Kevin Graver Jr. Nets First SpeedSTR Victory; Kunsman Takes W/L 600cc Triumph; Kurtz Again In Slingshots at Kutztown’s Action Track USA
Kutztown, PA – It was good to be a “Junior” on Wednesday night, July 22nd, as three of the four feature winners at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA share their father’s name.
Lehighton’s Kevin Graver Jr. picked up his first career victory in the USAC All Pro SpeedSTR division, while Tommy Kunsman Jr. registered his initial Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc (Powered by Engler Injection) triumph. Chris Kurtz – also named after his father – won his second consecutive and third overall NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot main event. Justin Mills notched the win in the 15-lap feature for the Junior Slingshot Class.
The 30-lap USAC All Pro SpeedSTR main had Kyle Lick jump into the lead at the outset, with Jay Hartman on his heels over the first six trips around the oval. Hartman went by Lick on the seventh circuit when Lick’s No. L1 suddenly slowed at the end of the backstretch.
Hartman’s stay at the front lasted for seven tours before Kevin Graver Jr. pinned him to the extreme inside of the speedway, then sprinted ahead to take command. Graver held a slim lead the rest of the way, keeping his Kovatch Motorsports, KME Fire Protection No. IV locked down in the bottom groove at both ends of the facility.
Jared Umbenhauer, making his SpeedSTR debut aboard the J&K Salvage No. 24, was negotiating his way through the pack, climbing from the 17th starting position (after he captured one of the B-Main victories) to challenge Hartman for runner-up honors as they diced for the spot directly behind the race leader. Umbenhauer was putting on a show, gaining an edge on Hartman and moving up to try and wrestle the top spot away from Graver.
With the white flag waving, Umbenhauer slipped ahead of Hartman and shoved the nose of his car under Graver in turn two. Graver shut the door on his attempt, forcing Umbenhauer to back out of the throttle and when he did, Hartman was quick to dive under Umbenhauer and reclaim second place. Umbenhauer then spun in turn four to bring out the final caution with just one lap remaining. He collected Ryan Smith and Billy Pauch Sr., who were fighting for sixth.
On the restart, Graver Jr. got away from Hartman slightly and went on to score the win, with Jay Hartman’s No. 24 finishing as the runner-up. Andy Haus registered his best ever SpeedSTR finish by placing third, with Mike Bednar and Kris Graver completing the top five.
“I was committed to the bottom,” admitted Graver afterward. “I figured if they’re gonna beat us, then make them pass on the outside. I can’ t wait to call the car owner (John Kovatch) and tell him what happened,” said Graver excitedly.
As a sort of bonus for Kovatch, all three of his cars finished finished inside the top five, with Bednar (who started 16th) placing fourth and Kris Graver, the winner’s nephew, coming from 24th and ending up fifth.
Bethlehem’s Tommy Kunsman Jr. darted from his outside front row starting spot to grab the lead as the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc (Powered by Engler Injection) feature went green.
One time winner Eddie Strada quickly moved to second, and Billy Ney’s car appeared to be a yo-yo, as he dropped back to fifth in the first few laps, then roared back toward the front, zipping into third with a slide job on polesitter Jermain Godshall.
Eighth-starting Billy Pauch Jr. threaded his way forward as the race unfolded, bringing three-time winner Tim Buckwalter with him. Pauch wrestled the runner-up spot from Strada with six to go. A couple of late race cautions aided his cause, enabling his LHS Racing Engines No. 91s to duel with Kunsman over the final few revolutions.
Buckwalter moved to third, just waiting for his chance to bolt past Pauch and Kunsman, but the leader was not about to give either Pauch or Buckwalter an opportunity to get by him. Kunsman protected the inside lane and fended off Pauch’s advances on the final tour of the speedway. His Kunsman Paving No. 21k crossed the stripe almost a half-second in front of the second place battle as Buckwalter nipped Pauch for runner-up cash.
Kyle Lick maneuvered his way from 16th to fourth, earning the Pioneer Pole Building Hard Charger Award for the evening. He and James Morris (20th to 8th) gained the same number of positions, but Lick’s higher finish served as the tie-breaker.
Strada slipped back to fifth at the end with the July 8 victor, Brandon Azzalina, winding up with a hard fought sixth place finish.
The NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot victory went to Chris Kurtz, Saylorsburg, once again. Kurtz started fourth, then muscled past Austin Silfee to snatch the top spot in turn two on the sixth trip around the clay.
Kurtz cruised out front for a while, but a yellow flag with five to go nearly changed everything. Joe Nemeth was now in second, and he hustled Kurtz all the way around the track during the final circuits, but Kurtz hung on to notch his second straight (and third overall) triumph of the season at Action Track USA.
Nemeth wound up with a well deserved second place effort, and Brett Bieber, the All Star Slingshot point leader, finished third. Kassidy Kreitz and Silfee completed the top five when the race ended.
“Rubbin’ is racin’,” was the way Justin Mills summed up his Junior Slingshot victory. The Bloomingburg, NY driver rocketed to the lead on lap one and went on to win his first race at the Kutztown Fairgrounds oval. He and Cole Stangle traded some paint and banged wheels a few times during the 15-lapper, but afterward, both agreed that it was just good, hard racing.
Mills parked in victory lane with Stangle (the Junior Slingshot winner on June 10), Reese Nowatarski, Jared Silfee, and Alex Yankowski finishing second through fifth.
Action Track Sidebites…
After the season’s first rain out on July 15, both race teams and fans were anxious to race on the 22nd. A grand total of 121 race cars filled the pit area, and the grandstands were packed from end to end and top to bottom.
There were 32 SpeedSTRs in action on Wednesday, along with 39 of the Wingless 600’s. A total of 36 All Star Slingshots took part in the evening’s program, and 14 of the Junior Slingshots competed in their portion of the night’s activities.
Tim Buckwalter set quick time in SpeedSTR group time trials as he and Billy Pauch Sr., as well as Andy Haus, all locked themselves directly into the feature by virtue of their times.
Kevin Graver Jr., Jay Hartman, and John Bockhorn won heat races, while Mike Bednar and Jared Umbenhauer claimed the B-Main victories.
Tough night for point leader Billy Pauch Jr., as he was involved in two incidents that resulted in a very beat up race car and an early exit from the main. He held on to the point lead, however, with his dad jumping past the absent Mike Mahaney for second in the standings.
Colin White won the 600cc Mad Scramble to start the night, locking himself into the 25-lap feature. Heat race victories went to Greg Stevens, Buckwalter, and Ney. The B-Mains fell to Kyle Spence and Heath Hehnly.
Tim Buckwalter’s three feature wins have propelled him to the Wingless 600cc point lead as the Action Track USA schedule heads into its final month of competition.
Louden Reimert copped the All Star Slingshot Mad Scramble, putting him into the 20-lap feature. Brett Bieber set fast time as the Slingers qualified in group time trials and B-Mains on Wednesday. The B-Main winners were Anthony Raisner and Dylan Hoch. Both of those drivers, unfortunately, were knocked out of the main event in separate mishaps.
This Wednesday, July 29, is a biggie on the All Star Slingshot calendar, as NAPA Auto Parts presents the Dutch Classic, a National Tour Race for the Slingers that will pay $500 to the winner of the 30-lap main event.
The USAC All Pro SpeedSTRs and the Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600’s Powered by Engler Injection will also be on this week’s menu, as the point chases intensify in each of the weekly divisions and thoughts begin to turn toward the Fair Week Nationals in mid-August. This Wednesday’s agenda also has a NAPA Big Wheel Race penciled in at Intermission.
Pit gates open at 4 p.m. and grandstand gates swing open at 5:00 each week. Warm-ups begin at 6:15followed immediately by qualifying races for all divisions.
General admission for adults is $12.00; Senior Citizen tickets are just $10.00; and kids between the ages of six and 12 are $5.00.
With the season already headed into the home stretch, don’t miss the last several opportunities to get your Midweek Motorsports Adrenaline Rush at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA…where the Superstars come to race!
USAC All PronSpeedSTR Feature, 30 laps: 1.Kevin Graver Jr., 2.Jay Hartman, 3.Andy Haus, 4.Mike Bednar, 5.Kris Graver, 6.Kenny Brightbill, 7.Frank Yankowski, 8.Larry Solomon, 9.Brandon Grosso, 10.Joe Vaccaro, 11.Frank Cozze, 12.John Bockhorn, 13.Jared Umbenhauer, 14.Billy Pauch Sr., 15.Ryan Smith, 16.Alex Bright, 17.Matt Janisch, 18.Jason Miller, 19.Kyle Lick, 20.Joey Thompson, 21.Bobby Trapper, 22.Tim Buckwalter, 23.Damon Paul, 24.Brad Brightbill, 25.Phil Meisner, 26.Billy Pauch Jr., 27.Steven Nederostek. DNS: Earl Paules, Lee Miller.
DNQ: Wayne Weaver, Jason Esterly, Mike Vermuelen.
Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Tommy Kunsman Jr., 2.Tim Buckwalter, 3.Billy Pauch Jr., 4.Kyle Lick, 5.Eddie Strada, 6.Brandon Azzalina, 7.Jermain Godshall, 8.James Morris, 9.Jordan Mohr, 10.Jay Hartman, 11.Stephen Reynolds, 12.Jeff Hartman, 13.Jarid Kunkle, 14.Robbie Hocker, 15.Greg Stevens, 16.Heath Hehnly, 17.Joe Kay, 18.Shane Linderman, 19.Jacob Severn, 20.Billy Ney, 21.Molly Chambers, 22.Eric Ankiewicz, 23.Kyle Spence, 24.Eric Heydenreich, 25.Will Butler, 26.Jake Smith, 27.Colin White, 28.Nate Brinker.
DNQ: Pat Bealer, Zach Bealer, Brandon Edgar, Matt Roselli, Joe Plunkett, Jeff Carman, Dan Leaper, Joey Jarowicz, Cale Mutter, Dave Dimaio, Doug Snyder.
NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot Feature, 20 laps: 1.Chris Kurtz, 2.Joe Nemeth, 3.Brett Bieber, 4.Kassidy Kreitz, 5.Austin Silfee, 6.Dave Carraghan, 7.Seth Spayd, 8.Dylan Swinehart, 9.Dylan Steuer, 10.William Mohring, 11.Erik Jones, 12.Matt Miller, 13.Cody Kline, 14.Jeff Kemp, 15.Andrew Kreis, 16.Nick Delcampo, 17.Joe Toth, 18.Dennis Garl, 19.John Gilroy, 20.Aiden Svanda, 21.Dylan Hoch, 22.Anthony Raisner, 23.Jordan Knepp, 24.Louden Reimert, 25.Tim Roeder. DNS: Austin Stufflet.
DNQ: Mike Taylor, Kevin Quinter, Lee Schantzenbach, David Burns, Taylor Santee, Blaire Schoenly, Ryan Suchon, Taylor Schoenly, Madyson Pacheco, Dave Galloway.
Junior Slingshot Feature, 15 laps: 1.Justin Mills, 2.Cole Stangle, 3.Reese Nowatarski, 4.Jared Silfee, 5.Alex Yankowski, 6.Gavin Santee, 7.Logan Bauman, 8.Tanner VanDoren, 9.Nicho Flammer, 10.Joey Vaccaro 11.Kyle Smith, 12.Pierre Preville, 13.Robert Schlenker, 14.Autumn Ankiewicz.
Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic Wingless 600 Mad Scramble, 8 laps: 1.Colin White, 2.Will Butler, 3.Eric Ankiewicz, 4.Greg Stevens, 5.Jeff Carman, 6.Jake Smith, 7.Joe Kay, 8.Brandon Edgar, 9.Robbie Hocker, 10.Matt Roselli, 11.Shane Linderman, 12.Dan Leaper, 13.Cale Mutter, 14.Joe Plunkett.
NAPA All Star Slingshot Mad Scramble, 8 laps: 1.Louden Reimert, 2.Nick Delcampo, 3.Joe Toth, 4.Blaire Schoenly, 5.Dennis Garl, 6.Kevin Quinter, 7.Lee Schantzenbach, 8.Madyson Pacheco, 9.Andrew Kreis, 10.Dave Burns, 11.Austin Silfee, 12.Dave Galloway.