The JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA has been hosting events for just over three seasons, and the progressively banked oval on the Kutztown Fairgrounds has certainly seen its share of exciting races and close finishes in each of its three weekly divisions. But none of those oh-so-close battles for the checkered was as close as last Wednesday’s main event for the USAC All Pro SpeedSTRs.
In a true photo finish – and it’s a good thing that modern technology has produced electronic scoring for auto racing, because it was definitely needed to confirm the result – Billy Pauch Sr. nipped his son, Billy Jr., by inches to win his second straight 30-lap feature for the SpeedSTRs. The final margin of victory was 0.054-seconds!
The thrilling finish occurred on UGI Utilities/ Dig Safely 811 First Responder Night at the speedway. Joining Pauch Sr. in the winner’s circle were Sam Kravitsky (Hyper Racing 600 Sprint victor); Brett Bieber (NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots); and Jared Silfee (Junior Slingshots).
His two consecutive triumphs, combined with a runner-up finish on opening night, have propelled Pauch, the veteran from Frenchtown, NJ, to the SpeedSTR point lead after the year’s first three events at Action Track USA. He’s got a truck load of momentum heading into the June 1st Flyin’ Farmer 40, a $3,000 to win race for the SpeedSTRs. It’s also a race that Pauch won in 2013.
On the card with the SpeedSTRs this Wednesday will be the Hyper Racing 600 Sprints Powered by Hyper Fuel Injection Technology and the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots. Fans are encouraged to dress in their best farmer’s gear as a salute to the American Farmer, and the best dressed farmers/spectators will be photographed with the winner of the Flyin’ Farmer 40 in victory lane. The speedway will also welcome and recognize members of the FFA, and the Old Time Plowboys will be on hand with their beautifully restored antique tractors. Pit gates open at 4 p.m. and the grandstand opens at 5:00. Warm-ups begin at 6:15 with heat races set to start right around 7:00.
Last Wednesday’s SpeedSTR main kicked off with Earl Paules bolting to the early lead while Jeff Hartman nipped at his heels. The night’s quick timer, Steve Drevicki, sliced his way through an intense battle to run third on the 13th trip around the clay. He weaved his path to the front by passing Mike Bednar, Andy Haus, and John Bockhorn to gain the position as the initial 14 circuits went clean and green. After a quick yellow for a Damon Paul spin, Drevicki ducked under Hartman for second. The duo made slight contact as Drevicki went by, and Hartman made an incredible save after turning almost completely sideways as a result of the contact. He lost several positions but never spun and the race continued under green.
Paules now led Drevicki, although a restart with 16 laps in the books would significantly alter the complexion of the 30-lapper. Drevicki made a bonsai dive under Paules in turns three and four, but much to their surprise the lead pair were joined by Tim Buckwalter, who blasted into four even lower than Drevicki in an attempt to make a three-wide assault for the lead. Buckwalter could not keep his mount pinned to the bottom, however, and slid up and into Drevicki. The contact knocked Drevicki up and into Paules, who watched as Drevicki’s No. 19s went spinning over the top of his car and nearly flipped into the barrier lining the entrance/exit gate at the top of turn four.
While Buckwalter was able to drive away, he was sent to the rear of the field for initiating the contact. Drevicki was forced to retire due to the damage inflicted, but Paules was able to restart at the back of the pack.
The wild incident handed the top spot to Andy Haus, but he was not about to cruise to his first SpeedSTR victory because 11th starting Billy Pauch Sr. was now sitting in the runner-up slot and a strong running Mike Bednar, the defending National SpeedSTR Champion, was third. The trio engaged in an entertaining tussle for the lead sandwiched around a red flag with ten to go when Tom Mayberry and Dylan Hoch tumbled in the third turn.
After the green reappeared, Pauch finally wrestled the lead from Haus, and suddenly Billy Jr. became a factor as he slipped into second with just eight tours remaining. Even though Junior kept pace with his dad, it seemed as though the elder Pauch had enough in his Mike Heffner Motorsports, Lelands.com No. 27 to maintain control of the race.
Then he skated up the banking at the exit of turn four, allowing Billy Jr. to motor alongside on the bottom of the race track. Pauch Sr. pulled in front on the homestretch, and the yellow flag waved with two to go. Pauch Sr. held serve on the restart, but the caution flag flew again with just one lap left to run.
On the final trip around the oval, Pauch Sr. once again drifted up the track at the exit of turn four. Billy Jr. gassed his Wayne Subaru No. 1 under his dad’s mount, and the drag race to the checkered was on! As both cars flashed across the stripe side by side and inches apart, Pauch Sr. was shown as the winner on the electronic scoring monitor by a scant 0.054-seconds over his son. A photo confirming the victory appeared on the track’s Facebook page later in the evening (photo by PhilMar Photos), and it showed the nose of the No. 27 barely in front of Billy Jr. as they dashed under the checkered flag.
“I kind of slid myself there in four,” smiled the winner in his victory lane interview. “I didn’t want to go in high because I figured he’d slide me, so I went low and slid out to protect the outside at the exit of the corner. But it almost cost me…I thought I had him at the line, but I wasn’t sure until the last foot or two. The track was really good again tonight; it allowed me to come through traffic and get to the front,” said Pauch.
Steve Buckwalter made a late race charge to finish third, with Bednar fourth and Steve Nederostek rounding out the top five.
Wilkes Barre, Pa.’s Sam Kravitsky has visited victory lane at the Hamlin Speedway, but never at Action Track USA. The 16-year old changed that statistic on Wednesday by scoring his first win at AT USA in the Hyper Racing 600 Sprint main event. And he held off one of the best in the business, James Morris, to claim the victory.
Kravitsky’s night started early, as he became the first qualifier for the 25-lap feature by winning the Mad Scramble for those drivers who did not qualify the previous week. He ended up starting on the outside of the front row in the feature and jumped into the lead at the outset. He kept his Grasshopper Mowers No. 14 at the head of the pack by running the extreme high groove, pushing the cushion higher and higher in an effort to plant his right-rear tire in moist clay.
James Morris moved to second place early in the race, and it soon became a battle of which lane was better as Morris rumbled around the bottom – as low as he could possibly run – while Kravitsky rolled the very top of the speedway. Lap after exciting lap they raced side by side with room enough between them to fit two or three more competitors. Morris, utilizing the shortest route around the track, would nose ahead in the corners but Kravitsky accelerated off the banking and motored back in front on the straightaways.
During the mid-portion of the race, Morris actually cleared Kravitsky as they charged off the second corner and led a few tours before Kravitsky gathered enough steam to throttle back to the lead. Morris was not going to go away quietly though, and the contest raged once more with Morris tip-toeing around the bottom and Kravitsky up against the wall.
Roaring off turn four on the final revolution, Kravitsky streaked across the line to secure the triumph, beating Morris to the checkered by 0.292-seconds. Billy Pauch Jr. joined the fun at the head of the field for the last couple of laps, but had to be satisfied with a third place finish. Robbie Hocker and Josh Heckman completed the top five.
The Oley Jet, Brett Bieber, did not get off to the start he envisioned during the first two nights of racing at Action Track USA. Last Wednesday, however, the defending point champ put it all together to notch his first win of the season in the 20-lap main for the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots.
Bieber started sixth, threading his way forward as Joe Nemeth set the pace in the first half of the race. Bieber moved into the runner-up position by lap four, then stalked Nemeth for the next seven circuits. A double-file restart with nine to go saw Bieber launch into the top spot from the outside of the front row, but Nemeth gamely challenged the No. 32 from the inside lane. They ran side by side for three laps, with Bieber keeping the nose of his car just a little bit ahead of Nemeth.
Bieber eventually cleared Nemeth’s No. 10, moving in front with six to go and began to pull away. Dylan Hoch passed Nemeth for second with three trips remaining, but Bieber was firmly in command and went on to record the victory.
Hoch, Seth Spayd, Nemeth, and Travis Bieber finished second through fifth.
The year’s first appearance of the Junior Slingshots had Jared Silfee show the way early, but Cole Stangle zipped past him on a restart with one lap complete.
Stangle maintained a close but comfortable lead over the next several circuits. He got sideways in the middle of three and four with 11 laps scored, and Silfee capitalized, gassing his No. 11x around Stangle and back into the lead.
Silfee, from Saylorsburg, Pa., went on to win with an extremely disappointed Stangle finishing as the runner-up. Reece Nowatarski ran third for most of the race, while Joshua Allen and Joey Vaccaro finished fourth and fifth.
Action Track Sidebites…
First Responder Night presented by UGI Utilities and Dig Safely 811 drew a large crowd and 135 race cars to the facility located across the street from Kutztown University. The car counts included 33 USAC All Pro SpeedSTRs; a whopping 54 of the Hyper Racing 600 Sprints; 33 NAPA All Star Slingshots; and a nice field of 15 Junior Slingshots.
Steve Drevicki set fast time for the SpeedSTRs in the timed hot lap sessions, turning a lap at 11.926 seconds. Billy Pauch Jr., James Morris, Tim Iulg, and Steve Buckwalter made up the Fast Five in the timed warm-ups.
Jeff Hartman, John Bockhorn, and Earl Paules won heat races while Morris and Steve Nederostek captured the B-Main victories.
Sam Kravitsky’s great adventure began with a Mad Scramble triumph that sent him directly to the Hyper Racing 600 Sprint main event. Five heat races were needed for the large field, with wins going to Morris, Doug Snyder, Josh Heckman, Tommy Kunsman Jr., and Robbie Hocker. Brandon Heist and Michael Fauci won the two C-Mains, with Tim Buckwalter claiming the B-Main triumph.
Jared Silfee swept the Junior Slingshot races as he added a heat race victory to his feature winning effort.
Dylan Hoch, Alex Yankowski, and Joe Nemeth were victorious in the three heats for the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots. Chris Kurtz captured the B-Main win.
The Race Chasing for Fans Facebook Page, headed up by Mike Knappenberger, offered a bonus of $125 to the 600 Sprint driver who gained the most positions in the feature AND had a Race Chasing Fundraiser decal on his/her car. Austin Quick won the bonus money. Knappenberger is selling the decals at every race he attends; they can be purchased by racers and fans and race teams are encouraged to put the decal on their race cars to be eligible for bonus money at several events throughout the season. All of the money raised through the sale of the decals will be given out as bonus cash for the drivers.
A new group gathered inside the infield Fan Zone calls themselves “the Action Track Slider Society”. The group offered up a cash and contingency prize to the first driver who flipped (any division) on Wednesday. After a couple of unfortunate drivers declined the bonus, it went to Dylan Hoch after he tumbled in the SpeedSTR feature. For more information on this new group, search for the Action Track Slider Society’s Facebook page.
This Wednesday, come get your Midweek Motorsports Adrenaline Rush at the Flyin’ Farmer 40, presented by the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds. It’s also known as Slide Job City, and we’re gonna spray some clay at Action Track USA…where the Superstars come to race!
USAC All Pro SpeedSTR Feature, 30 laps: 1.Billy Pauch Sr., 2.Billy Pauch Jr., 3.Steve Buckwalter, 4.Mike Bednar, 5.Steve Nederostek, 6.Andy Haus, 7.James Morris, 8.Brad Brightbill, 9.Matt Janisch, 10.Louden Reimert, 11.Briggs Danner, 12.John Bockhorn, 13.Earl Paules, 14.Ryan Smith, 15.Frank Yankowski, 16.Jeff Hartman, 17.Tim Buckwalter, 18.Damon Paul, 19.Tom Mayberry, 20.Dylan Hoch, 21.Steve Drevicki, 22.Tim Iulg, 23.CJ Faison, 24.TJ Mayberry, 25.Keith Prutzman.
DNS: Jason Miller, Joe Mooney, Chuck Bowers, Joe Vaccaro, Eric Ankiewicz.
DNQ: Jay Hartman, Ray Nemeth, Phil Meisner.
Hyper Racing 600 Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Sam Kravitsky, 2.James Morris, 3.Billy Pauch Jr., 4.Robbie Hocker, 5.Josh Heckman, 6.Greg Stevens, 7.Eddie Strada, 8.Jay Hartman, 9.Bobby Butler, 10.Brandon Azzalina, 11.Tommy Kunsman Jr., 12.Kyle Lick, 13.Tim Buckwalter, 14.Jesse Maurer, 15.Austin Quick, 16.Jason Swavely, 17.Doug Snyder, 18.Drew Richmond, 19.Chad Sandt, 20.Jarid Kunkle, 21.Ryan Groff, 22.Joe Kay, 23.Jacob Severn, 24.Colin White, 25.Shelby Harper, 26.Molly Chambers, 27.Eric Heydenreich.
DNQ: John Vreeland, Jackson Ring, Scott Slater, Matt Roselli, Eric Whitby, Brandon Heist, Michael Fauci, Wayne Scott, Steve Bull, Mike Meyers, Joe Plunkett, Dylan Licklider, Rob Pajauis, Dan Leaper, Joel Smith, Nate Brinker, Cale Mutter, Nate Schumaker, Ryan Quackenbush, Don Colaluce, Jordan Mohr, Pat Bealer, Wayne Scott Jr., Jake Fox, Shane Linderman, Tim Bauer, Dan Schumaker.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots Feature, 20 laps: 1.Brett Bieber, 2.Dylan Hoch, 3.Seth Spayd, 4.Joe Nemeth, 5.Travis Bieber, 6.Austin Stufflet, 7.Alex Yankowski, 8.Dave Carraghan, 9.Chris Kurtz, 10.Dakota Kohler, 11.Henry Anderson, 12.Anthony Raisner, 13.Dave Burns, 14.Alan Selemba, 15.Jeff Kemp, 16.Taylor Schoenly, 17.Taylor Santee, 18.Dale Kober, 19.Nick Vincignera, 20.Matt Miller (57), 21.Nick DelCampo, 22.Erik Jones, 23.Jack Lewis, 24.Joe Toth, 25.Lee Schantzenbach, 26.Austin Silfee.
DNQ: Matt Miller (16m), Blaire Schoenly, Brianna James, Tim Roeder, Ryan Davey, John Arms, Zac Kistler.
Junior Slingshots Feature, 15 laps: 1.Jared Silfee, 2.Cole Stangle, 3.Reece Nowatarski, 4.Joshua Allen, 5.Joey Vaccaro, 6.Gavin Santee, 7.Logan Bauman, 8.Tyler Ulsh, 9.Tommy Stillo, 10.Tyler Banks, 11.Kyle Smith, 12.Nico Flammer, 13.Emily Flemming, 14.Austin Homan, 15.Junior Ankiewicz.
By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts
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Photo By Samantha Ray