Pauch goes out on top; Strada, Hoch Sil­fee also hon­ored at Ac­tion Track awards gala

The Boyertown Area Times - - SPORTS -

MACUNGIE >> The Bear Creek Moun­tain Re­sort & Con­fer­ence Cen­ter played host to a crowd of 230 on Satur­day, Jan­uary 7, as the 2016 cham­pi­ons and top point earn­ers from the Jef­freyHogueReal­tor.com Ac­tion Track USA were saluted at the track’s an­nual awards ban­quet. Sadly, only one­half of the pro­mo­tional team, Doug Rose, was present as Rich To­bias was stricken with the flu and un­able to make the trip to Bear Creek.

Spe­cial recog­ni­tion was given to the 2016 cham­pion of the USAC All Pro Speed STR divi­sion, Billy Pauch, who re­cently an­nounced that he is giv­ing up the seat of Mike Heffner’s No. 27, and will no longer com­pete in the Speed STR class at the Kutz­town Fair­grounds oval. “Af­ter win­ning the point ti­tle, I de­cided it was time. There’s no bet­ter way to go out than to go out on top,” stated the French­town, N.J., driver who has com­piled numer­ous cham­pi­onships in var­i­ous divi­sions and at a plethora of speed­ways dur­ing his sto­ried ca­reer.

“They’re all spe­cial,” he said of his many point crowns. “But it’s time to let the younger guys have a shot. I’m go­ing to turn 60 soon and these cars (Speed STRs) are not easy to han­dle. Rich (To­bias) de­signed them that way; he wants them to be tough to drive, and that does make it a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of hard work, too. And the com­pe­ti­tion at Kutz­town is tremen­dous. That makes it even tougher to do well in these cars. So I’m very proud of this cham­pi­onship and to win it for Mike (Heffner, his car owner) is re­ally great. It’s been an honor to drive for him these past three years.”

Pauch con­tin­ued his cham­pi­onship speech with some ex­tremely valu­able words of wis­dom and ad­vice for the numer­ous teenaged and pre-teen driv­ers in at­ten­dance. “The crowd at Kutz­town - and the grand­stands are packed each week, which is ter­rific - is great; they are re­ally into it and that makes it more fun as a driver. And for all you younger driv­ers, just re­mem­ber, with­out that crowd who comes to watch you, there is no rac­ing. Make sure you thank them (the fans) ev­ery time you get the chance and al­ways do your best to put on a good show for them.”

Pauch turns over the reigns of Heffner’s po­tent Le­lands.com No. 27 to his son, Billy Jr., who has al­ready racked up a pair of point ti­tles at the Jef­freyHogueReal­tor.com Ac­tion Track USA in Speed STR com­pe­ti­tion.

In 2016, the el­der Pauch notched four fea­ture wins en route to the ti­tle, in­clud­ing two in a row in the month of May to stake him­self to an early point lead. He added a third vic­tory in one-half of the Ron­nie To­bias Me­mo­rial in June, then capped off his cham­pi­onship sea­son by win­ning the Kutz­town Fair Speed STR Na­tional in mid-Au­gust. When the cur­tain-clos­ing Dick To­bias Clas­sic was rained out on Au­gust 21, Pauch joined his son as an Ac­tion Track USA Speed STR Cham­pion.

Tim Buck­wal­ter au­thored a strong sea­son to fin­ish run­ner-up in points. Buck­wal­ter scored three wins and ended the sea­son with three con­sec­u­tive topthree fin­ishes.

Mike Bed­nar, Steven Nederostek, and Matt Janisch com­pleted the top five in the Speed STR stand­ings.

Ed­die Strada, from Lake Ariel, Pa., pro­duced a cham­pi­onship in Russ Thorn­ton’s No. 36D in the 2016 Hyper Rac­ing Win­g­less 600 Sprints Pow­ered by Hyper Fuel In­jec­tion Tech­nol­ogy. Iron­i­cally, Strada steered an RTS car to the ti­tle on the strength of two vic­to­ries and, in the 11 fea­tures run for the 600 Sprints, he ac­cu­mu­lated a to­tal of seven top-five fin­ishes.

“Those peo­ple sit­ting at that table,” noted Strada as he pointed to his fam­ily, crew, and car owner Thorn­ton, “made this pos­si­ble and make it so much fun to go rac­ing. The car was fan­tas­tic each week and I love rac­ing at Kutz­town; the strength of the com­pe­ti­tion is in­cred­i­ble.”

Strada, who has also turned into a top notch 305 Sprint Car cam­paigner, was asked if he in­tends to re­turn to the 600 Sprint wars at Ac­tion Track USA to de­fend his ti­tle in 2017. His an­swer was a sim­ple but em­phatic, “Oh, hell yeah!”.

His two tri­umphs were mem­o­rable as he put to­gether his ti­tle-win­ning ef­fort. He reg­is­tered an early sea­son King of No Wing Shootout vic­tory, then flat­footed his way from 26th start­ing spot to win in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion on July 27. Strada and Billy Pauch Jr. were tied for the point lead head­ing into the AEI Equip­ment Kutz­town Fair Na­tion­als in Au­gust, and Strada cap­i­tal­ized on a sixth place fin­ish in that 60-lap­per to win the cham­pi­onship by a mere five points over Pauch when the sea­son fi­nale was rained out.

The 2015 point champ, Tim Buck­wal­ter, fin­ished third in the stand­ings with two-time ti­tlist Jay Hart­man and Bran­don Az­za­lina round­ing out the top five.

The 2016 cam­paign was truly a dream sea­son for Mertz­town’s Dy­lan Hoch, as he cap­tured his first Ac­tion Track USA point ti­tle in the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Sling­shot divi­sion and came away vic­to­ri­ous in the rich­est Sling­shot race ever run - the $4,000 to win Slinger Ware­house Su­per Sling­shot Fair Na­tional in Au­gust.

“It was one of our main goals of the year,” he ex­plained, “to win the points at Ac­tion Track. To do it in our (fam­ily owned) car is re­ally nice, and I’ve got to thank my en­tire fam­ily, the crew, and all of my spon­sors who made this hap­pen.”

Hoch recorded four fea­ture vic­to­ries dur­ing the sea­son, with three of them oc­cur­ring by June 22nd to as­sist him in putting a choke­hold on the point lead. His Cald­well Bankers/Wal­bert Fu­neral Home/Wertz Bev­er­age of Top­ton No. 35 never fal­tered and Hoch had the cham­pi­onship wrapped up prior to the fi­nal race (which was rained out).

Even though he is still look­ing for his first Ac­tion Track USA win, Seth Spayd uti­lized amaz­ing con­sis­tency to fin­ish sec­ond in the point chase. Travis Bieber, Dutch Clas­sic vic­tor An­thony Rais­ner, and the year’s Most Pop­u­lar Driver at Ac­tion Track USA, Austin Stufflet, fin­ished third through fifth in the Sling­shot stand­ings.

In the five races run for the Ju­nior Sling­shot divi­sion, Say­lors­burg’s Jared Sil­fee won twice and earned a pair of third place fin­ishes. Those ef­forts pro­pelled Sil­fee to the point ti­tle for the Ju­nior Slingers, as he nar­rowly de­feated Fleet­wood’s Kyle Smith.

One of Sil­fee’s vic­to­ries came in the Ju­nior Sling­shot Na­tional Tour event in Au­gust. He backed it up with a strong third place run in the sec­ond fea­ture of that evening to claim the crown over Smith, who also reg­is­tered two wins in Ju­nior Sling­shot events over the course of the sea­son.

“At the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, I re­ally didn’t know if we’d be able to win (the point ti­tle),” said Sil­fee. “But we ran good, thanks to my dad, each time out and got the job done. It re­ally turned into a great year.”

Smith, who also won an All Star Sling­shot fea­ture at the end of the sea­son, wound up a close sec­ond in points. Cole Stan­gle, Reese Nowotarski, and Gavin San­tee com­pleted the top five in the Ju­nior Sling­shot point stand­ings.

The Ac­tion Track USA Rook­ies of the Year were named and the list in­cluded Jeff Hart­man (Speed STR); Jesse Mau­rer (600 Sprints); Alex Yankowski (All Star Sling­shots); and Tyler Banks (Ju­nior Sling­shots).

As part of the Hyper Rac­ing spon­sor­ship of the win­g­less 600 Sprints and in con­junc­tion with the Ac­tion Track USA Takeover Nights at Linda’s Speed­way, a raf­fle was held at the ban­quet for those driv­ers who had per­fect at­ten­dance or missed just one event dur­ing the 2016 sea­son at Ac­tion Track USA and the five race se­ries at Linda’s.

The win­ner of a 2017 Hyper Chas­sis was Tommy Kun­sman Jr., while Ja­cob Sev­ern’s name was picked as the re­cip­i­ent of a Hyper Fuel In­jec­tion Sys­tem. A com­plete set of Keizer Wheels went to Jesse Mau­rer, and Sam Krav­it­sky was the win­ner of a com­plete rod end kit for a Hyper 600 Sprint, cour­tesy of FK Rod Ends.

The top five driv­ers in points at the Ac­tion Track USA Takeover Nights at Linda’s were also rec­og­nized at the ban­quet as the Speed STRs, win­g­less 600 Sprints, and All Star Sling­shots took part in all five Takeover events. The point cham­pi­ons of the five race se­ries in­cluded Tim Buck­wal­ter (Speed STR), Steve Whary (600 Sprints), and Sam Sci­c­chi­tano (All Star Sling­shots).

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO - RICH KEPNER

Billy Pauch Sr. cel­e­brates in vic­tory lane at Ac­tion Track USA on May 18.

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