BECHTELSVILLE, PA?~ If you are a betting person you just may want to place a wager that Craig VonDohren will be the NASCAR 358 Champion at Grandview Speedway for the seventh time when the season is complete and Jared Umbenhauer will win his second straight NASCAR Sportsman title.
VonDohren, Umbenhauer and Kyle Merkel were the feature winners at the Berks County clay oval on Saturday night with Oley based VonDohren winning the 30-lap NASCAR 358 Modified feature. Umbenhauer, who calls Richland home, won the 25-lap Sportsman feature race while Kyle Merkel (Gilbertsville) was able to win his first 25-lap Late Model feature race of the season.
Brad Grim led the 30 car starting field to the green in the 30-lap NASCAR Whelen All American Series 358 Modified feature race with former URC sprint car racer Jason Clauss close behind. With one third of the race in the record books soon to be DIRT Modified Hall of Famer Frank Cozze charged into third spot.
At the midway mark Craig VonDohren, coming from 15th starting spot, put his Beartown Recycling/Kauffman?s BBQ Chicken No. 1c in second spot. Grim, the leader, and six time track champion VonDohren, were in a heated battle for the top spot for several laps before the duo made contact headed into Turn 3, with two thirds of the race completed, and VonDohren took the top spot and Grim recovered to hold on to third.
In the late laps Frank Cozze (Wind Gap) came back to be a challenger for the win but had to settle for second as VonDohren was able to hold the top spot to the finish. Grim (Allentown) salvaged a third place finish followed by Jason Clauss (Fleetwood) getting one of his strongest finishes since becoming a regular at Grandview, and nine time track champion Jeff Strunk (Bechtelsville).
In victory lane VonDohren had high praise for his engine builder and the entire team. When the victory lane announced asked him who he would like to thank, ?All that are involved? was the short and quick response.
Former Late Model racer Ron Krex set the pace at the drop of the green for the 24 car Sportsman feature. Krex was able to keep the top spot for the first ten laps before John Kovatch IV moved to the front. At 14 laps Ken Eckert Jr. spun on the backstretch bringing out the caution and bunching up the field. On the restart Krex was able charge to the front and look destined to win his first feature. However at the 19 lap marker Jared Umbenhauer, coming from 15th starting spot, took the top spot with his Eastern Rigging No. 5 and went on to win his second feature of the season making him a solid favorite to win a second track title. Second spot went to Krex followed by Joe Funk (Coopersburg), John Kovatch IV (Nesquehoning) and last week?s feature winner Brett Kressley (Orefield).
In the 25-lap main event for the NASCAR Late Models Kyle Merkel had control of the first place position at the finish of the first lap and never gave up that spot as he led all the laps to win his first Late Model feature of the season. Older brother Sean, coming from seventh position, tried to mount a challenge and a late race caution did close up the field but Kyle was able to bring his Kochel Equipment/Merkel Rebar No. 117 home first. Second spot did go to Sean (Gilbertsville) followed by Kory Fleming (Milford, NJ), Danny Snyder (Green Lane) and Chuck Schutz (Pottstown).
When the day started at Grandview the chances of racing being presented were not good as three feet of water covered most of the infield and track area. The track crew consisting of Justin Merry, Scott Schaffer and Brad Missimer were able to pull off some miracles with the assistance of pumps to clear out most of the water and the track was ready for racing at 7:15 p.m.
Qualifying heat victories in the Late Model division were won by Danny Snyder and Kyle Merkel. Heat race victories for the Sportsman racers went to Guy Germano, Jared Umbenhauer and K