Saturday, April 27 - It was another solo run to Grandview as Pat stayed at home to work in the house, cleaning and packing, for our future move to Indiana. It was another cold night on the hill in Bechtelsville and I took advantage of the press box to cut down on the cold of the evening. At Grandview you are always welcomed by the race director, Mark Garman, and track announcer and PR man, Ernie Saxton, ventured over before the preceedings began to chat for a few minutes.
The first late model heat for their 21 car field took the green flag at 7:19, still a bit late for such a cold night. These two heats were exciting with Kory Fleming and Kyle Merkel garnering the wins. They were followed in quick order by three heats for the 25 car sportsman field who also turned in credible performances with Kevin Beach, Ryan Lilick and Craig Whitmoyer prevailing. Four heats were needed for the 40 car 358 modified field with some of the up and comers, Tommy Sheetz III, Don Norris Jr. and Jordan Umbenhauer, winning and one veteran, Jeff Strunk, scoring a heat win. It took exactly an hour to spin off nine heat races and with good organization (having the next two heat races staged in the infield) a lot of racing can be accomplished in an hour.
By 8:23 the green flag was waving on the first feature event of the evening, the 25 lap late model feature. For the second week in a row these fellows ran a good, tight race with only two cautions and in between produced some good side by side racing. When it was all said and done at 8:43 second year driver, Steve Nederostek, held off Sean Merkel to score his first career win. The big guns were right there with Merkel, Jason Miller, Chuck Schutz and Mike Kellner (who started 20th) chasing him to the finish. The only division needing consies were the 358’s and they were spun off by 9:04 and it was time for intermission. Track maintenance was performed during the short 20 minute break and soon it was time for the 30 lap 358 modified feature.
It looked like it might be a night for the young guns as Tommy Sheetz III came out of the sixth hole to lead the race and looked awful strong going to the front. Oley’s other racer, Nate Christman, also came on strong from his eighth starting spot to put the pressure on Sheetz. They had a nice battle running each other clean. In the meantime 13th starter, Duane Howard also from Oley, was working his way forward with no help from the yellow flag. By lap 17 he had cracked the top five and the chase was on. The first caution appeared on lap 19 and this was just what Howard needed as he was now running third. On the restart entering turn two Howard split the leaders on a nifty move and challenged for the lead. Howard was able to wrestle the lead away coming to the flag for lap 21 and at that point it was all but decided. The two young guns gave it their best but Howard was not to be denied for his first victory of the year at Grandview aboard his new Bicknell chassis machine and number 201 in his career after scoring number 200 the night before at Big Diamond. It was indeed a productive weekend for the Oley resident! Sheetz III and Christman flashed across the line in second and third with John Willman driving a good race to finish fourth and Jeff Strunk advancing from 16th to round out the top five in a race that only had two caution flags. Frank Cozze, Craig VonDohren (from 22nd), Mike Gular (from 20th), Kyle Weiss and Brad Grim completed the top ten with the checkered waving at 9:45.
The only race left to run was the 25 lap sportsman feature and though it had four cautions it still was a good, competitive run. Kevin Beach Jr. after winning one of the heats looked strong this evening and indeed he was as he climbed from his 10th starting spot to take the lead in the later part of the feature go. Joe Funk advanced from 12th to take second with 13th starter, Craig Whitmoyer, taking third with Ron Krex fourth and Mike Lisowski claiming the fifth position. The final checker of the evening waved at 10:15 and everyone went home early and happy after seeing three good, competitive feature events. It doesn’t get much better than that.