Gular Bests Kressley in Heavyweight Battle, Grandview Opener Notes – DTD Exclusive


In what can only be described as a heavyweight fight at Grandview Speedway, Mike Gular threw the final punch to win the $7,500 to win Bruce Rogers Moneymaker at Grandview Speedway. It was a true battle throughout the race as Gular, Brett Kressley, Jared Umbenhauer and Jeff Strunk all went at it tooth and nail that kept the fans on their feet. Those four drivers put on a show for the fans as they weaved through lapped traffic during the middle portion of the race. Once the action slowed down due to caution flags, it came down to two combatants consisting of Gular and Kressley.

Kressley, who had been following Gular since lap 20, was able to use a lapped car to his advantage to sneak by Gular for the lead on lap 31. Once in front Kressley started to put a little distance on Gular but a lap 37 yellow bunched up the field once again. On the restart, Gular made a bold move on the inside of Kressley going into turn one to try and retake the lead, but Kressley held firm and continued to lead the way coming out of turn two. One lap later, the yellow was out again for Ryan Grim giving Gular another chance at Kressley.

This time, Gular tried the same move and this time he made the move stick and powered by Kressley to take back the lead. Kressley tried to get the lead back going through turns three and four but to no avail as Gular held the point. The remaining laps saw Gular put a small but safe distance between himself and Kressley to take the big win in the Terry Fastnacht owned No. 2A.

“That was an awesome race and boy we needed that one after losing that race down in Delaware the other week,” said a happy and relieved Gular post-race. “I was really down on myself after Delaware and during the last five laps of this race I was laser focused on hitting my marks and not making a mistake to cost us another big win. I still can’t believe that we won.”

The racing was phenomenal between himself, Kressley, Umbenhauer and Strunk and Gular commented on what it was like racing with them.

“Man, that was some fun racing with Umbenhauer, Kressley and Jeff (Strunk) during that one stretch,” explained Gular. “I got lucky on the one lap when Umbenhauer got by me after I shoved the nose there but thank God the yellow came out there to put me back in front. I think I probably could’ve gotten him back on the restart because this car was awesome on restarts tonight and that is obviously what helped me win the race.”

Once the race sorted out, it was Gular versus Kressley and those two drivers didn’t disappoint as they raced hard and clean.

“I got stuck behind a lapped car and Kressley used it to his advantage to get by me and that’s just the way it is here,” mentioned Gular. “The lapped cars weren’t moving, and they were double wide and you had to figure where to go and he just closed up and when you are in second you can see what is going on and kind of manipulate the chess match at that point.”

Gular got his chance for redemption on the final two restarts of the race and he didn’t let the chance slip away as he was able to take advantage of his car being great on restarts to get back to the lead.

“On the first restart, I tried to get under him enough to get up in front of him but I wasn’t far enough up on that one and didn’t want to wreck him or myself so I backed off and hoped we would get another one before the end of the race so I could try the same move,” said Gular. “Luckily, we had another caution and this time I was able to do the same exact thing and this time I got far enough in front where I could slide up in front of him to get back in front. I couldn’t believe he let me do the same move twice.”

Winning at Grandview is always special for Gular who grew up going to Grandview and watching his father Rudy race here and now he has won two of the big three races at the track. Gular won the 76er back in 2019 and with winning the Bruce Rogers Moneymaker race tonight now has only the Forrest Rogers Memorial left to complete the trifecta.

“Yeah, this one means a lot to me, this is where I grew up and it is always special when you can win a race here,” explained Gular. “We did a lot of traveling last year and this year we are going to try and keep it closer to home and limit ourselves to three to four hours away. We’ve had a good start to the season, almost winning at Delaware and winning tonight. We have been fast everywhere and competitive and that is all you can ask for. We were a little bit off last night at Big Diamond, but we will get that straightened out going forward. This is the same car we drove at Diamond last night and we all worked hard in my driveway this morning to turn it around for tonight. Terry (car owner Terry Fastnacht) has built us a beautiful new shop in Ephrata, but we decided to save the time and just work on it at my house which is only ten minutes down the road.

“I just cannot thank Terry enough for what he does for us and allowing me to race like we do, unfortunately he wasn’t here tonight with us because of the cold weather but I’ll make sure I get him a video of the race. This has the making of a fun season, we have the right people in place now and hopefully it will continue to click for us.”

Kressley Disappointed with second

Once Brett Kressley took the lead from Gular on Saturday most of the crowd anticipated the race was over at that point. It is not very often that Kressley will relinquish the lead once he is in front but that is exactly what happened Saturday night leaving the Orefield, PA driver wondering what could have been.

“That restart really cost us the win,” explained Kressley. “I didn’t get the best restart there and he (Gular) did what he had to do to win and here we are. I’ll take a second I guess; it is our first finish of the season and after last night (the motor blew while running second at Big Diamond) so we’ll take it.

“We know we have fast cars; we were in position two nights in a row to win so there is not much more than you can ask for. We just have to get a little bit better and dot our I’s and cross our T’s a little better and we will be sitting in victory lane.”

Kressley and Gular put on a battle with some good hard and clean racing and this time the No. 19k came out on the short end.

“I thought our cars were fairly even, it was just about getting clean air there at the end,” explained Kressley. “If I had to think about it more, I probably should have taken the bottom there on the last restart and maybe it would have been a little different outcome but who knows. Bottom line is that we got second and it was a good way to start the season and a good points night.”

Strunk Settles in for a Solid Third

As one of the big three at Grandview Speedway Jeff Strunk is never completely satisfied with finishing third but on this night, the “Bechtelsville Bullet” took what the car gave him and raced to a podium finish.

“It was a good solid run for us,” stated Strunk. “We need to find a little bit more speed yet, but we had a good car and I think it was definitely as good a car as the guys in front of us and maybe even a little bit better. We just have to tweak on the handling and find a little more speed and I really think we have something to work with.”

Strunk went on to talk about the middle portion of the race when the four leaders were running nose to tail in and out of lapped traffic.

“Man, that was fun,” explained Strunk. “We were all balls to the wall and as hard as you could go every lap. I settled in fourth there, but I didn’t take it easy by any means. I just didn’t want to push the issue and lost a tire or something like that, but I am telling you, every lap was as hard as you could go and hammer down and that is what Grandview racing is all about. I wish the track had gotten a little wider and the last 10 or 15 laps the bottom started to go away but man that was a good race. We went from 12th to 3rd, so we definitely had a good car, and it sets us up for a good season.”

Moneymaker Tidbits

There were a total of 34 TP Trailers 358 Modifieds signed in for action on Saturday night. Winning the four heats were Kevin Hirthler, Craig Von Dohren, Brett Kressley & Justin Grim…

Long time Grandview Modified standout Doug Manmiller had a night he would rather forget. Manmiller qualified easily in his heat race and looked to have a stout No. 44 Lee Miller modified underneath him for the main event. Unfortunately for the “Handler,” he was caught up in tangle not of his doing early in the feature which resulted in a flip. Fortunately, Manmiller was okay but the same could not have been said for the car…

New Grandview Saturday night regular Ryan Watt had his night go bad after being caught up in the Manmiller wreck. After a quick trip to the pits, Watt was able to return to the race with his battle-scarred No.  14W and soldier on to a 12th place finish…

Car owners of the Logan Watt No. 4M and the Ryan Watt No. 14W, Ron Roberts and Fay Lancaster made the long drive from Delaware to watch their team’s race….

Great job by the staff and officials at Grandview on Saturday night to push the show along quickly for the fans and teams on an extremely cold April night…

Eddie Strada was aboard his No. 33 modified had a solid night at a track he doesn’t get run very often. At the end of the 50-lap feature, Strada finished a strong seventh…

The Sportsman feature saw a great battle with Logan Watt and Brian Hirthler going at in the beginning laps and then it was Hirthler and Brett Gilmore in the latter stages with Hirthler taking home the checkered flag. Congratulations to Brian Hirthler for becoming the all-time feature wins leader in the Sportsman division at Grandview…

Craig Von Dohren was never able to get up into the mix for the win on Saturday night. Von Dohren, who started 13th in the main-event, was trapped in traffic in the early laps and by the time he got his No. 30 rolling, it was too late. Von Dohren did end up with a strong fourth place finish at night’s end…

Saturday night’s “Moneymaker 50” was the fifth time the race has been run and there has yet to be a repeat winner. Tim Buckwalter, Matt Sheppard, Duane Howard and Craig Von Dohren were the four previous winners…

This year was also the first time the race has counted towards the season ending points championship. Winner Mike Gular has stated that his Terry Fastnacht No. 2A team will not run a steady schedule on Saturday night even though he currently sits atop the point standings. Only time will tell, I guess…

I can be reached for any comments and questions by email at or on Twitter @dirtracefan25.