Kenny Brightbill, the dirt Modified veteran who remains a Berks County fan favorite, captured his first win of the year in USAC Championship SpeedSTR competition. Brightbill capitalized on some good fortune – actually, it was the misfortune of three others – in scoring the 30-lap victory.
Kutztown, PA – The eighth racing program of the 2014 season may go down as one of the wildest – ever – at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
James Morris, “the Real Deal from Riegelsville”, notched the triumph in the first of Twin 30-lap mains run for the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprints. In the second race, though, Morris’ one-race old No. 75x launched over another car’s right-rear wheel and flipped wildly down the backstretch and into turn three. While his new car was badly damaged in the incident, Morris (after an ambulance ride to Lehigh Valley Hospital for testing and examination), though thoroughly bruised and sore, was released and sent home.
That second 30-lapper for the Wingless 600’s went to Mike Rutherford in Gary Hunter’s CARSTAR No. 7h.
The NAPA Dutch Classic for the All Star Slingshots, a 30-lap National Tour event, was annexed by Joe Nemeth of New Tripoli, Pa. And Damon Paul, from Stoney Point, NY, was the victor in the 15-lap feature for the Junior Slingshots.
The 30-lap main for the USAC Championship SpeedSTR’s was a highly entertaining event as Mike Bednar dueled for the top spot with point leader and three-time winner Billy Pauch Jr. The duo battled furiously for the lead at the midpoint of the race, with Pauch Jr. taking advantage when Bednar was momentarily trapped behind a slower car as the pair negotiated lapped traffic.
A restart with six to go dramatically altered the outcome of the event, as Pauch Jr. and Bednar charged down the front stretch side-by-side and Billy Pauch Sr. made it three-wide from his inside-row-two restart position.
The three-wide maneuver went bad, however, as the two Pauch mobiles got together and pushed up into Bednar, who skated up the track and into the loose stuff in turn one. Pauch Jr. bicycled and went nose first into the turn one guardrail as others, with nowhere to go, began to pile in.
Track officials ruled that both Bednar and Pauch Sr. jumped the restart and the two drivers were set back to third and fourth positions, respectively. The ruling put Jeff Strunk and Kenny Brightbill on the front row as the field lined up for another restart.
Brightbill dashed ahead of Strunk, who fell back to battle Pauch Sr. for the runner-up spot. Their tussle allowed Brightbill to pull away slightly, and the Weichert Realtors/ Heavy Business No. 19 crossed the stripe with a margin of 0.573-seconds over Strunk and Pauch Sr. Bednar held on for fourth and his car owner, John Kovatch IV, finished a season-best fifth.
“I needed some luck tonight because the car was terrible in the beginning,” noted Brightbill in his victory lane interview. “I fell back and couldn’t go anywhere. But the track kind of came to us and the car worked a little better as the race went on. Those guys had the issue up front, and here we are,” said the Sinking Spring, Pa. wheel-twister as the fans cheered enthusiastically.
Pauch Jr. was knocked out in that unfortunate restart incident, and, combined with his dad’s third place effort, permitted Billy Sr. to go back to the top of the SpeedSTR point parade.
The first feature for the Wingless 600cc Sprints, sponsored by Blue Rocks Family Campground in Lenhartsville, was highlighted early on by a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle royale between brothers Jay and Jeff Hartman. The two ran side-by-side for several laps in a terrific battle for the race lead until Jeff’s No. 026 broke with 11 circuits complete.
Jay Hartman took over at that point and paced the field until there were just three laps remaining. That’s when James Morris, who started eighth, blasted off the high side of turn four to snatch the lead from the defending 600cc point champion and current leader of the championship chase.
Morris went on to win by 0.324-seconds over Brandon Azzalina, who nipped Jay Hartman at the line for second place money. Eddie Strada, lining up 15th for the original start, climbed to fourth and Mike Rutherford settled for fifth when the checkered flag waved.
In the second 30-lapper, sponsored by the Quality Shoppe of Kutztown, was marred by Morris’ scary flip as he attempted a three-wide maneuver on the backstretch while motoring from tenth starting spot into the top five. Referring to it as “just a racing incident”, Morris went airborne and into a series of spinning, twirling, metal crunching tumbles. And his wreck, while hauntingly spectacular, was not the only scary mishap of the event…
Soon after Morris experienced his hair-raising series of flips, Chris Stockham and Nick Wean tangled in the middle of turns three and four. Stockham’s car went over and Wean, in TJ Lilly’s No. 17, exited his car quickly after it caught fire and burned out of control for a few minutes. Both drivers were okay and Stockham even restarted the race.
Eighth-starting Jay Hartman moved up to challenge Rutherford for the lead after Rutherford, the Lititz, Pa. throttle-jockey, came out on top of a three abreast wrestling match for the top spot with Alex Bright and Tim Buckwalter.
Hartman had his nose in front as they crossed the start/finish line on lap 18; Rutherford mounted a comeback and shoved his No. 7h back in front as they completed the 24th circuit. He began to ease away from Hartman over the final six tours, but had to survive one final restart with two to go. At the finish, Rutherford registered his second Action Track victory of the campaign, winning by nearly a half-second over Hartman, with Eddie Strada beating out Robbie Hocker for third. Peter Michael, who started 16th, raced home with the fifth-place pay envelope.
NAPA Auto Parts has supported the All Star Slingshots and their Dutch Classic National Tour Race for the past few seasons, and their sponsorship brought another stellar field of Slingers to the Action Track USA on Wednesday.
Joe Nemeth ran well before fading in the Kutztown Komet 100 on July 16. He was not going to be denied in the Dutch Classic, jumping into the lead from his outside front row starting spot and setting the pace for the entire 30-lap distance.
John Bockhorn challenged Nemeth on a couple of restarts, but the Nemeth Guns No. 10 was up to the task, powering back in front and repelling each attack.
As the race entered its second half, Bockhorn fell back into the clutches of Mark Sensenig, and the duo was soon joined by brothers Brett and Travis Bieber, along with Dylan Hoch.
Nemeth prevailed, winning by several car lengths over Bockhorn. Sensenig spun off turn four as the pack headed for the checkered and Hoch swept around the spinning No. 7 to finish third. Brett Bieber wound up fourth with his older sibling, Travis, finishing fifth.
Damon Paul was victorious in the Junior Slingshot main event, surviving a couple of close encounters with Cole Hentschel. Dylan Swinehart ran down Hentschel and challenged the Advanced Concrete No. 3 for runner-up honors, as Reese Nowatarski, Andrew Kreis, and Dillon Steuer fought for fourth.
At the end, it was Paul accelerating across the line first, with Hentschel’s apparent runner-up finish taken away because he lost the muffler on his No. 3 during the race and that is a rule infraction in the Slingshot division.
Swinehart ended up second, with Steuer executing a three-wide move on the final lap to earn a third place finish over Nowatarski and Kreis.
Action Track Sidebites…
Another large and enthusiastic crowd took in the racing action on Wednesday, on yet another night when you just never knew what might happen next…
The car count was (once again) fantastic, with 25 SpeedSTR’s, 47 of the Wingless 600’s, 33 All Star Slingshots, and 15 Junior Slingers signing in for competition. The grand total was 120 racecars, tying the Ronnie Tobias Memorial on June 18 for highest total.
Mike Bednar and Billy Pauch Sr. led the way in group time trials for the SpeedSTR’s. Kenny Brightbill swept the night, winning his qualifying heat and the feature. Billy Pauch Jr. won the other heat race.
Brandon Azzalina continues to impress in the Wingless 600cc division. On Wednesday, Azzalina set quick time over the 47-car field, with Jeff Hartman, Robbie Hocker, Jay Hartman, and Mike Rutherford making up the top five in group time trials.
Sam Kravitsky won the Mad Scramble (for drivers who did not qualify for the previous main event), while Ryan Greth scored the win in the A-Qualifier race. The two B-Mains went to Frank Cozze and Brian Carber.
Mark Sensenig and Joe Nemeth led the way in group time trials for the All Star Slingshots. John Bockhorn, Travis Bieber, and Joe Bodenshatz completed the top five.
Kurt Bettler won the Slingshot B-Main.
Damon Paul captured the lone heat race victory for the Junior Slingshots.
The 2014 season is flying by all too quickly, as just two and one-half weeks remain at the Berks County oval. This Wednesday, August 6, will find the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots competing in a Slinger Speedweek Race, one of six events in the annual miniseries for the Slingshot teams.
They will be joined by the USAC Championship SpeedSTR’s and the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprints in the final tune-up prior to the big Kutztown Fair Week events. The speedway will be in action on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (August 12, 13, & 14) during the annual Kutztown Fair, and the season will end with the Dick Tobias Classic on Sunday, August 17.
You’ve only got a few more opportunities to get your midweek motorsports adrenaline rush at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds…where the superstars come to race!
RESULTS from the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA
on the Kutztown Fairgrounds
USAC Championship SpeedSTR Feature, 30 laps: 1.Kenny Brightbill, 2.Jeff Strunk, 3.Billy Pauch Sr., 4.Mike Bednar, 5.John Kovatch, 6.Earl Paules, 7.Jason Miller, 8.Nick Baer, 9.Kyle Lick, 10.Pancho Lawler, 11.Gary Huber, 12.Brad Brightbill, 13.Frank Yankowski, 14.Billy Pauch Jr., 15.Kyle Weiss, 16.Dale Planck, 17.Ryan Smith, 18.Brittany Wixon, 19.Frank Cozze, 20.Larry Solomon, 21.Steve Yankowski, 22.Brandon Grosso, 23.Mike Vermuelen, 24.Bobby Trapper, 25.Wayne Weaver.
Blue Rocks Family Campground Wingless 600cc Sprint Feature #1, 30 laps: 1.James Morris, 2.Brandon Azzalina, 3.Jay Hartman, 4.Eddie Strada, 5.Mike Rutherford, 6.Billy Ney, 7.Robbie Hocker, 8.Billy Pauch Jr., 9.Alex Bright, 10.Tim Buckwalter, 11.Jacob Severn, 12.Blaine Emery, 13.Chris Stockham, 14.Joe Kay, 15.Frank Cozze, 16.Peter Michael, 17.Jarid Kunkle, 18.Dave Dimaio, 19.Nick Wean, 20.Rob Adams, 21.Shelby Harper, 22.Simon Egan, 23.Kyle Lick, 24.Jeff Hartman, 25.Bobby Scherff, 26.Brian Carber, 27.Ryan Greth, 28.Sam Kravitsky.
Quality Shoppe Wingless 600cc Sprint Feature #2, 30 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Jay Hartman, 3.Eddie Strada, 4.Robbie Hocker, 5.Peter Michael, 6.Jacob Severn, 7.Billy Pauch Jr., 8.Alex Bright, 9.Simon Egan, 10.Blaine Emery, 11.Kyle Lick, 12.Ryan Greth, 13.Bobby Butler, 14.Billy Ney, 15.Dave Dimaio, 16.Frank Cozze, 17.Joe Kay, 18.Brandon Azzalina, 19.Jarid Kunkle, 20.Chris Stockham, 21.Tim Buckwalter, 22.Bobby Scherff, 23.Nick Wean, 24.Shelby Harper, 25.James Morris, 26.Brian Carber, 27.Molly Chambers, 28.Rob Adams, 29.Same Kravitsky.
NAPA Auto Parts Dutch Classic for All Star Slingshots, 30 laps: 1.Joe Nemeth, 2.John Bockhorn, 3.Dylan Hoch, 4.Brett Bieber, 5.Travis Bieber, 6.Larry Raifsnider, 7.Danny Buccafusca, 8.Don Schmidt, 9.Cody Kline, 10.Kurt Bettler, 11.Mark Sensenig, 12.Erik Jones, 13.Alex Schoffstall, 14.Demetrious Drellos, 15.Henry Anderson, 16.Justin Thompson, 17.Billy Osmun, 18.Donny Hockman, 19.Joe Howey, 20.Jordan Knepp, 21.Brad Kemp, 22.Austin Stufflet, 23.Pete Knappenberger, 24.Mike Fogler, 25.Dave Carraghan, 26.Matt Miller, 27.Joe Bodenshatz, 28.Louden Reimert.
Junior Slingshot Feature, 15 laps: 1.Damon Paul, 2.Dylan Swinehart, 3.Dillon Steuer, 4.Reese Nowatarski, 5.Andrew Kreis, 6.Alex Yankowski, 7.Dakota Kohler, 8.Chloe Andreas, 9.Logan Bauman, 10.Cole Stangle, 11.Gavin Santee, 12.Tyler Lindsay, 13.Cole Hentschel, 14.Kyle Smith, 15.Ryan Graver.
Action Track PR – Photo Credit: PhilMar photo