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Wednesday, May 21st - I am a little tardy on this blog but when you are going on the road for 4 straight days you have to sneak in mowing the grass between the rainy days. Thursday was the day to mow the acre and a half before leaving on Friday to start our Memorial Day weekend race chasing. But I am getting ahead of myself so let me backtrack.
Wednesday was a day with 30% change of showers and we experienced some of them before leaving for the midweek show at the Grandview Speedway. Pat was not able to make the trip as work was a pressing issue so I made the 45 minute trip solo but knew I would see many of our racing buddies and have someone to sit with. On tap tonight was the first race of Bob Miller’s Thunder on the Hill series and it was also the first race of the Keystone Cup for the central Pennsylvania 410 sprint car guys. This series is a mini speedweek or could be considered a tuneup for the week long speedweek. The Keystone Cup would be 5 tracks in a six night format with Grandview opening the series and Port Royal closing the action on Memorial Day Monday.
I arrived close to 6:30 and found out that Grandview had not escaped the shower activity with a storm hitting around 5. After signing in I cruised the pit area checking out the 32 ARDC midgets and the 28 410 sprint cars in attendence. Of course I stopped by to chat with the Stevens family and their racing daughter, Stephanie. This year the car is painted maroon and yellow and is a real show stopper. She also now has very nice t-shirts which are only $10 and $12. A real bargain. The 410 field was high on quality with invaders from the WOO circuit being Daryn Pittman, Kraig Kinser, Jason Sides and Lucas Wolfe. Add Austrialian Matt Reed to the mix along with the central PA regulars and you have a quality field. After touring the pits I joined Rich Rauser, Jeff Sands, Keith Barto and Bezz in the top row of the stands on the homestretch.
Time trials got underway an hour late at 8:27 due to the rain and when they were done Jeff Shepard had broken the six year old track record with a time of 11.433 seconds. The track was heavy and fast as the ARDC midgets kicked off the heat action with three well run heats. The 410’s followed with their three heats and then it was right back to the midget consie, which was shortened when only 8 cars were left with all qualifying. This is a smart move to conserve fuel and keep the show moving. Stevie Smith blew away the field in the consie after complaining to the starter after a ragged start in his heat race in which he did not qualify. By 10:30 the 35 lap, $5000 to win, 410 sprint car feature was ready to rumble with Jeff Shepard roaring into the lead. Shepard was looking for his third straight $5000 to win paycheck and the Jet was flying. Just as he entered lap traffic with Lucas Wolfe closing the dreaded yellow flag waved. Drats!! Just as it was getting interesting. This would occur two more times giving Shepard a clear track to race on. Wolfe and Daryn Pittman swapped the second spot in a spirited battle with Pittman finally prevailing. Fred Rahmer finished fourth with Stevie Smith coming from ninth to fifth at the end. Brian Leppo turned in an impressive race charging from 14th to 6th at the checkered at 10:55.
The 20 lap ARDC midget feature would round out the show and if you left before the end you missed the better feature event. There was some good racing throughout the field but the last 5 laps up front were great. The cushion pushing Steve Buckwalter vs. the low groove running Billy Pauch Jr. These two swapped the lead using breath taking slide jobs to do so. It came down to the final corner with the two swapping grooves entering turn four. Buckwalter did not give Pauch much room but did not get into him either. Pauch simply ran out of real estate on the high side and side swiped the outside wall rolling his midget in the process. Buckwalter flashed under the checkered flag for his second straight ARDC victory. In victory lane he noted that he did not tangle with Pauch and the incident was unintentional but later in the evening the ones that count, the ARDC officials, decided otherwise. In their press release it was stated that Buckwalter went too hard into the corner and did not maintain control of his car therefore he was disqualified. To me they made the wrong call as I felt it was just hard racing with neither one willing to let off while going for the glory. But the decision sticks with Andy Martin awarded the victory and Buckwalter placed 26th in the finish. Rounding out the top five was Nick Wean, Ryan Smith, Drew Heistand and Brett Arndt. Stephanie Stevens ended up seventh at the finish. All racing was completed by 11:43, not bad considering that they were delayed one hour by the rain.
Next up will be more midget racing along with sprint cars as the Memorial Day weekend unfolds. Stay tuned for the next report.
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