Watt get long-sought 1st Thun­der on the Hill win

The Boyertown Area Times - - SPORTS - By Bob Miller For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

It was a chill­ing fall night of rac­ing when Boy­er­town’s Ryan Watt scored the vic­tory in the 21st run­ning of the Mod­i­fied Traf­fic Jam, the sea­son fi­nale of the NAPA Auto Parts Thun­der on the Hill Rac­ing Series events at Grand­view Speed­way Sat­ur­day night. Watt has been haunted from win­ning a Thun­der show for years, so how ap­pro­pri­ate that his first win came in the Hal­loween House of Thun­der event. Craig Whit­moyer and Kyle Smith claimed vic­to­ries in the Sports­man and MASS Sprint Car Series events, as part of the thrilling three-divi­sion show.

“I can’t be­lieve we won, I’ve tried to win a Thun­der on the Hill Race so many times – I fin­ished sec­ond at the Au­gust race, and I’m glad to get one of these Thun­der wins fi­nally,” an ec­static Watt said in vic­tory lane while sur­rounded by fam­ily, friends and crew mem­bers. His first win earned him $5,000 in a very lu­cra­tive pay­off that of­fered $1,000 to fin­ish tenth and $500 just to start the fea­ture event.

Forty-six mod­i­fieds at­tempted to qual­ify for the big event and it was Ryan Watt who rolled off sec­ond in the 24-car start­ing lineup, along­side 2018 Grand­view Speed­way Mod­i­fied Cham­pion, Mike Gu­lar. Watt won the drag race down the front stretch tak­ing the top spot de­spite strong at­tempts from Gu­lar. Bat­tling for the lead, the top two du­eled side-by­side for the ini­tial stage of the race, fol­lowed by Frank Cozze and Kenny Gil­more.

Mean­while, Craig VonDohren charged for­ward from an eighth-place start into the fifth po­si­tion on lap 4, lead­ing a train that in­cluded Jared Um­ben­hauer and Doug Man­miller.

The lead pack closed in on lapped cars by the tenth cir­cuit, and the aptly named ‘Traf­fic Jam’ bunched the field with mul­ti­ple two and three-wide bat­tles. Re­lief came af­ter a close call for the lead­ers when two cars tan­gled di­rectly in front of them.

“Lapped cars made things tricky tonight,” Watt said in vic­tory lane. “You never know which way any­one is go­ing to go and when they are side-by-side, it gets tricky.”

Opt­ing for the out­side lane on the restart, Watt left the door open for Gu­lar, who pulled along­side chal­leng­ing for the top spot. Jared Um­ben­hauer charged into the third on the restart and swapped the sec­ond po­si­tion with Gu­lar just two laps later.

Ryan Watt pulled away in the later stages of the 40lap event, weav­ing in and out of slow traf­fic and main­tain­ing the top spot as laps clicked off.

It was all Watt as the check­ered flag waved, Mike Gu­lar fin­ished in sec­ond – hold­ing off a late race charge from Jared Um­ben­hauer, who set­tled for third. Craig VonDohren fin­ished in fourth, and Doug Man­miller fin­ished in the fifth po­si­tion.

Craig Whit­moyer claimed the vic­tory in the 25-lap Sports­man event – his 13th Grand­view Speed­way vic­tory. Mike Lisowski started on the out­side pole and led the early stages of the race– but Lisowski was forced pit­side on lap 15 when of­fi­cials dis­cov­ered miss­ing right front lugnuts on his No. 15 ma­chine. Brad Grim in­her­ited the lead on the restart and lost the lead to Whit­moyer af­ter a three­car bat­tle for the top spot that also in­cluded Kevin Hirth­ler. A lap 22 yel­low slowed the field for the fi­nal time and Whit­moyer en­gaged in a three-car race to the fin­ish with just three cir­cuits re­main­ing. Whit­moyer held on for the win with Grim and Hirth­ler set­tling for sec­ond and third, re­spec­tively. Dean Bach­man fin­ished in fourth, and Kyle Ka­nia fin­ished in the fifth po­si­tion.

Kyle Smith of Great Bar­ring­ton, Mass., picked up the vic­tory in the 25-lap Mid-At­lantic Sprint Car Series event, hold­ing off Jeff Geiges and a slew of late race cau­tion flags. Geiges of Hamil­ton, NJ took the early lead and led the ini­tial eleven cir­cuits be­fore a lap 11 yel­low slowed the field. With a dou­ble-file restart, Geiges opted to restart on the top side open­ing the door for Smith, who pow­ered down the front stretch over­tak­ing the top spot. Geiges slid in­side Smith but couldn’t stick the at­tempted slide job. Geiges would set­tle for sec­ond, Ryan Still­wag­gon fin­ished in third, Jon Haegele com­ing home in fourth and Tyler Rein­hardt round­ing out the top 5 fin­ish­ers. Re­sults Mod­i­fieds Heat 1 (10 Laps) – 1. Ryan Grim 2. Kenny Gil­more 3. Mike Gu­lar 4. Don Nor­ris, Jr. 5. Richie Pratt, Jr. Heat 2 (10 Laps) – 1. Kyle Merkel 2. Doug Man­miller 3. Jared Um­ben­hauer 4. Meme DeSan­tis 5. Eric Biehn Heat 3 (10 Laps) – 1. Steve Swine­hart 2. Ryan Lil­ick 3. Frank Cozze 4. Kevin Hirth­ler 5. Craig Whit­moyer Heat 4 (10 Laps) – 1. Craig VonDohren 2. Ryan Watt 3. Rick Laubach 4. Jeff Strunk 5. Danny Bouc Consi 1 (10 Laps) – 1. Ray Swine­hart 2. Frank Yankowski Consi 2 (10 Laps) – 1. Chris Es­pos­ito 2. Brett Gil­more Fea­ture (40 Laps) – 1. Ryan Watt 2. Mike Gu­lar 3. Jared Um­ben­hauer 4. Craig VonDohren 5. Doug Man­miller 6. Frank Cozze 7. Kevin Hirth­ler 8. Rick Laubach 9. Jeff Strunk 10. Ryan Grim 11. Kenny Gil­more 12. Danny Bouc 13. Ryan Lil­ick 14. Ray Swine­hart 15. Richie Pratt, Jr. 16. Don Nor­ris, Jr. 17. Chris Es­pos­ito 18. Meme DeSan­tis 19. Kyle Merkel 20. Craig Whit­moyer 21. Frank Yankowski 22. Brett Gil­more 23. Steve Swine­hart 24. Eric Biehn DNQ: Matt Stan­gle, John Will­man, Ryan Godown, Justin Grim, Ryan Beltz, Billy Os­mun, Ja­son Miller, Aleah Geisler, Scott Al­bert, Gary Hager, Steve Young, Louden Reimert, Brian Hirth­ler, Mark Kratz, Bran­don Grosso, Bobby Gun­ther Walsh, David Hunt, Ron My­ers, Brian Houseknecht Sports­man Heat 1 (8 Laps) – 1. Kyle Ka­nia 2. Brad Grim 3. Mike Lisowski 4. Nathan Mohr 5. Dean Bach­man 6. Der­rick Smith Heat 2 (8 Laps) – 1. Kevin Hirth­ler 2. Craig Whit­moyer 3. Brian Hirth­ler 4. Joseph Brown 5. Kenny Bock 6. BJ Joly Fea­ture (25 Laps) – 1. Craig Whit­moyer 2. Brad Grim 3. Kevin Hirth­ler 4. Dean Bach­man 5. Kyle Ka­nia 6. Joseph Brown 7. Mike Mammana 8. Der­rick Smith 9. Kenny Bock 10. Andy Clem­mer 11. Ray Cost 12. Scott Kohler 13. Dy­lan Swine­hart 14. Mike Lisowski 15. Nico Flam­mer 16. Nathan Mohr 17. Brad Arnold 18. Lex Shive 19. BJ Joly MASS Sprint Car Series Heat 1 (8 Laps) – 1. Jeff Geiges 2. Tom Car­berry 3. Ryan Still­wagon 4. Rick Stief 5. Zack Burd 6. Do­minic Me­lair 7. Devin Adams 8. Craig Pel­li­grini Heat 2 (8 Laps) – 1. Larry McVay 2. Jon Haegele 3. Dave Brown 4. Tyler Rein­hardt 5. Ed­die Wag­ner 6. Scott Frack 7. Kas­sidy Kre­itz 8. Ian Detweiler Heat 3 (8 Laps) – 1. Mike Haggen­bot­tom 2. Kyle Smith 3. Austin Bishop 4. Joe Kay 5. Tim Tan­ner Jr. 6. Bobby Scherff 7. Chad Con­nor 8. Daniel Leaper Fea­ture (25 Laps) – 1. Kyle Smith 2. Jeff Geiges 3. Ryan Still­wag­gon 4. Jon Haegele 5. Tyler Rein­hardt 6. Scott Frack 7. Tim Tan­ner Jr. 8. Joe Kay 9. Devin Adams 10. Larry McVay 11. Dave Brown 12. Kas­sidy Kre­itz 13. Craig Pel­le­grini 14. Do­minic Me­lair 15. Daniel Leaper 16. Chad Con­nor 17. Tom Car­berry 18. Bobby Scherff 19. Ed­die Wag­ner 20. Zack Burd 21. Rick Stief 22. Austin Bishop 23. Mike Haggen­bot­tom

Ryan Watt raises the win­ner’s check along­side son Lo­gan and wife Les­lie af­ter win­ning the Mods at the Mad­house event at Grand­view Speed­way on Oct. 13.

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