Pauch Jr. gets 2023 STSS off to Good Start – DTD Exclusive


To say Billy Pauch Jr’s 2022 Short Track Super Series South region season was a disappointment would be a total understatement. The results from his STSS campaign left a lot to be desired for both himself and car owner Rick Holsten. 

Pauch’s STSS South Region finishes read like this. In March at Port Royal, the team finished 12th, onto Delaware Speedway and Pauch recorded his only STSS top 10 of the year with a 10th place finish. At New Egypt where Pauch is a two-time track champion the team finished 21st, then backed that up with another 21st place finish at Bloomsburg Fair Speedway. The series next visited his home track of Bridgeport Motorsports Park and they were only able to muster up a 17th place result. Next up was Georgetown Speedway for the Beach Blast which is a race that Pauch has previously found victory and the team finished a disappointing 18th. Back to Port Royal for the Speed Showcase 200 and a 33rd place result. Returning to Georgetown for the Mid-Atlantic Championship Weekend was a weekend to forget as Pauch was involved in a hard crash during the running of the Camp Barnes Memorial race that resulted in Pauch having to sit out the last race due to a broken back.

Those results don’t tell the whole story. Pauch and his No. 96 team had speed but unfortunately things just didn’t go their way suffering untimely issues. Whether it be a broken motor, flat tire or whatever, it was just one of those years for the Pauch/Holsten team.

The team regrouped over the winter and came back looking to turn the page in 2023 and rebound and put themselves back amongst the title contenders. If Saturday’s results in the Icebreaker at Selinsgrove Speedway are a precursor to the year, the team has rebounded and found their mojo once again. Pauch started deep in his heat and worked his way up to redraw spot at the finish. A second-place start in the feature didn’t hurt matters but the team was fast and definitely had a car capable of winning the race.

The team ultimately finished where they started in second place, but it was the start the team needed to get their 2023 campaign off to a good start.

“I always tell it like it is and last year we sucked on this tour,” said a happy Pauch Jr., after the race. “There is no holding it back. Listen, sixth to second in the heat is what set us up for today. It was important to get into the redraw. The team told me that I sucked at drawing, so I fired myself and hired Danny Creeden’s daughter (Sadie) and she drew second for me.”

Going into the feature, the track looked like it was going to be a typical windy March day race track which means having a little character and bottom dominant with passing at a premium. The key for Pauch was to get my polesitter Maresca on the initial start to set himself up to control the restarts afterwards.

“I thought the initial start was going to be important and it was,” explained Pauch. “I had to beat him going into turn one and they had just watered the track and I spun my wheels going into one. If I didn’t do that it would’ve been a different race.”

One of the early restarts saw third place runner Ryan Godown get by Pauch but Pauch was able to regain the spot quickly.

“I lost second to Ryan (Godown) there on the one restart but was able to work myself back by him,” said Pauch. “After that I was able to settle in there in second. Between laps 13 and 15 I thought I was catching him and was able to get within a couple of car lengths of him. If the race would’ve stayed green I think I could’ve diced with him a little bit as I thought both cars were pretty equal. If we could’ve got to a group of lapped cars we might have had something for him, but the lapped cars were strung out and it just never happened.

“I think toward the end he had that open track and the aero took over at that point. He also changed his lane some and started using the middle more. There was a little bit of rubber there and he found it and that was what smoked me. I found it with about one to go but it was too late at that point. Look, I never would have never got him so it didn’t really matter but I should have changed lanes earlier than I did.”

With Maresca not currently planning on racing this weekend at Bridgeport that would technically mean that Pauch is the STSS Rental Equipment/Party Central South Region points leader going into this weekend which sets him up for a good year going forward.

“A lot of the people that had a good year on the South series last season had a bad day today,” commented Pauch. “So, we’ll take and move onto Bridgeport next week and look to keep it going.”

It has been well documented that Pauch suffered a bad back injury last October in Georgetown that forced him to miss some races. Pauch’s return to racing came at the indoor race at Atlantic City and he has raced a few times after that. The track at Selinsgrove had some character to it as would any other track that raced in the daytime in March. I asked Pauch how his back was feeling afterwards.

“The track today will give you a good idea about how my back has recovered,” explained Pauch. “That is not a knock on the Selinsgrove at all. It’s just the way it was. I call it having character and I felt it mid-race, but at that point your adrenaline is pumping. Now that I am talking to you and unwinding, I can feel it pretty good. They say once it’s mended it is technically hard to break it again in the same spot. My old man told me this week that a lot of people don’t come back from injuries and run good so I hoped I proved him wrong today by finishing second. Besides tailing the back end at the Lincoln race, we have been pretty strong to start the year and that was me testing some stuff since there were not a lot of cars there.  After the race I burned those notes.”

There has been speculation on where Pauch and the Holsten No. 96 team will call home on Saturday night’s in 2023 and Pauch gave me a little indication of what those plans will be.

“We are excited and looking forward to the year,” said Pauch. “On the small side we are leaning toward going back to New Egypt this year and we are looking forward to going back to our home track.  Bridgeport was great and we will go back there the next two weekends and go from there.”