BUCKWALTER AND BULL SPLIT ARDC MAINS AT GRANDVIEW Bechtelsville, PA - Steve Buckwalter grew up about 20 miles from the Grandview Speedway. Though he was never a weekly competitor at the Bechtelsville track, it was always a dream of his to win...
BUCKWALTER AND BULL SPLIT ARDC MAINS AT GRANDVIEW
Bechtelsville, PA - Steve Buckwalter grew up about 20 miles from the Grandview Speedway. Though he was never a weekly competitor at the Bechtelsville track, it was always a dream of his to win a race there. Last Sunday night, in the first of two, wingless ARDC Midget features, the Royersford, PA native turned that dream into reality.
Buckwalter captured his second ARDC victory of the season by storming from his tenth-place starting spot to snare the lead from Steve Lenig at the halfway point. Buckwalter then held off five-time midget champion Ray Bull over the final six laps to secure the triumph.
In the second 20-lap main event, Bull registered his second win of the 2005 campaign, and the move he made to get the victory will be talked about for quite some time.
The first feature, postponed by rain on May 24, was restarted with one lap complete. Donnie Trent was in the lead, but Mike Miller flew by Trent's Equipment Service Co. no. 18 on lap two. Miller had just completed the pass when his engine expired, forcing him to watch the rest of the race from the infield.
Trent paced the next couple of circuits before losing the top spot to Steve Lenig. Lenig remained at the head of the pack until lap ten, when Buckwalter made his winning pass by charging around the Vortex Truck Bed Liner no. 9L on the backstretch.
Bull, Frank Polimeda, and rookie Andy Martin then ganged up on Lenig, as all three wheel-twisters slipped by the Selinsgrove resident with six tours remaining. Bull tried in vain to reel in the leader, but Buckwalter was too strong. The Victory Motorcycle no. 5 dashed under the checkered comfortably ahead of Bull, with Polimeda, Martin, and Lenig rounding out the top five.
"We just have a real good combination right now," explained Buckwalter in victory lane. The car is handling good, the engine is strong, and I think our shock program is better than ever. Our goal from the beginning of this year was to go for the championship, and that is still our main focus."
The second of the Twin 20's had an amazing 26-car field take the green. Pole-sitter Scott Zipp and Carey Becker traded the lead a few times in the early stages of the race before Zipp's 3-D Auto Parts no. 99 took command. Zipp's mount held the lead until Mike Miller, who jumped into one of the other Miller Racing Team cars for the second feature, wrestled the lead away from him just past the halfway mark of the event.
Miller sprinted to a big lead, with Bull sneaking into the runner-up spot with 2/3 of the race complete. It appeared that Bull's deficit was too great to overcome, but with two to go, the defending ARDC champion began closing the gap. Bull, from Bloomsburg, PA, was on Miller's back bumper as they saw the white flag.
Rocketing into turns three and four for the final time, Bull went high and rode the cushion. Miller slid up as they exited turn four, opening the door just enough for Bull to see some daylight. Ray launched the Lobitz Catering, Cafe Waldorf, Mega Motorsports no. 22 off the banking and went to the bottom as he acclerated off of four.
It was a drag race to the finish line, and Bull pulled ahead as he and Miller flew down the homestretch, taking Ron Grater's black and white rag a few feet in front of Millers' no. 00. Martin finished third, while Buckwalter came on late in the race to earn fourth-place money. Billy Pauch, Jr., steering the Starrett Racing no. 49 in place of Bryan Kobylarz, came from 23rd on the starting grid to finish fifth.
Asked if he planned the "slingshot" move that won him the race, Bull replied, "no, there's no time to plan something like that. You just kind of react to what's happening. I saw Mike drift up a little as he came off the corners, and he did it again coming off of four on that last lap. He gave me the room I needed to squeeze under him, and we won the race to the line.
This is great," Bull continued. "Grandview is such a great track for the midgets, and I am just so glad that they let us run here as part of the Central PA Speedweek show."
An impressive field of 27 midgets took part in one or both of the Twin 20's on Sunday. Two of those 27 cars were Ford Focus Midgets, with Ryan Smith (he won a heat race on May 24) finishing sixth in the opener. Smith was involved in a crash during the second feature. Nick Wean, the 2004 micro sprint champion at Bridgeport, drove the other Focus Midget to a 17th place finish in the second feature.
Drivers who recorded a pair of top-five paychecks at Grandview included Buckwalter, Bull, and the leading contender for Rookie of the Year honors, Andy Martin. Bull ended the evening with the win and a runner-up finish, while Buckwalter triumphed in the first feature and wound up fourth in the nightcap. Martin, the Gordonville, PA flash, went home with third and fourth-place finishes.
Frank Polimeda proved that he is not only a versatile driver, but he's plenty tough, too. Nursing a broken collarbone sustained in a crash in Lima, Ohio, the week before the event at Grandivew, Polimeda somehow steered his way to a third place run in the opener. He took the checkered flag in seventh position in the second race. Polimeda had a doctor with him at the track so he could receive treatment in between the features. "We speeded up the steering a bit so it would be easier for him to drive with one hand," commented his car owner, Lou Zrinski. "The doctor iced him down and worked on him between features. He thinks Frank will be in pretty good shape by the time we run again in two weeks."
Carey Becker, running one of Mega Motorsports three car stable of midgets, was also involved in a hard crash the week prior to Grandview. His wreck came at Eldora, and it left the team thrashing to get the car ready for Sunday's event. "We were still putting it back together on Saturday night," noted Becker. "We kept finding stuff that was broken from the crash at Eldora. We were going to order a new chassis because of the damage from that accident, but this one actually worked pretty good tonight. Maybe it's twisted to a point where it really works!" Becker finished tenth in the second feature, right behind teammate Dave Shirk.
Both of the wingless Twin 20's featured two and three-wide racing, with plenty of passing throughout the field.
The ARDC teams will take this weekend off to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday. The mighty midgets travel to the Orange County Fair Speedway on Saturday, July 9, for their next event. They will join the Modifieds, Sportsman, 358 Modifieds, and Pro Stocks, with the midgets slated to run wingless heats and a 20-lap feature.
FIRST 20-LAP FEATURE (CONTINUED FROM MAY 24): 1.Steve Buckwalter 2.Ray Bull 3.Frank Polimeda 4.Andy Martin 5.Steve Lenig 6.Ryan Smith 7.Tracy Miller 8.Donnie Trent 9.Shawn Burke 10.Bryan Kobylarz 11.Dave Shirk 12.Jeff Stelter 13.Lew Blair 14.Carey Becker 15.Scott Zipp 16.Chris Rupp DNF: Jim Jackson, Ted Schmid, Mike Miller, Michele Miller, Mike Krause, Steve Craig.
SECOND 20-LAP FEATURE: 1.Ray Bull 2.Mike Miller 3.Andy Martin 4.Steve Buckwalter 5.Billy Pauch, Jr. 6.Ed Stimely, Jr. 7.Frank Polimeda 8.Scott Zipp 9.Dave Shirk 10.Carey Becker 11.Donnie Trent 12.Tracy Miller 13.Steve Lenig 14.Shawn Burke 15.Jim Jackson 16.Lew Blair 17.Nick Wean 18.Jeff Schell 19.Chris Rupp DNF: Buddy Baker, Ryan Smith, Pete Pavlic, Bill Case, Jr., Michele Miller, Ted Schmid, Mark Lawshe.