Hodnett and Laubach win Thunder on the Hill

Photo by Rich Kepner
Rick Laubach wins the Thunder on the Hill Traffic Jam.
Photo by Rich Kepner Rick Laubach wins the Thunder on the Hill Traffic Jam.
Photo by Rich Kepner
Rick Laubach wins the Thunder on the Hill Traffic Jam.
Photo by Rich Kepner Rick Laubach wins the Thunder on the Hill Traffic Jam.

The NAPA Auto Parts Thunder on the Hill Racing Series continued its’ 25th anniversary season on July 29 with the popular 410 Sprints and the Race of Champions Modifieds in a spectacular double-header. Greg Hodnett earned a $5,000 payday for winning the 35 lap 410 Sprint feature event, his fourth win in a row at Grandview Speedway.

In the 17h running of the Race of Champions TRAFFIC JAM for Modifieds, Rick Laubach of Quakertown won the 60-lap modified feature to earn $5,000. Greg Hodnett held off a determined JJ Grasso in the sprint feature, while Rick Laubach held off repeated challenges from Duane Howard for the win in the ROC Traffic Jam.

A field of thirty-two modifieds took part in heat race events with victories going to Duane Howard, Kyle Weiss, Mike Gular and MeMe DeSantis with Tyler Dippel winning the consolation.

Twenty-six cars took the green flag in the 17th running of the TRAFFIC JAM for modifieds but before the first lap was completed, the caution was out for Jeff Strunk who stopped on the track. On the restart, Duane Howard and Mike Gular tangled exiting turn four and the yellow was displayed once again. A mis-communication with the flagman was the cause of the Howard and Gular yellow and both drivers returned to the positions where they we running prior to the caution.


The restart saw Matt Sheppard set the pace with Rick Laubach immediately challenging for the lead. By lap three, Laubach was the race leader and Duane Howard was in the chase running third. Laubach challenged Sheppard for second then on lap night, Howard moved into second. Sheppard continued to fight back then on lap fifteen, Howard was able to break-away from Sheppard and set his sights on race leader Rick Laubach. On lap twenty-one, Laubach, Howard and Sheppard were in a three car battle for the lead with Laubach holding down the lead.

At the halfway point of the race, Laubach, Howard, Sheppard, Craig VonDohren and Keith Hoffman were the top five. The race for the lead became very serious once again as Howard was not challenging Laubach for the lead. On lap 35, third place runner Matt Sheppard retired to the pits advancing VonDohren, Hoffman and Gular now in the top five. Back at the front of the pack, Laubach opened a slight lead over Howard.

The race leaders quickly came up on slower traffic on lap 42 with Laubach and Howard now side-by-side. Laubach pulled ahead by three car lengths and by lap 44, Howard was again challenging for the lead. Laubach again moved ahead with a three car advantage and on lap 48, Howard was back in the hunt for the win.

Laubach and Howard battled lap after lap and the two front runners never touched.

With just ten laps remaining, Keith Hoffman was moving in on the leaders. On lap 51, Howard took another run and challenged Laubach for the lead. With five laps remaining, Laubach was setting the pace, but Howard remained within striking distance, and now third place runner Keith Hoffman could see the race leaders. With the checker flag waiving, Rick Laubach took the win, his first ever Thunder on the Hill and Grandview Speedway victory. Duane Howard finished an impressive second followed by Keith Hoffman, Craig VonDohren and Mike Gular.

The 410 sprints took part in time trials with Greg Hodnett setting fast time of the night. The three heat race events were won by Lance Dewease, Davey Sammons and JJ Grasso.

In the 35-lap feature event, Davey Sammons led the first lap with the caution being displayed on lap two for Steve Buckwalter (driving the Mark Coldren sprinter) who stopped in turn four.

The restart saw Sammons quickly establish himself as the one to beat setting a blistering pace. JJ Grasso challenged Sammons for the lead on lap eight with Lance Dewease racing in third. By lap ten, Dewease was challenging Grasso for second.

On lap 12, the changing point of the race took place when Lance Dewease tangled with Mark Smith entering turn three, collecting Alan Krimes. The three cars came to a stop along the third turn wall. Smith and Krimes were able to restart and Sammons and Grasso battle was to resume again. As the field passed on lap seventeen, Grasso was all over Sammons for the lead and now third place runner Greg Hodnett was in the battle for the lead.

On lap 21 Hodnett took the lead with Grasso following in second, Sammons third, Freddie Rahmer fourth and Billy Dietrich fifth. Ryan Smith was reeling in to the five at the same time.

By lap 27, Ryan Smith was fourth with an eye now on Rahmer.

With just five laps remaining, Hodnett thought he was getting a flat tire so he slowed to preserve the tire in the closing laps. Once again, Grasso reeled in the leader but just ran short of time to make a bid as Hodnett clearly had the field covered. Grasso turned in a strong second followed

Joining NAPA Auto Parts on this big night of racing were sponsors Pioneer Pole Buildings, Window World, MACH1 Chassis and Galco Business Communications.

410 SPRINT FEATURE FINISH 35 LAPS $5,000 TO WIN: #27 Greg Hodnett, #37 JJ Grasso, #51 Freddie Rahmer, #94 Ryan smith, #747 Davey Sammons, #89 Robbie Stillwagon, #8 Billy Dietrich, #88 Brandon Rahmer, #92 Billy Pauch Jr., #87 Alan Krimes, #20 Ryan Taylor, #07 Steve Buckwalter, #33 Curt Stroup, #M1 Mark Smith, #F5 Mark Bitner, #7 Ed Aiken, #49H Bradley Howard, #22 Troy Betts, #54 Jeff Fithian, #14 Lance Dewease, #12B Brad Franks, #22T Matt Boland, #28 Keith Prutzman.

ROC MODIFIEDS 17TH ANNUAL TRAFFIC JAM 60 LAPS $5,000 TO WIN: #91 Rick Laubach, #66 Duane Howard, #26 Keith Hoffman, #11 Craig VonDohren, #53 Mike Gular, #901 Ryan Godown, #14w Ryan Watt, #4* Jeff Strunk, #88d Meme DeSantis, #22 Tim Buckwalter, #21K Kyle Weiss, #117 Kevin Hirthler, #55 Anthony Perrego, #1F Stewart Friesen, #B4 Kyle Borror, #51M Dominick Buffalino, #R2 Rusty Smith, #75 Lou Cicconi, #44 John McClelland, #118 Kyle Merkel, #323 Brian Houseknecht, #357 Matt Sheppard, #27J Danny Johnson, #29 Sammy Piazza, #1D Tyler Dippel, #1 Billy Pauch Sr., #5* Tyler Siri.

Race fan David Long posted a $1,000 bonus to the last car running in the Modified Traffic Jam feature event. Brian Houseknecht of Bechtelsville earned the added payoff and finished 21st in the feature event.