle, 13.Tommy Kunsman Jr., 14.Wayne Scott, 15.James Morris, 16.Kyle Spence, 17.Eric Heydenreich, 18.Tim Buckwalter, 19.Dan Schumaker, 20.Mark Manieri, 21.Danny Buccafusca, 22.Doug Snyder, 23.Will Butler, 24.Kameron Morral, 25.Jay Hartman, 26.Joey Jarowicz.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot Feature, 20 laps: 1.Louden Reimert, 2.Chris Kurtz, 3.Dylan Hoch, 4.Brett Bieber, 5.Austin Silfee, 6.Dylan Swinehart, 7.Erik Jones, 8.Austin Stufflet, 9.Jeff Kemp, 10.Anthony Raisner, 11.Dave Carraghan, 12.Seth Spayd, 13.Dakota Kohler, 14.Kassidy Kreitz, 15.Travis Bieber, 16.Steve Svanda, 17.Jordan Knepp, 18.Alex Yankowski, 19.Dave Galloway, 20.Cody Kohler, 21.Jim Dormus, 22.Madyson Pacheco, 23.Kyle Smith, 24.Lee Schantzenbach, 25.Ryan Suchon, 26.Joe Toth, 27.Matt Miller.
By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts&ref=br_tf