Kutztown, PA – “I actually went to the gym last winter and started workin’ out…I knew these young guys were gonna be tough to beat this year. They’re fast and they’re tough; there are no ‘gimme’s’ in this division, so this feels really good. We’ve finally turned our luck around.”
Those were the words of Frenchtown, NJ’s Billy Pauch Sr., a driver who’s won hundreds of feature races in several different divisions throughout his storied career, as he described just how difficult it is to capture a victory in the USAC All Pro SpeedSTR class at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
It was dad’s turn to win on KME First Responder Night, Wednesday, May 27, as the elder Pauch beat his son, Billy Jr., to the checkered flag. Junior bagged the win (over his dad) on May 20 after finishing second to another young gun, Tim Buckwalter, in the season opener on May 20.
Two-time and defending track champion Jay Hartman pulled off a narrow victory over Brandon Azzalina in the main event for the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600 Sprints Powered by Engler Injection, and Anthony “Peanut Butter” Raisner drove to the first triumph of his career in the 20-lap main for the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots. Jared Silfee won the Junior Slingshot feature.
When the 30-lapper for the USAC SpeedSTR’s went green, Billy Pauch Jr. bolted to the lead after a young fan picked the pole position for him. Mike Bednar and Pauch Sr. tussled for the runner-up spot before Pauch, in his Heffner Racing Enterprises, Lelands.com, Berks Seal Coating No. 27 claimed the position and began to track down his son.
It wasn’t long before eighth-starting Tim Buckwalter sliced his way to fourth, then engaged in a back-and-forth duel with Bednar for third place.
The double-file restarts were proving to be very interesting as well, with Pauch Jr. choosing the outside lane on a few early race cautions. He was able to hold off his father on each of those occasions, but his decision to switch to the bottom for a restart at the halfway mark proved to be the turning point of the race.
“He saw how good I was running down there, so he probably thought the bottom was a little better than the top and he’d be good down there, too,” noted Pauch Sr. in victory lane. “As it turned out, I was actually better up top than on the bottom, and that’s how I got him.”
Father and son Pauch ran side by side into turns one and two as the green reappeared, with both cars drifting up the banking a bit. The elder Pauch launched off the high side of the corner to pull in front, effectively ending his son’s hope of making it two straight in SpeedSTR races at Action Track USA.
Buckwalter passed Bednar (again) to take over third on lap 17 and, while he challenged Billy Jr. for the runner-up slot, it was the younger Pauch finishing second to his dad with Buckwalter settling for third. Bednar scored a well deserved fourth place finish and Jay Hartman continued his top-ten streak with a fifth place effort.
In the 25-lapper for the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600 Sprints Powered by Engler Injection Systems, Eric Ankiewicz ducked under Rob Adams on a fourth-lap restart and proceeded to lead the next 11 circuits. While Ankiewicz controlled the point, some fierce racing took place from second on back as Adams, Billy Ney, eighth-starting Jeff Hartman, and Brandon Azzalina, who took the initial green in the 11th position, wrestled for second and third.
When Ney’s slide job went astray and resulted in both he and Adams restarting in the back (after Adams spun in turn four and officials placed Ney to the rear), Jeff Hartman found himself alongside Ankiewicz on the front row and his brother Jay, who started 14th, was right behind him as the field lined up for a double-file restart with 14 tours in the books.
Jeff Hartman grabbed the top spot as the race went back to green but it wasn’t long before his big brother shot to the lead off turn four as lap 18 was scored. The next five revolutions featured a triple-threat battle at the head of the pack between the brothers Hartman and Azzalina. With two to go, Jeff Hartman got sideways in the middle of one and two as Jay Hartman and Azzalina steered clear of his No. 99. Fourth-place Tim Buckwalter and Ms. Motorsports, Shelby Harper, who was running a strong fifth, were collected as was Ankiewicz.
The final green-white-checkered restart, in single file fashion, saw Jay Hartman fend off the challenges of a determined Azzalina. The pair was side by side in turn four, but Hartman won the drag race to Mike Feltenberger’s checkered flag, beating Azzalina to the stripe by less than one-quarter of a second.
Jay Hartman, from Flagtown, NJ, notched his first triumph of the season with Azzalina registering a strong runner-up showing. Austin Quick lived up to his name in the waning laps, roaring from 15th on the original start to earn third place money while 21st starter, Kyle Lick, wound up fourth. Eddie Strada, who lined up 24th on the starting grid, rumbled to a fifth place finish.
Anthony Raisner jumped to the lead from his outside front row starting spot as the 20-lap main for the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots went green. Raisner, in the Steve Svanda owned, Breast Cancer Awareness No. 381 then drove away from the field as Seth Spayd, John Gilroy, Louden Reimert, and Dylan Hoch jostled for the remaining positions inside the top five.
Yellow flags wiped out Raisner’s comfortable advantage on several occasions, but the youthful throttle-jockey repelled each restart’s challenge as Raisner held off Gilroy, then Spayd, and finally Reimert to maintain his lead.
Raisner eased away over the final six tours to win handily over Reimert, who emerged from a late race battle with Spayd for runner-up cash. Spayd, Hoch, and Gilroy completed the top five.
In the Junior Slingshot 15-lap feature, Jared Silfee darted past early leader Cole Stangle as the duo charged off turn four on the fifth trip around the progressively banked oval. Silfee then blasted into his own zip code, romping to victory over Stangle. A last lap, final turn jingle enabled Ryan Graver to sneak past the two cars in front of him for a third place finish, while Tanner VanDoren and Alex Yankowski wound up fourth and fifth.
Action Track Sidebites…
A late afternoon thunderstorm quickly soaked the facility, but Rich Tobias and his crew were ready for it. They had the track packed and sealed prior to the storm’s arrival, so the precipitation did minimal damage to the racing surface. The program started a bit late due to having to run in the track a second time, but the whole show ran off in good time, ending at 10:02 p.m.
In spite of the iffy weather conditions, a nice crowd braved the possibility of a second thunderstorm and they were treated to another highly competitive and exciting program of 16 qualifying races and four main events.
The weather certainly affected the car count, too, but only slightly. A total of 119 racecars tested the oval during the evening’s activity, with the breakdown showing 32 SpeedSTR’s; 36 of the Wingless 600cc Sprints; 39 All Star Slingshots; and a dozen of the Junior Slingers.
Billy Pauch Jr. was fastest in the timed hot lap sessions for the SpeedSTR’s, turning a quick lap of 12.166 seconds. Mike Mahaney, Tim Buckwalter, Mike Bednar, and Billy Pauch Sr. rounded out the fast five.
Three heat races were contested by the SpeedSTR’s, with victories going to Buckwalter, Bednar, and Pauch Sr. Two B-Mains were taken by Damon Paul and Brad Brightbill.
Billy Ney won the Hoosier Tire Mad Scramble for the Wingless 600’s, meaning he transferred directly to the night’s main event. The division’s four heat winners included Robbie Hocker, Rob Adams, Pauch Jr., and James Morris. Jordan Mohr captured the C-Main and Eric Heydenreich won the B-Main.
For the first time, a Mad Scramble was held for the previous week’s non-qualifiers in the All Star Slingshot class. Taylor Santee was victorious in the Scramble, earning herself an automatic starting spot in the 20-lap feature.
In lieu of heat races, the All Star Slingshots competed in timed hot lap sessions, with Brett Bieber setting quick time of 14.196 seconds. The top 16 in the timed warm-ups locked into the main event, while everyone else had to compete in last-chance B-Mains. Mike Toth and Austin Stufflet won the B-Mains.
On Wednesday, June 3rd, the Flyin’ Farmer 40 for SpeedSTR’s takes center stage at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA. The winner will receive $3,000 as the speedway pays tribute to the late, great Tommy Hinnershitz of Oley. Hinnershitz was one of the greatest Sprint Car and Midget drivers of his era, and the Flyin’ Farmer, as he was known throughout the country, also made several starts in the Indianapolis 500.
It’s FFA Night on June 3, and the Old Time Plow Boys will have their antique tractors on display. Fans are encouraged to dress in their best farm attire, and prizes will be awarded to the best dressed farmers.
Get your Midweek Motorsports Adrenaline Rush at the JeffreyHougeRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds…where the Superstars come to race!
USAC All Pro SpeedSTR Feature, 30 laps: 1.Billy Pauch Sr., 2.Billy Pauch Jr., 3.Tim Buckwalter, 4.Mike Bednar, 5.Jay Hartman, 6.Tim Iulg, 7.Dale Planck, 8.Earl Paules, 9.Mike Mahaney, 10.Larry Solomon, 11.Ryan Krachun, 12.Wayne Weaver, 13.Sammy Piazza, 14.Kevin Graver Jr., 15.Frank Yankowski, 16.Matt Janisch, 17.Ryan Smith, 18.Steven Nederostek, 19.Brad Brightbill, 20.Joey Thompson, 21.Kris Graver, 22.Damon Paul, 23.Nick Baer, 24.Mike Vermuelen, 25.Duane Howard, 26.John Bockhorn, 27.Frank Cozze, 28.Jason Miller, 29.Kyle Lick.
DNQ: Kenny Brightbill, Doug Manmiller, Joe Vaccaro.
Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Jay Hartman, 2.Brandon Azzalina, 3.Austin Quick, 4.Kyle Lick, 5.Eddie Strada, 6.Tommy Kunsman Jr., 7.Jarid Kunkle, 8.Eric Heydenreich, 9.Robbie Hocker, 10.Danny Buccafusca, 11.Jermain Godshall, 12.Steve Bull, 13.Billy Ney, 14.Mackenzie Harper, 15.Billy Pauch Jr., 16.Timmy Buckwalter, 17.Shelby Harper, 18.Doug Snyder, 19.Eric Ankiewicz, 20.Jake Smith, 21.Jeff Hartman, 22.James Morris, 23.Kameron Morral, 24.Jacob Severn, 25.Rob Adams, 26.Blaine Emery.
DNQ: TJ Lilly, Dave Dimaio, Nate Brinker, Molly Chambers, Jordan Mohr, Skylar Sheriff, Frank Jarkiewicz, Matt Roselli, Devin Gundrum, Joe Plunkett.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots Feature, 20 laps: 1.Anthony Raisner, 2.Louden Reimert, 3.Seth Spayd, 4.Dylan Hoch, 5.John Gilroy, 6.Brett Bieber, 7.Dave Carraghan, 8.Travis Bieber, 9.Matt Miller, 10.William Mohring, 11.Jordan Knepp, 12.Kassidy Kreitz, 13.Tayllor Schoenly, 14.Andrew Kreis, 15.Dakota Kohler, 16.Chris Kurtz, 17.Jackson Ring, 18.Joe Toth, 19.Jeff Kemp, 20.Dylan Swinehart, 21.Austin Stufflet, 22.Mike Toth, 23.Dave Burns, 24.Matt Massone, 25.Erik Jones, 26.Taylor Santee.
DNQ: Mike Sherman, Bridget Conti, Dave Morrell, Tim Roeder, Lee Schantzenbach, Mark Sensenig, Kim Glass, Austin Silfee, Dave Galloway, Simon Whitnell, Jake Bedell, Robert Schlenker, Blaire Schoenly.
Junior Slingshot Feature, 15 laps: 1.Jared Silfee, 2.Cole Stangle, 3.Ryan Graver, 4.Tanner VanDoren, 5.Alex Yankowski, 6.Gavin Santee, 7.Kyle Smith, 8.Autumn Ankiewicz, 9.Joey Vaccaro, 10.Rob Schlenker, 11.Nico Flammer, 12.Logan Bauman.
Story: Action Track USA PR – Photos: Rick’s Racing Photos