BECHTELSVILLE, PA. – The 61st anniversary season of professional stock car racing got off to a thrilling start on Saturday night at Grandview Speedway, and when all the close racing and position swapping was over, former Track Champion Mike Gular of Boyertown, Pa. was able to score the $7500 payday in the 6th annual VP Racing Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorial.
Gular was engaged in a tremendous battle for the lead throughout most of the 50-lap feature race for the T.P. Trailer NASCAR Modifieds, losing the lead twice. His challengers were Brett Kressley of Orefield, Pa., Jared Umbenhauer of Richland, Pa, followed by Jeff Strunk of Boyertown, Pa. who circled the track in close formation, thrilling the crowd.
In the end, it was Gular a winner, followed by Kressley, Strunk, Craig Von Dohren of Oley, Pa., and Tim Buckwalter of Douglasville, Pa.
The T.P. Truck Equipment Sportsman had just as much thrilling action in their 25-lap main event, with defending Track Champion Brian Hirthler of Green Lane, Pa. making the right moves to score the hard-earned win over Brett Gilmore of Kutztown, Pa. and early race leader Logan Watt of Boyertown, Pa.
The Opening Night program was the first race in the chase for the Grandview track and NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series championships for both classes.
The VP Racing Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorial T.P. Trailer Modified feature saw Umbenhauer and Gular share the front row starting spots, with Gular taking the lead on the drop of Starter Ray Kemp’s green flag.
The two leaders already were about to reach lapped traffic by lap 8, when Gular jumped the cushion in turn one allowing Umbenhauer to grab the lead, but that pass was wiped away by a caution for a spinning Kevin Hirthler of Boyertown, Pa. on lap eight.
One more lap advanced until a front straightaway red flag for a multi-car scramble that saw Doug Manmiller of Shoemakersville, Pa. roll over, and the incident also collected Kyle Weiss of Hamburg, Pa., Ryan Watt of Boyertown, Pa., Joe Funk of Coopersburg, Pa., and Bobby Gunther-Walsh of Allentown, Pa. Funk, Weiss and Manmiller were knocked out of action in the mishap.
At this point Gular was leading over Umbenhauer, Justin Grim of Orefield, Pa., Kressley, Dylan Swinehart of Fleetwood, Pa., Ryan Grim of Laury’s Station, Pa., John Willman of Birdsboro, Pa. and Strunk.
The drivers finally settled into a long green flag run, as Gular, Umbenhauer and Kressley broke away into a three car battle for the top spot.
Gular would lose the lead for the first time as Umbenhauer was able to pull a slider past Gular in turn three to briefly take the lead on lap 13, only to have Gular return the pass on the next turn to move back in front.
After that move, Kressley would move around Umbenhauer for second and quickly track down Gular and begin to challenge for the lead by lap twenty. It was around this time that Strunk would join the action up front to make for an entertaining four car classic battle royal for the huge victory.
Kressley put pressure on the leader many times as they worked in and out of lapped traffic, almost taking the lead a couple of times before he was able to make a beautiful outside pass in turn one on lap 31 to grab command and begin to open up a short lead.
The final outcome was determined by two quick cautions and restarts. First, a lap 37 caution for a stopped Gunther-Walsh gave Gular a shot at leader Kressley on the double-file restart, but Kressey held firm in the top spot.
One lap later Ryan Grim stopped with a problem, setting up the restart that saw Gular stay with Kressley down the front chute until he was able to power slide by Kressley entering turn one to take back a lead he would not give up the rest of the way.
At the checkered flag Gular scored the $7500 feature win becoming the sixth different driver to win the VP Racing Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorial, He was followed by Kressley, Strunk, Von Dohren, Buckwalter, Eddie Strada of Lake Ariel, Pa. who moved up from 18th position, Justin Grim, Willman, Swinehart, and Ryan Grim.
Qualifying heats for the 39 cars on hand were won by Kevin Hirthler, Von Dohren, Kressley and Justin Grim with Funk and Strada winning the consolations.
The T.P. Truck Equipment Sportsman main event got off to a fantastic start, as front row starters Brian Hirthler and Logan Watt ran side by side for the lead for the first two laps before Watt was able to secure the top spot exiting turn four on lap two.
The top two quickly pulled out to their own private duel while a multi-car battle developed behind them between Andy Ressler of Boyertown, Pa., Brett Gilmore, Kyle Smith of Fleetwood, Pa., Mark Mohr of Northampton, Pa., and Logan Bauman of Boyertown, Pa.
The race for the top spot was tight, but came to a halt following a four car turn two crash on lap 13, setting up the pivotal race changing restart. After taking the green, Watt and Hirthler ran another whole lap side by side, with Hirthler finally able to secure the top position entering turn one on lap 14.
At this point Gilmore, who was racing with Smith for third, was able to move around Smith and quickly close in on the top two making for a three car race for the lead, as Watt continued to pressure Hirthler even after dropping back to second.
Gilmore made the move by Watt for second on lap 18 and tracked down the leader. Gilmore was able to challenge down low a couple of times, even racing side by side down the back straight on lap 20, but Hirthler repelled the challenge and scored his third Opening Night win.
The victory was also a milestone win for Hirthler, who scored his 19th career win at Grandview placing him number one on the all-time Sportsman winner’s list.
The final rundown at the checkered flag was Hirthler in for the win followed by Gilmore, Watt, Smith, Mike Schneck Jr. of Lebanon, Pa., Brad Grim of Coplay, Pa., Ressler, Michael Burrows of Annville, Pa., Cody Manmiller of Philadelphia, Pa, and Adrianna Delliponti of Norristown, Pa.
Qualifying heats for the 40 cars on hand were won by Watt, Hirthler, Mark Mohr and Bauman with Manmiller and Ryan Graver of Lehighton, Pa winning the consolations.
The T.P. Trailer NASCAR Modifieds and T.P. Truck Equipment NASCAR Sportsman will be competing in a two-division program this coming Saturday, April 15 starting at 6 pm. The program will include qualifying events leading to the 30-lap T.P. Trailer Modified feature and the 25-lap T.P. Truck Equipment Sportsman main event.
Pit gates will open at 2 pm. with grandstand gates opening at 4 pm. and warm-ups starting at 5 pm. Adult grandstand admission is $20, students 10-15 with ID are $10, while children age 9 and under are admitted free of charge. Pit admission is $35 for NASCAR members and $45 for non-members.
The Saturday, April 15 program will also see the first of the monthly fan participation Trivia nights, where questions about Grandview Speedway racing will be asked, and fans will be able to win some cool prizes or gift cards.
On Sunday, April 16, the first Outlaw Racing Series Enduro and Outlaw Racing Series Vintage Car events will be presented starting at 1 pm.
Since the 1960’s, Grandview Speedway has been presenting exciting wheel to wheel NASCAR stock car racing every Saturday Night starting in April and running through September, plus special events. Grandview Speedway is located at 43 Passmore Road, Bechtelsville, Pa. 19505, just off Route 100, ten miles north of Pottstown, Pa.
Information is always available at www.grandviewspeedway.com or on Facebook, or by telephone at 610.754.7688.
T.P. TRAILER NASCAR MODIFIED BRUCE ROGERS MEMORIAL MONEY MAKER FEATURE FINISH (50 laps): MIKE GULAR ($7500), Brett Kressley, Jeff Strunk, Craig Von Dohren, Tim Buckwalter, Jared Umbenhauer, Eddie Strada, Justin Grim, John Willman, Dylan Swinehart, Ryan Grim, Ryan Watt, Jimmy Leiby, Nate Brinker, Bobby Trapper Jr., Bobby Gunther-Walsh, Kevin Graver Jr., Craig Whitmoyer, Jesse Leiby, Doug Manmiller, Kyle Weiss, Joe Funk, Chris Esposito, Kevin Hirthler
DID NOT QUALIFY: Glenn Owens, Carroll Hine III, Darrin Schuler, Ron Haring Jr., Mike Laise, Mark Levy, Eric Biehn, Bob Trapper, Kenny Gilmore, Ray Swinehart, Mark Malcolm, Lex Shive, Chris Gambler, Mike Lisowski, Ron Myers
T.P. TRUCK EQUIPMENT NASCAR SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (25 laps): BRIAN HIRTHLER, Brett Gilmore, Logan Watt, Kyle Smith, Mike Schneck Jr., Brad Grim, Andy Ressler, Michael Burrows, Cody Manmiller, Adrianna Delliponti, Mark Kemmerer, Mark Mohr, TJ Mayberry, Ryan Graver, Tyler James, Nathan Horn, Parker Guldin, Nathan Mohr, Colton Perry, Kyle Hartzell, Jesse Landis, Steve Young, Logan Bauman, Addison Meitzler, Jesse Hirthler, Mark Gaugler
DID NOT QUALIFY: Hunter Iatalese, Decker Swinehart, Zach Steffy, Ronnie Solomon, Tom Miller II, Tom Miller, Keith Haring, Kaitlyn Bailey, Molly Struss, Kenny Bock, Zane Roth, Troy Gibson, Dallas Bridenbach, Bryan Rhoads
UPCOMING EVENTS –
Saturday, April 15 – T.P. Trailer NASCAR Modifieds, T.P. Truck Equipment NASCAR Sportsman plus Trivia Night – 6 pm.
Sunday, April 16 – Outlaw Racing Series Enduro and Outlaw Racing Series Vintage – 1 pm
Saturday, April 22 – T.P. Trailer NASCAR Modifieds, T.P. Truck Equipment NASCAR Sportsman plus Outlaw Racing Series Vintage – 6 pm.
Saturday, April 29 – T.P. Trailer NASCAR Modifieds, T.P. Truck Equipment NASCAR Sportsman – 6 pm.