BECHTELSVILLE, PA — Former NASCAR 358 Modified track champion Duane Howard started from sixth-place in the 30-lap feature event, advanced to the number one position by lap 13 and went on to register his seventh career Opening Night feature triumph, most ever at the third-mile high-banked clay Grandview Speedway, and push Oley, PA racer’s career win total to 65 on a windy and very chilly night, as the raceway celebrated 53 consecutive years of racing.
Wayne Pfeil of Mohnton, PA started outside the front row in the 25-lap Late Model feature event, took the top spot at the start and never was seriously challenged as Pfeil went on to easily score his seventh career victory and his first-ever Opening Night main event win at Grandview Speedway Saturday night.
Young Brett Kressley started the 25-lap Sportsman feature from ninth-place and picked his way through traffic to get out in front by lap 10 and continue on to an easy non-stop feature win in just 7 minutes, giving the Orefield, PA pilot 9 career wins at the Route 100 clay oval, completing an exciting and crowd pleasing tripleheader program in front of a strong fan turnout.
With opening night out of the way NASCAR 358 Modified racers turn their attention to the special 35-lap feature that will be offered on Saturday, April 11th. The race will offer the winner $3,000 plus a T.P. Trailers bonus of $250 and VP Racing Fuels bonus of $150 in product (the winner must meet sponsor requirements to collect the bonuses). The BRC Late Models and Sportsman stock cars will be part of the special tripleheader show. Adult admission is $20, youngsters 5 through 11 pay $5 and children under 5 are admitted free. Racing will start at 7 p.m.
The first feature of the night saw Pfeil jump out in front at the wave of the green for the 25-lap Late Model feature beating Kory Fleming into the first turn, who started from the pole, and third-place starter Dan Green. Pfeil quickly pulled away with a large lead, as seasoned racer Dan Green tangled on the front straightaway with Cory Merkel to bring out a caution on lap 17. The new green saw Pfeil immediately jump in front, again, over Fleming and, now, former track champion Chuck Schutz, who started from fifteenth-place, was running solidly in third by lap 19. Schutz moved to second-place with 5 to go, just ahead of a yellow flag waving for Pottstown, PA chauffeur Cory Merkel, spinning in turn 2. Pfeil easily went on to win the event, with Schutz, Fleming, Sean Merkel and Joe Fanelli rounding out the top 5 finishers.
Heat race wins for the 16 Late Model entries went to Fleming and Pfeil.
Afterward, Pfeil announced, “I always seem to struggle here until, maybe, May or June, but tonight this thing was on rails. It is the first-time I have won here on Opening Night. I didn’t hear any cars, so, I figured, I was out there pretty good. We’ll take it, tonight.”
A field of 26 Sportsmen racers saw third generation Fleetwood, PA racer Brett Gilmore, immediately jump out into a safe lead, after starting the race from outside the front row, and stay on top through the first 8-laps. Brad Arnold, who started from the pole, ran runner-up until the young racer pulled off and dropped out on lap 1. Brian Hirthler, who started third, on the next circuit replaced Arnold as the second-place runner and remained there until Kressley quickly moved past him and into second-place by lap 5.
Kressley and Gilmore raced wheel-to-wheel crossing the line on lap 9. On lap 10, Kressley moved into the lead, dropping Brett Gilmore to second-place just in front of his father, fellow Fleetwood, PA resident, Kenny Gilmore, who was the sixth-place starter on the initial green and moved up to third by lap 8.
Kenny Gilmore slipped by Brett Gilmore for second-place on lap 15 and hung on to finish the race solidly behind Kressley at the checkered, as Kressley made his way through a lot of lapped traffic, late.
Brett Gilmore finished up third in front of Mike Lisowski and Jim Housworth, who brought home his career best effort with a strong fifth-place finish.
Heat winners were Arnold, Brett Gilmore and Hirthler.
In Victory Circle, Kressley revealed, “It’s unbelievable the way we started the year. The track was perfect tonight. My hat’s off to the great job that the track crew did with the surface tonight. Everybody raced me clean and it produced a lot of good, clean racing. We fought our way through some lapped traffic there at the end, but everyone ran well and it worked out for us in a good way, tonight.”
Some 34 358 Modified entries were in the pits, with defending champion Jeff Strunk, Meme DeSantis and Jared Umbenhauer winning the heat races, as Jarred Miller captured the consolation win to produce a 27-car feature starting field.
With the green, second-place starter DeSantis was the early rabbit as the race leader over Strunk and Craig VonDohren, who started from fourth-place for the first 2-laps. On lap 3, VonDohren moved into second, with Strunk now third and the Oley, PA pilot Howard up to fourth-place. A red flag was waved on lap 4 after Kyle Borror took a wild ride into turn 3, tearing up his ride badly. Borror walked away unhurt.
The restart saw DeSantis still out in front over VonDohren and Howard, as Strunk fell back into fourth. DeSantis, VonDohren and Howard got into a very entertaining 3-car battle for first-place for laps 7, 8 and 9, with Howard taking second spot away on lap 9. A caution after 12 circuits were completed for Jamie Speers spinning on the backstretch bunched up the field once more.
Howard assumed the top spot on a lap 13 restart over DeSantis and VonDohren, with Strunk squeezing past VonDohren on lap 15 to retake third-place. On lap 16 Speers spun on the backstretch again to bring out another caution flag.
Howard reclaimed first-place on the restart over Temple, PA veteran talent DeSantis and Oley, PA driver VonDohren, with Pottstown, PA veteran Strunk and Wind Gap, PA driver Frank Cozze, who started thirteenth, running as the top 5 in that order. Howard immediately pulled away and held a full straightaway lead over DeSantis by lap 21. VonDohren closed the gap and battled in a crowd pleasing, side-by-side battle with DeSantis on laps 23 and 24 and moved ahead into second-place on lap 24. On lap 28 Strunk slowed through turns 1 and 2 to bring out a caution, as the defending champion headed to the pits and did not return.
A single file restart saw Howard, easily, score the popular feature win. VonDohren followed in second and DeSantis was third. Cozze authored a strong effort for a nice fourth-place at the checkered and third generation driver Mike Kellner rounded out the top 5, after starting the race in seventh-place.
“After the long, hard winter I am just so eager to get out on the race track again and I’ve got to thank the Petruska family for giving me one hell of a race car, plus the new Billy The Kid built engine under the hood,” Howard was quick to note afterwards. “I got to meet him up at Syracuse and he builds one really wicked motor for these things. Fox Shocks and TEO Fabrications have it together right now, also, and Grandview gave us a great track to race on so I guess it sure showed.
“Tonight, with a heads-up start from the heats we were all bottled up there near the front and you really had to race for a win tonight. Normally, we are racing hard from somewhere like fifteenth or sixteenth-place on the start and going for it, but tonight we were all right up there. I was pretty good going around on the bottom and at the end we were good up on top, too. I knew once I had Meme beat on that restart by the flag stand I could clear him racing it into one. I just raced as hard as I could right to the end, tonight,” Howard offered.
Grandview Speedway, a one-third-mile, banked clay track, is located on Passmore Road just off Route 100 in Bechtelsville, PA, 10 miles north of Pottstown. For information telephone 610.754.7688 or check in at www.grandviewspeedway.com, [email protected] and www.facebook.com/grandviewspeedway.
-Grandview Speedway Press Release & Photo
Grandview Speedway Results – April 4, 2015
BRC LATE MODELS 1) Wayne Pfeil 2) Chuck Schutz 3) Kory Fleming 4) Sean Merkel 5) Joe Fanelli 6) Rick Todorow 7) Dave Ogin 8) Cory Merkel 9) Dan Green 10) Lou Egrie Jr. 11) Lou Egrie Sr. 12) John Giesler 13) Buddy Mertz 14) Steve Gross DNS Bill Henning, Shawn Horning
NASCAR 358 MODIFIEDS 1) Duane Howard 2) Craig VonDohren 3) Meme DeSantis 4) Frank Cozze 5) Mike Kellner 6) Mike Gular 7) Ryan Watt 8) Danny Erb 9) Doug Manmiller 10) Jared Umbenhauer 11) Jarred Miller 12) Kevin Hartnett 13) Brian Houseknecht 14) Eric Biehn 15) Ray Swinehart 16) Todd Smith 17) Glenn Strunk 18) Bobby Gunther Walsh 19) Chris Gambler 20) Jeff Strunk 21) Keith Hoffman 22) Don Norris Jr. 23) Jamie Speers 24) Ron Seltman Jr. 25) Kyle Borror 26) Tim Buckwalter 27) John Willman DNS Ryan Grim
NASCAR SPORTSMAN 1) Brett Kressley 2) Kenny Gilmore 3) Brett Gilmore 4) Mike Lisowski 5) Jim Housworth 6) Craig Whitmoyer 7) Brian Hirthler 8) Jordan Henn 9) Ken Eckert 10) Jeff Sechrist 11) Joe Funk 12) Jason Neidlinger 13) Erik Renninger 14) Tom Miller 15) Paul Effrig 16) Mike Wahl 17) Ryan Lilick 18) Pat Conrad 19) Kyle Lilick 20) Paul Houseknecht 21) Mark Kemmerer 22) Steve Warner 23) Alyssa Fogel 24) Brandon Whitmoyer 25) Brad Arnold 26) Mike Koffel