BECHTELSVILLE, PA A two hour delay in the starting time caused by a late afternoon deluge of rain young Kevin Hirthler (Boyertown) took advantage of those conditions to win the 3 Starz Landscaping 30-lap NASCAR Whelen 358 Modified feature race at Grandview Speedway on Saturday night. Ron Kline (Salford), came from 18th starting position, to win his third 20-lap Late Model feature of the season.
The track crew performed miracles as they had more than a half dozen pieces of equipment working the track at times in what turned out to be a successful effort to get the track in race condition and the green flag falling for the first event of the night at 9:30 p.m.
In victory lane Hirthler, who after taking the checkered had stopped on the track and climbed to the roof of his car to bow to the audience similar to what NASCAR Sprint Cup star Kyle Busch does when he wins, gave much credit to engine builder Doug Meyers and his new Bicknell chassis. “The car was phenomenal,” said Hirthler. “And the engine was awesome.”
With rain falling Kline, in victory lane, said, “It was a little tough to see (in the final laps). I think I hit everything but the pace car (apologizing). We were fast tonight.”
Bobby Gunther Walsh put his Altronics Security No. 50 in front of the 31 Modifieds that took the green in the feature race. Three drivers (Jeff Strunk, Doug Manmiller and Shawn Reimert) that had not earned starting spots in qualifying events took provisional starting spots based on their point standings adding to the regular 28 car starting field.
A few cautions, one for a multi car tangle in the fourth turn, slowed the pace of the feature with Walsh able to keep the number one spot for seven laps with Troy Wink, racing what he calls a part time schedule so he can spend more time fishing, taking command on the eighth circuit of the one-third-mile, banked clay oval. Jon Kellner Sr. charged up to challenge Wink for the lead for a number of laps but tire problems forced him to the pits. A multi car accident at the midway point closed the field up on Wink and four laps later Kevin Hirthler, coming from 14th starting spot, took the lead with the Green Lane Wm. Penn No. 117 Modified.
Wink, running second, spun in turn four with four laps to go, allowing point leader Duane Howard to move into second. With the checkered flag waving Hirthler was able to nose out Howard (Oley), who had started 23rd, for the win. Third spot went to Jordan Umbenhauer (Richland). Coming from 29th starting spot to finish fourth was Jeff Strunk (Bechtelsville) and Billy Pauch Jr. (Frenchtown, NJ), involved in an early race tangle, finished fifth.
Hirther is the sixth different winner this season in the NASCAR Whelen 358 Modifieds.
In the 20-lapper for Late Models John Giesler led the 24-car starting field to the green and then set the pace for more than half of the feature race looking as if he was going to get this first feature win since 1998. However a caution for a race car that came to a stop on the edge of the track closed the field up on the three time past champion. At the 12 lap marker Ron Kline, coming from 18th starting spot, was able to put his ING Financial/Harleysville Mattress No. 3 in front and that is where he stayed until the checkered flag fell. Giesler (Aston) was able to hold on for second followed by Nate Christman (Oley), Randall Paxton (Factoryville) and Chuck Schutz (Pottstown).
With his seventh place finish Brian Shuey was able to hold on to his Late Model point lead and the top five are now separated by less than 50 points.
The 12 event racing program was run off in just a little over two and one-half hours.
Qualifying heat races for the 47 358-Modifieds on hand were won by Glenn Owens, Kevin Hirtler, Jason Smythe and Troy Wink while the consolation race victories were earned by Sean Merkel and Ray Swinehart. Heat races for the 28 Late Models saw victories go to Mike Kellner, Ron Kline and Randall Paxton while rookie T.J. Mayberry won the consolation race.
Cargo Trailer Sales presented $50 gift certificates to 10th place finishers Rick Todorow in the Late Model feature and Todd Marburger in the Modified feature. Dan’s Deli Halfway Leader awards were earned by Troy Wink in the Modifieds and John Giesler in the Late Models.
Keystone Cup Sprint Speedweek 410 Sprint Cars along with Sportsman stock cars are featured on Wednesday, May 26, 7:30 p.m. Then on Saturday, May 29, 7:30 p.m. the NASCAR 358 Modifieds and Late Models are in action.
Reasonably priced opportunities to market through motorsports at Grandview Speedway are available by contacting Ernie Saxton Communications, Inc. at 215.752.7797. A color brochure outlining all the opportunities is available upon request.
Grandview Speedway is located at 43 Passmore Road in Bechtelsville, PA, just a short distance off Route 100, 10 miles north of Pottstown. For information telephone 610.754.7688 or check in at www.grandviewspeedway.com