BECHTELSVILLE, PA SEPTEMBER 15, 2001 . . . For the first half of the 30-lap NASCAR Modified feature race at Grandview Speedway on Saturday night it looked as if Duane Howard had no chance to win. In the second half of the race Howard, a former...
BECHTELSVILLE, PA SEPTEMBER 15, 2001 . . . For the first half of the 30-lap NASCAR Modified feature race at Grandview Speedway on Saturday night it looked as if Duane Howard had no chance to win. In the second half of the race Howard, a former track champion, was not willing to give anyone else a chance as he held off the strong efforts of current track champion Craig VonDohren and former champion Jeff Strunk to win his first of the year at the Berks County clay oval.
Jeff Busby, a rookie sprint car racing talent, won his second of the season with the United Racing Club sprint cars when he took the win in a 20-lap feature, shortened from the original 25 lap event.
"It didn't seem like we had anything for Craig in the first half. He is always a tough competitor here at Grandview. But things just seemed to change in the second half. Things just came together for us," said Howard in victory lane.
And then he added, "All this, though it is great to win here because it is so tough to win here, is not that important when you think about what happened in this country this week." Howard, of course, was referring to the tragedies in New York, Washington, D.C and Western Pennsylvania.
Fans at the NASCAR sanctioned track took part in a remembrance ceremony that included appropriate readings, appropriate music including God Bless America and a moment of silence. All of the drivers and crews were brought to the main straightaway to share in the remembrance. Red, White and blue colors, flags, were seen everywhere.
Later in the evening drivers went through the grandstand with their helmets and fans donated close to $2500 to the relief fund.
At the drop of the green Craig VonDohren put the Mrs T's Pierogies #114 in front of the field from his second place starting position. And for the first half of the race it looked like a "sure bet" that VonDohren would become the winningest modified racer in history at the one-third-mile clay track. It did not turn out that way.
At the midway mark Duane Howard, who had challenged VonDohren for much of the early laps, with Doug Manmiller giving the leaders something to think about, took the lead. For several laps VonDohren tried the inside and the outside, and even gave a couple "reminders" to Howard that he was behind him.
With five to go Howard (Oley) had control of the event, VonDohren (Barto) had not given up hope and Jeff Strunk (Bethel) was making things interesting from his third place position.
And that was the way they ran for the final laps. Later on VonDohren indicated that an initial look at the engine compartment, after the race, showed they may have lost a cylinder. "We are not making any excuses. Duane drove a good race," said the track champion. And VonDohren is expected to return for the final Saturday night show, trying to win another feature and become the winningest modified driver in track history. He is currently tied with Rick Schaffer, 47 wins each.
Fourth place went Tom Mayberry (Sellersville) and Glenn Strunk (Bechtelsville) got fifth.
The United Racing Club sprint car feature had Jeff Busby (Bridgeville, Delaware) taking the lead with his JOB Construction entry at the start and leading all 20 laps of the Bar's Leaks URC sprint feature. Kevin Welsh was coming on strong, and probably could have used the five laps cut from the event by URC officials to his advantage, but had to settle for a second place. Chris Coyle, current URC point leader, finished a solid third. Impressive was Mike Haggenbottom as he went to the rear of the field early and charged back toward the front to grab fourth. Sam Ross earned a solid fifth place finish.
The feature included a variety of incidents and cautions that created almost 40 caution laps. To avoid a "late night" fuel stop URC officials cut the feature to 20 laps catching some racers and fans by surprise. There were no injuries as a result of any of the accidents.
With 54 modifieds on hand five qualifying heats were run with wins going to Jason Smythe, Craig VonDohren, Duane Howard, Doug Manmiller and Rick Laubach. The consolation events were won by Ron Mawson, Keith Brightbill and Ray Swinehart. VonDohren earned $358 for winning the Automotive Machining Services Cash Dash.
Qualifying events for the URC sprinters, making their second Saturday night appearance of the season, went to Sam Ross, Kevin Welsh, Jeff Busby and Mike Haggenbottom. The "B" Feature was won by Ashley Parlett.
The final regular season Saturday night show of stock car racing will be presented this Saturday, September 22, with a 5 p.m. starting time. Featured will be open competition modifieds, late models and sportsman stock cars.
Modified and late model racers are reminded, for the open competition events, conventional bodies only are allowed. Open carburetors. Open wheel and tires. No fuel injection. No BAT cars and for the modifieds there is a mandatory 2350 pound weight rule.
Pits will open for this final event at 2 p.m. Cars should be signed in by 3 p.m. Racing will get the green flag at 5 p.m. For spectators the gates will open at 3 p.m.
On Saturday, October 20, 6 p.m. the NAPA Auto Parts Thunder on the Hill Show will offer features only including 410 sprints, modifieds, KARS sprints, ARDC midgets and late model stock cars. Plans are being made to include a Halloween party as part of the race activities.
Saturday, October 27, the annual auto racing flea market will be staged on the speedway grounds. And on Saturday, November 17, the annual Grandview Speedway Awards Banquet will be presented at the Gilbertsville, PA Fire Hall starting at 6 p.m. Doors open at 4 p.m. Grandview Speedway is located on Passmore Road, just off Route 100 in Bechtelsville, PA, 10 miles north of Pottstown. For racing information telephone 610.754.7688 or visit their website at www.grandviewspeedway.com.