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Tuesday, August 23 - Tonight the New Egypt Speedway was running the first of two Tuesday night events with the big block modifieds and the ARDC midgets on the dance card. Next Tuesday will feature the 410 sprint cars joining the big block modifieds. It was a nice evening for racing with cooling temperatures and an awesome racing surface prepared by the New Egypt track crew. On hand for tonight’s racing were 34 big block modifieds and 21 ARDC midgets. Action got underway late at 7:45 but once underway it was moved along swiftly. The modifieds were first out for their three heats with Billy Pauch, Tad Cox and Jeff Strunk scoring the wins. The ARDC midgets ran two heats with Steve Buckwalter and Tim Buckwalter winning. Heat racing was done in 50 minutes. A modified consie followed with Rick Laubach winning and a slight delay was needed to work on the third turn inside fencing before the racing continued.
The 25 lap ARDC midget feature would be first and this was good for two reasons. That being that the track was in the best shape for the small, light race cars and most of the drivers and crews came from further away and could start their mid-week trek home sooner. The racing in this one was very exciting with three and four wide dicing commonplace. Tim Buckwalter took the early lead in turn two on lap 7 and held sway until his cousin, Steve, raced into the lead down the backstretch on lap 13 after starting tenth. Buckwalter would never relinquish the lead thereafter but Brett Arndt never let him get too far ahead. At the finish Steve Buckwalter won for the fourth time with ARDC in 2011 over Arndt with Drew Heistand nipping at Arndt’s tail tank in the late stages. Heistand who started 16th make the late run to end up third with 11th starter, Ryan Smith, fourth and Tim Buckwalter finishing fifth after tangling with a lap car while battling cousin Steve for the lead and losing four spots before straightning out. It was a very competitive feature with only one caution and spun off in 14 minutes. Heistand maintains the point lead in the season long contest leading over Nick Wean and Ryan Smith.
As good as the midget feature was the big block modified feature was better. Oley, Pennsylvania invader, Duane Howard, took the lead on a lap one restart from his fourth starting position and led the first 29 laps. In between there was some great side by side action with 18th starting Billy Pauch spinning in turn three on lap four and restarting in the back of the field. He sliced his way through the field and in the middle stages of the race waged a 10 lap side by side battle with Sammy Martz for second as Howard continue to lead. This battle alone was worth the price of admission. On lap 16 third running Jeff Strunk looped the Norm Hansell #357 in turn two without any help. The spins by Pauch and Strunk unassisted were very rare occurances for these two veterans of dirt track racing. But in addition there was some other great racing throughout the field. Danny Bouc ran very strong after starting 7th and ran as high as 3rd before fading in the later stages of the 40 lap tussle. Finally Pauch was able to clear Martz and take second and closed on Howard. He caught and passed Howard in turn two on lap 29 and completed his impressive run from the back to the front. We wonder if Howard was starting to experience mechanical woes around the time Pauch caught him as he had slowed noticeably. Three laps later Howard would pull on lame on the backstretch with what could have been driveline problems. We still feel that Pauch would have passed Howard but it might have been more difficult. Pauch pulled away over the final eight laps and flashed under the checkered at 10:05 winning for the 12th time at New Egypt in 2011 and his career 101st win at the central Jersey speedplant. Jimmy Horton had closed on Pauch late but was never able to seriously make a challenge for the lead and finished second after starting 20th. Richie Pratt Jr. made a last lap pass of Sammy Martz to finish third with Martz fourth and Wade Hendrickson taking fifth after starting 21st with his new small block under the hood.
It was a fine night of racing with a superb smooth virtually dust free surface on a pleasant temperature evening with the racing ending at a good hour. This race ranks in the top ten of our year and maybe even cracked the top five if I review our races of 2011. Looking forward to next Tuesday and the return of the 410 sprints to the Garden State and hopefully the surface will be as great as this night.
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