GILBERTSVILLE, PA November 15, 2003 . . . For the second straight year and third time in his long career as a professional stock car racer Jeff Strunk was honored as the 2003 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Modified champion at Grandview Speedway. And...
GILBERTSVILLE, PA November 15, 2003 . . . For the second straight year and third time in his long career as a professional stock car racer Jeff Strunk was honored as the 2003 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Modified champion at Grandview Speedway. And Randy Stoudt received the honors for the first time as the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Late Model champion. More than 500 people filled the Gilbertsville, PA Fire Co. Social Hall on Saturday night to honor the champions and other outstanding performers as the speedway celebrated the conclusion of its 41st consecutive season of stock car racing.
Strunk, winner of two NASCAR feature races during the season in addition to the prestigious T.H. Properties Freedom 76 (worth $20,000), shared the championship honors with his car owner Chad Sinon, a very successful Blue Bell, PA businessman. The team tallied up 4,139 points in one of the closest battles for the title in track history. Strunk, who calls Bethel, PA home, and Sinon earned $10,000 from speedway, approximately $23,000 from NASCAR for finishing second in the New England Regional standings, and additional point money from NASCAR. In addition there was a championship ring (custom made) and huge trophies that stood at least six feet high.
The champion and his fiancee will be part of the Champion's Trip that will have about 40 people (fans, friends and racers) heading to Long Beach, California to cruise the Western coast of Mexico. The trip is a special award given by the Rogers Family to thank the champion for his support of racing at Grandview and is valued in excess of $3,000.
Strunk and Sinon indicated that they will return to defend their title and Strunk will have a teammate in Bobby Trapper. Three new Bicknell race cars are in various stages of completion.
Meme DeSantis, a veteran racer from Temple, PA led the point chase for much of the season but had to settle for second after some late season tough luck. He had 4082 points and Jon Kellner, Sr. earned third with 3890 counters.
Randy Stoudt shared his championship awards with his car owners Jack Grocki and Chris Hudak. The championship effort was built on consistency as the team was not able to crack victory lane in a feature event (after winning seven in 2002) but were consistent top ten performers.
The Pottstown racer tallied 4377 points to earn a nice chunk of cash from Grandview Speedway and additional money in NASCAR point money. Strunk also received another custom created championship ring to add to his collection. In addition Stoudt and his car owners each went home with huge trophies.
The 2002 Late Model champion Lou Egrie finished second in the standings with 4131 points while four time track champion Dean Stoudt tallied 3899 points to finish third.
The top twenty drivers and top ten car owners in each division earned beautiful trophies. The top ten drivers and top five car owners all receive point fund money from the speedway. And the top twenty drivers in each division each receive additional point money from NASCAR.
Beautiful photographs were presented by Don Marks, track photographer, to the top three finishers in each division.
NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series awards were presented by NASCAR representative Paul Schaefer, Editor of NASCAR Magazine, to Modified champion Jeff Strunk along with second place finisher Meme DeSantis and third place finisher Jon Kellner, Sr.
In the Late Model division NASCAR awards went to champion Randy Stoudt along with second place Lou Egrie and third place Dean Stoudt.
Randy Stoudt also received an award for finished fifth in the New England Regional ShorTrack Division.
Ken Sandman earned the NASCAR Craftsman Mechanic of the Year at Grandview Speedway.
One of the most prestigious awards presented during the evening was the Jerry Glase Memorial Award. The statue is presented in memory of Glase, a long time track employee, who lost a battle with cancer in September, 2002. The award is sponsored by Ernie and Marilyn Saxton and was presented to long time track photographer Don Marks who does so much for the speedway public relations efforts behind the scenes.
"Don is an example of the behind the scenes people who work so hard for the track as did our good friend Jerry Glase. We want to keep his memory alive and we want the award to grow in stature each year," said Saxton who is the track announcer and public relations person.
Special awards in the modified division went to:
Rookie of the Year: Ben Hatt
Best Newcomers : Brad Missimer and Sean Merkel
Most Improved Driver: Jon Kellner Sr. finishing third this season after finishing 11th in 2002
Best Appearing Crew: Shawn Reimert and Kochel Motorsports team
Best Appearing Car: Kyle Weiss #21K
Sportsmanship Award : Ryan Watt
Hard Luck Award: Meme DeSantis
Special awards in the late model division were earned by:
Rookie of the year: Chris Shuey
Best Newcomers: Mike Wunderlich
Most Improved Driver: Steve Sennott, 2003 finished 12th coming from 20th place in 2002
Best Appearing Crew: Wharton Motorsports teams, 7 & 7B
Best Appearing Car : Harry Neiman Jr. #34
Sportsmanship Award: Ron Chrisman
Hard Luck Award: John Durling
The team of Meme DeSantis and car owner Norm Hansell earned a bonus of $1,000 from D&S Archery of Barto, PA and Rossi Welding of Reading, PA. The bonus was for winning the most qualifying heat events during NASCAR sanction stock car racing. There was actually a tie with DeSantis and Craig VonDohren each winning eight heats. As was announced early in the season the award, in case of a tie, went to the team finishing the highest in final point standings.
The Grandview Groove Most Popular Driver Awards, based on the vote of the fans, went to Doug Manmiller in the Modifieds and Chuck Schutz in the Late Models. The awards are presented each year by Ernie Saxton Communications, Inc., publishers of the weekly track magazine.
Several appreciation awards were presented to Emma Schnable, T.H.Properties (sponsors of the Freedom 76) and Stauffer Construction (sponsors of the Forrest Rogers Memorial).
Awards for "keeping the show moving" went to Mutter's Auto Sales, Sheetz Auto Sales, Miller,Schoenly and Benfield, Arny's Towing, BerksMont Towing and R.B Christel Hauling.
Several members of the media enjoying the evening as guests of the speedway received gifts to thank them for their support throughout the season.
Speedway management has announced that present plans call for the track to be open for their annual "free-to-the-public" practice session on Saturday, March 27th and kick off the 42nd season officially on Saturday, April 3rd when the NASCAR Modifieds and Late Models are featured in a doubleheader show.
The 2004 schedule should be available in late December or early January. Season tickets are presently being offered for the 2004 racing season. Fans and racers are invited to visit the Grandview Speedway website at www.grandviewspeedway.com to be part of the track email/mailing list. In addition the website outlines information on group rates that are available and how organizations can use the group rates as fundraisers.