Billy Pauch Jr. Seeks First Victory In East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals February 24th & 25th
Story By: LEN SAMMONS PRODUCTIONS – TRENTON, NJ – Billy Pauch, Jr. will attempt to make his comeback in racing complete with a victory in the East Coast Dirt Nationals presented by BELFOR Property Restoration, inside the Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton, NJ on February 24-25.
The ‘Dirt Nationals’ is being run for the first time in three years. Pauch is among seven drivers who qualified for each of the three previous runnings.
Pauch, of Frenchtown, NJ, has the best average finish of the drivers who qualified for all three editions. Pauch finished 19th in the 2017 event, but he’s run second (2018) and third (2020) in the past two races. His average finish is 8.00, and he’ll be looking to lower that number in the 2023 version of the $5,000 to win spectacular for 600cc Micro Sprints.
Pauch will storm into the Cure Insurance Arena as a sentimental favorite. His 2022 outdoor season was cut short when he crashed his Modified at Georgetown (DE) Speedway, suffering back injuries. On the mend since, Pauch ran in the Atlantic City Indoor Auto Racing Series Gambler’s Classic and last week ran in the Sunshine Swing at All Tech (FL) Speedway in a Dirt Modified.
Pauch noted that while his recovery has gone along well, he still has physical reminders of his accident.
“After running the Indoor TQ race, my back felt pretty good. Running the Dirt Modified at All Tech was a little tougher which surprised me a little,” Pauch said.
Pauch will need to use all of his grit and determination racing on the painstakingly constructed dirt oval built on the arena floor.
Among the seven wheel-twisters who have qualified for each of the three previous East Coast Dirt Nationals A-Mains, just one of them is a race winner in Trenton.
Morgantown, PA’s Kenny Miller III (10th, 17th, and second) and Pipersville, PA’s Brian Carber (third, seventh, and 19th) are tied for the second best average finish in the Trenton dirt shows, with an average of 9.66.
Alex Bright, Collegeville, PA, is next with an average of 10.33, based on finishes of second, ninth, and 20th. Then comes Bear, DE native Kyle Spence, who has an average of 13.00, with finishes of 18th, 14th, and seventh. Ironically, Spence, Bright, and Pauch will be teammates for this year’s running of the East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals. Each of them will pilot a Rob Hummer owned, Rodota Trucking & Excavating micro inside the Cure Insurance Arena.
Whitey Kidd III, from Staten Island NY, is the lone winner in the group. Kidd captured the first Indoor dirt race in 2017, but has only managed finishes of 22nd and 17th since his victory.
Douglassville, PA’s Tim Buckwalter is the seventh and final driver to qualify for all three A-mains on the dirt in Trenton. Buckwalter finished fourth in the initial running of the event, but he’s been disappointed with 18th place efforts in 2018 and 2020.
Ransomville, NY’s Erick Rudolph did not enter the first Indoor Dirt Nationals in ‘17, but he won the second edition of the race in 2018 and nearly pulled off a repeat in 2020, leading late in the race only to be passed by Jon Keller, Miller, and Pauch on the final lap, leaving him fourth at the checkered.
Keller, of course, is remembered for climbing his way from the E-main all the way to the A, starting dead last in the 50 lapper and winning in dramatic fashion. While his run through the alphabet is certainly highlight reel worthy, there have been some others who made impressive runs through the last-chance races and qualified for an A-main.
In 2018, the “Straight Shooter” Scott Kreutter raced his way from the second E-Main all the way to the A, where he ran as high as sixth before some pinball action knocked him back to 12th at the finish.
That same year, New Jersey’s Bobby Butler steered his way from a D-main to the big race, where he notched an impressive sixth place effort after starting in the rear. Delaware’s Luke Thomas had a similar run in 2017, rumbling from a D-main through the alphabet to make the A, where he finished seventh.
A total of 50 drivers have qualified for at least one of the three Indoor Dirt Nationals with nine of them making the A-main starting field on two occasions.
Since seven throttle-jockeys have made all three of the A-mains, that makes just 16 chauffeurs who have recorded a starting berth in more than one of the 50 lap A-mains, the best indicator of all that the East Coast Dirt Nationals is a difficult race to qualify for, let alone win.
With the entry list for the BELFOR Property Restoration sponsored event now nearing 90 drivers due space limitations, a sell out on entries appears likely in the coming days.
Turp Coates Law of Hightstown, NJ has sweetened the pot for Friday night’s racing in a big way. Thanks to the law firm support, the four winning drivers of Friday night A-Qualifiers will receive $1,000, double the usual amount.
Friday night’s program will feature the field split into 10 heat races. The top 60 in points, finishing positions with the addition of passing points, advance to Friday’s four 20 lap A-Main qualifiers. The top three in each of these events transfer directly to Saturday night’s $5,000 to win A-Main.
Finishing positions and passing points from Friday will then set the line-ups for Saturday’s events for the remainder of the drivers who fail to finish in the top three on night one.
The drivers with the least points will begin Saturday’s program, sponsored by Custom Built Product, in one of two F-Mains that transfer the top four to the back of those assigned to the E-Main. This process continues with each letter until the B-Main top finishers fill-out the field for Saturday night’s A-Main.