“I love coming down here to race. The fans are great, and where else can I go and race against my heroes, Kenny Brightbill and Billy Pauch?”
Those were the words of Dale Planck, spoken after Wednesday’s event at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA at the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
More specifically, those words were uttered as Planck stood in Savage61.com Victory Lane at the conclusion of the Sunoco USAC Championship SpeedSTR main event at the Berks County oval.
Simply put: on Wednesday, Planck beat his heroes.
The dirt Modified standout from Homer, NY ran side by side with polesitter Brad Brightbill for the first two revolutions, then utilized the high groove to forge ahead.
A couple of early cautions would be the only time the pace of the 30-lap SpeedSTR feature was slowed, as the final 28 circuits went clean and green.
With Planck roaring off into his own zip code, the battle for second was a good one. Fifth-starting Kenny Brightbill sling-shotted off the turn four banking to pass his son, Brad, for the runner-up spot on lap five.
It wasn’t long before Billy Pauch Sr. made his presence known, moving past Brad Brightbill then challenging Kenny’s Heavy Business No. 19 on the eighth tour. The pair of local dirt track legends waged a fiercely competitive duel for second over the duration of the race, with point leader Billy Pauch Jr. - who started eighth - moving up to dice with his dad and the Brightbills during the second half of the 30-lapper.
On Sunday night, July 28, it was Pauch Sr. defeating Kenny Brightbill to win the SpeedSTR main at Path Valley Speedway Park. Wednesday at the Action Track USA, however, it was Brightbill’s turn to beat Pauch...but this time, it was for second place.
Planck romped to the victory, beating K. Brightbill to the stripe by almost 2.5-seconds. The Pauch boys, Senior then Junior, finished third and fourth with B. Brightbill earning fifth place money.
With his runner-up effort, K. Brightbill reclaimed the point lead over Pauch Jr. Heading into the August 7 program, Brightbill carries a 20-point advantage over Billy Jr.
The drivers in positions five through nine in the point standings - Chuck Schutz, Paul Lotier Jr., Pauch Sr., Matt Janisch, and Rick Eckert - are separated by just 25 markers.
After a few stellar drives from the back of the pack in recent weeks, Collegeville’s Alex Bright finally found himself in what he termed a “decent starting spot” as the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Micro-Sprints lined up for their 20-lap feature race.
Bright rolled off the grid in sixth, moved up to third quickly, where his progress was temporarily stalled by a strong running Rhett Long. Kyle Lick, the polesitter, was scorching the progressively banked oval during the early laps, blasting around the top side as he set the pace.
“I turned my shocks as far as I could on one of the early cautions,” stated Bright afterward. “I thought we were done, because I thought we were too good too early. The car got looser as the race went on, but we were good enough to get it done tonight. I honestly think we’ve had a better car the last few weeks, but it was good enough tonight.”
Wheeling Rich Glosser’s No. 70G, Bright wrestled second away from Long on the fifth trip around the clay, then set his sights on the high flying Lick. A yellow flag with seven laps scored put Bright on the leader’s tail tank for the restart and the ARDC, USAC, and POWRi Midget jockey utilized his opportunity, taking the lead from Lick as they accelerated off turn two on the ninth tour.
Two-time winner Brian Carber was threading his way forward from the 11th starting position, eventually moving to third and beginning an assault on Lick for the runner-up spot. A caution period with five to go - brought about when point leader Jay Hartman spun while running fifth - permitted Carber to walk around the bottom of one and two, passing Lick for second as they launched onto the back chute.
Carber immediately switched lanes, running the top to catch Bright, then crossed back down to the bottom on the final circuit, momentarily sticking his nose in front as the duo charged off turn two and down the backstretch. Bright had the horses to move back in front, then held off Carber’s last-ditch attempt to dive under him off the final corner.
Bright flashed under the checkered flag by one-quarter of a second over Carber, with Lick settling for third. Molly Chambers ran an impressive race in the low groove to grab fourth-place cash, with Long dropping to fifth.
With Carber and Lick finishing second and third, respectively, and Jay Hartman rebounding from his spin to end up 12th, the 600cc point chase tightened up considerably.
A scary crash marred the Wingless 600cc main as Brett Michalski, from Pendel, rode out a wild flip that sent him high into the air and over the third turn wall. Michalski, a former feature winner at the Kutztown Fairgrounds who was making his first start of the season on the reconfigured oval, was unhurt after landing on the access lane that cars use to head back to the pits after exiting the speedway. On Thursday, Michalski reported that his neck was a little bit sore, but he was otherwise okay.
The All Star Slingshots took part in the Third Annual NAPA Auto Parts Dutch Classic, a 30-lap National Tour event, and there was enough drama created in the final pair of trips around the oval to fill a 50 or 100-lap notebook.
Travis Bieber led from the pole and appeared to have a stranglehold on the talented field, keeping his brother Brett and then three-time winner Mark Sensenig at bay for much of the distance. Three or four restarts spread throughout the race did nothing to deter his run to victory, as the older of the Bieber brothers would simply motor away from his pursuers each time the green flag was displayed. It was a restart with two to go, though, that changed the complexion of the event.
With 28 complete, Travis Bieber’s No. 114 came up lame as the field came back up to speed on a restart. A broken shock mount was the culprit, and Bieber slowed as Sensenig took advantage and zipped under him on the main straightaway.
With the front of the pack bunched up in turns one and two, Sensenig’s No. 7 suddenly snapped loose and spun after contact with Brett Bieber’s No. 32. Sensenig spun and rolled over at the exit of the second corner, ending his race.
The feature was red-flagged at this point (due to Sensenig’s flip). Since no laps were completed after the previous restart, Travis Bieber was eligible to go back to the lead. Action Track co-promoter Rich Tobias examined the broken shock mount on Bieber’s car, and proclaimed it fit to restart the race.
As the green reappeared, Travis immediately pulled up and out of the way, allowing his brother to snare the top spot. Brett Bieber then paced the final lap to win the Dutch Classic and, in the process, moved back into the point lead over Larry Raifsnider, who finished sixth. Bieber, from Oley, now leads Raifsnider by a mere six points.
Trailing B. Bieber across the finish line were Matt Massone, Danny Buccafusca, Cody Kline, and Dylan Hoch.
The final feature race of the night, for the winged 270cc Micro-Sprints, became Jarid Kunkle’s third triumph of the 2013 season at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA. With his victory, Kunkle jumped back into the 270cc point lead at the speedway.
Kunkle started third, fell to fourth initially, then charged forward, passing early leader Andrew Dietrich to snatch the top spot on the seventh lap. The defending track champion in the 270cc Class and Kutztown resident then checked out, easily maintaining a comfortable lead for the remainder of the 20-lap main.
Austin Bishop and Ross Perchak got together while tussling for third position with Steve Walters, with Bishop’s No. 11A ending up on its side in turns one and two.
Walters did not stop in the incident, and both Perchak and Bishop were able to restart in the rear of the field.
Bishop rocketed through the pack, taking third from Dietrich with six tours left to run. Perchak was right behind Bishop in fourth as they tried, unsuccessfully, to chase down second-place Bobby Butler over the final laps.
Butler was penalized two positions at the end of the race, with officials calling him for a jump on the second and final restart of the race. Kunkle notched the win over Bishop, with Perchak third and Butler falling to fourth after his penalty. Dietrich faded to fifth as the checkered fell to end the race.
Action Track Sidebites...
Dale Planck became the sixth different winner in SpeedSTR competition at the Action Track USA, out of the ten features run so far this season.
Alex Bright is the seventh driver to win a Wingless 600cc main event this year. The All Star Slingshots have also produced seven different winners, while the winged 270cc Micros have seen five drivers score feature victories. All of the weekly divisions have completed ten feature races thus far.
The NAPA Dutch Classic drew fields of 31 Wingless 600’s, 21 SpeedSTR’s, 36 All Star Slingshots, and 10 of the winged 270cc Micro-Sprints. The grand total was 98 racecars entering the night’s program which was run once again in front of a large crowd on a pleasant summer night.
NAPA representatives on hand were interviewed at intermission, and expressed satisfaction with their sponsorship of the All Star Slingshots and Dutch Classic. In fact, they are so pleased about the partnership with the Action Track USA that they plan to be even more involved next season.
Also taking in Wednesday’s event were Chesty and Linda Blackman, promoters of Butler Motor Speedway in Quincy, Michigan. The Blackmans were on their honeymoon and designated the Action Track as a “must see” motorsports facility after reading about it in Area Auto Racing News.
The All Star Slingshots and SpeedSTR’s took part in timed warm-up sessions. The Fast Five in timed hot laps for the Slingshots included Travis Bieber (14.411 seconds), Brett Bieber, Matt Massone, Mark Sensenig, and Cody Kline.
The SpeedSTR Fast Five were Billy Pauch Jr. (12.399 seconds), Mike Mahaney, Dale Planck, Freddie Rahmer Jr., and Brittany Wixon.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot heat race winners: Travis and Brett Bieber, and Matt Massone. Ray Nemeth captured the B-Main victory.
Winning the two heats for the Sunoco USAC Championship SpeedSTR’s were Planck and F. Rahmer Jr.
Jeff Hartman, Brian Carber, and Jay Hartman were victorious in heat races for the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Micro-Sprints. Brett Schoenly took the win in the B-Main.
The lone heat race for the 270cc Micros went to Andrew Dietrich.
The Isamoyer Towing/ K&A Automotive Hard Chargers of their respective features were Brian Montieth, SpeedSTR’s (19th to ninth); James Morris, Wingless 600’s (18th to seventh); Kurt Bettler, All Star Slingshots (24th to 15th); and Austin Bishop, winged 270cc Micro-Sprints (sixth to second).
Results from the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA
on the Kutztown Fairgrounds:
Sunoco USAC Championship SpeedSTR Feature, 30 laps: 1.Dale Planck, 2.Kenny Brightbill, 3.Billy Pauch Sr., 4.Billy Pauch Jr., 5.Brad Brightbill, 6.Mike Mahaney, 7.Freddie Rahmer Jr., 8.Jeff Strunk, 9.Brian Montieth, 10.Matt Janisch, 11.Chuck Schutz, 12.Wayne Weaver, 13.Craig Von Dohren, 14.Brandon Rahmer, 15.Mike Bednar, 16.Gary Huber, 17.Brittany Wixon, 18.John Kovatch, 19.Al Arrisher, 20.Mike Vermeulen, 21.Paul Lotier Jr.
Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 20 laps: 1.Alex Bright, 2.Brian Carber, 3.Kyle Lick, 4.Molly Chambers, 5.Rhett Long, 6.Jacob Severn, 7.James Morris, 8.Billy Pauch Jr., 9.Simon Egan, 10.Tom Schearer, 11.Brett Schoenly, 12.Jay Hartman, 13.Joe Kay, 14.Rick Perone, 15.Kayla Stoltzfus, 16.T.J. Lilly, 17.Billy Ney, 18.Jeff Hartman, 19.Chris Stockham, 20.Tony DiMattia, 21.Taylor Troxel, 22.Zach Fisher, 23.Greg Stevens, 24.Brett Michalski.
DNQ: Brett Peters, Shawn Rooney, Mark Conrad Jr., Billy Murphy, Rob Adams, Ron Bosga, Tim Carter.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots Dutch Classic, 30 laps: 1.Brett Bieber, 2.Matt Massone, 3.Danny Buccafusca, 4.Cody Kline, 5.Dylan Hoch, 6.Larry Raifsnider, 7.Alex Schoffstall, 8.Matt Miller, 9.Louden Reimert, 10.Travis Bieber, 11.Kyle Gruber, 12.Joe Nemeth, 13.Ray Nemeth, 14.Donny Hockman, 15.Kurt Bettler, 16.Dave McCullough, 17.Tayllor Schoenly, 18.Joe Bodenschatz, 19.Mark Sensenig, 20.Don Schmidt, 21.Erik Jones, 22.Dave Kreis, 23.Joe Howey, 24.Matt Mertz, 25.Chris Kurtz, 26.John Bockhorn, 27.Kalli Hartman.
DNQ: Dave Carraghan, Bill Darcy Jr., Damian Nemeth, Jordan Knepp, Bill Weaver, Jeff Kemp, BJ Antonio, Travis Gruber, David Morrell.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 20 laps: 1.Jarid Kunkle, 2.Austin Bishop, 3.Ross Perchak, 4.Bobby Butler, 5.Andrew Dietrich, 6.Steve Walters, 7.Richie Hartman, 8.Ronald Helmick, 9.Jeff Carman. DNS: Jenna Schostkewitz.