BECHTELSVILLE, PA September 18, 2011 . . . “I gave this race away two years in a row but I was not going to let that happen tonight,” said Duane Howard in victory lane after winning the BPG Racing Freedom 76 Modified Classic at Grandview Speedway on Saturday night. The win, his first Freedom 76 win since 1999 earned the Oley, PA racer $21,000. “I just hung on at the end (with Alan Johnson challenging) with the right front tire just about gone.” Howard, as he normally does, gave a great deal of the credit for his win to his crew chief Alan Finch and the crew.
More than 60 modifieds were on hand for the 41st running of the BPG Racing Freedom 76 sponsored by the same sponsor that is on the Howard’s winning car which is owned by Blue Bell, PA businessman Chad Sinon.
Getting a lot of attention from racers and fans was the announcement by track owner Bruce Rogers during the evening that the 42nd edition of the BPG Racing Freedom 76 will pay $50,000 to win. The track will be celebrating their 50th anniversary season.
With 31 starters taking the green Ryan Godown set the early pace coming from his pole position starting spot (by luck of the draw). Keith Hoffman challenged in the early laps with Howard moving into second on the 10th lap.
At 14 laps Tommy Scheetz Jr. brought out the first caution hitting an infield marker tire. On the restart Howard charged to the front.
With 20 laps in the record book Howard had the front spot followed by Godown, Hoffman, Mike Gular and Meme DeSantis.
Godown brought out a caution on the 35th lap when he brought his car to a stop in turn one done for the night. On the same lap Meme DeSantis, winner of the last two Freedom 76 races, went to the pits with a flat right rear tire.
At 43 laps a fuel stop had the top five positioned as Howard, Hoffman, Stewart Friesen, Alan Johnson (subbing for Kyle Weiss in the No. 21K who underwent a shoulder operation earlier in the week) and Jeff Strunk.
On the restart Howard continued to set the pace with Hoffman right on his rear bumper. Johnson moved to second with about a dozen laps remaining.
Jimmy Horton IV brought out a caution when he stopped in turn three with tire problems with just 4 laps remaining closing up the field behind leader Howard and that made for quite a battle at the finish.
For the final two laps Howard ran high in turn four while Johnson tried the low groove and the two ran side by side. With the checkered flag waving Howard was able to gain the edge and beat Johnson across the finish line by less than half a car length much to the delight of the huge crowd that was on hand.
Picking up $10,000 for his strong second place effort was Alan Johnson (Middlesex, NY) followed by nine time track champion Jeff Strunk (Bechtelsville) coming from 27th. Stewart Friesen (Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario) finished fourth and six time track champion Craig VonDohren (Boyertown).
In addition to the $20,000 first place money Howard picked up the lion’s share of lap money along with the $500 halfway leader award from Cowpattynation.com.
The six 12-lap qualifying heats were won by Stewart Friesen, Billy Pauch Sr., Shawn Reimert, Rick Laubach, Kenny Gilmore and Sammy Piazza. Consolation races, each 10, laps went to Glenn Strunk and Addison Meitzler.
Stewart Friesen picked up $1,000 as the winner of the Mertz Flying Mullet Cash Dash that featured the nine top performers in qualifying heats and guaranteed starters.
The Schaefer Motorsports Minuteman 20, starting 20 racers and sending four to the feature race, was won by Jon Kellner Sr. followed by Terry Mietzler, Michael Weinert and Danny Erb.
The regular Saturday night season of stock car racing at Grandview Speedway closes out on Saturday, September 24th at 7 p.m. when open competition modified and late model stock car racing will be presented. On Sunday, September 25th, 1 p.m. NEETS Enduro racing will be presented along with Vintage races. Admission is just $10.
Grandview Speedway, a NASCAR sanctioned one-third-mile, banked clay track, is located at 43 Passmore Road, Bechtelsville, PA, just off Route 100, 10 miles north of Pottstown. For race information telephone 610.754.7688 or check in at www.grandviewspeedway.com. For marketing information telephone Ernie Saxton at 215.752.7797 or email Esaxton144@aol.com.
41ST ANNUAL BPG RACING FREEDOM 76 MODIFIED CLASSIC (76 laps): 1. Duane Howard 2. Alan Johnson 3. Jeff Strunk 4. Stewart Friesen 5. Craig VonDohren 6. Keith Hoffman 7. Mike Gular 8. Billy Pauch 9. Shawn Reimert 10. Meme DeSantis 11. Billy Pauch Jr. 12. John Willman 13. Ray Swinehart 14. Doug Manmiller 15. Chris Esposito 16. Todd Smith 17. Rick Laubach 18. Ryan Grim 19. Jarrod Miller 20. Michael Weinert (the balance of the starting field did not finish) 21. Jimmy Horton IV 22. Jeremy Banos 23. Kevin Hartnett 24. Sammy Piazza 25. Jon Kellner Sr. 26. Kenny Gilmore 27. Terry Meitzler 28. Kevin Albert Jr. 29. Ryan Godown 30. Tommy Scheetz Jr. 31. Danny Erb