Duane Howard back in Victory Lane at Grandview Speedway

Photo by Rich Kepner No. 14 Paul Kline racing the 19 of Brett Kressley.

A lot of people thought we were down and out (after not winning for two weeks in a row),” said Duane Howard in victory lane on Saturday night at Grandview Speedway after winning his sixth NASCAR Whelen 358 Modified feature race of the season. Apparently Howard and his team were not down and out as Howard drove the Chad Sinon owned BPG Racing No. 4 from 16th starting spot to take the win in the Bechtelsville Car Wash/A&Z Furniture sponsored feature race. The win was worth $2750 to Howard including the TP Trailers bonus.

In addition Howard earned the VP Racing Fuels $150 product certificate and a $50 Hard Charger award from Bobby Gunther Walsh and sponsors making for a $2950 night.

Sean Merkel drove the Kochel Equipment No. 118 to a win in the 25-lap NASCAR Late Model feature race giving him his first win at Grandview since July, 2007. And Brett Kressley put the Kressley Auto & Truck Sales No.19K in victory lane for the fourth time this season in the 25-lap Sportsman feature race.

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Young Todd Smith, a recent Drexel University graduate, charged to the front at the drop of the green for the 28-car starting field in the 30-lap NASCAR 358 Modified and set the pace for 19 laps while eventual winner Duane Howard was working his way through the field from his 16th place starting spot. Smith was able to hold off challenges from Mike Laise, Don Norris, Kyle Weiss and Howard for a few laps. On the 20th lap Howard, a five time track champion, charged to the front in Turn 4 with Kyle Weiss close behind.

The final laps saw Howard able to build up a comfortable lead and the have it all wiped out when Doug Manmiller took a wild flip in Turn 1 (he was not injured) and the event was red flagged. On the restart Howard again took command and was able to hold off late race challenges by Weiss and Meme DeSantis to get the victory.

The win put Howard (Oley) back in front in the chase for the lucrative NASCAR 358 Modified title. Craig VonDohren, who led the standings going into the night of racing, finished 19th after a late race pit stop for a flat tire, and that put him 150 points behind Howard.

Second spot in the Modified feature went to Weiss (Hamburg) followed by DeSantis (Temple), Tommy Scheetz III (Boyertown) and Mike Gular (Green Lane).

Tom Miller led all the laps except the final two in the 25-lap NASCAR Sportsman feature race with Brett Kressley charging to the front from his 13th place starting spot to gain the lead on the 24th circuit of the one-third-mile, banked clay track.

Once in front the Orefield based racer was able to take his fourth win of the season comfortably ahead of Tom Miller (Barto) followed by Ronnie Krex (Hatfield), Paul Kline (Muhlenberg) and point leader Jared Umbenhauer (Richland). Kressley’s car stopped in Turn 1 after he won and Brett ran to victory lane while his car was being pushed because of a mechanical failure.

In the 25-lap feature for the Late Models veteran racer Sean Merkel put his Kochel Equipment No. 118 in front of the field at the start and led all the laps to win his first of the season and first since 2007.

A very happy Gilbertsville based racer said, “It feels great to be back in victory lane. This win will help us as we set up for the bigFirecracker 40 coming up on Saturday night.”

Merkel had been close to winning a feature a couple of times during the first half of the season. Second spot went to Chuck Schutz (Pottstown) coming from 12th starting spot. Schutz continues to lead the point chase for the Late Models as he chases his seventh title.

Kory Fleming (Milford, NJ) finished third followed by Ron Kline (Salford) making his first start of the season in the Late Models and Rick Todorow (Quakertown).

The 12-lap qualifying heats for the Modifieds were won by Jeff Strunk, Don Norris, Jon Kellner Sr. and Mike Laise. The 10-lap consolations for the Modifieds were won by Ray Swinehart and Doug Manmiller. The Bechtelsville Car Wash Cash Dash featuring the Modified heat winners in a five-lap race, paying $500 to win, was won by Jeff Strunk.

Late Model eight-lap qualifiers were won by Sam Schlosberg and Chuck Schultz. Sportsman eight-lap qualifying events were won by Guy Germano, Tom Miller and Erik Renninger with the consolation, an eight-lapper, was won by Craig Whitmoyer.