Story By: JEFFREY AHLUM / GRANDVIEW SPEEDWAY – BECHTELSVILLE, PA – Brian Hirthler of Green Lane, Pa., a three-time track champion, and the all-time leading feature winner in T.P. Truck Equipment Sportsman division action, scored the win in the division’s most prominent race, the 10th annual Freedom 38 championship on Friday night at Grandview Speedway.
Hirthler set himself up nicely for the feature race by charging from a seventh place starting spot to finish second in his heat, qualifying for the main event, then drew fourth starting spot for the extra-distance championship race. Once the race started Hirthler slid back to fifth before he worked his favorite top groove around the speedway and slowly worked around Parker Guldin of Fleetwood, Pa., Zane Roth of Slatington, Pa., Joe Toth of Upper Makefield, Pa., and then race leader Jordan Henn of Kutztown, Pa. on lap twelve to take a lead he would never surrender on his way to a $3500 payday for the win.
The winner’s share included the $2000 posted payoff, a $500 bonus from Lisa’s Landscaping of Hatfield, Pa., a $500 bonus from the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, and another $500 bonus from the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series for making all the point races at Grandview Speedway during the 2023 season. Hirthler also received a custom Winner’s Jacket from Bob Hilbert Sportswear of Boyertown, Pa.
Jordan Henn would take the lead at the start of the 10th annual T.P. Truck Equipment Freedom 38 Sportsman Championship and would set the pace through several early caution flags for minor tangles, one of which included 2023 Track Champion Logan Watt of Boyertown, Pa. who would have to restart at the rear after advancing from 18th starting spot to 10th in just four laps.
The field of cars would stay tightly bunched together and the action was hot and heavy throughout the entire field in the early going with the numerous cautions regrouping the line-up.
Hirthler would make his way to his favorite outside groove and slowly pick his way through the top five spots as the early laps clicked off. Hirthler would take Roth for third on lap six, battle with Toth and pick off second spot with an outside pass on lap ten, then catch and pass Henn for the lead with an outside groove pass off of turn four to score lap twelve.
The longest green flag stretch of the feature was next, as the green stayed out from lap 15 until another caution on lap 24 for Guldin who broke while running in the top ten. During this time Hirthler pulled away with the lead while Logan Bauman of Bechtelsville, Pa., Guldin, Jesse Landis of Gilbertsville, Pa., Addison Meitzler of Kempton, Pa., Dylan Swinehart of Fleetwood, Pa., and Kyle Smith of Fleetwood, Pa. were all dicing for the top spots.
Hirthler finally reached lapped traffic on lap 22, only to have that wiped away by the lap 24 caution. Following this slowdown, were two more quick cautions, before the race would run caution free to the end.
During this final green flag run, Hirthler set the pace unchallenged, leaving Henn and Toth in a good battle for second which Toth secured with a slider past Henn on lap 28. Dylan Swinehart continued his forward march from 17th starting spot and moved into the top five on lap 25, eventually moving past Meitzler and Bauman to challenge Henn for third.
The closing laps would see Hirthler and Toth out front, Henn and Swinehart dueling for third, Meitzler and Smith battling for fifth, while Bauman and a late charging Watt also were fighting for positions.
At the checkered flag it was Brian Hirthler scoring his third feature win of the season, his 21st career Grandview win, and his first win in the Freedom 38 Championship race. Following Hirthler were Toth, Swinehart, Henn, Smith, Meitzler, Watt, Bauman, Cody Manmiller of Philadelphia, Pa., and Jesse Landis.
Qualifying heats for the 61 cars on hand were won by Dylan Swinehart, Brad Grim of Coplay, Pa., Brad Arnold of Bethel, Pa., Zane Roth, Dakota Kohler of Kutztown, Pa., and Logan Bauman, with the three consolation wins going to Kyle Smith, Jesse Hirthler of Boyertown, Pa., and Decker Swinehart of Fleetwood, Pa.
The T.P. Trailer Modifieds were on hand for practice rounds to prepare for the Saturday Freedom 76, with 58 cars taking part in the practice sessions. Some of the quicker drivers in the four rounds of practice were Brandon Grosso of Belle Meade, N.J. turning a lap at 14.357 in round one, Jeff Strunk of Boyertown, Pa. with a quick lap of 15.314 in round two, Jordan Watson of Milford, De. with a quick lap of 15.568 in round three, and Jeff Strunk with a quick lap of 15.653 in the final round.
Grandview Speedway will be presenting the biggest race event of the season, the 53rd annual Freedom 76 for the T.P. Trailer Modifieds on Saturday night starting at 7 pm.
On Saturday, September 16, the Freedom 76-lap championship will be run for the 358 Modifieds. The program will include qualifying heats, consolation races, Low Down and Dirty cash dash, along with the Schaeffer Racing Minuteman 20 leading to the 76-lap championship feature.
Pit gates open at 9 am for inspections, fans will be able to enter the Grandstand areas between 9 am. and 12 Noon to reserve seats with blankets, grandstand ticket windows open at 3 pm. pill draw for position is at 4:30 pm. with the drivers meeting at 5 pm. warm-ups are at 6 pm. with racing starting at 7 pm.
Adult Grandstand tickets on Saturday will be $40, while students ages 10-15 with ID are $20, with children ages 9 and under admitted for free. Pit admission will be $45, and no license is required. There will be no advanced tickets sold for this event, and the rain date is Saturday, September 23.
Prior to the racing on Saturday, SDS Photography will be hosting an autograph session featuring drivers Logan Watt, Kaitlyn Bailey, Adrianna Delliponti, and Molly Struss from 3 pm. until 4 pm. at the SDS photo booth in the grandstand area.
SPORTSMAN FREEDOM 38 FEATURE FINISH (38 laps): BRIAN HIRTHLER, Joe Toth, Dylan Swinehart, Jordan Henn, Kyle Smith, Addison Meitzler, Logan Watt, Logan Bauman, Cody Manmiller, Jesse Landis, Jesse Hirthler, Mike Schneck Jr., Brandon Edgar, Brad Arnold, Jason Hamilton, Adrianna Delliponti, Nathan Horn, Decker Swinehart, Mark Mohr, Zane Roth, Steve Kemery, Steve Young, Parker Guldin, Keith Haring, Brad Grim, Dakota Kohler, Mark Gaugler, TJ Mayberry
DID NOT QUALIFY: Michael Burrows, Tyler James, Nicholas Hamm, Brett Gilmore, Grant Hilfiger, Bryce Bashore, Brad Force, Xavier Sprague, Molly Struss, Bob Lineman Jr., Tyler Vidal, Jax Yohn, Danny Buccafusca, Kevin Olenick, Joey Vaccaro, Kaitlyn Bailey, Dirk Rimrott, Zach Steffey, Brad Brightbill, Bastian Miller, Talan Carter, Nick Faust, Bryan Rhoads, Colton Perry, Tom Miller Jr., Shon Elk, John Redner, Kenny Bock, Ryan Graver, Dallas Breidenbach, Ethan Bill, Rob Tete, Ronnie Solomon
HEAT WINNERS: Dylan Swinehart, Brad Grim, Brad Arnold, Zane Roth, Dakota Kohler, Logan Bauman
CONSI WINNERS: Kyle Smith, Jesse Hirthler, Decker Swinehart
FEATURE WINNER’S BONUS – LISA’S LANDSCAPING – $500 – Brian Hirthler
FEATURE WINNER’S BONUS NASCAR ADVANCE AUTO PARTS WEEEKLY SERIES – $500 – Brian Hirthler
FEATURE WINNER’S BONUS NASCAR ADVANCE AUTO PARTS WEEEKLY SERIES (IF TRACK REGULAR) – $500 – Brian Hirthler
BOB HILBERT SPORTSWEAR CUSTOM WINNER’S JACKET – Brian Hirthler
DEREKA MAE DESIGNS HARD CHARGER – $100 – Kyle Smith +15
COMPETITION CARBURETION FASTEST LAP OF FEATURE CERTIFICATE – $100 – Jordan Henn – .15.431