HANOVER, PA, 5/25/03 - First time wins come in all shapes and sizes. For Brandon Grandstaff, it will be one he'll never forget. Grandstaff not only bested a stout 358 sprint feature field, but, more importantly, he beat Mother Nature at Trail-Way...
HANOVER, PA, 5/25/03 - First time wins come in all shapes and sizes. For Brandon Grandstaff, it will be one he'll never forget. Grandstaff not only bested a stout 358 sprint feature field, but, more importantly, he beat Mother Nature at Trail-Way Speedway Sunday night.
The Strasburg, Virginia driver grabbed the lead from his outside frontrow starting position at the drop of the green, diced his way through lapped traffic like a veteran, and then held off veteran 358 racer Dale Hammaker over the second half of the rain-shortened 17-lap feature to grab his inaugural 359 sprint win.
"This is awesome," said Grandstaff while sitting in his unsponsored No.09 sprinter afterwards while the rain fell. "I figured it would take me a lot longer to win a race in 358s...it took me three years in micro-sprints."
"The 358s are real competitive. A lot of fast cars and drivers. I don't have much seat time. I don't have as good equipment as some of them guys. I just figured it would take a lot longer to get this first win. This is about my fifth race this year and actually ran only two races last year where I made it through the whole night without something going wrong."
But after making all the right moves and staying out of trouble over the first 17 laps, that doesn't come close to telling the whole story.
After doing all the right things, Mother Natured tried her best, along with Hammaker, to take it away at the last moment.
With light rain falling though-out the scheduled 20 lap feature, Grandstaff seemed to be holding his own. But the rain began coming down harder after the half-way sign was given, making it harder for the former micro-sprint and quarter-midget driver to see, and keep his car low in the turns to protect his lead.
Just as the leaders headed into the third and fourth turns to receive the two-laps to go signal, Grandstaff suddenly slipped up the track, allowing Hammaker to slip by for the lead, or so it appeared.
But before Hammaker could get to the start-finish line to officially be scored the leader, the caution waved for the spinning lapped car of Billy Heltzel in the same turns.
This allowed Grandstaff to retake the point for the restart. It was at that time that the rain began to come down so hard, that the track officials had no choice but to checker the feature after 17 laps, giving Grandstaff the dramatic win.
"Dale (Hammaker) is fast and good where ever he goes," Grandstaff said. "The more it rained the slicker it got and it was harder to stay on the bottom."
"There at the end I couldn't see anything and went to go into turn three and about hit the wall with all the rain and stuff. I'm just lucky it ended when it did or I wouldn't have got the win at all."
After taking the lead at the outset, Grandstaff had fourth-starting Jon Keller and polesitter Brain Eichelberger on his tail when the race's first caution came out on the second lap for a Rory Janney and Billy Heltzel tangle in the third and fourth turns.
Grandstaff hung tough on the restart and continued to lead Keller by 2.56 seconds when the caution waved again, this time for a John Miller spin in the first and second turns on the 10th lap.
But by then, 10th-starting Hammaker, eighth-starting Billy Dietrich, and third-starting Judd Shepard were into the top-five following Grandstaff and Keller for the restart.
A wild three car battle for second between those cars allowed Grandstaff to open up a sizeable 3.02 second lead as Hammaker finally secured the runner-up spot with Dietrich and Shepard following.
The caution waved once again on the 12th lap when former micro-sprint standout Brad McClelland ended up in the first and second turn wall and Pat Small stopped in the fourth turn.
With the rain beginning to come down harder by the lap, Grandstaff seemed to have enough traction to hold off the former Williams Grove Speedway 358 sprint champ. But with five laps to go, Billy Dietrich closed up on both Grandstaff and Hammaker making it a three-car race for the win.
But suddenly Dietrich slowed on the frontstretch after completing the 17th lap, with a plume of smoke trailing, bringing out the caution yet again as the rain continued to fall.
The green flag waved to start the final three laps to the checkered with Hammaker all over Grandstaff as they exited the second turn.
Grandstaff then suddenly shot up the track after entering turn three, giving what appeared to be the opening Hammaker was waiting for and shot under him for the lead as they exited the turn.
But before Hammaker could get to the line to officially lead the 18th lap, the caution waved for the Heltzel spin, and the rest was history as the lead reverted back to Grandstaff with the rain coming down in buckets, forcing the race to be red-flagged and checkered.
"It wouldn't have been possible (to win) if I wouldn't have started on the front row," said Grandstaff. "That's how it goes and you've got to take advantage of it when you get it."
"May parents are may sponsors and if it wouldn't be for them I wouldn't be here. My other sponsors dropped me. I've got to thank all my friends, Jeremy, Nate and Bill for helping and all the guys that come out and help in the garage during the week."
Grandstaff was officially announced the winner as he sat in his sprinter in the rain-soaked muddy infield after finally coming to a stop following the red flag.
"Last year I just didn't have any seat time and had just a lot of bad luck," said the second-year 358 sprint driver. "I tore the car up, blew the motor...this year I'm just taking my time and just get as many laps as I can and try not to tear any thing up."
Hammaker was forced to settle for second, Shepard third, Eichelberger fourth, and 16th-starting Scott Ausherman fifth.
Completing the top-10 were Keller, Kyle Purks, Frankie Herr, Dan Dietrich and John Miller.
Heat winners for the 26 "358" sprints on hand were won by Shepard, Rusty Rupp, and Eichelberger, with McClelland winning the consolation.
The rain forced them both the thundercar and street stock features to be postponed. The make-up thundercar feature will now be added to the Friday night, June 6th show, while the street stock feature make-up date has yet to be determined.
Heat winners for the 21 thundercars were won by Bobby Rudisill and Jeremy Brown.
Heat winners for the 26 street stocks were won by Doug King, Don Owens, and Barb Neiderer, with Ron Myers Jr. winning the consolation.
Trail-Way swings back into action next Friday night, May 30th, with the special Auto Locator Spring Championships to be run for both the Coors Light 358 sprinters and the thundercars. The sprinters will race 30 laps for the $1,200 top prize while the thundercars will go 25 laps for an increased purse as well. The Street Stocks will round out the evening's racing action which will get underway a 7:30 PM. Gates will open at 5:30 PM.
Then on Saturday night, May 31st, it will be a standard Saturday night show featuring the Predator Racecraft 250cc & 600cc Micro-Sprints, Scramble Cars (4 & 6 cylinder), Figure 8's & Classic Cars at 7 PM. Gates open at 4:45 PM.
Sunday - May 25, 2003
Coors Light 358 Sprint Car Series:
Feature (20 Laps) - 1. 09-Brandon Grandstaff ($800); 2. 66-Dale Hammaker; 3. 3J-Judd Shepard; 4. 55-Brian Eichelberger; 5. 39-Scott Ausherman; 6. 20-Jon Keller; 7. 64K-Kyle Purks; 8. 26-Frankie Herr; 9. 8-Dan Dietrich; 10. 0M-John Miller; 11. 73-Ryan Rupp; 12. 12-Mike Bittinger; 13. 98-Troy Becker; 14. 29-Joe Ross; 15. 5A-Brian Allman; 16. 88J-Rory Janney; 17. 8D-Billy Dietrich (DNF); 18. 28H-Bill Heltzel Jr. (DNF); 19. 24-Pat Small (DNF); 20. 6-Brad McClelland (DNF). No Time
Lap Leaders - Brandon Grandstaff (1-17)
1st Heat (8 Laps/6 to qualify) - 1. 3J-Judd Shepard; 2. 20-Jon Keller; 3. 26-Frankie Herr; 4. 66-Dale Hammaker; 5. 64K-Kyle Purks; 6. 39-Scott Ausherman; 7. 8-Dan Dietrich; 8. 85-Ken Berwager; 9. 13X-Jennifer Yinger. No Time
2nd Heat (8 Laps/6 to qualify) - 1. 73-Rusty Rupp; 2. 0M-John Miller; 3. 8D-Billy Dietrich; 4. 24-Pat Small; 5. 88J-Rory Janney; 6. 5A-Brian Allman; 7. 88-Danny Dietrich; 8. 6-Brad McClelland (DNF); DNS - 22D-Jeff Young. No Time
3rd Heat (8 Laps/6 to qualify) - 1. 55-Brain Eichelberger; 2. 09-Brandon Grandstaff; 3. 12-Mike Bittinger; 4. 28H-Bill Heltzel Jr.; 5. 29-Joe Ross; 6. 98-Troy Becker; 7. 29T-Neil Amspacher; 8. 13-Bo Gordon; 9. 58-Aaron Long (DNF). No Time
Consolation (8 Laps/2 to qualify) - 1. 6-Brad McClelland; 2. 8-Dan Dietrich; 3. 85-Ken Berwager; 4. 88-Danny Dietrich; 5. 58-Aaron Long; 6. 29T-Neil Amspacher; 7. 13-Bo Gordon; 8. 13X-Jennifer Yinger; DNS - 22D-Jeff Young. Time - 2:01.15
Feature (20 Laps) - Postponed until June 6th due to rain
1st Heat (8 Laps) - 1. 3R-Bobby Rudisill; 2. 98-Randy Zechman; 3. 21-Jerry Bingaman; 4. 34M-Jim Martz Jr.; 5. 39-Howard Williams; 6. 8-Robert Bopst; 7. 12-Jake Markey (DNF); 8. 5-Mike Fletcher (DNF); 9. 7X-Dale Hunt (DNF); DNS - 83-Fred Lloyd. No Time
2nd Heat (8 Laps) - 1. 2-Jeremy Brown; 2. 3-Mike Gladfelter; 3. 22-Mark Shorb; 4. 15-Doug Devilbiss; 5. 1-Neil Smith; 6. 51-Chad Myers; 7. 19-John McDonough Jr. (DNF); 8. W-Bryan Wagaman (DNF); 9. 91-Tom Slusser Jr. (DNF); 10. 31-Ron Shultz (DNF); DNS - 67-Randy Doty. No Time
Feature (15 Laps) - Postponed due to rain (TBD)
1st Heat (8 Laps/6 to qualify) - 1. 23-Doug King; 2. 39-Mike Herman; 3. 42-Jim Bigelow Jr.; 4. 88X-Tim Hahn; 5. 07-Robert Stough; 6. 84-Josh Wildasin; 7. 51-Kyle Lear (DNF); 8. 70-Rick Weaver (DNF); 9. 24-Jason Armolt (DNF). No Time
2nd Heat (8 Laps/6 to qualify) - 1. 48-Don Owens; 2. 56-Mike Kress; 3. 60-Danny Beard; 4. 77-Justin Mong; 5. 3-Todd Miller; 6. 65-Walt Mann; 7. 94-Ron Myers Jr.; 8. 45-Phil Heffner (DNF); 9. 12-Ted Forsythe (DNF). Time - 2:53.33
3rd Heat (8 Laps/6 to qualify) - 1. 6N-Barb Neiderer; 2. 6-Randy May; 3. 20-Chris Holston; 4. 30-Richard Howes; 5. 00-Randy Crunkilton; 6. 76-Robert Bare; 7. 33-Len Yorty; 8. 1R-Barry Rinehart (DNF). Time - 2:52.07
Consolation (8 Laps/2 to qualify) - 1. 94-Ron Myers Jr.; 2. 70-Rick Weaver; 3. 33-Len Yorty; 4. 45-Phil Heffner; 5. 51-Kyle Lear; 6. 12-Ted Forsythe; 7. 1R-Barry Rinehart; DNS - 24-Jason Armolt. No Time