Friesen wins Bruce Rogers Me­mo­rial at Grand­view

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - Staff re­ports

BECHTELSVILLE » Mother Na­ture fi­nally co­op­er­ated with the rac­ing com­mu­nity on Satur­day night and pro­duced beau­ti­ful weather and the 56th rac­ing sea­son at Grand­view Speed­way got un­der way in front of a very large turnout of fans.

Close to 50 small and big block Modifieds lined the pits to par­tic­i­pate in the events lead­ing up to the first an­nual Bruce Rogers Me­mo­rial Money Maker 50-lap race spon­sored by VP Rac­ing Fu­els. The race was run in honor of the late Bruce Rogers, who passed away last March. Bruce, along with his fa­ther For­rest, built the track close to 60 years ago.

Three laps shy of a vic­tory in the pres­ti­gious me­mo­rial event, Ste­wart Friesen wres­tled the lead away from Mike Gu­lar as the front run­ners had to deal with lapped traf­fic. Friesen held on and went on to col­lect the $7,500 top prize money along with beau­ti­ful hard­ware sig­ni­fy­ing the vic­tory. In 2014 Friesen, now a reg­u­lar in NASCAR Camp­ing World Truck Se­ries com­pe­ti­tion, won the sea­son opener along with the rich Free­dom 76 Clas­sic.

Kevin Hirth­ler, do­ing dou­ble duty in the Mod­i­fied and Sports­man di­vi­sions, took the lead when leader Ryan Lil­ick dropped out of ac­tion and chalked up the vic­tory in the 25-lap Sports­man fea­ture.

Through a heads-up draw, Don Nor­ris Jr., re­turn­ing to ac­tion af­ter a year hia­tus, started on the pole in the 50-lap Me­mo­rial fea­ture, but it was sec­ond-place starter Tim Buck­wal­ter that took the early lead and Gu­lar fol­lowed through for sec­ond.

Buck­wal­ter and Gu­lar were bumper to bumper for sev­eral laps while back fur­ther Nor­ris Jr., Friesen and Jor­dan Henn diced for po­si­tions.

Gu­lar dove un­der­neath Buck­wal­ter for the lead along the home­stretch on the 12th lap and head­ing down the back­stretch Buck­wal­ter pulled into the in­field out of con­tention.

With 15 laps in the books Gu­lar, Nor­ris Jr., Friesen, Craig Von Dohren and Matt Shep­pard, the third, first, fourth, 12th and sixth-place starters con­tin­ued to hold down one through five as they en­coun­tered slower mov­ing traf­fic that were also rac­ing for po­si­tions.

Kevin Hirth­ler, who had just bro­ken into the top ten, spun in the fourth turn on the 22nd lap and went pit side. Gu­lar held his line on the restart, but Friesen was right there leav­ing him no room to slip-up and Friesen knew Von Dohren was pres­sur­ing him too.

Shep­pard’s solid fourth place run ended on the 24th lap with a right rear flat tire. Af­ter a pit stop he re­joined the pack, but was only able to get back to 11th un­til the end.

At the half-way marker Gu­lar, Friesen and Von Dohren, who all ran the top lane; Watt and Frank Cozze com­pleted the top five.

In the fi­nal stages of the event, lap cars ham­pered the front run­ners and Friesen had a full head of steam built up even though he abused his tires and was com­ing on strong as it ap­peared Gu­lar was hav­ing prob­lems get­ting through turns one and two.

On the 47th lap, three short of a vic­tory for Gu­lar, Friesen passed him. Gu­lar didn’t sur­ren­der eas­ily and tried to re­gain the top spot.

Friesen con­tin­ued his pace and pulled into the win­ner’s cir­cle for his third win at the oval fol­lowed by Gu­lar, Von Dohren, Watt and Cozze. Round­ing out the top ten were Duane Howard, Meme DeSan­tis, Rick Laubach, Billy Pauch Sr. and Mike Ma­haney.

Heats were won by Jor­dan Henn, Brett Kress­ley, Shep­pard and Von Dohren. Jared Um­ben­hauer and Laubach won the con­so­la­tion events.

Jeff Strunk and Doug Man­miller, two of the top fa­vorites, failed to qual­ify for the pres­ti­gious event.

Pole­sit­ter Ryan Lil­ick took the early lead af­ter a com­plete restart in the Sports­man fea­ture with Jesse Lan­dis, Brad Grim and broth­ers Brian and Kevin Hirth­ler, both do­ing dou­ble duty in pur­suit.

Grim led the sixth lap, but that was short-lived as Lil­ick was back in front the next time by.

Lil­ick’s mis­for­tune when his car broke on the 11th lap was ben­e­fi­cial to K. Hirth­ler when he now in­her­ited the lead.

Grim made sev­eral runs on K. Hirth­ler, but each one fell short as the lead re­mained the same while B. Hirth­ler, Dy­lan Swine­hart and Jim Hous­worth were in the wings hop­ing for one of them to fal­ter.

K. Hirth­ler never sur­ren­dered the lead and scored his first win in the divi­sion fol­lowed by Grim, B. Hirth­ler, Swine­hart and Mark Kem­merer, Kevin’s team­mate for the night. Hous­worth, Jack But­ler, Mike Lisowski, Ryan Higgs and Kurt Beitler rounded out the top ten.

Lil­ick, Lan­dis and B. Hirth­ler won the heats. The consi was won by Brad Arnold.

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