RPW Column: Eric Biehn Survives Late Challenges To Score Career First Modified Win At Grandview
Column By: TOM WENNER / RPW – BECHTELSVILLE, PA – On Saturday Night, with most weather forecasters in the Tri-State area calling for late afternoon or evening rain showers, many tracks asphalt or dirt did not risk it and cancelled for the night.
The Rogers Family kept their word right from the start early on Saturday morning, “We can do this” – Track Prep started and the weather held off and Grandview Speedway was blessed with 66 cars in the pit area – 33 Spec 358 Modifieds and 33 Sportsman Modifieds.
Upon entering the pits, All you heard from the pit shack was “Gentleman, Please be ready to go tonight with weather threatening we plan to move this show along at full speed”. They were serious, everyone on the Grandview Speedway staff deserves kudos today, the entire 2 division show was completed by 925pm. At 930pm, rain started falling and it got heavier and heavier by the minute. The entire show was run at warp speed and everyone deserves a high-five for it – Track leadership, Officials, Teams, Drivers, and Crews.
The Grandview Speedway Track Crew led by Kenny Rogers and Brad Missimer worked as a well oiled machine on Saturday Night. The track crew did maintaince on the race track after warmup’s, They cut it and re-did after the heat races, then again put water down and massaged it 1 more time before the features. The final result was a surface that yields some of the best dirt modified racing on the east coast. This is why Grandview Speedway USA is notorious for the best side by side racing. All this in completing the show within 2.5 hours.
Eric Biehn sat in an emotional Grandview Speedway victory lane on Saturday Night after holding off 3 of the best that Grandview has to offer those last 4 laps of the event. Biehn has been racing Grandview Speedway for many years, but has never been able to put together a night when all of the stars aligned for him to reach victory lane. He won heat race #2 earlier in the night, scored the Dan’s Deli halfway leader bonus by leading at lap 15 and capped off the $300 TP Trailers winner’s bonus.
The 30 lap NASCAR TP Trailers Modified featured 2 additional starters, Jimmy Leiby and Eddie Strada were added as Top 10 point provisional starters adding to the now 30 car field. Strada had a rough night in the heat and consolation race placing him on the tail of the field, and Jimmy Leiby got upside down in the consolation race with his #9L and Kyle Smith handed over his #77 358 Modified that was at the track for practice laps for Leiby to race in the feature.
Chris Gambler and Mark Malcohm led the 30 car NASCAR TP Trailers Modified feature to the green flag.
Chris Gambler took the Gambler Transportation #121 to the early race lead with Carroll Hine III and Mark Malcolm in chase.
The yellow lights were flashing on the start as the field was unable to complete a lap, Ryan Beltz had the #221 turned sideways at the pit exit gate in turn 2. A full complete restart was needed.
Take 2 – The field was restacked.
Once again Chris Gambler fired the #121 to the race lead, this time Eric Biehn moved into 2nd with Hine, Malcohm and Darrin Schuler following.
With 3 down the lap counter Chris Gambler was motoring out front. Biehn, Hine, Malcohm, and Schuler were the Top 5.
At the 5 down mark of the event Chris Gambler remains a strong running race leader. No change to the Top 5. Kevin Hirthler in the Pioneer Pole Building #117 was flying early as he is running 8th, and last weeks Grandview Speedway Modified winner Doug Manmiller had cracked the Top 10 early.
On Lap 8 Mark Malcohm took the #142 to the infield after running in the Top 5.
With 10 down, Chris Gambler remains the race leader and Eric Biehn is now stalking the race leader. Hine, Schuler, Bobby Gunther-Walsh, Ryan Grim, and Doug Manmiller are all in chase mode. Back a few spots – Jeff Strunk, Ryan Watt, Craig Von Dohren and Brett Kressley are coming and racing side by side for 10th to 15th.
Chris Gambler remained the race leader through Lap 14, but on lap 15 Eric Biehn found a lane by the fast running Gambler to take command of the race lead. On lap 14, A train of the heavy weight hitters was coming to the front of the pack as Kevin Hirthler and Jeff Strunk were side by side.
Watt, Brett Kressley from 22nd, Jared Umbenhauer, Craig Von Dohren from 23rd and Eddie Strada from 30th were challenging from 9th to 13th.
On lap 17 the Whelen caution lights were flashing for Doug Manmilller who was slow in Turns 1 and 2. Manmiller, last weeks Modified winner had a right rear flat tire on the Jason Miller owned GMI First #44. Manmiller was up to 7th.
The field was restacked for the restart with Eric Biehn at the front, Chris Gambler 2nd, Carroll Hine III 3rd, Darrin Schuler 4th, Ryan Grim 5th, Bobby Trapper Jr. 6th, Jeff Strunk 7th, Brett Kressley 8th, Jared Umbenhauer 9th, and Bobby Gunther-Walsh 10th.
Ryan Watt, Kevin Hirthler, Craig Von Dohren, Eddie Strada and Kevin Graver Jr. were just outside of the Top 10 at this point. With 17 down, Jeff Strunk 19th to 7th, Brett Kressley moved 22nd to 8th, Eddie Strada moved 30th to 14th. Doug Manmiller returned with a new sneaker on the RR. Justin Grim retired from the event.
On the restart Eric Biehn powered into the lead with Carroll Hine III moving into 2nd, Ryan Grim moved up to 3rd, Bobby Trapper Jr. 4th and Jeff Strunk to 5th.
Chris Gambler retired from the event on lap 19 after running in the Top 5.
On lap 21 Jeff Strunk drove the Keystone Racing #126 into 3rd. Eric Biehn remained your race leader but Ryan Grim was now 2nd as Caroll Hine III was losing spots.
As the field scored lap 22 Biehn is still setting the pace at the front with Ryan Grim starting to run him down. Strunk, Brett Kressley is now 4th and free of traffic and moving forward, Carroll Hine III is 5th, Jared Umbenhauer is 6th, and Bobby Trapper Jr. 7th. Craig Von Dohren is now 9th.
On lap 25, with 5 to go and all green flag laps Eric Biehn remains the race leader but Ryan Grim, Jeff Strunk and Brett Kressley have caught him and this is setting up a 4 car dog fight for the win. Jared Umbenhauer, Carroll Hine III, Kevin Hirthler, Craig Von Dohren are close behind.
With 2 to go, Biehn is under fire at the front. Ryan Grim is challenging as Jeff Strunk is inside of the RGR #17 and Brett Kressley has the Kressley’s Auto & Truck Sales #19 hammering the top side. All 4 are under blanket and hungry to be in victory lane.
On the white flag lap, Biehn is still the race leader but Ryan Grim is on his bumper trying to get past him. Grim has Jeff Strunk on his inside trying to find a lane past him and Brett Kressley is flying on the cushion looking to rip the top by all of them.
Eric Biehn kept his cool and drove the Biehn Racing, Shock Spa, Hoffman Discount Parts, Gebhardt Printing #87 to victory lane holding off all 3 to score his 1st career Grandview Speedway win. Ryan Grim came home 2nd, Jeff Strunk 19th to 3rd , Brett Kressley 4th from 22nd, Jared Umbenhauer 5th, Craig Von Dohren 23rd to 6th, Carroll Hine III 7th, Kevin Hirthler 8th, Eddie Strada 30th to 9th, Doug Manmiller 10th from a flat tire on lap 17.
I would guess the Leiby family picnic on Sunday may be a bit stressful this week. In the consolation race, Jesse Leiby in the #456 got into Jimmy Leiby in the 9L and turned him into a series of nasty rollovers on the end of the frontstretch. Jimmy thankfully exited the heavily damaged race car safely, but he showed some displeasure to his brother while walking to the pit area. Jimmy was firmly in a Top 10 spot in Modified points this season, his rookie season. A super cool gesture by Grandview Speedway Sportsman veteran, Kyle Smith. Smith had the family owned #77 Spec 358 Modified at the track for practice laps in advance of next week’s Thunder On The Hill Balls to the Wall 50. Smith gave Jimmy Leiby the ride for the feature. With very little time to prepare for the feature, Jimmy was able to bring it home in 23rd.
MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (30 laps): ERIC BIEHN, Ryan Grim, Jeff Strunk, Brett Kressley, Jared Umbenhauer, Craig Von Dohren, Carroll Hine III, Kevin Hirthler, Eddie Strada, Doug Manmiller, Bobby Trapper Jr., Ryan Watt, Tim Buckwalter, Darrin Schuler, Bobby Gunther-Walsh, Kevin Graver Jr., Jesse Leiby, Craig Whitmoyer, John Willman, Joe Funk, Eric Kormann, Ron Haring Jr., Jimmy Leiby, Chris Gambler, Mark Malcolm, Justin Grim, Mike Lisowski, Ryan Beltz, Ray Swinehart, Bobby Trapper Sr