Column By: TOM WENNER / RPW – BECHTELSVILLE, PA – Craig Von Dohren capped off an incredible ’22 season at the Grandview Speedway on Saturday by scoring his 6th Freedom 76 victory.
Von Dohren won his 13th race of year in the 76er after a heated battle with Grandview 2nd Place point man Brett Kressley. Craig and Brett setup an epic ending to what could become the final race ever at the famed Grandview Speedway.
Von Dohren snuck by Jeff Strunk on lap 58 and then had to fight off repeated challenges for the lead by Kressley. The 2 Grandview Lions provided what will be remembered as one of the best Freedom 76’s ever. Von Dohren did what he has done all year, Keep the car straight, fast and hooked up.
Kressley did what he has done all season, Blast the top to the front of the pack and race on the top side of the track like nobody else. Kressley slapped the wall several times over the last 20 laps, only to gather it back up and run Von Dohren back down and challenge again.
Timmy Buckwalter and Nick Rochinski led the 52nd Annual 32 car Freedom 76 field to the green flag.
Nick Rochinski took the early lead in the 76er with Buckwalter, Mike Lisowski, Kyle Weiss, Justin Grim and Logan Watt in chase mode.
On lap 3 the yellow lights were flashing for Ron Kline who headed to the pits. Kline returned after service from his crew.
The restart order was Rochinski at the point, Buckwalter, Lisowski, Weiss, L. Watt, Matt Stangle, Kevin Hirthler, and Jeff Strunk. Rochinski pulled out to the lead with Buckwalter chasing.
At the 5 down mark Nick Rochinski remained the leader, Buckwalter, Weiss, L. Watt, Lisowski were the top 5.
Nick Rochinski was the man at the point at 10 down. Buckwalter, Weiss, L. Watt, Hirthler and Strunk were the top 5. Brett Kressley was 9th, Billy Pauch Jr. 10th, and Craig Von Dohren 11th with 10 down.
At 20 down, the leaders were in lapped traffic with Nick Rochinski holding down the lead, Timmy Buckwalter controlled 2nd, Kyle Weiss 3rd, Logan Watt 4th, and Jeff Strunk 5th. Ray Swinehart pulled to the infield at lap 23.
Nick Rochinski continued his strong in 76er leading at 25 down. Timmy Buckwalter, Jeff Strunk moved to 3rd, Kyle Weiss 4th, and Logan Watt 5th. On Lap 26 Jim Housworth retired from the event.
On lap 28 Ryan Grim retired from the event. Timmy Buckwalter moved past Nick Rochinski for the lead on lap 28. Rochinski moved to 2nd, Strunk is stalking 2nd in 3rd, Kyle Weiss 4th, and Rookie sensation Logan Watt 5th.
Lap 35 is completed and Timmy Buckwalter is the man at the front of the pack. Jeff Strunk is now 2nd, Nick Rochinski slides to 3rd, Brett Kressley is up to 4th, Kyle Weiss 5th, Craig Von Dohren 6th, and Kevin Hirthler 7th.
Brian Hirthler & Kyle Lilick retired on lap 37. Jeff Strunk moved into the race lead on lap 37. Timmy Buckwalter slides back to 2nd, Brett Kressley is now 3rd, Kyle Weiss 4th, and Nick Rochinski 5th.
As the field clicks off lap 40, 8 time winner Jeff Strunk is your race leader. Buckwalter, Kressley, Weiss, and Rochinski are the Top 5.
Lap 45 and Jeff Strunk maintains the lead. Buckwalter and Kressley are now hounding the leader. Weiss, Hirthler and Craig Von Dohren are battling for position behind them.
At lap 50 Jeff Strunk is the race leader as Buckwalter and Kressley are chasing, Weiss, Hirthler, Von Dohren and Pauch Jr. are on the move.
Lap 51 and the yellow is waving after a 48 lap non-stop run, Jordan Henn is slowing on the track. Jeff Strunk, Timmy Buckwalter, Brett Kressley, Kevin Hirthler, Kyle Weiss, Craig Von Dohren, Billy Pauch Jr., Matt Stangle, Danny Bouc, Mike Gular and Nick Rochinski are the running order.
On the lap 52 restart Craig Von Dohren makes an incredible powering from 6th to 2nd. Von Dohren cut right through the top 6. Jeff Strunk pulled away with the lead as Von Dohren, Buckwalter, Kressley and Hirthler are the new Top 5.
On Lap 57 the yellow lights were flashing as Kevin Hirthler was spun in turn 4 after contact from another car. Hirthler was running 5th. The running order is Strunk, Von Dohren, Kressley, Buckwalter, and Weiss.
As the field goes back to racing on lap 58 Craig Von Dohren powers past Jeff Strunk for the top spot. Strunk, Kressley, Weiss, Buckwalter, Pauch Jr., Stangle, and Storms.
Timmy Buckwalter retired to the infield on lap 59. On lap 60, Brett Kressley powers by Jeff Strunk for 2nd. Von Dohren is out front with Kressley, Strunk, Pauch Jr. and Weiss the Top 5.
At lap 66, 10 to go Craig Von Dohren is your leader as Brett Kressley is going after Von Dohren each lap. Kressley is full throttle slapping the wall some laps, jumping the cushion and blasting the top. Each time Kressley loses ground, he gathers it back up and runs down Von Dohren. Von Dohren on the other hand continues to do what is necessary to keep the Bruce Brueche Bicknell 30 in front. Jeff Strunk, Billy Pauch Jr. and Kyle Weiss are the top 5.
Lap 70, Von Dohren remains the leader, Kressley is fighting on every lane he can in 2nd, Strunk is within striking distance in 3rd, Pauch Jr. and Kyle Weiss are the top 5.
On lap 74, Ryan Watt flips in turn one after contact with another car. Watt exits safely without injury with help from the Grandview safety team. After the Watt accident is cleaned up, we are facing a 2 lap dash to the Freedom 76 finale. Craig Von Dohren is the leader, Brett Kressley 2nd, Jeff Strunk 3rd, Billy Pauch Jr., Kyle Weiss 5th, Matt Stangle, Mike Gular, Michael Storms, Danny Bouc, and Mike Lisowski. Brandon Grosso went to the pits during the caution.
On the green flag Craig Von Dohren streaked away from Kressley and cruised to the win. Brett Kressley had to settle for 2nd, Jeff Strunk rounded out the podium in 3rd, Billy Pauch Jr. finished 4th, and Kyle Weiss 5th, Matt Stangle 6th, Mike Gular 7th, Michael Storms 8th, Danny Bouc 9th, and Mike Lisowski 10th.
Craig Von Dohren scored his 6th Freedom 76 win worth $32,060. He is the ‘22 T.P. Trailer Modified Track Champion, with 9 Saturday Night victories, 2 Thunder on the Hill 358 Modified victories, and 2 victories in Big Block/Small Block Modified competition, including the Bruce Rogers Memorial Money Maker to open the season, giving Von Dohren a total of 13 wins overall on the season. Von Dohren ends the season with a total of 130 career wins in Grandview Speedway 358 Modified competition.