A couple of USAC Sprint Car aces entered Tuesday night’s event at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA in Kutztown, and that may have provided some motivation for the other 103 drivers to get “up on the wheel” because the racing was simply terrific in all four divisions.
With 2012 AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Champion Bryan Clauson and Kevin Thomas Jr. - a three-time winner this season on USAC’s National Sprint Car Tour - in the field, two drivers from the local region had their “elbows up” to notch big victories in the open cockpit divisions on Tuesday.
Billy Pauch Sr. passed Clauson for the lead, then went on to win the Flyin’ Farmer 40 for the Sunoco USAC Championship SpeedSTR’s. Pauch, from Frenchtown, NJ, earned $3,000 for the triumph in a race that paid tribute to the late, great Tommy Hinnershitz of Oley.Jason VanDoren captured a hotly contested 20-lap main event for the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Micro-Sprints. VanDoren, a former track champion at the Kutztown Fairgrounds, narrowly defeated James Morris and Kyle Lick in the closest three-car finish ever seen at the Berks County oval.
Brett Bieber of Oley scored his first feature win on the reconfigured Action Track USA when he beat Larry Raifsnider to the checkered flag in the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot main event.
Third generation driver Dylan Swinehart ran away with the Junior Slingshot feature race. Swinehart led all the way in the 20-lap main for the younger Slingshot racers.
“These cars are a handful; I’m wore out,” revealed SpeedSTR victor Billy Pauch after the Flyin’ Farmer 40 on Tuesday evening. “Tell you what, though...the track crew did a helluva job tonight; this track was really good. We could run the top and the bottom, and that makes for an exciting race,” said Pauch.
Polesitter Dale Planck set the pace as the initial ten circuits ran caution free on the progressively banked quarter-mile oval. Brad Brightbill flipped on the homestrech, just past the flagstand, causing a red flag with ten laps down.
On the restart, Clauson, from Noblesville, IN, powered to the front as Kenny Brightbill, Pauch, and Chuck Schutz navigated their way forward and into the top five.
Brightbill and Schutz tangled in turn two at the halfway mark. Both were able to continue and restarted at the rear of the field.
Pauch slipped past Planck to move into the runner-up spot as the race went back to green. He immediately began his assault on race leader Clauson, working the low groove as Clauson kept his No. 21 planted in the outside lane. The duo ran side-by-side until lap 25, when Pauch forged ahead as they hit the start/finish line. Clauson hung tough for another half-lap until Pauch was finally able to clear him and put his Sunoco No. 9 alone out front.
The final 15 tours were highlighted by incredible two and three-wide action behind the leaders, as Brightbill charged through the pack, utilizing the high groove to propel his No. 19 to the third position. Craig Von Dohren, Planck, and the Rahmer brothers, Freddie Jr. and Brandon, joined Brightbill in a crowd pleasing battle that unfortunately saw the Rahmers get together in turn two with three to go. Both drivers were forced to retire as a result of the incident.
Pauch recorded his first SpeedSTR triumph at the Action Track USA, beating Clauson to the stripe by 0.736-seconds. Brightbill rebounded to finish third - much to the delight of the capacity crowd. Planck settled for fourth and Von Dohren crossed the line in fifth.
Jason VanDoren is racing less these days, opting to spend most of his free time helping his son, Tanner, develop as a Quarter-Midget driver. On Tuesday, however, VanDoren made (what turned out to be) the wise decision to get back behind the wheel of a wingless 600cc Micro-Sprint, as he dusted off the Moose’s LZ Bar & Grill No. 22 and drove it to a thrilling victory in the Pioneer Pole Building 20-lap main event at the Action Track USA.
VanDoren darted from his pole position starting spot to lead the early laps, but it was fourth-starter Kyle Lick who had the spectators buzzing as he rode the cushion to challenge Tony DiMattia for the runner-up spot. Right behind that pair, another wheel-to-wheel contest ensued for fourth between James Morris and Joe Kay.
Lick secured second, then set his sights on race leader VanDoren. Executing a nice slide job in turns one and two, Lick snatched the top spot with eight trips remaining and Morris motored up to VanDoren’s tail tank as they battled for second.
A caution period with three to go set the stage for what would be a scintillating finish. On the restart, VanDoren gunned his car to the bottom in one and two, edging alongside Lick, who remained committed to running the top. As they blasted down the backstretch, VanDoren muscled his way past Lick’s No. 99 and back into the lead, with Morris now joining the lead pair in a three-car battle royale for the win.
Racing off turn four and headed for the checkered, Lick closed on VanDoren and Morris tried to take advantage of some daylight on the low side. The threesome charged to the finish line with VanDoren ahead of Morris by inches and Lick right behind them in third. The margin of victory for VanDoren was a scant 0.038-seconds, with Lick trailing them by just 0.262-seconds.Brian Carber finished fourth and the previous Wednesday’s winner, Jay Hartman, claimed fifth-place money.
Defending track champion and two-time National Slingshot king Brett Bieber shoved his No. 32 under opening night winner Larry Raifsnider on a restart with three laps left to run, taking the lead and racing to the win in the 20-lapper for the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots.
Only three yellow flags slowed the pace of the Slinger’s feature, allowing Raifsnider to build comfortable leads during the long green flag periods. Bieber felt his best shot to unseat Raifsnider would come on a restart, and he made the most of his final opportunity as the race went back to green on lap 17.
Chris Kurtz weaved his way through the competitive field to finish third, with William Mohring and May 29 winner, Matt Miller, rounding out the top five.
The Junior Slingshots provided the nightcap to a terrific evening of high speed adventure, and Dylan Swinehart dominated the 20-lapper to score the victory.
The race for second and third was intense, though, as a trio of young female drivers duked it out for those positions in the latter stages. Amber Britto ducked under Chloe Andreas in turns one and two to grab the runner-up spot, then Kassidy Kreitz passed Andreas for third with just a couple of laps remaining.
Dyllon Steuer ended up fourth and Tyler Lindsay took the fifth position when the checkered flag waved.
Action Track Sidebites:
For the third consecutive week, fantastic car counts and a large turnout of fans graced the renovated facility at the Kutztown Fairgrounds, and the entire program was completed by 10:15 p.m. A total of 105 race teams signed in for competition.
Timed Dashes were held to determine heat race starting lineups for the 22-car field of Sunoco USAC Championship SpeedSTR’s. The Fast Five in the timed hot lap sessions were Kenny Brightbill (12.063-seconds), Dale Planck, Mike Mahaney, Bryan Clauson, and Billy Pauch.
SpeedSTR heat races were won by Mahaney and Clauson. John Kovatch IV captured the B-Main.
Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc heats went to Clauson, Kyle Lick, Ryan Neil, and Tim Buckwalter. A pair of B-Mains were necessary to pare down the 41-car field of 600’s, with Rhett Long and Jeff Hartman registering the victories.
The Fast Five in the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots Timed Dashes included quick timer Matt Massone (13.584-seconds), Larry Raifsnider, Matt Miller, Brett Bieber, and Travis Bieber.
Cody Kline was victorious in the All Star Slinger’s B-Main, as 33 entries took part in Tuesday’s event.
The lone heat race for the nine Junior Slingshots went to Dylan Swinehart.
In addition to Bryan Clauson, USAC campaigner Kevin Thomas Jr., from Cullman, Alabama, participated in Tuesday’s wingless 600cc event as a teammate to Kyle Lick.
Thomas put on a show in his heat race, running a much higher line than anyone else and rocketing to a runner-up finish behind Lick. In the feature, Thomas launched from tenth starting spot to run sixth in just one lap before a heim-joint connected to the birdcage, snapped off and ended his night.
The Isamoyer’s Towing & Recovery/ K&A Auto Sales Hard Charger in the wingless 600cc main event was Brett Schoenly, who maneuvered his way from dead last (24th) to an eighth-place finish.
SpeedSTR drivers Paul Lotier Jr. and Brad Brightbill were flip victims on Tuesday night, with Lotier returning from a heat race tumble to run 26-laps in the feature before falling out with mechanical issues. Brightbill was okay but unable to continue after his mishap with ten complete in the main event.
Jeff Strunk, whose flip on May 29 aggravated a previous injury, was back in the seat of the BPG No. 88D on Tuesday. Unfortunately for Strunk, he was involved in Brad Brightbill’s incident, going off on the hook for the second week in a row.
The Ronnie Tobias Memorial, on June 12, will see pit gates open at 4 p.m. and the spectator gates swing open at 5:00. Warm-ups/ Timed Dashes will begin at 6:00 followed by Twin 17-lap features for the SpeedSTR’s, wingless 600’s, All Star Slingshots, and winged 270cc Micro-Sprints.
Sunoco USAC Championship SpeedSTR’s “Flyin’ Farmer 40” Results: 1.Billy Pauch Sr., 2.Bryan Clauson, 3.Kenny Brightbill, 4.Dale Planck, 5.Craig Von Dohren, 6.Chuck Schutz, 7.Mike Mahaney, 8.Chad Layton, 9.Richard Janney, 10.Brittany Wixon, 11.Craig Rochelle, 12.Freddie Rahmer Jr., 13.Brandon Rahmer, 14.Paul Lotier Jr., 15.Wayne Weaver, 16.Matt Janisch, 17.Al Arrisher, 18.Jeff Strunk, 19.Brad Brightbill, 20.John Kovatch.
Pioneer Pole Buildings Wingless 600cc Micro-Sprint Finish, 20 laps: 1.Jason VanDoren, 2.James Morris, 3.Kyle Lick, 4.Brian Carber, 5.Jay Hartman, 6.Billy Ney, 7.David Graziano, 8.Brett Schoenly, 9.Jeff Hartman, 10.Joe Kay, 11.Blaine Emery, 12.Chris Stockham, 13.Carey Becker, 14.Molly Chambers, 15.Billy Murphy, 16.Donny Smith, 17.Bryan Clauson, 18.Chris Rupp, 19.Ryan Morris, 20.Tim Buckwalter, 21.Ryan Neil, 22.Kevin Thomas Jr., 23.Rhett Long. DQ: Tony DiMattia.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots Finish, 20 laps: 1.Brett Bieber, 2.Larry Raifsnider, 3.Chris Kurtz, 4.William Mohring, 5.Matt Miller, 6.Matt Mertz, 7.Louden Reimert, 8.Donny Hockman, 9.Ed Shaub, 10.Ray Nemeth, 11.Cody Kline, 12.Joe Nemeth, 13.Mike Homeijer, 14.Kalli Hartman, 15.Kyle Gruber, 16.Jim Laubach, 17.David Kreis, 18.Erik Jones, 19.Mark Sensenig, 20.Damian Nemeth, 21.Danny Buccafusca, 22.Dylan Hoch, 23.Travis Bieber, 24.Matt Massone.
Junior Slingshots Finish, 20 laps: 1.Dylan Swinehart, 2.Amber Britto, 3.Kassidy Kreitz, 4.Dyllon Steuer, 5.Tyler Lindsay, 6.Alex Yankowski, 7.Chloe Andreas, 8.Dakota Kohler, 9.Joe Malson.