BECHTELSVILLE, PA April 19, 2009 . . . It was the kind of finish that had fans going home talking to themselves as Kevin Hirthler was able to hold off the strong challenges of Jeff Strunk and Duane Howard to win the 30-lap AutoLocator Magazine NASCAR Whelen All American Series modified stock car feature at Grandview Speedway on Saturday night.
Past champion Randy Stoudt was able to top Kyle Merkel in a chase for the victory in the 20-lap late model feature race.
Hirthler, a veteran racer on the one-third-mile, banked clay oval, led just about all the laps picking up his first win since 2007 and earning $2,200 for his efforts driving the Pickles Steak House/Green Lane Wm. Penn sponsored No. 117.
“We were loaded for bear going up against the best here at Grandview,” said Hirthler in victory lane. “We had a brand new Bicknell race car with a brand new Doug Meyers motor and it was just great car tonight.”
Hirthler, who makes his home in Boyertown, PA, was able to run just about anywhere on the track as he held off challenges from Jeff Strunk, who did get by him briefly, and Duane Howard in the final 10 laps. Strunk (Mohnton), a seven time champion, came from 13th spot to gain a strong second place finish. Howard (Oley) had to come from 16th starting spot to earn a third. The top three ran within a car length of each other for many of the final laps. Meme DeSantis (Temple) was waiting patiently for someone to make a mistake which never happened and he had to settle for fourth after starting 14th.
The strongest effort of the night may have come from six time track champion Craig VonDohren (Boyertown) who had to go to the pits very early in the feature for tire problems. A quick fix and he was back out and restarting last. He came home to finish fifth.
Johnny Favinger put his Pink Panther No. 18 in front of the pack at the start of the late model feature and that is where he stayed for seven circuits. On the seventh lap Favinger had mechanical problems send him to the pits giving the lead to a hard charging Randy Stoudt.
Once in front the Pottstown racer was able to hold off Kyle Merkel and Ron Kline to grab the victory with the TP Trailers/Cheers Tavern No. 118.
Merkel (Gilbertsville) came home second followed by Ron Kline (Salfordville), Mike Kellner (Lansdale) and Danny Snyder (Green Lane).
Defending champion Chuck Schutz dropped out of the feature with mechanical issues while Brian Shuey, winner of the opening night feature, spun while making a charge toward the front and had to settle for a 15th place finish.
Qualifying heat races for the modifieds were won by Mike Gular, Ryan Grim, John Pursell and Hirthler while the consolation events went to Jon Kellner Sr. and Terry Meitzler.
The late model qualifiers were won by Favinger, Danny Snyder and Stoudt.
The Cornerstone Auto Sales of Fleetwood Hard Charger Awards went to Don Norris in the modified feature and Mike Kellner in the late model main event. Norris went from 27th starting spot to finish 11th for a gain of 16 spots while Kellner finished fourth after starting 15th to gain 11 spots.
Jeff D’Ambrosio Dodge of Downingtown, PA will sponsor the April 25th show that will also feature the NASCAR 358 Modifieds and Late Models.
The first of eight NEETS Enduro events will be presented on Sunday, April 26th. Action starts at 2:30 p.m. A 100-lapper for the 6/8 cylinder racers and a 100-lapper for 4-cylinder racers will make up the action packed show.
Grandview Speedway is a one-third-mile, banked clay oval track located on Passmore Road, just off Route 100, in Bechtelsville, PA, just 10 miles north of Pottstown. For information telephone 610.754.7688 or visit their website at www.grandviewspeedway.com.
30-LAP AUTO LOCATOR MAGAZINE NASCAR WHELEN ALL AMERICAN SERIES 358 MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH: 1. Kevin Hirthler 2. Jeff Strunk 3. Duane Howard 4. Meme DeSantis 5. Craig VonDohren 6. Doug Hoffman 7. Jason Hamilton 8. Mike Gular 9. Ray Swinehart 10. Doug Manmiller 11. Don Norris 12. Sean Merkel 13. John Willman 14. Terry Meitzler 15. Kerry Kratz 16. John Pursell 17. Troy Wink 18. Addison Meitzler 19. Danny Hieber 20. Chuck Esposito 21. A.J. DeSantis 22. Shawn Reimert 23. Ryan Godown 24. Billy Pauch Jr. 25. Todd Marburger 26. Ryan Grim 27. Todd Smith 28. Jon Kellner Sr. 29. Brad Missimer 30. Keith Brightbill.
20-LAP AUTO LOCATOR MAGAZINE NASCAR LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH: 1.Randy Stoudt 2. Kyle Merkel 3. Ron Kline 4. Mike Kellner 5. Danny Snyder 6. Rick Todorow 7. Bill Henning 8. Kory Fleming 9. John Giesler 10. Andy Ressler 11. John Willman 12. Dallas Breidenbach 13. Bobby Wyatt 14. Nate Christman 15. Brian Shuey 16. Buddy Mertz 17. Dennis Pieper 18. Chuck Schutz 19. Kurt Spotts 20. Jamie Undercoffler 21. Wayne Pfeil 22. John Favinger