Kutztown, PA -- It was the calm before the storm...a very pleasant night to be sitting outdoors at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds. Suddenly, though, the winds of change began to howl as "Hurricane Earl" touched down at the Berks County oval on Wednesday night, August 3rd.
"Hurrican Earl" Paules, from Kunkletown, PA, finally got his USAC All Pro SpeedSTR hooked up on the bottom and won his first main event of the season at Action Track USA. It was the second SpeedSTR triumph of his career and the first for Paules since 2014, as he held off rising newcomer Briggs Danner, the 14-year old prodigy from Allentown, to pick up the victory.
"The Phenom", Alex Bright, notched his second win of the campaign in the 25-lap main for the Hyper Racing 600 Sprints, while Mount Cobb, PA's Henry Anderson captured the Kutztown Komet 100 for the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots. It was also Anderson's second triumph of the season and his first since opening night in May.
Wednesday's event served as the final tune up for the upcoming National Dirt Week races during the annual Kutztown Fair. Due to Borough regulations that limit the number of racing events permitted at Action Track USA, the racing program scheduled for Wednesday, August 10, has been cancelled. The speedway will now be dark until Monday, August 15, when the start of National Dirt Week coincides with the Kutztown Fair. The week of racing - and the 2016 season - will conclude on Sunday, August 21, with the running of the Dick Tobias Classic. In between, there will be racing on Monday and Tuesday (the Slinger Warehouse Super Slingshot Fair Nationals), Wednesday (600 Sprint Fair Nationals, SpeedSTRs, and Slingshots), Thursday (Junior Slingshots and Quarter-Midgets), and Saturday (Daniel Boone 150 Stock Car Race).
Repeating the announcement listed in the paragraph above, there will be no racing at Action Track USA on Wednesday, August 10, due to Borough of Kutztown regulations that limit the number of racing events permitted each year at Action Track USA. Two programs have been rained out (so far), and one more needed to be dropped to meet the Borough's requirements.
On Wednesday, August 3rd, Paules jumped out to the early lead from the pole position as the USAC All Pro SpeedSTR feature went green. James Morris and Brad Brightbill applied pressure to Paules in the early going before Brightbill fell back a bit, leaving Morris and Paules to put on a show. And the duo did just that...
Paules was sticking to the low groove while Morris rolled the top at both ends of the speedway. Morris nosed ahead on lap eight and remained in front - barely - for the next three circuits.
Blasting off the inside lane of turn four, Paules edged back in front of Morris to lead lap 12 and now young charger Briggs Danner joined the fun at the head of the pack. Danner passed Morris for the runner-up spot on lap 17, then set his sights on the race leader. Several drivers battled for positions four through ten, including Billy Pauch, Morris, B. Brightbill, Andy Haus, Mike Bednar, Steve Drevicki, Tom Mayberry, and Jay Hartman.
On a restart with 19 laps complete, the drivers mentioned above, along with a few others, were involved in a turn one fracas that drastically altered the line up at the front of the field. Paules still led Danner, with Louden Reimert now third and Matt Janisch in fourth. Tim Buckwalter, winner of the past two SpeedSTR main events, recovered from an early race spin in which he never stopped but lost numerous positions. Buckwalter soldiered from the back of the pack and suddenly found himself in fifth.
Danner, who competed in the Quarter-Midget Dirt Grands in Schnecksville a few days earlier, hounded Paules over the final trips around the clay but could not find the momentum he needed to sweep past the leader.
Paules' E. Schneider & Sons Scrap Hauling No. 8 had great drive off the bottom of the corners, and he needed that grip and then some to hold off the hard charging Danner off turn four as they accelerated to the checkered flag. Paules won the drag race to the stripe with Danner, who recorded his best finish in a SpeedSTR, a very happy second place driver.
Matt Janisch wound up third by a slim margin over T. Buckwalter. Steve Nederostek finished fifth.
"We've been working so hard to get this car to run well on the bottom," said a tired and relieved Paules in victory lane. "Tonight, I think it worked pretty well down there. Rich (Tobias) gave us a great track to run on and the competition is so stiff in this division; I'm just happy that it all worked out for us tonight."
While Paules utilized the low groove to snare his SpeedSTR win, Collegeville's Alex Bright used a rim-riding, high line style to get to the front in the Hyper Racing 600 Sprint main event.
Joey Jarowicz, Robbie Hocker, and Kenny Miller III fought for the top spot in the early laps as Billy Pauch Jr. navigated his way from 12th to sixth in the first five revolutions. Ninth-starting Alex Bright was also on the move with the right-rear of his Lou Cicconi owned No. 77 planted on the cushion as he stormed forward in the high lane.
Bright muscled his way into the top four, then executed an exciting high-to-low maneuver on the front stretch as he threaded the needle between Sam Kravitsky and Hocker. The move propelled Bright into the runner-up position, and he went right back to the top in his pursuit of race leader Joey Jarowicz.
Bright rocketed around Jarowicz to grab the lead off turn four on the 17th tour, and he immediately pulled away from the field.
Pauch Jr. pulled a move similar to Bright with four to go, slicing his way between Hocker and Jarowicz to secure second place. By that time, however, Bright had checked out.
At the finish, it was Bright cashing in for his second victory of the season with Pauch Jr. settling for yet another runner-up payday. His effort, though, pushed Pauch into a tie for the point lead with Eddie Strada, who finished ninth.
Jarowicz pulled off his best-ever Action Track finish with a third place run. Tim Buckwalter and Hocker completed the top five.
The win was the fifth of Bright's career at Action Track USA, moving him into sole possession of second place (behind Tim Buckwalter, who has nine) on the 600 Sprints All Time Winners List at the speedway.
The fourth annual Kutztown Komet 100 for the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots began with 40 cars taking the green flag. The race is named in honor of the late Freddy Adam, the very successful and popular Modified racer who lived in the borough and was known as "the Kutztown Komet" during his long and illustrious career.
Brett Bieber, winner of the previous two 100-lappers, set the early pace with pole sitter Henry Anderson close behind. Bieber and Anderson raced side by side for several laps, with both of them taking turns as the leader, before Bieber gained the advantage and pulled in front. Behind the lead duo, Chris Kurtz, Seth Spayd, and Anthony Raisner wrestled for positions three through five.
On a restart with 47 circuits in the books, Bieber bobbled slightly in turns one and two, and Anderson pounced to regain the top spot. The race was stopped at the halfway mark and teams were allowed to make any adjustments they wanted as long as the work was done when the ten minute break came to a conclusion. The cars were parked on the homestretch so that fans could watch the crews as they worked on the cars.
When the race went back to green, Anderson opened some daylight between himself and Bieber. Dylan Hoch was now a force to be reckoned with, as he steered his way past Raisner, his teammate, as well as Spayd and Kurtz to run third behind Anderson and Bieber.
A yellow flag with two to go gave Bieber and Hoch one final shot at the leader, but Anderson calmly motored away on the restart and went on to win by almost three-quarters of a second over Bieber, with Hoch ending up in third. Spayd finished fourth and Alex Yankowski earned fifth-place money.
"The yellows were timely; I really didn't mind them a bit," smiled the winner afterward. "I did want the race to end, though...it's nerve-wracking when you are the leader and don't know how close second is. Tell you what, though...I'll run side by side with Brett Bieber any day. He's a clean driver and a class act; we ran all those laps side by side and never came close to touching. Beating him for this win makes it even more special."
-Action Track USA Press Release
-Photo Credit: PhilMar Photo