Tuesday, July 3 – It was the day before a holiday and most people leave work early. Unfortunately I stayed late until 5:20 and then headed straight to the Grandview Speedway. Bruce only worked half a day and went to slingshot races earlier in the day at Pocono and I would be meeting him at the track. He arrived 45 minutes before I did. After getting caught up in some holiday traffic I arrived at the track at 7:10 to an unbelievable crowd. I never saw so many cars looking for a place to park. It was crazy. I paid my $3 to park in the yard across the street from the track and then proceeded to park behind the house in the bowels of the property. It took me 15 minutes to hike to the pit shack to sign in and then back to the grandstands. It was very hot and humid and now I felt like I needed oxygen too. Luckily I did not need to worry about a seat because Rich Rauser always saves us a seat for the Thunder on the Hill shows and this PA Sprint Week show was also a part of that series. As I was walking in the front gate I heard Jeff Alhum, the track announcer, ask the fans to move together to make room for the many fans still looking for a seat as the sprints were starting to take their warm-up laps.
This was a double show hosting the 410 sprints and the 358 modifieds that normally run here on Saturday night. There were 32 sprints and 42 modifieds. My first thought was this was going to be too much racing for the track to hold up. It started at 7:47 with time trials for the sprints and Danny Lasoski set fast time. Bob Miller kept the show moving along as the modified heats came out within 10 minutes of the time trials being complete. The first heat started out with a crash in turn one and the sprint fans started to groan as Grandview has a reputation of a lot of contact and crashing. Yes there is a lot of contact but in the past couple of years the crashing has lessened and the racing is quite good. After this first encounter racing went smoothly and it only took a little over 20 minutes to run off the 4 qualifying heats. The winners were Duane Howard, Billy Pauch Jr., Jordan Umbenhauer and Jeff Strunk. Later they would all complete in a 4 lap dash race paying $200 to the winner. Howard would win this event.
The sprint heats were next and they also ran four 10 laps qualifying events that were lined up from the time trials. The match race won by Howard followed and then it was consolation time. There were two for the modifieds and one for the sprints. I was surprised when all qualifying was complete in 2 hours. Tonight the surface took on rubber early and you already knew the passing would be minimal in the feature events. They did some minor track maintenance during the modified position draw and in 25 minutes the green was dropping on the 35 lap sprint main event.
Yes, it was dusty. I expected that. Yes, we got dirty and I expected that. However I did not realize that the addition of 5 laps on to what usually is a 30 lap event would turn a ho-hum race into a disaster. You are normally accustomed to seeing the sprints running high on the upper groove at Grandview but tonight it was the low groove, which usually does not lead to very exciting racing. The first caution came out on lap 23 for Danny Dietrich and this closed up the field. To this point Alan Krimes lead all circuits. On lap 25 the caution came out for Chad Layton who stopped in turn two with a flat tire. It was also at this time that Tim Tanner Jr. dropped to the infield, also with a flat tire. Tanner who was driving a sprint car in competition for the very first time not only qualified but did a commendable job on a not so perfect surface. This would be the first of two flat tires that would finish at over a dozen. Racing resumed and on lap 30 the leader Alan Krimes dropped to the wayside with a right rear flat. Now according to the rules if a flat tire occurs while racing the crew is given two laps to change the tire and return to the rear of the field. This adds time and caution laps to the race and we all know that sprints can only run so many laps before they require a fuel stop. Lap 31 it was Lance Dewease with a right rear flat. Lap 32 it was Brian Leppo. Lap 33 it was then leader Steve Smith Jr. and Brent Marks. Also during this time we had a red for refueling. Remember you cannot change tires during a red flag. The final two laps looked like nobody wanted to really push it much. They just wanted to survive the final two circuits. Kyle Larson was one of the few sprints with rubber left on his right rear tire and in those final two circuits he passed three or four cars to move into third. As the checkered flag fell it was Greg Hodnett picking up the $5,000 first price followed by Brian Montieth, Larson, Fred Rahmer and Brian Leppo. Also on the last lap Daryn Pittman, Aaron Ott and Paul McMahon experienced right rear flat tires. Six cautions, 25 minutes and a dozen right rear flat tires are why you should not run 35 laps. I was told that they run 35 laps as to not cheat the fans because it is a smaller track. Tonight not only were the fans cheated out of exciting racing but so were the drivers.
Now we still had a 25 lap modified race to run and more than ¾ of the over flow crowd remained to see the final event of the night. Would Duane Howard pick up another win? This race was not plagued with flat tires, there was just no surface left to run on. It was single file racing around the bottom. Ryan Godown inherited the lead when leader Ryan Grim dropped out on the fifth lap. He had Howard on his bumper the remainder of the event but unless he moved from the low groove he was not going to be passed. On lap 23 the fourth caution of the race came out for Terry Meitzler for a flat tire and at the same time Billy Pauch also had the right rear go down. Here we go again. No this is only a 25 lap event. Godown hung on for the win and blew a right rear tire in turn two after taking the checkered. Howard finished second with Billy Pauch Jr., Kyle Weiss and Craig VonDohren rounding out the top five.
It was a full night of racing. The promoter had to have made some decent money with the record crowd and I think this is great. Promoters need to make money if we want to keep seeing races. The show was run efficiently but the surface and tire situation put a black mark on the event. Yes, it was hot in the 90’s and it has not rained for a while. I still do not think they should have run the modifieds with the sprints as there were too many high powered cars on the track and it took its toll. My night was not over as I could not remember exactly where I parked the car and it took me a while to find it and then make the 45 minute jaunt home.
In the end there were a lot of fans, a lot of cars and a lot of flat tires. Now it would have been a different story for a lot if they had only run 30 laps.