RPW Column: Jeff Strunk Scores Ultimate Gift From Santa…$3,500 On Christmas In July Night At Grandview

Column By: TOM WENNER / RPW – BECHTELSVILLE, PA – Jeff Strunk finally punched his ticket into the ‘22 Grandview Speedway victory lane on Saturday Night.

The task was not an easy one for the veteran champion driver with 76 Grandview Speedway visits to victory lane.

Strunk had to hold off a very fast charging Jared Umbenhauer and then Brett Kressley for the score. Jared Umbenhauer got to Strunk’s door with 2 to go and slapped the turn 3 wall when the Umbenhauer Bicknell #19 jumped the cushion.

This allowed Brett Kressley to move into second and gave Strunk the needed space to cruise off to a very popular visit to the 2022 Grandview Speedway victory lane.

Ron Haring Jr. and Joe Funk led the 29 car T.P Trailers / V & M Towing / SDS Photography Christmas In July Night field to the green flag. Haring quickly took command of the race lead with the Alburtis Auto / Fast Four Shocks #85 moving out front. Joe Funk, Dylan Swinehart, Eric Biehn and Ray Swinehart filled out the balance of the Top 5 in tow.

Ron Haring Jr. was showing some incredible speed in the opening laps of the event by pulling away from the field with a straightaway lead. Following Haring Jr. in the top 5 as the field click off the first 5 laps was Joe Funk, Dylan Swinehart, Bobby Trapper Jr., Eric Biehn and Kevin Hirthler. Jeff Strunk who started 12th was up to 8th and Brett Kressley who started 14th was up to 9th.

On lap 5, Ryan Lilick retired the R-10.

As the field clicked off lap 7, Haring Jr. was blasting away in the head. Funk, Swinehart, Trapper Jr., and Erick Biehn made up the Top 5. On Lap 7 Nate Brinker retired the 14 to the infield.

Ron Haring Jr. started to hit lap traffic by lap 8. As the field clicked the lap 10 mark Haring Jr. was well into lap traffic and stretching his lead. Dylan Swinehart moved into 2nd, Funk was 3rd, Trapper Jr. 4th, and Kevin Hirthler 5th.

On Lap 11 yellow the caution lights were flashing as the race leader Ron Haring Jr. and Brad Grim got together in lapped traffic and were collected in turn 2. Haring Jr. made contact with a lapped car and spun and collected Brad Grim on the inside of the track. Haring Jr. was flying on Saturday night and definitely did not want to see this end to his night.

After cleanup of the cars, the field was restacked with Dylan Swinehart inheriting the race lead, Joe Funk in 2nd, Bobby Trapper Jr. 3rd, Kevin Hirthler 4th, Jeff Strunk 5th, Brett Kressley 6th, Eric Biehn 7th, Jared Umbenhauer 8th, Duane Howard 9th, and Craig Von Dohren 10th. Brett Gilmore took the #7 to the pits for repairs during this caution. Brad Grim and Ron Haring also went to the pits.

On the next attempt at the green flag there was a large pileup of cars on the front straightaway that included Timmy Buckwalter, Michael Storms, Brad Arnold, Doug Manmiller, Ryan Grim, Carroll Hines, Dan Waisempacher, Darrin Schuler, Cory Merkel, Mike Lisowski, Craig Whitmoyer, and Ray Swinehart. Storms, Whitmoyer, and Swinehart were towed off or visited the pits. Brett Gilmore returned the #7 to action during this break.

On the lap 12 restart Dylan Swinehart powered into the lead as Kevin Hirthler pressed the go button and moved into second with a great move. Brett Kressley got an incredible restart and moved into 3rd as Jeff Strunk followed him into 4th.

On lap 13 the yellow lights flashed again as Eric Biehn was turned around at the starters stand.

The field was restacked for the lap 14 restart with Dylan Swinehart your race leader, Kevin Hirthler on the prowl in 2nd, Brett Kressley 3rd, Jeff Strunk 4th and Jared Umbenhauer in 5th. On the restart Kevin Hirthler made a great side by side move for the race lead and took command of the race. Jeff Strunk powered by Brett Kressley for 3rd. Hirthler is now setting the pace out front with Jeff Strunk in 2nd, Brett Kressley 3rd, Dylan Swinehart 4th and Jared Umbenhauer 5th.

At the halfway mark of the race Kevin Hirthler was in race control at the front of the pack. Strunk, Kressley, Swinehart, and Umbenhauer followed in the Top 5.

On lap 16, Jeff Strunk made the move for the race lead in depositing Kevin Hirthler into second. Brett Kressley and Jared Umbenhauer were now waging a war for 3rd and 4th while Duane Howard, Craig Von Dohren and Doug Manmiller were 5-6-7th. Manmiller coming from the back of the pack after a skirmish on lap 14.

As the field clicked off lap 20 the yellow lights were displayed for debris on the track in turn one. Jeff Strunk continued out front, Hirthler was 2nd, Kressley 3rd, Umbenhauer 4th, and Duane Howard 5th.

The lap 21 restart was a no-go as Cory Merkel spun in turn 3. The field was regrouped and set for another restart. With 10 to go

On the lap 22 restart the green was displayed and Jared Umbenhauer took the Carriage House Car Wash Bicknell #19 from 4th to 2nd and was chasing Strunk for the lead. Brett Kressley moved by Kevin Hirthler for 3rd and Craig Von Dohren was now 5th.

As the field hit the lap 23 mark Jared Umbenhauer was at the door of the Strunk Zubi Racing #88 and waging a war for the lead. Kressley, Hirthler, and Von Dohren were the top 5 all within a blanket of each other.

On lap 28 after a spirited several lap battle with Jeff Strunk for the lead, Jared Umbenhauer slapped the turn 3 wall after jumping the cushion. Brett Kressley drove by for 2nd as Jared Umbenhauer regained control and quickly claimed 3rd. Kevin Hirthler remained in 4th, Craig Von Dohren was 5th with Duane Howard 6th and Doug Manmiller now 7th.

Jeff Strunk was able to sneak away from Brett Kressley for his 77th career win at the Grandview Speedway driving the Zubi’s Racing Bicknell #88. A $3500 Christmas in July victory sponsored by V & M Towing and SDS Photography. Brett Kressley finished a close 2nd, Jared Umbenhauer with a strong 3rd, Kevin Hirthler 4th, Craig Von Dohren 5th, Duane Howard 6th, Doug Manmiller 7th, Dylan Swinehart 8th, Justin Grim 9th, Joe Funk 10th.

In victory lane Jeff Strunk dedicated the win to Marilyn Saxton, who recently passed away. Jeff gave thoughts and prayers to the Ernie Saxton and family on the recent passing of Marilyn. Jeff Thanked David Zubikowski and the support that he has provided the #88z team in 2022. Jeff shared thanks to his crew, sponsors and team for continuing to battle this season. Jeff expressed thanks to the Grandview Track Crew, Officials, and Race Fans on a special night of action at Grandview.

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