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The month of March has been rough so far weather wise in the northeast with only Hagerstown, Lincoln and Williams Grove logging shows so far under mostly cold conditions. Saturday’s weather conditions looked promising after the weatherman all week had predicted rain both Friday and Saturday. Indeed they were right about Friday but Saturday broke under cloudy skies and plans were laid to head into central Pennsylvania. Pat would not be able to go along as she had to drive her mother to kidney dialysis treatment so a call was placed to Quakertown, PA’s Jeff Alhum, the announcer at Bridgeport Speedway, for a road trip to the Selinsgrove Speedway. On tap at Selinsgrove today was a 4 PM start for the Race of Champions (ROC) modifieds. This race was penciled in on the dance card when it was announced that the modifieds would be returning to the fast Snyder County half mile dirt oval for the first time since 1982. I met Jeff in Fogelsville and we headed west on I-78 for the 1 hour 45 minute drive to the track that normally runs the 358 sprints and on occasion the 410 sprints.
We arrived at the track near 3, paid the $15 admission and headed toward turn four of the covered grandstand to secure a seat for the evening. We placed our blanket down about half way up in the grandstand before a yell from our racing buddy, Joe Perotto and his son, Steve, found us relocating one section over in the top row. By the scheduled starting time of 4 a decent crowd was on hand to watch the 40 modifieds and the 23 pro stocks on hand. By 4:30 the first of 5 modified heats going the 8 lap distance with 4 to qualify were ready to go. Indeed the track was fast and there was a lot of passing but the right rear slicks of the big block modifieds started to take its toll on the soft, spongy surface and the track became rough and rutty. The rain the previous day played havoc on the surface and the track prep crew tried their best but even the 30 minute track prep before the 50 lap feature could not bring the wet surface back. Duane Howard took the early lead but Billy Pauch driving the Will Brown #W1 blasted by into the lead. Howard’s night ended on lap 17 as something broke in the Sinon #4 and he spun in turn three. Jeff Strunk followed him shortly thereafter to the pit area with an overheating problem. This race would turn out to be the survival of the fittest as only 11 of the 30 original starters were left when the checkered flag waved at 7:57. There were indeed some good runs on the evening with Stewart Friesen charging from 24th to 3rd before fading and eventually dropping to the pit area in the late going. Another impressive evening was turned in by 16 year old Larry Wight as this youngster is not afraid to hand it out and put the pedal to the medal.
Rick Laubach from Quakertown, PA won his heat and the cash dash but his feature win hopes looked dismal early as he suffered a flat tire on lap 3 and headed pitside. Laubach was able to replace the tire and rejoin the field and worked his way to second just past the halfway mark. He seemed to be the only one who could stick with Pauch and his break came on lap 35 in the form of Pauch’s front axle. Laubach was able to hold sway over the final 15 laps and won the $4000 top prize outrunning Pat Ward who tangled with Steve Paine in the closing laps while battling for second. Paine suffered front end damage and limped around the track as the checkered waved. Jeff Rudalavage came home third with David VanHorn notching fourth and Chad Phelps rounding out the top five. A short time later it was announced that Phelps came up light on the scale so he was disqualified with the oldest man in the field, Mike Colsten, inheriting the fifth position. We stuck around the watch the pro stocks with Troy Miller claiming the top spot with the entire day of racing completed by 8:40.
Even though the track was rough the racing was still fairly decent but I would hope for a return for the modifieds on a better prepared track so they could really showcase their talents.
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