RPW Column: Gular Slays Grandview’s Dragons In Titanic Battle To Win Bruce Rogers Memorial Money Maker
Column By: TOM WENNER / RPW – BECHTELSVILLE, PA – Mike Gular added to his Grandview Speedway legacy on Saturday night with a crowd-standing victory during the opening day marquee Bruce Rogers Memorial Money Maker 50.
Mike was 2018 Grandview Speedway Modified Point Champion and he won the Freedom of 76 in 2019.
On Saturday, Mike etched is name on the coveted Bruce Rogers Memorial trophy with one of the best opening day races in the history this event.
With the victory on Saturday night, Mike becomes the 6th different Bruce Rogers winner in 6 years. Mike joins Stewart Friesen, Matt Sheppard, Timmy Buckwalter, Duane Howard and Craig Von Dohren. The Bruce Rogers Memorial winners list is a truly elite group of the best modified racers of this era.
The win marks the 10th career Grandview Speedway checkered flag for Gular and 7th on Saturday night racing events.
The VP Racing Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorial is one of the best paying Spec 358 dirt modified races in the USA. The moniker “Money Maker” is true in the form of the $7500 to win winners share, but the real payoff is the guaranteed $1000 to start for the 24 car field.
After an offseason of uncertainty with reported sale of the track, the well reported deal fell apart and Grandview Speedway sprung back into the usual spot as the top venue for Saturday night Spec 358 Modified racing.
On Saturday, The pits were overflowing once again with the support of 39 Spec 358 Modifieds and 40 Sportsman Modified drivers. The fans came out in full force with a strong crowd on a very chilly evening at the Hill in Bechtelsville.
Jared Umbenhauer and Mike Gular led the 24 car field to the green field in VP Racing Fuels Money Maker 50.
Mike Gular sprinted out to a quick lead that was short lived as the yellow lights were flashing for Jesse Leiby as he slapped the turn 2 wall. The field was restacked and ready for the restart with Gular and Umbenhauer pacing the field out front.
The field is back to racing and Mike Gular takes command once again as Jared Umbenhauer is now in chase mode with Justin Grim, Ryan Grim and Dylan Swinehart in his new #74 ride the Top 5.
With 5 down Mike Gular is controlling the pace of the 50 lap event as Jared Umbenhauer is within striking distance. Justin and Ryan Grim remain in 3rd and 4th as Brett Kressley has now moved up from his 7th starting spot into the Top 5.
On Lap 8 the yellow lights were displayed as Kevin Hirthler was stopped in turns 3 and 4. Just as the caution lights were coming on Jared Umbenhauer set up a perfect pass for the lead in turns 1 and 2 and drove by Mike Gular who had hopped the cushion.
Since the lap was not scored, Jared had to move back to 2nd again. Under caution with 8 down, Gular leads with Umbenhauer, Ryan Grim, Justin Grim and Brett Kressley the top 5.
The field was reset and on the restart cars were out of shape mid-pack and became a bit jumbled up as Doug Manmiller, Bobby Gunther-Walsh, Ryan Watt, and Kevin Hirthler were collected. Manmiller was pushed sideways and the Jason Miller owned 44 rolled over. Doug exited the car safely and uninjured. Jesse and Jimmy Leiby went pitside during this caution.
Chris Esposito went to the pits for service. Watt and Walsh made service visits. Kyle Weiss took the Umbenhauer 5 to the pits as did Joe Funk. As of lap 8, we had already lost 5 cars from the 24 car field.
“The Edge”, Eddie Strada making a Grandview Speedway appearance and showing well. Eddie qualified via the consolation and had marched 18th to 10th in 8 laps.
After the cleanup, the field was reset and back to racing. Mike Gular once again set the pace with Jared Umbenhauer in the 2nd spot and Brett Kressley powering into 3rd. Ryan Grim and former Grandview Speedway champ Jeff Strunk in the Glenn and Bonita Hyneman Keystone Racing #126 moved into 5th.
On Lap 12, Jeff Strunk was making his move to the front as he made a moved by Ryan Grim for 4th. Gular, Umbenhauer, Kressley, Strunk and Grim are now the top 5. You could throw a blanket over the Top 4 cars now.
On Lap 14, Brett “The Threat” Kressley took the Kressley’s Auto & Truck Sales 19k past Jared Umbenhauer for 2nd.
As the field clicked off lap 20 and lap traffic is looming for the top 5 cars of Gular, Kressley, Umbenhauer, Strunk and Grim. The 50 lap race is about to get very frantic at the front of the pack.
Mike Gular makes contact with the lapped car of Bobby Gunther-Walsh and Brett Kressley drives to the bumper of the Conestoga Valley Custom Kitchens 2A. Jared Umbenhauer and Jeff Strunk are right on top of them as the top 4 is immersed in lapped traffic as laps click off. You cannot make a mistake now or you are losing spots among those top 4 drivers.
Mike Gular continued to set the pace through lap 22, Brett Kressley and Jared Umbenhauer waged a war of 19’s for 2nd and 3rd with some outstanding side by side racing. On lap 23 Kevin Graver Jr. retired from the event.
As Ray Kemp displayed the halfway mark of the event, Mike Gular continued to lead with Kressley, Umbenhauer, and Strunk all within striking distance waiting for their moment. Ryan Grim and Craig Von Dohren were battling for 5th and 6th a short distance behind that lead pack.
On lap 30 a pack of lap traffic is slowing the lead pace of Mike Gular and this is the moment that Brett Kressley was looking for. As the field clicked off lap 31, Brett Kressley went after Gular and powered by for the race lead. Kressley was using his favorite top side lane of the speedway.
As the field clicked off lap 34, Brett Kressley was now controlling race command at the front of the pack with Gular, Umbenhauer, Strunk, Grim and Von Dohren in tow. On lap 35 Nate Brinker retired the Keith Hoffman Racing 4 to the infield.
On lap 37, the yellow lights appeared as Bobby Gunther-Walsh stopped in turn 2 trying to exit the speedway. Brett Kressley was the race leader with Mike Gular, Jared Umbenhauer, Jeff Strunk, Ryan Grim, Craig Von Dohren, Justin Grim, Timmy Buckwalter, and Eddie Strada chasing. At this point in the event, 13 cars remained in competition out of the 24 originally started.
The race goes back to green for a lap before Ryan Grim brings out the yellow on lap 38. Grim slowed in turn 2 after running in the Top 10 for most of the event. The field was restacked and ready for the 12 lap dash to the VP Racing Fuels $7500 checkered flag.
On the race start, Mike Gular powered his Conestoga Valley Custom Kitchens Bicknell 2A into the lead leaving Brett Kressley for 2nd, Jared Umbenhauer for 3rd, Jeff Strunk 4th, and Timmy Buckwalter 5th.
On lap 40, Defending race winner and 12x Champ Craig Von Dohren powered into the Top 5 with a move past Timmy Buckwalter. Did the former champ save his stuff for a late race drive to the win?
The race picked up it’s pace over the final 10 laps as Mike Gular was pulling away from Brett Kressley for the race lead. Kressley maintained 2nd as Jeff Strunk moved into 3rd and drove to the bumper of the 19k. Craig Von Dohren was now 4th and Timmy Buckwalter and Jared Umbenhauer were now battling for 5th.
Mike Gular drove away from Brett Kressley over the final 5 laps to score the impressive win. Gular had to fight Jared Umbenhauer early in the event for the race lead and then had to take the lead back after Kressley took command mid race. Kressley finished 2nd after leading the mid portion of the event and being unable to hold onto the race lead.
Kressley drove 7th to 2nd. Jeff Strunk finished in 3rd place with a run from 12th. Craig Von Dohren rallied late in the race to finish 4th from 11th. Timmy Buckwalter wrapped up the Top 5. Jared Umbenhauer finished 6th, Eddie Strada making the move of the race with a drive from 18th to 7th, Justin Grim finished in 8th and raced most of the night in the top 10, John Willman 9th and Dylan Swinehart in 10th.
In victory lane Mike shared that Bruce Rogers was a close friend and winning this race in his memory means a lot to him. Mike commented in victory lane about searching for grip and finding the right lane with grip to help pass Brett Kressley for the race win. The Top 5 finishers are the best of the best in Grandview Speedway racing. Mike credited the win to his car owner Terry @ T & S Motorsports and crew chief Ron Seltman. Mike was quickly to recognize the marketing partners of the race team led by Conestoga Valley Custom Kitchens, Weaknecht Archery, Fast Four Shocks, Penske Racing Shocks, Xtreme Mechanical and Martin’s Permit Service.
T.P. TRAILER NASCAR MODIFIED BRUCE ROGERS MEMORIAL MONEY MAKER FEATURE FINISH (50 laps): MIKE GULAR ($7500), Brett Kressley, Jeff Strunk, Craig Von Dohren, Tim Buckwalter, Jared Umbenhauer, Eddie Strada, Justin Grim, John Willman, Dylan Swinehart, Ryan Grim, Ryan Watt, Jimmy Leiby, Nate Brinker, Bobby Trapper Jr., Bobby Gunther-Walsh, Kevin Graver Jr., Craig Whitmoyer, Jesse Leiby, Doug Manmiller, Kyle Weiss, Joe Funk, Chris Esposito, Kevin Hirthler
DID NOT QUALIFY: Glenn Owens, Carroll Hine III, Darrin Schuler, Ron Haring Jr., Mike Laise, Mark Levy, Eric Biehn, Bob Trapper, Kenny Gilmore, Ray Swinehart, Mark Malcolm, Lex Shive, Chris Gambler, Mike Lisowski, Ron Myers