First SpeedSTR win for Bealer; Bright lights up 600 Sprints
KUTZTOWN » His best finish of the season (fourth on July 11) really did not show just how much progress Pat Bealer has made in his first year of USAC All Pro SpeedSTR competition. On Wednesday, August 1, however, in the Troy Moyer Memorial, Bealer’s improvement was on display for all to see as the Walnutport, PA throttle-jockey won his first SpeedSTR main event in a thriller over Steve Buckwalter at Championship Energy Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
The wingless 600 Sprints opened Hyper Racing 600 Speedweek at Action Track USA on Wednesday, with
“the Phenom”, Alex Bright, taking advantage of Tim Buckwalter’s misfortune to win his second race of the season.
The All Star Slingshots
tried to kick off their Speedweeks Tour, too, but Mother Nature had other plans as torrential rain hit the speedway with five laps complete in the Slingshot main, forcing its postponement. A make-up date, on which the race will resume with five circuits in the books, is being discussed and will be announced on August 3rd. Cody Kline had just taken the lead from Nick Vinciguerra when the yellow flag waved, and the massive storm moved in while the cars were circulating the speedway under the yellow.
Shelby McLaughlin, last year’s Junior Slingshot National Champion, captured the 15-lap feature for the Juniors on Wednesday evening.
The Troy Moyer Memorial for the SpeedSTRs quickly turned into a classic, with Steve Buckwalter starting on the pole and leading the early laps. Matt Janisch, Jeff Hartman, and sixth-starting Pat Bealer battled for the runnerup position, with Bealer emerging from a threewide engagement to snare the spot on lap four. He then stalked the race leader for several laps before pulling alongside S. Buckwalter to challenge for the top spot.
On lap 14, teenager Alex Yankowski slipped past Janisch for third, then watched as Bealer began to swap the lead with Buckwalter. They took turns leading laps 15 through 17, with Bealer nosing in front on the 17th, 18th, and 19th circuits. Buckwalter, running the top at both end of the race track, forged ahead once again to lead laps 21 and 22, but Bealer would not go away. The 270cc Micro Sprint veteran shoved the nose of his No. 4 back in front the 23rd revolution, but Buckwalter was scored as the leader on the 24th trip around the oval.
Steve Buckwalter would set the pace for the next three tours, but Bealer roared off the inside lane of turn four to lead the 27th lap. He kept the nose of his car ahead of Buckwalter barely - during the final three circuits to score the popular win by a scant margin - 0.045-seconds - over Buckwalter’s Rita’s Italian Ice No. 56b.
Yankowski was right behind the lead duo for several laps, but he could not find the opening he needed to make it a three-car tussle for the win. He settled for third in just his third start in a SpeedSTR, with Matt Westfall rumbling from 13th to fourth and Tom Mayberry slicing his way from 19th on the starting grid to a fifth-place finish.
The Hyper Racing 600 Speedweek Opener, a 35lap jaunt with $1,500 awaiting the winner (with Gambler’s Fee), had a front row of Tim Buckwalter and Billy Pauch Jr. leading the field to green. While they dueled for the race lead, Jason Swavely was fending off attacks from Alex Bright, Kenny Miller III, and Jay Hartman to maintain third position. Swavely then moved up to dice with the lead pair before Pauch pulled away by a few car lengths. Buckwalter fought off the assaults from Swavely, then launched his No. 71 off turn four, dashing past Pauch and leading laps 11 and 12.
Bright inherited the lead at lap 25, but Miller wouldn’t let the Collegeville wheel-twister waltz to the triumph. The pair ran side by side for a few laps until Bright motored away, winning by several car lengths over Miller, Pauch, Jay Hartman, and 20th starter Kyle Spence.
“We set the car up to be good at the end, and we certainly were,” explained Bright. “But Timmy (Buckwalter) was really fast, and I’m not sure we would have caught him if he didn’t have trouble. Adam Huff (his car owner) gives me a great piece each week and I’m happy to drive it for him.”
Scranton’s Shelby McLaughlin has come very close to winning at Action Track USA, finishing among the top three on several occasions when the Junior Slingshots are on the schedule. On Wednesday, she finally broke the ice, leading all the way in the 15-lap Junior Slinger feature to win handily over Tyler Ulsh.
Jacob Taylor and Kasey Huffcut battled for third throughout the race, with Taylor eventually separating himself from Huffcut near the end to finish third. Huffcut and Logan Bauman completed the top ten.
USAC All Pro SpeedSTRS (30 Laps) — 1. Pat Bealer 2. Steve Buckwalter 3. Alex Yankowski 4. Matt Westfall 5. Tom Mayberry 6. Tyler Ross 7. Billy Pauch Jr. 8. Brad Brightbill 9. Tim Iulg 10. Matt Janisch 11. Steve Drevicki 12. Tim Buckwalter 13. Kevin Woody 14. Ed Kenderdine 15. Jeff Hartman 16. Briggs Danner
17. Kevin Graver Jr. 18. Josh Dalrymple
19. Billy Pauch Sr. 20. TJ Mayberry 21. Joe Vaccaro 22. Tommy Kunsman 23. Steven Nederostek.
Hyper Racing 600cc Sprint Cars (35 Laps) — 1. Alex Bright 2. Kenny Miller
3. Billy Pauch Jr. 4. Jay Hartman 5. Kyle Spence 6. Nash Ely 7. Colin White 8. Heath Henley 9. Jesse Maurer 10. Bobby Butler 11. James Morris 12. Damon Paul 13. Joey Amantea 14. Jim Rodney
15. Jacob Severn 16. Chad Sandt 17. Brad Brown 18. Dan Schumaker 19. Austin Quick 20. Eric Ankiewicz 21. Luke Thomas 22. Danny Buccafusca 23. Tim Buckwalter 24. Kyle Lick 25. Ryan Groff
26. Jason Swavely 27. Richie Hartman 28. Billy Koch 29. Andrew Layser 30. Aaron Bollinger.
Junior Slingshots (15 Laps) — 1. Shelby McLaughlin 2. Tyler Ulsh 3. Jacob Taylor
4. Kasey Hufcut 5. Logan Bauman 6. Wyatt Taschler 7. Makayla Kohler 8. Payton Nemeth 9. Morgan Laboda 10. Aiden Donaldson.
Invader Holden Eckman (#11) and regular Shawn Rooney (#97) tangle exiting turn four during their 600 Micro Sprint qualifier sending Eckman into the tractor tire, ultimately flipping his racer. The driver emerged unscathed.
Alex Bright is pictured here dueling with Kenny Miller (#23B) in the Wingless 600 Micro Sprint feature. When the checkered flag fell, it was Bright notching the win with Miller shadowing the leader in second place.