Yankowski Nips Kohler In Spectacular Slingshot Finish
by Barry Angstadt
Kutztown, PA – Wednesday’s racing program at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds paid tribute to the late, great Tommy Hinnershitz. Hailing from nearby Oley, PA, Hinnershitz was one of the very best Sprint Car racers of the 1930’s, ’40’s, and ’50’s. He also competed in the Indianapolis 500 on three occasions, racking up a pair of top-10 finishes. It’s a privilege to honor his memory each year, and it’s a safe bet that the “Flying Farmer” would have approved of the incredibly competitive racing that took place on Wednesday night.
Tim Buckwalter became the fifth different winner of the Flying Farmer 40 for the USAC All Pro SpeedSTRs (there have only been five such events at Action Track USA). Buckwalter, from Pottstown, also recorded his second consecutive SpeedSTR victory and his third of the still young season at the Berks County oval.
Eddie Strada is the defending point champion of the Hyper Racing Wingless 600 Sprints, but he’s struggled to get to the finish of this year’s features. That all changed on Wednesday as Strada waged an insanely entertaining battle for the lead with Jason Swavely before he nailed down his first win of the year.
The All Star Slingshots would not be outdone on this night, either, as their 20-lap main event went right down to the wire with Alex Yankowski scoring his first-ever Action Track USA victory – by inches – over Dakota Kohler, who led most of the race.
The first seven circuits of the 40-lap USAC All Pro SpeedSTR main were highlighted by a terrific side by side duel between Mike Bednar and Brad Brightbill. The duo traded the point all around the race track, but Bednar would poke the nose of his No. 23 in front of Brightbill on most laps as they flashed across the start/finish line. Right behind the leaders, Louden Reimert and Ohio’s Matt Westfall were scuffling for third, with Mike Mahaney and Steven Nederostek also in the mix.
On a restart with 13 laps complete, Bednar and Brightbill got together in turns one and two as they battled for the top spot, and the ensuing melee collected several other cars including Billy Pauch Jr. That handed the lead to Mahaney, but it was Reimert gunning his Kochel Equipment No. 58 off the high side of turn four to take command on the 15th trip around the oval.
In just his second full season of SpeedSTR activity, Reimert impressively pulled away from the talent battling for second place that included Bednar, Mahaney, Westfall, and Nederostek.
On a restart with 21 tours in the books, Bednar tried to sneak under Reimert, the Oley Valley High School student who also campaigns a Sportsman Modified at the Grandview Speedway. Reimert fought off the challenge but he was about to have company in the form of Tim Buckwalter, the 2016 National SpeedSTR Champion. Buckwalter, already a two-time Action Track USA victor this year, started 11th and steadily sliced his way forward. He moved past Mahaney to take over the runner-up spot on lap 23, then blasted by Reimert for the lead on the 26th trip around the clay. Reimert tried running the bottom as he exited turn two, but got caught up in the heavy build-up of mud that occupied the low side of the backstretch as the cars made their way out of the second corner. Louden slid back to fifth but recovered nicely and continued otherwise unscathed.
Buckwalter was now the leader as the yellow flag waved once again with 26 complete. As the greeen flew to resume the 40-lap race, Mahaney and Buckwalter swapped the lead, and it was Mahaney in front when the next caution period occurred with 11 tours remaining. The next restart proved beneficial to Buckwalter, as Tim moved back in front of Mahaney. He began to ease away from the field as Billy Pauch Jr., who was part of the Bednar-Brightbill pile-up on lap 14, threaded his way to third and began to put all kinds of pressure on Mahaney for second place. Pauch Jr. grabbed the runner-up position with four laps remaining, but it was too late for him to mount a serious challenge to Buckwalter.
“Yeah, he (Mahaney) kind of got in my head a little bit, but that’s part of what makes him so good. I made some adjustments in the car and Paul (Lotier) plus the crew gave me a great car again tonight,” said Buckwalter afterward.
Buckwalter went on to win his second straight SpeedSTR main, and his eighth overall at Action Track USA. Only Pauch Sr. and Jr., who are tied with ten, are ahead of Buckwalter in career SpeedSTR wins at the Kutztown race place.
Pauch Jr. finished second, with Reimert capping a nice comeback with a third place finish. Briggs Danner and Westfall completed the top five.
The SpeedSTR feature was really good, but the Hyper Racing Wingless 600 Sprints main event was off the charts!
The 25-lapper boiled down to a fantastic duel between Jason Swavely and Eddie Strada, with the pair of skilled wheel-twisters swapping the lead over and over again.
Swavely started second but jumped to the lead at the outset. Sixth-starting Strada rumbled forward, bringing Jimmy Glenn with him. Strada executed a slide job on Mike Rutherford to snare the runner-up slot, and it wasn’t long before he and Swavely were trading sliders for the lead. Danny Buccafusca and Jimmy Glenn fought for forth. A restart with nine to go set the stage for some of the best racing (for the lead) found anywhere as Strada and Swavely swapped the spot on numerous occasions while engaging in “SlideFest”, where they tossed slider upon slider on one another. At times, Swavely protected his slim lead by holding his ground in the high groove but on most laps, he had to cross over and go back under Lake Ariel’s Strada. Jimmy Glenn was also involved in the “Slider Mania” as he dive-bombed into turn one a few times, trying desperately to get under the top two.
Strada fended off all challenges and went on to become the fifth different winner (in five races) in 600 Sprint mains this year. “My dad said, ‘don’t make any friends out there , and I didn’t.’ ” noted Strada. “I wanted this one really bad to shake off the horrible luck we’ve had so far this season.”
Glenn, who lost a contact lens on the pace laps before the feature, drove with basically one eye and finished a strong third behind Swavely. Billy Pauch Jr. wound up fourth and Mike Rutherford finished fifth.
No slide jobs in the All Star Slingshot feature, but they ended with the closest finish of the night and one of the closest ever at Action Track USA as the winner was decided by just 0.079-seconds – mere inches.
Dakota Kohler looked like a sure winner, setting the pace and opening a huge lead over his pursuers. Using the high side of the speedway, Travis Bieber rocketed to third and wrestled for the runner-up spot with Yankowski.
Point leader and two-time winner Seth Spayd was on the move after starting 15th, moving into the top five and eventually challenging the Bieber brothers, Travis and Brett. Spayd took over third, then set his sights on Yankowski, who was running third at the time behind Kohler and Yankowski. With just three circuits left to run and as he battled with Yankowski for second, Spayd’s No. 10s gave out and he stopped in turn four to bring out the yellow.
On the restart, Yankowski muscled his way inside the race leader. They raced side by side the entire lap until Kohler caught a hold in the track and entered turn three quite a bit higher than he wanted. Yankowski edged ahead as Kohler quickly recovered and the two young chargers drag raced to the checkered with Yankowski nipping Kohler by 0.079-seconds.
Both drivers handled their victory lane interviews in a very professional manner, with a severely disappointed Kohler managing a smile and congratulating Yankowski on his victory.
Action Track Sidebites:
Solid car counts on Flying Farmer, FFA, and Ole’ Time Plowboys Night at the speedway. There were 26 SpeedSTRs, 26 All Star Slingshots, and 39 of the 600 Sprints for a grand total of 91 race cars in action!
Billy Pauch Jr. set quick time in the Timed Hot Laps for the SpeedSTRs, with Tim Buckwalter clocking in the second fastest lap. They both qualified for the Flying Farmer 40 by virtue of their time trial results.
SpeedSTR heat winners were Brad Brightbill, Louden Reimert, and Mike Bednar. The B-Main went to Dylan Hoch.
The Pioneer Pole Building 600 Sprint Mad Scramble was taken by Danny Buccafusca, who transferred directly to the feature due to his win. He also received a cash stipend from Hosensack Poker Club.
Jimmy Glenn, Jason Swavely, Tommy Kunsman, and Jesse Maurer were 600 Sprint heat race winners. The C-Main winner was Scott Slater, while Joe Kay captured the B-Main.
Slingshot heat victors included Dave Carraghan, Marc Daniels, and Travis Bieber. Tanner VanDoren won the B-Main.
This Wednesday, June 14, is Boy Scout/ Girl Scout Night at Action Track USA. Any Boy/Girl Scouts who show up in uniform will receive free admission. It is also Bicycle Giveaway Night, and the Junior Slingshots will join the SpeedSTRs, 600 Sprints, and the All Star Slingshots with warm-ups beginning at 6 p.m.
Get your Midweek Motorsports Adrenaline Rush at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA…where the Superstars race!
USAC All-Pro SpeedSTRs Flying Farmer 40: 1. Tim Buckwalter 2. Billy Pauch Jr. 3. Louden Reimert 4. Briggs Danner 5. Matt Westfall 6. TJ Mayberry 7. Joe Mooney 8. Ray Nemeth 9. JT Brotosky 10. Mike Mahaney 11. Steven Drevicki 12. Steve Nederostek 13. Kenny Brightbill 14. Phil Meisner 15. Mike Bednar 16. Jason Rochelle 17. Dylan Hoch 18. Brad Brightbill 19. Earl Paules 20. Matt Janisch 21. Tom Mayberry 22. Andy Haus 23. Jeff Hartman 24. Joe Vaccaro.
DNS: Tim Iulg; John Bockhorn.
Hyper Racing 600cc Sprints (25 Laps): 1. Eddie Strada 2. Jason Swavely 3. Jimmy Glenn 4. Billy Pauch Jr. 5. Mike Rutherford 6. Tim Buckwalter 7. Jim Radney 8. Tyler Ulrich 9. Will Butler 10. Zac Bealer 11. Joey Kay 12. Jay Hartman 13. Shelby Harper 14. Doug Snyder 15. Tommy Kunsman 16. Kenny Miller III 17. Damon Paul 18. Nick Skias 19. Danny Buccafusca 20. Matt Roselli 21. Jake Severn 22. Bobby Butler 23. Rob Pajauis 24. Colin White 25. Jesse Maurer 26. Sam Kravitsky.
DNQ: Jacob Balliet; Tim Bauer; Jake Roberts; Scott Slater; Nate Brinker; Logan Snyder; Shawn Rooney; Joe Plunkett; Austin Quick; John Willman; Jared Lilly; Andrew Layser; Eric Ankiewicz.
All Star Slingshots (20 Laps): 1. Alex Yankowski 2. Dakota Kohler 3. Travis Bieber 4. Brett Bieber 5. Austin Stufflet 6. Matt Miller 7. Dylan Hoch 8. Ryan Conrad 9. Kyle Smith 10. Taylor Schoenly 11. Blaire Schoenly 12. Cole Stangle 13. TJ Gursky 14. Jerry Arms 15. Seth Spayd 16. Tim Roeder 17. Ryan Davey 18. Zac Kistler 19. Dave Carraghan 20. Joey Vaccaro 21. Marc Daniels 22. Gavin Danner 23. Tanner VanDoren 24. Myron Meyer. DNS: Lee Schantzenbach.
Pioneer Pole Building 600 Sprints Mad Scramble, 10 laps: 1. Danny Buccafusca (Transferred to Feature & $25 from Hosensack Poker Club), 2.Andrew Layser (Hoosier RR Tire), 3.Bobby Butler (10 gal. Methanol from Roadrunner Race Fuel/VP Fuels), 4.Zack Bealer (RTS Gift Certificate), 5.Scott Slater (4-FK Rod Ends), 6. Jacob Balliet (TSL Shocks Gift Certificate), 7.Eric Ankiewicz (Saldana Racing Products Gift Certificate), 8.Sam Kravitsky (Free Reg. @ AT USA), 9.Shawn Rooney (Free Reg. @ AT USA), 10.Joe Plunkett (Pyrotect Racing Cells Gift Certificate), 11.Tim Bauer, 12.Jake Roberts, 13.John Willman.