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COZZE, PAULES & PRATT HEAD IMPRESSIVE LIST OF SPEEDSTR
NEWCOMERS AT KUTZTOWN, PA'S ACTION TRACK USA..
Kutztown, PA (Story by Barry Angstadt) 03-01-14: The philosophy is simple, yet effective...create an affordable, spec racecar then provide a healthy purse for events that feature those cars. That combination will lure top name drivers (especially if you can pick a night when virtually no other tracks are competing against you), and those big names will entice the fans to come out and watch, week after week. Throw in a nicely renovated facility with the necessary amenities and a racy surface so the competitors can do what they do best, and you've got a formula for success.
And it's exactly the formula that was utilized by co-promoters Rich Tobias and Doug Rose in 2013; their first season at the helm of the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA in Kutztown, Pa. It is an understatement to say that the inaugural campaign was a rousing success, as names such as Brightbill, Pauch, Eckert, Planck, Mahaney, Rahmer, and Strunk diced for the $2,000 winner's share in the SpeedSTR division, and the fans responded in droves each Wednesday night.
That formula continues to draw top name drivers from other segments of local motorsports, as an impressive array of race winners and track champions are leading a new group of wheel-twisters into the SpeedSTR wars that will commence with a practice session on May 12, then the season opening Goldie Meitzler Memorial on May 14.
Earl Paules, last year's Late Model point champion at the Mahoning Valley Speedway, is making the leap to Wednesday night competition at the fairgrounds in Kutztown. Paules, who captured 11 Late Model feature wins enroute to his title, is also a big winner in the asphalt Modified ranks and won a TQ Midget race in 2013. He brings a gaudy pavement resume with him, but Paules also has some dirt track experience in Sportsman Modifieds at Big Diamond Raceway.
Wind Gap, Pa.'s Frank Cozze, a former Big Block Modified winner on the Moody Mille in Syracuse, NY, is also making the plunge into the SpeedSTR pool in 2014. Cozze, who spent a few seasons in Central Pa. 410 Sprint Cars before returning last season to the seat of Norm Hansell's 358 dirt Modified, will probably see (at least some) double duty on Wednesday nights. He ran Dave Bodine's potent 600cc Micro-Sprint on a few occasions last summer, and there's a better than average chance that Cozze will hop between his SpeedSTR and Bodine's wingless 600 at the Action Track USA during the upcoming season.
Dirt Modified veteran Richie Pratt Jr., runner-up in last year's Big Block Modified points and three-time winner at Bridgeport, NJ, picked up a SpeedSTR frame, body panels, and associated parts at the Speedway Entertainment shop on January 13.
Kyle Weiss, the 358 Modified pilot from Schuylkill Haven, Pa., had his sharp looking M.A.S. Trucking/ Blue Knob Auto Sales SpeedSTR on display at the recent Motorsports Show in Oaks, Pa. Weiss, who's finished seventh in the ultra-tough Grandview Modified division point standings the past two years, will make his SpeedSTR debut at Kutztown in May.
Pancho Lawler, a Super Late Model chauffeur at the Hagerstown, MD Speedway and owner/operator of Pancho's Racing Products in Hanover, has also decided to give the SpeedSTR's a try this season.
Bridgeton, NJ's Lee Nardelli, a former 270cc Micro-Sprint champion on the quarter-mile at Bridgeport and a 600cc feature winner at the south Jersey oval, is another driver who is busily preparing his new SpeedSTR for competition at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA. Nardelli always has eye-catching equipment, as evidenced by his Best Appearing 600cc Micro-Sprint Award received at this year's Bridgeport Speedway Banquet.
Fifteen-year-old Ryan Krachun, from Neshanic Station, NJ, is also on the list of new SpeedSTR throttle-jockeys for 2014. Krachun's background includes a couple of seasons in the USAC Eastern Ignite Midget Series, where he won a race at Hickory, NC in 2013.
Krachun spent some of the past year steering a PASS South Super Late Model, too, as well as making a start or two in the NEMA Lite Series. He and his team are planning to run the NEMA Midget tour in 2014, along with Wednesday night stops in Kutztown for SpeedSTR action.
Larry Solomon, who's spent many years gassing dirt Modifieds in the Northeast, recently placed an order for a new SpeedSTR.
Brett Michalski, the young charger who became the first driver to flip out of the ballpark at the renovated facility in Kutztown when he cleared the turn three barrier in his wingless 600cc Micro-Sprint last year, is also planning to compete with the SpeedSTR's when the new season begins in May.
Joining Michalski as a SpeedSTR rookie will be one of last year's most popular wingless 600 wheelmen, Kyle Lick. Lick is joining the Kovatch Motorsports team and will buckle into one of their SpeedSTR's while continuing to thrill the crowd with his high-side escapades in a Lamar Schaffer prepared wingless 600, where he'll run as a teammate to Billy Pauch Jr.
With this group of newcomers added to the already star-studded field of competitors in the SpeedSTR division, the Action Track USA will surely live up to its name in 2014.
Tobias has made some changes to his creations for this season. The open-wheeled, self-starting spec class featuring a 2.4 Liter dual overhead cam Mopar engine, will have power steering (via an electric pump) available to its chauffeurs for the first time in 2014. Tobias is also lowering the fuel cell a bit to make the cars handle better and be a little more nimble on the race track - features that will heighten the competition even more among the all star lineup of drivers that will visit the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
The USAC sanctioned Sunoco SpeedSTR's will be joined, on a weekly basis, by the Pioneer Pole Buildings Wingless 600cc Micro-Sprints and the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots. There will be several appearances by the Junior Slingshots throughout the season, as well as the wingless 270cc Micro-Sprints.
For additional information, please visit the speedway's website at: www.actiontrackusa.com and stay up to date on all the news at the track's Facebook page and/or Twitter feed.
GARY HIEBER TAKES THE BATTLE OF TRENTON MAIN
Trenton, NJ. 02-09-14: The Slingshot 25-lap feature was won by Gary Hieber, Jr., of Penndel, Pa., who was piloting the Scrappy's # 56.Hieber outran Matt Carman who charged into the top 3 with 10 laps to go and applied some pressure on Hieber, but settled for runner-up money.
Tiffany Wambold,who finished 6th at AC advanced 3 more spots to earn a hard fought 3rd by just edging early race lead challenger Shannon Smith in her pink and black # 23.Rounding out the top 5 was a solid run by Clifton,NJ's Kevin Van Valkenburg in his green and white # 32.
AC winner Simon Egan was involved in an early race tangle and came back through the pack into 7th before mechanical issued put the Egan ride into the infield.
The Kim's Kreations FAST TIME AWARD went to Gary Hieber,which would propel him into capturing the AC / Trenton Indoor Mini-Series Championship, just edging out Tiffany Wambold and getting the $500 from sponsors Snyder's / Lance Snacks and Bennett Motors.
Slingshot Feature (25 Laps): 1. Gary Hieber, Jr., 2. Matt Carman, 3. Tiffany Wambold, 4. Shannon Smith, 5. Kevin VanValkenburg, 6. Frank Yankowski, 7. Bobby Dmuchowski, 8. Mike Carman, 9. Jerry Schott, Jr., 10. Robbie Albreada, Jr., 11. Mike Alcaro, 12. Jesse Hartman, 13. Matt Stangle, 14. Jason Ring, 15 Don Boonstra, 16. Nick Shaw, 17. Simon Egan, 18. Dave McCullough, 19. Kurt Bettler, 20. Steve Yankowski, 21. John Gilroy, 22. Lydia Rueckheim, 23. Matt Massone, 24. Ricky Yetter.
EGAN VICTORIOUS IN SNYDER'S/ LANCE SNACK BOWL 25
Simon Egan (Left) and Randy Smith Celebrate a Big Win. Photo by LKG.
Atlantic City, NJ. 01-27-14: Simon Egan of Stroudsburg, Pa., who battled pole sitter and race leader Ben Whitaker for the top spot for three laps ,moved into first place after the 1X of Whitaker, who led the first fourteen laps , suddenly slowed heading into turn one and pulled out of the race with mechanical problems. Egan had started back in 16th position and had to restart in last after an early race incident.
Former Junior National champion, Joe Kata, gridded 22nd at the start in the Morgiewicz 15M, moved by fellow New Yorker and also a former Junior National champion, Tyler Johnston on the lap 22 to claim a fast closing second to Egan. Johnston settled for third with Borgers Speedway regular Tom Arntz, in his immaculate # 17 fourth as Neshanic,NJ’s, Matt Stangle completed the top five.
By accepting the Gambler’s Challenge it was a $1,500 win for Egan, who now has his name on the AC Indoor Slingshot trophy twice. S&S Speedways owned and maintained cars have had a fantastic finishing record at Boardwalk Hall with this being the fourth win for the 2001 built Slingshot nicknamed ‘Old Faithful’ by its owner, Randy Smith. Randy’s son Ryan also won twice in the No.55 car inside Boardwalk Hall as Jesse Hartman has also won aboard an S&S machine with Shannon Smith also getting top 3 finishes.
Rounding out the top 10 was Tiffany Wambold, who had a top 3 finish on the tight indoor oval a few years ago. Jerry Schott,Jr. made his first venture behind the steering wheel of a Slingshot a memorable one as he settled in for a 7th place pay envelope. 2013 National Champion, Brett Bieber, was as high as 2nd and was challenging Whitaker for the race lead until a turn 2 incident put the former Ed Shaub 3W, renumbered 32 back to the rear, but Bieber rallied late in the race for an 8th place run. A steady run by Strasburg, PA resident, John Gilroy, gave the orange number 20 the 9th spot under the checkers. Tenth place went to Danny Spellmon, after being passed by Gilroy and Bieber with 2 laps to go.
44 cars were entered for time trials with 2013 Snyder’s / Lance Snack Bowl 25 winner Gary Hieber taking the $100 Fast Time Award presented by Kim’s Kreations.
The second step in the AC / Trenton Mini-Series will be run at Sun Trust Arena in Trenton on Friday night February 7th. The top 3 drivers after this dual track series points are added, will take home a $500 bonus for 1st, $250 for 2nd and $150 for 3rd.
Slingshot Feature (25 Laps): 1. Simon Egan, 2. Joe Kata, 3. Tyler Johnston, 4. Tom Arntz, 5. Matt Stangle, 6. Tiffany Wambold, 7. Jerry Schott Jr., 8. Brett Bieber, 9. John Gilroy, 10. Danny Spellmon, 11. Ben Whitaker, 12. Jimmy Spellmon, 13. Frank Yankowski, 14. Jesse Hartman, 15. Nick Shaw, 16. Carl Bittenbender, 17. Kurt Bettler, 18. Kyle Lick, 19. Eddie Strada, 20. Matt Carman, 21. Lydia Rueckheim, 22. Gary Hieber, 23. Demetrios Drellos, 24. Matt Massone.
2014 SPEEDSTR & SLINGSHOT REGISTRATION FORM
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Action Track USA SpeedSTR Point Champion Kenny Brightbill (center)
Kutztown, PA (Story by Barry Angstadt) 01-06-14: The first track champions of the renovated facility known as the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA, located on the Kutztown Fairgrounds, were officially crowned last Saturday night during an awards banquet held inside Building 24 at The Works in Wyomissing, Pa.
Kenny Brightbill (Sunoco USAC SpeedSTR), Jay Hartman (Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Micro-Sprints), Danny Buccafusca (NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots), and Ross Perchak (270cc Micro-Sprints) were honored as the first point champions under the Action Track USA banner and co-promoters Rich Tobias and Doug Rose.
Brightbill, the dirt Modified legend who admitted during the awards festivities that he's been racing for the past 46 years, made his first season behind the wheel of a SpeedSTR a most memorable one. The former Shillington Slingshot, now living in Reinholds, thrilled the fans week in and week out with his patented charges to the front of the field while utilizing the high side of the clay oval. Though he was only able to record one feature win, Brightbill registered an incredibly consistent string of top-five finishes (11 in the 13 races that made up the season at the Action Track USA) to notch the title by just 30 points over Billy Pauch Jr. "I've been racing for 46 years, and these cars (SpeedSTR's) are just like driving those early Modifieds at the Reading Fairgrounds," said Brightbill as he explained how he adapted to the spec class so quickly. "You've got to finesse 'em; really work the throttle to get 'em around. I guess they kind of suit my style of driving." The veteran wheel-twister also revealed, without any hesitation, that he will return to defend his title when the 2014 campaign begins at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA. "Oh yeah, we'll be back to try it again. I really like racing on Wednesday nights; I get my racing fix and I can still do other things on the weekend."
A few second generation racers finished behind Brightbill in the standings. Pauch Jr., Freddie Rahmer Jr., and Brandon Rahmer occupied positions two, three, and four, while World of Outlaws Late Model standout Rick Eckert, who led all drivers with four feature triumphs in 2013, wound up fifth in points.
Flagtown, NJ driver Jay Hartman captured the Pioneer Pole Buildings Wingless 600cc point title on the strength of two victories and eight top-five efforts. He charged to the head of the point parade in the final five events, leap-frogging over Kyle Lick and Brian Carber with finishes of first, third, fifth and a pair of runner-up placings. Long known as the set-up man on his brother Jeff's championship winning team, the 2013 point crown at Kutztown holds a very special meaning for Jay. "It was great being part of Jeff's titles, but to win this one as a driver - it's my first Micro-Sprint championship - well, it really means a lot. And to win it against the caliber of competition that was at Kutztown every week...it's just an incredible feeling."
Kyle Lick recorded the most wins (three) in the division and finished runner-up in the standings, just 28 points behind Hartman. Jeff Hartman, who won the previous three consecutive 600cc titles at the Kutztown Fairgrounds, finished third in the 2013 chase. Brian Carber and James Morris completed the top five in points.
Fourteen-year-old Danny Buccafusca, from Montague, NJ, drove the S&S Speedways No. 55 to the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot Championship. The Rockaway Rocket picked up one feature victory during the season and registered nine top-fives in 12 starts. It was a come from behind title winning effort for Buccafusca, who trailed defending track champ Brett Bieber and Larry Raifsnider with just a couple of races left to run. He finished as the runner-up in the second-to-last event of the season while Bieber and Raifsnider struggled and wound up deep in the field. Buccafusca jumped over them to grab the point lead, then secured his title with a fourth place finish in the season finale`.
During Saturday's banquet, Buccafusca - who also won a second point crown at the Hamlin Speedway - tried to put the two championships in perspective. "The two tracks are kind of polar opposites, but both are excellent dirt tracks and have terrific fan bases," he noted. "They are very different, but have one thing in common...they are both run very well and draw big crowds. It's an honor to win the championship at both speedways," said Buccafusca, who is moving to the 600cc Micro-Sprint division for 2014.
Bieber, who secured a third straight National Slingshot title, finished second in the standings at the Action Track USA. Raifsnider, the opening night feature winner, ended up third with Travis Bieber and Cody Kline rounding out the top five in Slingshot points.
There's a reason why he's called "Ross the Boss", as Hazleton's Ross Perchak earned the fifth track championship of his career at the Kutztown Fairgrounds in 270cc Micro-Sprint competition. Perchak, in his familiar Perchak Trucking/ RTS Chassis No. 4P, grabbed a pair of checkered flags during the campaign and never finished outside the top five. Three runner-up efforts, combined with four, third-place finishes were enough to clinch another title for the veteran of the 270cc division, as he beat four-time feature winner and 2012 Kutztown Champion Jarid Kunkle by 21 points. "Oh yeah, every championship is special," said Perchak, "because they're so hard to win and you never know if this might be the last one you'll win. The competition doesn't get any easier, so each championship is very enjoyable." Bobby Butler wound up third in the 270cc standings, with Tommy Kunsman Jr. and Steve Walters finishing fourth and fifth.
A very special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to George Goerner, who owns the wingless 600cc Micro-Sprint driven by Billy Ney. Goerner has been involved in local and regional racing for the past 57 years as a mechanic, car owner, and - on one occasion - as a driver. He's wrenched and owned Sprint Cars, Midgets, Super Sportsman, Mini-Sprints, and 600cc Micros, and he's done it on a limited budget. Goerner is currently battling some serious health issues, but he was able to attend the banquet and receive his award.
Co-promoter Rich Tobias presented an award of appreciation to Brad Reinert, who was instrumental in securing many of the marketing partners for the first season of racing at the Action Track USA. It was also through the efforts of Reinert that Jeffrey Hogue purchased the naming rights to the speedway, and Tobias wanted every one of the more than 200 banquet attendees to realize the importance of Reinert's contributions to the success of the race track.
The 2014 schedule is expected to be released at this week's Pioneer Pole Buildings Motorsports 2014 Show in Oaks, Pa. A May 14 opener is penciled in as the first event, with the Sunoco USAC Championship SpeedSTR's once again headlining the Wednesday night menu. They will be joined by the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Micro-Sprints and the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots on a weekly basis. The 270cc Micro-Sprints will race - wingless - on three occasions and the Junior Slingshots will visit the Action Track USA on six dates.