Story By: JEFFREY AHLUM / GRANDVIEW SPEEDWAY – BECHTELSVILLE, PA – Ray Swinehart of Boyertown, Pa. was able to withstand the challenges of Jeff Strunk of Boyertown, Pa. and Brett Kressley of Orefield, Pa. in the closing stages of the 30-lap T.P. Trailer NASCAR Modified feature, and race home to his first win of the season and 32nd of his career on Saturday night at Grandview Speedway.
The three drivers held the top three positions for the final seventeen laps of the feature race, which saw the final nineteen laps run caution free. However, it was in the final seven circuits that the race really heated up in lapped traffic, with all three running together practically under a blanket to the finish in an entertaining duel.
For the veteran Swinehart, it has been a long and storied career at Grandview, as the veteran driver scored his first win at the track on June 10, 1978, and his most recent win prior to Saturday was September 12, 2020. The now 70-year old driver showed that if the car is right, he still has what it takes to get the job done!
Brian Hirthler of Green Lane, Pa., the current point leader in the T.P. Truck Equipment NASCAR Sportsman division, grabbed the lead from Mark Mohr of Northampton, Pa. on lap 17 and raced home to his fifth victory of the season and 17th of his career on Saturday night in the division’s 25-lap main event.
The feature race winners each received bonus money from T.P. Trailers and Truck Equipment, who every week provide both winners (Modified $300, Sportsman $200) with the bonus money, in the race program that was part of the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series.
The Outlaw Racing Series Vintage Racers were on hand on Saturday, with Kenny Gilmore (Modified) and Kevin Kuser (Sportsman) scoring wins in their respective classes in the 12-lap Vintage feature event.
The T.P. Trailer Modified feature got off to a very slow and rocky start. On the initial green, Joe Funk of Coopersburg, Pa. slowed with mechanical problems in turn four drawing a caution flag and resetting the field. The restart proved no better, as following the green the field made it as far as turn three, when Justin Grim of Orefield, Pa. ended up getting into the wall and turning over, causing a red flag.
Following these two issues, the drivers got down to the business of racing with Ron Haring Jr. of Alburtis, Pa. leading the opening lap before Ray Swinehart motored into the lead on lap two. Strunk was on the move early after starting in fourteenth position, and found himself already into the third position by lap eight.
During these early laps a good battle was on up front between Haring, Dan Waisempacher of Springtown, Pa., Mark Kratz of Pennsburg, Pa., and Bobby Trapper Jr. of Scranton, Pa., when Strunk joined this action for position. Not far behind Strunk was Kressley, as he was also quickly moving through the field, and arrived in the fourth position by lap nine.
A caution for a slowing Bobby Gunther-Walsh of Allentown, Pa. occurred on lap eleven, and turned out to be the final slowdown of the race. Following the restart, Strunk would move by Haring taking over second, with Kressley following a lap later taking over third, and setting up a fantastic race for the number two position.
The two drivers battled each other very hard, with Strunk up top and Kressley really putting on the pressure on the bottom lane, for nearly ten laps. Swinehart was enjoying a small but comfortable lead while the battle raged behind him, until encountering lapped traffic in the closing stages.
In the final seven laps, Swinehart’s lead would shrink, as Strunk would change lanes in traffic, and quickly closed in on the leader, putting on serious pressure for the lead, with Kressley right behind him. The three would challenge each other while darting around lapped cars at the same time. The last three laps, Strunk would throw many challenges at Swinehart, but the savvy veteran was able to make the right choice to pick his lanes on the track, and use the lapped traffic to his advantage, blocking off Strunk’s efforts, to race home with his first win of the season and first since September 5, 2020.
Following Swinehart to the finish in another thrilling feature event were Strunk with his sixth second place of the season, Kressley, a late charging Jared Umbenhauer of Richland, Pa., Craig Von Dohren of Oley, Pa. who reached the top five with just two laps to go, Haring Jr. with his best effort of the season, Trapper Jr., Duane Howard of Oley, Pa., Brett Gilmore of Kutztown, Pa. and Tim Buckwalter of Douglasville, Pa.
Qualifying heat race winners for the 35 car field were Haring Jr., Swinehart and Gilmore with Dylan Swinehart of Fleetwood, Pa. winning the consolation.
The T.P. Truck Equipment Sportsman also got off to a rocky start, with a red flag, three yellow flags and only one lap scored, and Mark Mohr taking the early lead.
After all the craziness early on, officials called for a single file restart at this point, and it proved to be a great help, as the race ran the final 24 laps caution-free. Hirthler found himself into the top five by lap two after starting in 15th, and quickly went to work.
A three car duel developed between Keith Haring of Alburtis, Pa., Zach Steffy of Sinking Spring, Pa. and Hirthler for the top five spots, soon joined by Parker Guldin of Fleetwood, Pa. and Mike Myers of Alburtis, Pa. making for a fantastic race for the fans to watch.
Meanwhile a tough battle was on going for top ten positions between Matt Clay of Sinking Spring, Pa., Adrianna Delliponti of Norristown, Pa., Joey Vaccaro of Reading, Pa., Steve Young of Collegeville, Pa., the later three who all were charging back through the field after being involved in earlier mishaps.
After reaching second, Hirthler took off after Mohr, finally catching him, and the race was on for the lead. After pressuring Mohr for many laps on the bottom to no avail, Hirthler went to the top and pulled off a pass for the lead on lap 17 in turn one to take command.
Hirthler would maintain the lead to the finish, although Mohr would close in again as the two hit lapped traffic in the final five laps. At the checkered it was Hirthler in for his season leading fifth win, and 17th career Grandview victory, one win shy of the division’s top spot on the all-time win list.
Following Hirthler across the finish line were Mark Mohr for his career best finish, Guldin, Myers, Clay, Vaccaro, Delliponti, Young, Nathan Mohr of Reading, Pa. and Dylan Hoch of Mertztown, Pa.
Qualifying heat races for the 37 cars on hand were won by Jesse Landis of Gilbertsville, Pa., Mark Mohr, BJ Joly of Oley, Pa. and Steffy with the twin consolations won by Hoch and Jimmy Leiby of West Milford, NJ.
The Outlaw Racing Series Vintage feature saw the Modified and Sportsman driver’s race together in the 12-lap feature race. Kenny Gilmore, the 2021 Sportsman division Champion at Grandview now out of weekly racing action, started sixth in the Vintage feature, moved to the front quickly, and took the lead from Mike Stofflet, a lead he would not surrender to the finish. Lapped traffic would come into play in the late stages, but Gilmore worked the traffic to perfection to score the popular win. Kevin Kuser was the first Sportsman across the finish line, and had to work hard for his position, battling in the late stages with Gage Phillips and Joe Medaglia to secure his victory.
The final top five at the finish were Gilmore, Stofflet, Brett Peters, Todd Lapp and Wes Cassel.
Racing next weekend on the Grandview Speedway schedule will be Saturday, September 3, featuring the T.P. Trailer NASCAR Modifieds and the T.P. Truck Equipment NASCAR Sportsman in another NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series program that will also see the Wingless Super Sportsman Racers joining the show starting at 7:30 pm.
Pit gates will open at 4 pm. with grandstand gates opening at 5:30 pm. warm-ups will be starting at 6:15 pm. Adult grandstand admission is $20, while children ages 11 and under are admitted free of charge.
Friday, September 2 will feature Round 8 with the Outlaw Racing Series Enduro and Outlaw Racing Series Vintage Cars in action starting at 7 pm. Pit gates open at 2 pm., Grandstand gates open at 6 pm. Grandstand admission will be $10, with children ages 12 and under admitted for free. Pit admission is $30 for the Friday event.
The 52nd annual Freedom 76 Modified Championship is the next big event on the schedule, coming up on Saturday, September 17. Lap sponsorships at $20 per lap are now available by contacting Tina Rogers, Tommy Kramer or announcer Jeff Ahlum at the track on race night.
The T. P. Trailer Modified and T.P. Truck Equipment Sportsman drivers will be using the final point race events of the summer season to prepare for the big Freedom weekend of racing in September. The T.P. Truck Equipment Sportsman will compete in the Freedom 38 on Friday, September 16, and the T.P. Trailer Modifieds will compete in the 52nd annual Freedom 76 Championship on Saturday, September 17.
T.P. TRAILER NASCAR MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (30 laps): RAY SWINEHART, Jeff Strunk, Brett Kressley, Jared Umbenhauer, Craig Von Dohren, Ron Haring Jr., Bobby Trapper Jr., Duane Howard, Brett Gilmore, Tim Buckwalter, Doug Manmiller, Michael Storms, Kevin Hirthler, Ryan Grim, Dan Waisempacher, Jesse Leiby, Kevin Graver Jr., Kyle Lilick, John Willman, Mark Kratz, Nate Brinker, Dylan Swinehart, Ryan Beltz, Bobby Gunther-Walsh, Mike Lisowski, Craig Whitmoyer, Justin Grim, Joe Funk
DID NOT QUALIFY: Brad Arnold, Cory Merkel, Addison Meitzler, Brad Grim, Ron Kline, Steve Swinehart, Carroll Hine III
T.P. TRUCK EQUIPMENT NASCAR SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (25 laps): BRIAN HIRTHLER, Mark Mohr, Parker Guldin, Mike Myers, Matt Clay, Joey Vaccaro, Adrianna Delliponti, Steve Young, Nathan Mohr, Dylan Hoch, Jimmy Leiby, Kyle Smith, Cody Manmiller, Decker Swinehart, Mark Gaugler, Keith Haring, Zach Steffy, Zane Roth, Logan Bauman, BJ Joly, Bryan Rhoads, Nathan Horn, Kenny Bock, Ryan Graver, Dakota Kohler, Mike Schneck Jr., Michael Burrows, DNS – Jesse Landis
DID NOT QUALIFY: Josh Adams, Wayne Rotenberger, Weston Mensch, Nicholas Hamm, Hunter Iatalese, Chris Esposito, Katelyn Bailey, Kyle Hartzell, Jesse Hirthler
OUTLAW RACING SERIES VINTAGE FEATURE FINISH (12 laps): KENNY GILMORE, Mike Stofflet, Brett Peters, Todd Lapp, Wes Cassel, KEVIN KUSER (first Sportsman), Gage Phillips, Joe Medaglia, Curt Neiman, Myron Haydt, Bill Carr, Steve Hahn, Andy Cassel, DNS – Bill Gerhart, Scott Schaeffer