Champions were crowned before a capacity crowd on Sunday, August 16, as the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA lowered the curtain on its 2015 racing season at the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
Some fantastic racing took place before the point champions could be recognized, with Billy Pauch Jr. pulling off the biggest win of the night as he captured the 75-lap Dick Tobias Classic for the USAC All Pro SpeedSTRs. The victory was worth $5,000 to Pauch, who clinched his second consecutive point title by winning the Classic.
The Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprints, Powered by Engler Injection, also had a driver secure the championship by virtue of winning the final race of the season as Tim Buckwalter forged a narrow victory over the driver he was battling for the title, Brandon Azzalina.
Chris Kurtz registered his fourth triumph of the year in the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot main event, but it was Brett Bieber who emerged as the point champ.
The 75-lap Dick Tobias Classic was just that as the USAC All Pro SpeedSTRs fought tooth-and-nail for every position on each trip around the progressively banked oval.
Kevin Graver Jr. set the pace in the early laps, with Ryan Smith and Kenny Brightbill mixing it up for the runner-up spot. Smith finally cleared Brightbill’s No. 19 and moved in on the race leader, challenging Graver in a side by side duel for several circuits. Andy Haus took third from Brightbill and ran there until Billy Pauch Jr. made his presence known, taking the position from Haus on lap 31.
A scheduled fuel stop with 40 laps complete allowed the teams to make whatever changes they wanted, as long as the adjustments were completed by the time the ten minute time limit expired.
As the race went back to green, Smith had his No. 97x wound up on the outside, powering around Graver (who led the first 40 tours) to take command as lap 42 was scored.
Soon it was Pauch Jr.’s turn to swap the lead with Smith as the duo traded slide jobs on a few occasions before Pauch Jr. secured the top spot. Tim Buckwalter, who rolled off the starting grid in seventh, slipped past Smith for second on lap 49.
Now it was time for another edition of the Billy and Timmy show, as Pauch Jr. and Buckwalter were set to battle for the win as they had on numerous occasions during the 2015 season.
Buckwalter threw a slider on Pauch in turns one and two on a restart with 15 to go, grabbing a temporary hold on the lead. Pauch returned the favor with 12 laps remaining, sliding Buckwalter for the top spot on another restart.
From that point on, Pauch Jr. was in control, although he could not totally shake Buckwalter. The Frenchtown, NJ ace maintained a lead of about three to four car lengths, winning by almost a half-second over Buckwalter. Smith was third with Graver Jr. and Brad Brightbill rounding out the top five.
“My dad and Kenny Brightbill battled one another for many years,” grinned Pauch Jr. in victory lane. “And I told Timmy that we’re both young enough yet that we’ll still be battling each other 20 years from now, just like my dad and Kenny.”
The win was Pauch Jr.’s third of the season but his first since June 10 in SpeedSTR competition.
The highly competitive SpeedSTR feature was a tough act to follow, but the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprints, Powered by Engler Injection, did their very best to keep the large crowd on the edge of their seats.
Brandon Azzalina carried a slim five point lead over Tim Buckwalter as they headed into the season finale, with Billy Pauch Jr. still having a mathematical chance at the title as well. And Hollywood could not have written a better, more appropriate script to carry out this intense battle for the championship.
Azzalina and Buckwalter started seventh and fifth, respectively, in the 25-lap main event. They quickly moved up to join the party at the front of the pack, with Azzalina passing Buckwalter in the early going.
The first 13 laps of the main went clean and green, with James Morris snatching the lead from Jordan Mohr on the third revolution. Billy Pauch Jr., looking for the SpeedSTR/Wingless 600 sweep, roared into third on the ninth circuit, passing Jay Hartman for that position.
When the yellow flag appeared at the halfway point, Morris was leading over Pauch Jr., Azzalina, Buckwalter, and Jay Hartman. As the race went back to green, however, the drivers at the front of the field went four-wide for the top spot. Buckwalter authored an incredible move to take the lead, darting down from the top of the turn two banking to slice his way between Morris and Pauch with Azzalina left behind in fourth.
With Buckwalter in front, it was time for a three-car, three-wide tussle for the runner-up slot between Azzalina, Morris, and Pauch Jr. Azzalina grabbed second but gave it back one lap later as Morris somehow threaded the needle in turn two, charging through an opening the size of a key hole between Azzalina and Pauch.
Azzalina moved back into second with two to go, passing Morris then setting sail after the leader.
While the Saylorsburg wheel-twister closed the gap on Buckwalter with one lap left to run, Buckwalter was able to hold him off to win the race and the championship by 0.309-seconds. Morris finished third with Pauch Jr. a close fourth and Jay Hartman wound up fifth.
Douglassville’s Buckwalter ended up winning the title by 20 points over Azzalina. It was Buckwalter’s fourth Wingless 600cc victory of the campaign and he gave all the credit for his wins and the title to car owner Barry Greth. “He works his butt off during the week to have this car ready and to make it fast,” noted Buckwalter. “And with my TSL shock package on it, we were able to have a great year here.”
Jason Swavely was the Pioneer Pole Building Hard Charger of the race, clawing his way from 24th starting position to a tenth place finish.
Brett Bieber had the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot point title locked up by the time the Kutztown Fair ended on Saturday. He actually clinched the title on Wednesday night, taking away any pressure and enabling him to just “show up, race and have some fun,” according to the newly crowned champion from Oley, PA.
He was actually cheering for brother Travis, who started on the pole and ran side by side with Matt Miller for the top spot for the first three revolutions. Travis Bieber eventually moved ahead and proceeded to lead until calamity struck on a restart with eight laps complete. The throttle linkage on Bieber’s No. 114 broke and he slowed dramatically, handing the lead to Chris Kurtz.
Kurtz, who hails from Saylorsburg, drove to his fourth triumph of the season with Seth Spayd ending up in second (his best finish of the year). Dylan Swinehart, a two-time winner at Action Track USA this year, settled for third place money ahead of Dylan Hoch and Miller.
Action Track Sidebites…
There were 31 USAC SpeedSTRs in attendance on Sunday, while the wingless 600’s pulled in a stellar field of 40. The All Star Slingshot entries totalled 38 for a grand total of 109 race cars among the three divisions.
Action Track USA co-promoters Doug Rose and Rich Tobias recognized and thanked their staff at intermission, introducing each one to the crowd after a group photo was taken. They also saluted the SpeedSTR drivers who qualified for the Dick Tobias Classic, handing out medals to each driver and introducing them one by one to the crowd. Rose and Tobias gave similar recognition to the All Star Slingshot drivers at the Kutztown Komet 100 last Tuesday and for the wingless 600cc drivers before their Touch of Green Landscaping Wingless 600cc Fair Nationals on Wednesday, August 12.
Club Wago held their Summer Bash at the track on Sunday afternoon and the goal of the event was to raise funds (through raffles of racing related items) for the family of Mike Bailey, who passed away in his race car after being stricken by medical issues at Grandview Speedway on July 28. The Summer Bash raised more than $1,000 for Bailey’s family and the money was presented to them at intermission on Sunday night.
NAPA of Kutztown conducted a Most Popular Driver contest at the speedway this season. For a donation of $1.00, fans could vote for their favorite driver at Action Track USA. The donations went to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. When all the votes were cast, SpeedSTR competitor Kenny Brightbill received the highest number of tallies to become the 2015 Most Popular Driver at Action Track USA. Brightbill was presented with a Most Popular Driver plaque on Sunday evening as part of the intermission activities.
Mary Tobias, the widow of the late, great Dick “Toby” Tobias, was on hand and presented a special winner’s ring to Billy Pauch Jr. after his victory in the Tobias Classic.
The SpeedSTRs will compete in several All Pro Tour events in the coming weeks, racing at tracks such as Thunder Mountain and Five Mile Point in NY, along with Pennsylvania’s Penn Can, Linda’s, and Grandview Speedway. They will also appear at New Egypt, NJ on October 31 before joining the wingless 600cc Sprints and the All Star and Junior Slingshots at Grandview’s Fall Jamboree on Sunday, November 1.
The JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA will begin its fourth season of mind blowing competition in May of 2016. The staff and management wishes to thank all the race teams, marketing partners, and spectators who made 2015 a very special season.
USAC All Pro SpeedSTR Feature, Dick Tobias Classic, 75 laps: 1.Billy Pauch Jr., 2.Tim Buckwalter, 3.Ryan Smith, 4.Kevin Graver Jr., 5.Brad Brightbill, 6.Steven Nederostek, 7.Andy Haus, 8.Kenny Brightbill, 9.Billy Pauch Sr., 10.Matt Janisch, 11.Jeff Strunk, 12.John Bockhorn, 13.Skylar Sheriff, 14.Mike Bednar, 15.Kris Graver, 16.Jason Miller, 17.Tyler Dipple, 18.Damon Paul, 19.Doug Manmiller, 20.Andy Bachetti, 21.Gary Huber, 22.Earl Paules, 23.Frank Yankowski, 24.Joey Thompson, 25.Jay Hartman, 26.Rick Kirkendall, 27.Joe Vaccaro. DNS: Wayne Weaver, Nick Baer.
DNQ: Kyle Lick, Mike Vermuelen.
Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Tim Buckwalter, 2.Brandon Azzalina, 3.James Morris, 4.Billy Pauch Jr., 5.Jay Hartman, 6.Eddie Strada, 7.Tommy Kunsman Jr., 8.Robbie Hocker, 9.Danny Buccafusca, 10.Jason Swavely, 11.Jeff Hartman, 12.Will Butler, 13.Kyle Lick, 14.Mick D’Agostino, 15.Doug Snyder, 16.Jacob Severn, 17.Dan Schumaker, 18.Joey Jarowicz, 19.Jermain Godshall, 20.Jon Keller, 21.Jack Conover, 22.Joe Kay, 23.Colin White, 24.Nate Brinker, 25.Alex Bright, 26.Justin Schraden, 27.Jordan Mohr, 28.Jarid Kunkle.
DNQ: Dave Dimaio, Aaron Bowes, Tanner Gray, Dan Leaper, Louie Horvath, Cale Mutter, Hunter James, Carmen Leggio, Patrick Ely, Jeff Weaver, Rebecca LaMothe, Joe Plunkett.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot Feature, 20 laps: 1.Chris Kurtz, 2.Seth Spayd, 3.Dylan Swinehart, 4.Dylan Hoch, 5.Matt Miller, 6.Austin Stufflet, 7.Erik Jones, 8.Kassidy Kreitz, 9.Tim Roeder, 10.Jeff Kemp, 11.Dave Carraghan, 12.Joe Nemeth, 13.Taylor Schoenly, 14.Anthony Raisner, 15.Alex Yankowski, 16.Austin Silfee, 17.Brett Bieber, 18.Dave Galloway, 19.Jake Bedell, 20.Jordan Knepp, 21.Louden Reimert, 22.Dave Burns, 23.Cody Kohler, 24.Travis Bieber, 25.William Mohring, 26.Nick Delcampo.
DNQ: Mike Toth, Steve Svanda, Dakota Kohler, Aidan Svanda, Lindsey Garl, Joe Toth, Lee Schantzenbach, Dave Morrell, Blaire Schoenly, John Gilroy, Joey Vaccaro, Scott Solt.
By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts&ref=br_tf