GILBERTSVILLE, PA?~ Three champions were honored during the Grandview Speedway 50th anniversary awards banquet on Saturday night. For the fifth time in his impressive career Duane Howard took home the top honors in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series 358 Modified championship battle while Chuck Schutz was tops in the Late Model division for the first time and Jared Umbenhauer took the honors in the new Sportsman division.
More than 500 people filled the Gilbertsville, PA Fire Co. Social Hall to see the top 20 drivers and top ten owners in each of the three divisions receive there awards and there was a variety of special awards presented during the evening that was MC?d by track announcer Ernie Saxton.
Thousands of dollars in point fund money was paid out to top performers with Duane Howard and his car owner going home with more than $10,000 for their championship winning efforts with the 358 Modifieds. Howard (Oley) tallied 5514 points and nine feature wins on the way to the title. Doug Man miller (Shoemakersville) finished second with 4890 counters and two wins while Craig VonDohren earned third with 4573 points despite not being able to get a feature win.
Jeff Strunk, winner of the $50,000 to win BPG Racing Freedom 76, finished fourth in the standings for the Modifieds.
Howard and his wife will be guests of the track owners, Bruce and Theresa Rogers, on a nine day Caribbean cruise along with more than 90 others who have ties to the NASCAR sanctioned track. The 2011 track champion Jeff Strunk and his guest will also be on the cruise as part of the reward for winning that title.
Chuck Schutz (Pottstown) and his car owner, Ty Zeigler, earned a sixth Late Model championship with consistent performances and two feature wins that gave them 5225 points to top second place Danny Snyder (Green Lane) who tallied 4864 points and three feature wins. Veteran racer Ron Kline (Salford) came home third with two wins and 4766 points.
In the new Sportsman division Jared Umbenhauer (Richland) was able to gain the inaugural season title with 4604 counters and a feature win topping Brad Bright bill (Sinking Spring) 4452 counters and Craig Whitmoyer (Hamburg) 4155 points.
The top 20 drivers in each division will also receive point fund money from NASCAR. Grandview Speedway is the only track in the area offering two point funds for each division.
Howard, Schutz and Brad Brightbill have been invited to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in early December for the NASCAR Whelen All American Series National awards function. Howard is honored as track and Pennsylvania champion while Schutz gains the National Division II Dirt Finalist honors and Brightbill takes the national honors for the Division III Finalist Dirt honors.
Several special appreciation awards were given to a number of media and supporters with special awards going to BPG Racing and Pioneer Pole Buildings for their support of two major events at the speedway. It was also announced that BPG Racing will again return as the sponsor of the BPG Racing Freedom 76 Classic.
T.P. Trailers of Limerick was thanked for their outstanding support during 2012 with the bonus cash awards going to feature winners in each division throughout the season. The Perkins family, operators of T.P. Trailers, announced that they will return for a second year with their cash awards and that news was received by enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Special thanks went to Bobby Gunther Walsh and his sponsors, Jeff Teets/Salvage Transport and Steve Searock Lawn Care for their season long sponsorship of Hard Charger awards in each division.
Jeff Teets took it one step more by giving cash awards to three racers who took the time to say thank you for the cash awards during the season. Two of them did it in writing and one verbally. Teets thought that was worthy of special mention and extra cash.
Fred Woodw