There was as much relief as joy on the face of Jeff Hartman as he stood proudly in victory lane on Wednesday night. Hartman had just captured the Flying Farmer 40 for the USAC All Pro SpeedSTRs at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds; the victory was his first in a SpeedSTR at Action Track USA and the first win of any kind after a few rough seasons for the driver from Belle Meade, NJ.
“I used to count the number of wins we had compared to the number of races we’d run,” noted the three-time 600 Sprint champion when the track was known as Kutztown Fair Speedway. “But lately we’ve been counting the number of races without a win, and I was starting to wonder if I’d ever win again. So this feels really, really good,” said Hartman.
Rita’s Italian Ice presented the fourth running of the Flying Farmer 40 for the SpeedSTRs, but they were not the only division on Wednesday’s program that produced a fantastic car count and another packed grandstand. Tim Buckwalter of Douglassville, Pa. registered his second victory of the young season in the Hyper Racing 600 Sprints Powered by Hyper Fuel Injection Technology, and Travis Bieber, from Oley Pa., took over the point lead by winning the 20-lap main for the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots.
This Wednesday, June 8, is Armed Forces Night at the Speedway. Members of the military showing a valid I.D. will be admitted free. It’s also “A Night at the Races with Weaknecht Archery”, featuring special displays and crossbow target shooting along with prizes and the Moonshine Camo apparel trailer to whet the appetites of racing fans (drivers and crew members, too) who are also avid hunters. On the race track, the SpeedSTRs will be joined by the 600 Sprints, All Star Slingshots, and the year’s second appearance of the Junior Slingshots. Pit gates open at 4 p.m., grandstand gates at 5:00. Warm-ups get underway at 6:15 and the first heat race goes green at 7 p.m.
The Rita’s Italian Ice Flying Farmer 40 got underway with Phil Meisner breaking into the early lead. Earl Paules sliced his way from fourth to second on the opening trip around the oval, and soon Tim Iulg entered the picture as he battled with Meisner and Paules in a three-car tussle for the top spot.
On a restart with four circuits in the books, Iulg threaded the needle between Paules and Meisner to snatch the lead. As Iulg set the pace, the crowd kept an eye on Steve Drevicki and Billy Pauch Jr. as the pair of young chargers navigated a fast path toward the head of the pack. Jeff Hartman was hot on their heels, and he passed Pauch Jr. for fourth as Drevicki slipped past Meisner for the runner-up position on lap ten.
It was Hartman who continued to weave his way forward, methodically working his way into second and then wrestling the lead away from Iulg after a few laps of slide job throwing, position swapping action. Pauch Jr. went by Iulg for second place just before the halfway point. The halfway point also marked the presence of Tim Buckwalter, who hopped into Joe Vaccaro’s No. 53 for the feature after his No. 7L suffered mechanical ills in qualifying, as Timmy moved into the top five. Buckwalter took the initial green in the 27th starting position.
The second half of the race was highlighted by a terrific battle for the top spot between Jeff Hartman and Billy Pauch Jr. The lead changed (officially) on several occasions, and there were many more instances where Pauch would attempt to slide Hartman in turns three and four but just couldn’t clear the leader after drawing alongside entering the corner. Hartman got through one and two a bit better than Pauch, but Pauch’s No. 1 seemed to work better than Hartman’s No. 026 in three and four. As the race wore on, Pauch was able to pull in front for a few laps but Hartman came roaring back and reclaimed the lead on the few occasions that Pauch was able to get by him.
On the final trip around the clay, Pauch tried once more to dive low, then slide up in front of Hartman in three and four. But Hartman was ready and didn’ t waver; he kept his right foot planted on the throttle and drove around Pauch to score the $3,000 triumph by three-quarters of a second.
Buckwalter wound up third in the Vaccaro machine, while Mike Bednar came from the rear after an early race incident to finish fourth. Paules completed the top five.
At the outset of the Hyper Racing 600 Sprint main, Joe Kay raced past Ryan Quackenbush to grab the early lead. Fourth starting Jason Swavely drove Dave Bodine’s No. 99 into the runner-up spot and James Morris blasted to third in the first five circuits. Kay continued to lead as the 25-lap race neared its halfway mark, and a yellow flag slow down period with 11 laps scored had Kay in front of Swavely, Morris, eighth-starter Tim Buckwalter, and Billy Pauch Jr. who rolled off the starting grid in 11th.
On the restart, it was the top five cars under a blanket in turns one and two as Buckwalter slid up in front of Swavely after Swavely had nosed ahead of Kay for the lead! Morris and Pauch Jr. were also in the mix, but the race steadily turned into a duel for the win between Buckwalter and Swavely, who executed sliders on one another for several laps before Buckwalter opened a lead of a few car lengths. A caution period with ten to go gave Swavely another opportunity to attack, and he made the most of it. He and Buckwalter went to Slide Job City, where they were joined by Pauch until his No. 91s suddenly slowed and pulled off the track.
Buckwalter again gained the advantage over Swavely, and that’s the way they would finish as Buckwalter notched his second 600 Sprint victory of the season to go with his opening night Meitzler Memorial win. Eddie Strada, who rode the homestretch wall in his heat race and severely damaged the Russ Thornton No. 36D, rebounded with a 28th to third romp in the feature. Kay, who flipped in warm-ups to start his night, finished an impressive fourth while Morris held on for a fifth place effort.
A few weeks ago, Travis Bieber finished runner-up to Dylan Hoch in the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot feature. On May 25th, brother Brett Bieber recorded his first Action Track USA victory of the season. But last Wednesday belonged to the older of the Bieber brothers as he rumbled to victory after a few years of near misses, break downs while leading or in contention for the win, and just plain hard luck.
Lady Luck was all smiles on Wednesday, though, as Travis took the green from the outside of row three, maneuvered through thick traffic in the early laps, then muscled his way past Dave Carraghan for the lead on lap six. Anthony Raisner, in the Hoch Racing No. 35x, moved into the runner-up slot on the eighth tour and looked as though he might have something for the leader. But Travis Bieber had his No. 114 perking like a champ on this night, and Raisner, despite having a number of restarts to challenge Bieber, could not muster a serious bid and Travis went on to win by just over a half-second.
Raisner wound up second and Cole Stangle ran a great race to finish third. Dylan Hoch and Austin Stufflet, who has not finished outside the top six in the four features run this season, completed the top five.
Action Track Sidebites…
With the antique tractors of the Old Time Plowboys lining victory lane after each main event, the Rita’s Italian Ice Flying Farmer 40 drew 32 SpeedSTRs, 51 Hyper Racing 600 Sprints, and a whopping 41 of the All Star Slingshots. The grand total was 124 race cars, tying opening night for the highest total car count of the season (only the weekly three divisions included in count).
Billy Pauch Jr. turned a lap of 11.859-seconds to earn the number one qualifying spot in the Timed Hot Lap sessions for the SpeedSTRs. Mike Bednar was second quickest, with Tim Buckwalter, Matt Janisch, and Earl Paules rounding out the Fast Five in timed warm-ups. Pauch Jr. and Bednar transferred directly to the main event as a result of being the two quickest drivers.
The three SpeedSTR heats were captured by Jeff Hartman, Paules, and Steve Drevicki. Billy Pauch Sr. and Ray Nemeth won the two B-Mains.
John Vreeland triumphed in the Mad Scramble (for drivers who did not qualify the previous week) for the 600 Sprints. The Scramble featured a three-wide battle for the win that went right down to the wire, as Vreeland nipped Brandon Heist and Tyler Brehm with the leaders crossing the stripe in three abreast fashion. His victory enabled Vreeland to qualify for the Hyper Racing 600 Sprint main, while the second through 11th finishers received valuable contingency prizes.
Eric Heydenreich, Buckwalter, Kay, Pauch Jr., and Robbie Hocker were victorious in the 600 Sprint heat races.
A pair of C-Mains were captured by Jesse Maurer and Will Butler. The B-Main went to Steve Bull.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot qualifying heats were won by Stufflet, Austin Silfee, Carraghan, and Stangle. Dylan Hoch and Chris Kurtz won the Slingshot B-Mains.
Mike Knappenberger of the Race Chasing for Fans Facebook page, the Over the Hill Gang in Turn Four, and James Gollub combined to offer cash bonuses to the highest finishing driver in each feature whose car carries a Race Chasing Fundraiser decal. Billy Pauch Jr. got the SpeedSTR bonus, Eddie Strada received it after his run in the 600 Sprint main, and both Travis Bieber and Anthony Raisner were awarded the bonus money after the Slingshot feature.
The Slider Society also had some cash bonuses posted for drivers who could race their way from the eighth row (or worse) into the top five in their respective main events. The Society only reported one winner, Eddie Strada, for his effort in the 600 Sprint feature.
Come out and get your Midweek Motorsports Adrenaline Rush this Wednesday, June 8, on Armed Forces Night and “A Night at the Races with Weaknecht Archery”! We’ll spray some clay and head to Slide Job City at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds…where the Superstars come to race!
USAC All Pro SpeedSTRs Flying Farmer 40: 1.Jeff Hartman, 2.Billy Pauch Jr., 3.Tim Buckwalter, 4.Mike Bednar, 5.Earl Paules, 6.Matt Janisch, 7.Tim Iulg, 8.Ryan Smith, 9.Andy Haus, 10.Steve Drevicki, 11.Briggs Danner, 12.TJ Mayberry, 13.Jason Miller, 14.Billy Pauch Sr., 15.Joe Mooney, 16.Frank Yankowski, 17.John Bockhorn, 18.Louden Reimert, 19.Phil Meisner, 20.Kenny Brightbill, 21.Steve Nederostek, 22.Tom Mayberry, 23.Brad Brightbill, 24.James Morris, 25.Doug Manmiller, 26.Damon Paul, 27.Ray Nemeth.
DNS: Chuck Bowers, Dylan Hoch, Tyler Brehm.
DNQ: Joe Vaccaro, Keith Prutzman.
Hyper Racing 600 Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Tim Buckwalter, 2.Jason Swavely, 3.Eddie Strada, 4.Joe Kay, 5.James Morris, 6.Jay Hartman, 7.Rob Pajauis, 8.Ryan Quackenbush, 9.Brian Carber, 10.Austin Quick, 11.John Vreeland, 12.Jesse Maurer, 13.Jarid Kunkle, 14.Shelby Harper, 15.Steve Bull, 16.Tommy Kunsman Jr., 17.Robbie Hocker, 18.Tyler Brehm, 19.Josh Heckman, 20.Billy Pauch Jr., 21.Jacob Severn, 22.Eric Heydenreich, 23.Greg Stevens, 24.Bobby Butler, 25.Doug Snyder, 26.Brandon Azzalina, 27.Brandon Heist, 28.Sam Kravitsky, 29.Devin Gundrum.
DNQ: Nate Brinker, Jordyn Mohr, JT Brotosky, Molly Chambers, Dan Leaper, Will Butler, Danny Buccafusca, Eric Whitby, Brooklyn Gable, Matt Roselli, Johnny Smith, Dan Schumaker, Joe Plunkett, Colin White, Mike Meyers, Mikey Smith, Tim Bauer, Scott Slater, Shane Linderman, Steve Reynolds, Don Colaluce, Kyle Lick.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots Feature, 20 laps: 1.Travis Bieber, 2.Anthony Raisner, 3.Cole Stangle, 4.Dylan Hoch, 5.Austin Stufflet, 6.Matt Miller (16m), 7.Chris Kurtz, 8.Dave Burns, 9.Dale Kober, 10.Kurt Bettler, 11.Jeff Kemp, 12.Chuck Whary, 13.Blaire Schoenly, 14.Joey Vaccaro, 15.Alex Yankowski, 16.Nick DelCampo, 17.Erik Jones, 18.Dave Carraghan, 19.Brett Bieber, 20.Henry Anderson, 21.Ryan Davey, 22.Austin Silfee, 23.Lee Schantzenbach, 24.Seth Spayd, 25.Matt Miller (57), 26.Dakota Kohler.
DNQ: Jordan Knepp, Matt Henneforth, Taylor Santee, Joe Toth, John Arms, Dallas Schott, Joe Nemeth, Tim Roeder, Nick Vincignera, Jack Lewis, Zac Kisler, Taylor Schoenly, Jan Zollers, Bridget Conti, Dennis Garl.
By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts
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Photo By Samantha Ray