Column By: TOM WENNER / RPW – BECHTELSVILLE, PA – Craig Von Dohren was inducted into the Northeast Dirt Hall Of Fame in July and he is capping off his induction ceremony by having a Hall Of Fame season at Grandview in 2022.
Saturday’s victory was Craig’s 11th of the year at the Grandview Speedway and Mr. Von Dohren is showing no signs of slowing down this season. The win on Saturday was simply super impressive, as Craig took the Bruce Brueche & Sons / KL Harring Bicknell #30 to the front with authority.
Once Craig reached the 2nd place spot and had to face off with a very strong running race leader Kevin Hirthler in the Green Lane Wm Penn Inc. Bicknell #117 it was battle royale time. Craig used his veteran status and years of experience at the Bechtelsville race palace to sweep around Hirthler on a lap 12 restart and just power away from the race field for his 7th Saturday night Spec 358 Small Block Modified feature event win.
In scoring the feature win, Von Dohren will extend his point lead with just 3 point races remaining on the Grandview Speedway race calendar. Brett Kressley suffered a flat tire on lap 5 and had to pit for a sneaker change, Kressley returned and was only able to make it back to 11th positive at the end.
Von Dohren came into the night leading by 90 points and will extend that number as he closes in on a remarkable 13th Grandview Speedway Championship crown.
Only five drivers have been able to visit Grandview Speedway victory lane on Saturday Night competition in 2022, It has been dominated by Craig Von Dohren with six wins to date (seventh on Satuday), Brett Kressley with four scores, and single wins to Jeff Strunk, Doug Manmiller and Jared Umbenhauer.
Who is next?
Ron Haring Jr. and Steve Swinehart were to lead the 28 car field to the green on Saturday night. Lady Luck had a different plan for Haring Jr. as he was forced to scratch from the nights 30 lap TP Trailers Modified main with mechanical troubles in the rear end of the Hoffman Speed Bicknell #85.
No alternates were available so Mark Kratz joined Swinehart on the front row to lead the 27 cars to green flag action.
At the drop of the green Mark Kratz took the immediate pace at the front of the pack with Steve Swinehart, Kyle Lilick, Brett Gilmore and Dylan Swinehart in tow. The race on Saturday had an urgency feel to it as Kevin Hirthler, Jeff Strunk and Craig Von Dohren were on the move early in the night. Hirthler was 4th on lap 4, Strunk was 6th on lap 4 and Von Dohren was 9th on lap 4.
At 5 clicks down, Steve Swinehart was assaulting race leader Mark Kratz for the race lead. The yellow lights were flashing after the field crossed over lap 5 as Brett Kressley pulled up slow in turn 2 with a flat right rear tire. The race field at the front was shown as Mark Kratz leader, Steve Swinehart, Hirthler, Dylan Swinehart, Lilick, Strunk, Willman, Funk, and Von Dohren. Brett Kressley rejoined the rear of the field after changing the right rear tire.
On the restart Steve Swinehart powers his #942 into the race lead as Kevin Hirthler follows to 2nd with the Green Lane Wm Penn Bicknell #117, Dylan Swinehart slides into 3rd, Kratz slides back to 4th, Jeff Strunk and Craig Von Dohren are battling for 5th and 6th.
On lap 6, Kevin Hirthler takes control of the race lead, moving Steve Swinehart to 2nd, Jeff Strunk moves to 3rd as Craig Von Dohren moves to 4th and Dylan Swinehart now 5th.
With 10 down on the lap counter Kevin Hirthler is powering away with the race lead and looking to score his 1st of the ’22 season. Steve Swinehart is maintaining 2nd as Craig Von Dohren is now 3rd and closing in, Strunk is chasing CVD in 4th, and Dylan Swinehart maintains 5th.
On lap 12 the caution lights were flashing for a tangle between Brad Arnold, Nate Brinker and Cory Merkel on the front stretch. On the back stretch after the caution was out Ray Swinehart tangled with Justin Grim and Brett Kressley. All 3 were able to resume their spots as the caution was already out.
Eric Biehn and Brett Gilmore went to pits. Craig Whitmoyer took the 2591 to the pits, Mark Kratz and Brett Kressley visited the pits and returned to the speedway, Merkel and Brinker were towed off after a lengthy delay to unhook them.
After the field was allowed to restack for action, Dylan Swinehart who was running 5th was unable to fire the Chico Bailey #81 and was pushed to the pits. Cory Merkel & Whitmoyer rejoined the field after a quick pit visit.
On the lap 12 restart Craig Von Dohren used his years of Grandview experience and powered the Bruce Brueche & Sons #30 to race the lead by Kevin Hirthler, Strunk followed in 3rd, Steve Swinehart in 4th, Doug Manmiller in 5th.
As the field crossed the halfway mark of the race Ray Swinehart spun in turn 3 and the caution lights were flashing. Swinehart took the #33 to the pits. The field was collected and restacked with Von Dohren your race leader, Hirthler, Strunk, Steve Swinehart, and Timmy Buckwalter were the top 5.
The field goes back to green flag racing and Craig Von Dohren powers into the race lead with a powerful move and 15 laps to go. Hirthler, Strunk, Buckwalter and Doug Manmiller are the new top 5.
Craig Whitmoyer takes the 2591 to the infield on lap 20.
At the 5 to go mark, all green and the field stretching their legs with Craig Von Dohren opening up distance from Kevin Hirthler. Jeff Strunk has control of 3rd, while Timmy Buckwalter and Doug Manmiller race in the top 5.
At lap 26 Von Dohren is starting to get into the back part of the field in lap traffic. Hirthler and Strunk can see the rear of the CVD #30 and are in chase mode.
Craig Von Dohren is able to carve his way through lap traffic like a veteran and score the crowd pleasing victory #11 on the year. Kevin Hirthler finishes 2nd in an outstanding run, Jeff Strunk secures 3rd, Timmy Buckwalter 4th, Doug Manmiller 5th, Steve Swinehart 6th, John Willman 7th, Ryan Grim 8th, Jared Umbenhauer 9th, Kyle Lilick 10th.
Von Dohren scored the $300 TP Trailer Bonus and Dan Deli’s halfway leader bonus. Von Dohren spoke in victory lane about being in the right lane early in the night and how well the track was both on the top and bottom.
Craig spoke of a crucial 3 wide move into 2nd splitting Steve Swinehart and Jeff Strunk as a key point of the race. Craig Thanked the track, fans and his team for a fantastic season to date.