BECHTELSVILLE, PA – Out of action due to the COVID19 virus, racing finally returned to the Grandview Speedway 1/3-mile banked clay oval on Saturday night presenting the third annual VP Racing Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorial Money Maker 50-lap Big Block/Small Block Modified feature.
Rogers, the man who helped build the track, along with his father Forrest, was one of the most respected auto racing promoters in the business. During the 55 years of running the facility he was able to bring it to national notoriety. One of the most successful short track racing operations has continued under the operation of members of the Rogers family since he passed away.
Over 54 Modifieds and 35 Sportsman cars lined the pit area to partake in the action to start the 58th consecutive season set with six Modified heats and four Sportsman heats along with consies to see who would make the show.
When the jam packed night of stock car racing action was over Tim Buckwalter had won the Third Annual VP Race Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorial Money Maker 50-lapper that featured big and small block racers battling for the $7,500 top prize. And Brian Hirthler took home the win money in the 25-lap T.P.Truck Equipment Sportsman main event. Each driver that qualified for the 50-lapper earned at least $1,000.
Modified qualifying heats winners were Brian Hirthler, Rick Laubach, Brett Kressley, Billy Pauch Jr., Tim Buckwalter and Kyle Weiss. Consi winners were Dom Buffalino, Jeff Strunk and Mike Lisowski.
Cole Stangle, Brandon Edgar, Ryan Beltz and Brad Brightbill were the heat winners in the Sportsman with Ryan Higgs and Dakota Kohler winning the consies.
Every driver that made the main event through the heats redrew for starting positions.
Through the luck of the draw in the 50-lap event, Billy Pauch Jr. pulled the number one starting grid for the Bruce Rogers Memorial and kept the Rod Breitenstein/BMS Racing No. 14 in the lead until Tim Buckwalter dove underneath him coming off the fourth turn to put the Norm Saxton-owned No. 23X at the front of the pack.
Buckwalter, who has won in just about every type of race car he has ever wheeled, had a full straightaway lead built up at one point and in the later stages, Craig Von Dohren was closing in, but he didn’t have enough laps to actually catch him. At the drop of the checkered Buckwalter picked up the prestigious victory.
Von Dohren received an extra cash award from We The Fans for being the hard charger coming from 22nd to second after he made the race via the consi.
In the 25-lap Sportsman feature it appeared that Brandon Edgar was possibly on his way to his second career victory at the track. Former point champion Brian Hirthler had other ideas and with two laps to go he managed to take the lead away and go on to claim the win which was his sixth career triumph. The last two openers were won by his brother Kevin, but this year Brian decided it was his turn.
The Dan’s Deli ½-way hoagie award recipients were Buckwalter and Edgar. Doug Manmiller received the Cargo Trailers certificate. Four non-qualifying drivers received $250 from American Racers Tires in a drawing and they included Mark Kratz, Brad Grim, T.J. Lilly and Nate Brinker.
Before the green could be thrown in the Modified feature, a tangle occurred in the third turn during the four-abreast parade lap. Through it, Buckwalter got a flat tire, but he was allowed to go to the pits and change it and not lose a position.
Pauch Jr. maintained the lead when action resumed trailed by Kyle Weiss, Ryan Krachun, Dylan Swinehart and Buckwalter.
The running order remained the same for several laps with Buckwalter and Krachun swapping third and fourth coming upon lapped traffic.
Meme DeSantis brought out the yellow on the 14th lap when he slowed along the homestretch. Before the restart Weiss, who was running a solid second constantly gaining ground on Pauch Jr. had to pit with a left flat tire relinquishing second for Buckwalter. Pauch Jr. held his ground on this restart, but one lap later Buckwalter was the new leader.
While Buckwalter showed the way action behind him was hot and heavy between Pauch Jr., Jared Umbenhauer, Krachun and D. Swinehart.
By the 25th lap Buckwalter had a full straightaway lead built up in his mount powered by a Morrison Race Engine, but by now he was being chased by Umbenhauer, Von Dohren, Pauch and Ryan Watt, who loaned Buckwalter parts earlier in the evening.
Von Dohren finally cleared Umbenhauer after battling for second for many laps and set sail after the rapid running Buckwalter.
Despite the fact Von Dohren closed the distance, he ran out of laps to try to get the lead away from Buckwalter as Buckwalter pulled into the winner’s circle trailed by Von Dohren, Watt, Umbenhauer and Jeff Strunk, another driver that had to run the consi to make the show.
Interesting to note that multi-time track champions Von Dohren and Strunk had to qualify through the consolation events.
Sportsman action saw pole sitter Jesse Landis set the pace for six laps before Edgar moved into first on the seventh circuit.
Nathan Mohr found himself facing the wrong direction in the first turn bringing out the yellow eighth lap. Before action resumed Jim Housworth, while running a solid fifth, had to pit since the belly pan was dragging. On the restart Landis managed to regain control, but was short lived as tree laps later Edgar took back the lead coming out of the fourth turn.
Behind Edgar dicing for positions were Landis, Brian Hirthler, Kyle Lilick and Brad Arnold.
Once Hirthler overtook second he began to pressure Edgar.
With two laps remaining the fifth lead change occurred as Hirthler was now the new leader.
Hirthler never surrendered the lead and was back in victory lane again trailed by Edgar, Lilick, Arnold and Landis.
Next Saturday, June 27, a full show of T.P. Trailers Modified and T.P. Trailers Truck Equipment Sportsman which will begin the point season will be presented with the Blast From The Past Vintage Cars will be part of the tripleheader show set to get underway at 7:30 p.m.
VP Race Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorial Money Maker 50 Big Block/Small Block Modified Feature (50-laps): 1. Tim Buckwalter, 2. Craig Von Dohren, 3. Ryan Watt, 4. Jared Umbenhauer, 5. Jeff Strunk, 6. Rick Laubach, 7. Duane Howard, 8. Billy Pauch Jr., 9. Mike Gular, 10. Doug Manmiller, 11. Ryan Krachun, 12. Kyle Weiss, 13. Dylan Swinehart, 14. Richie Pratt, 15. Dom Buffalino, 16. Ryan Grim, 17. Ryan Godown, 18. Matt Stangle, 19. Brian Hirthler, 20. Ryan Lilick, 21. Steve Davis, 22. 22. Meme DeSantis, 23. Mike Lisowski, 24. Brett Kressley. DNQ: Briggs Danner, Brandon Grasso, Ron Myers, Louden Reimert, Kenny Gilmore, Eric Biehn, Ron Kline, Kevin Hirthler, Joe Funk, Nate Brinker, Tommy Scheetz, Jack Swaim, Ray Swinehart, Craig Whitmoyer, Richie Hitzler, Colt Harris, Brad Grim, John Willman, Darren Schuler, Don Waisempacher, Ron Kline, Justin Grim, T.J. Lilly, Clay Butler, Cale Ross, Bobby Gunther Walsh, Jordan Henn, Mark Kratz, Mark Levy, Brett Gilmore..
Sportsman Feature (25-laps): 1. Brian Hirthler, 2. Brandon Edgar, 3. Kyle Lilick, 4. Brad Arnold, 5. Jesse Landis, 6. Jack Butler, 7. Brad Brightbill, 8. Kyle Smith, 9. Ryan Beltz, 10. Cole Stangle, 11. Ryan Higgs, 12. Jesse Leiby, 13. Derrick Smith, 14. Dakota Kohler, 15. Dean Bachman, 16. Kenny Bock, 17. Parker Guldin, 18. Nate Brinker, 19. Nathan Mohr, 20. Dug Snyder, 21. Mark Kemmerer, 22. Jim Housworth, 23. Tom Miller, 24. John McGovern, 25. Scott Kohler, 26. Kevin Hirthler, DNQ: Jimmy Leiby, Chuck Eckert, Lex Shive, Bryan Rhoads, Beau Robot, Mark Gaugler, Decker Swinehart, Chris Esposito, Ryan Laise.