April 5, 2014 Video Highlights
Order the complete night of racing on DVD from the GSP Shop or get it at the track!
OPENING NIGHT FEATURE RACES WON BY CANADIAN STEWART FRIESEN, BRETT KESSLEY AND SEAN MERKEL AT GRANDVIEW SPEEDWAY
(Track Press Release) BECHTELSVILLE, PA April 6, 2014 Canadian invader Stewart Friesen clicked off his first career 30-lap regular season NASCAR 358 Modified victory at Grandview Speedway on a brutally cold Saturday night, while young Brett Kressley of Orefield, PA picked up where he left off last season, claiming another win in the 25-lap NASCAR Sportsman main event, and Sean Merkel of Boyertown, PA was the winner in a wild 25-lap NASCAR Late Model feature on the 52nd consecutive Opening Night at the Bechtelsville, PA based dirt raceway.
In spite of the very chilly weather, a good crowd was on hand to watch some fan-pleasing competition, with more than 80 race cars taking part in qualifying sessions. Since it was the first race of the year, all feature events started heads-up, as they qualified in their earlier qualifying heat races.
The opening night race served as a tune-up for the NASCAR 358 Modifieds as they race in twin 20-lap feature races on Saturday night starting at 7 p.m. Late Models and Sportsman will also be in action. Adult admission is $20 while youngsters 12 and under pay just $5.
In the NASCAR 358 Modified main, Stewart Friesen took the green from the pole after winning his heat race steering a No. 357 mount owned by Norm Hansell and the popular driver immediately pulled away. A quick caution on lap three closed the field up again.
Friesen immediately reclaimed the top spot with the new green on lap four over Justin Grim, who started from fourth-place in the 28-car starting field. Meme DeSantis started sixth and was already up to third at this point, with third-place starter Craig VonDohren running in fourth. A caution on lap six closed up the field again and another yellow on lap 10 tightened the field up as well.
A new green saw Friesen back out in front for lap 11 over DeSantis and the No. 1C driven by VonDohren. At halfway VonDohren slipped by DeSantis to steal the runner-up spot, dropping DeSantis to third with 15 in the record books. A caution again appeared after lap 15 when nine-time division champion Jeff Strunk headed to the pit area with his second left front flat of the event.
Again it was Friesen, VonDohren and, now, Duane Howard, the fifth-place starter with the Petruska No. 66 machine, vaulting into third, as DeSantis dropped to fourth for lap 16. With nine tours remaining Jon Kellner Sr. spun it around exiting turn four all alone and, once again, brought out the yellow flag.
Track Starter Ray Kemp waved the green again and Friesen retook the number one position over VonDohren and Howard, with DeSantis running fourth in front of Mike Gular, who was in fifth-place after taking the original green from second spot. Racing through some heavy lapped traffic on lap 26 through turns three and four, VonDohren got collected in a crash with a slower lapped car and the caution brought the field together again. VonDohren continued on, but had any chance at getting a win torpedoed after that unfortunate tangle with a lapped car.
With a single file restart, Friesen powered out in front with the green waving over Howard, DeSantis, Gular and Kyle Weiss in that order. On the final circuit Howard pulled up next to Friesen down the back part of the raceway, but Friesen held on and pulled off the popular win.
Howard finished a strong second at the checkered, followed by DeSantis, Gular and Weiss rounding out the top five finishers.
“The key was getting a good draw and getting the heat win to give us the pole to start the feature,” revealed Friesen afterwards. “This Norm Hansell car is a beautiful piece and this place is a cool joint to race at. It feels good to get this win and a lot of it is the preparation this team does in the shop. I was fortunate to hang on, honestly. The choppy track conditions tonight made it tough racing for everyone and all the cautions kept it clean in front of me as the leader. I am glad to win one for this team and I know the fans had to really enjoy it being out here tonight. It’s freezing for everyone tonight whether you’re watching or racing.”
Feature winner Stewart Friesen was handed an additional #250 bonus courtesy of T.P. Trailers of Limerick, PA.
In the Late Model feature Sean Merkel started from the pole and was the early rabbit, with defending division champion Jason Miller, who started third, and former division champion and fourth-place starter Randy Stoudt chasing Merkel early on. Yellow lights came out on the original start and once again on the following restart, plus on lap three, lap seven and lap ten, as Merkel pulled away to a big advantage each time. Another caution appeared prior to lap 11, as Merkel continued to show his muscle aboard the Kochel Equipment self-owned No. 118 Late Model.
Sammy Schlosberg, who started from fifth-place wheeling his unsponsored No. 70 car with the number taped on the doors and roof, moved into third-place on lap 11 and a lap later Schlosberg went to the outside exiting turn four to drive past Miller and suddenly find himself running in second-place.
By lap 17 Schlosberg began to pressure Merkel and on lap 20 Schlosberg drove into turn three underneath Merkel to become the new leader. On lap 21, again, Merkel repassed Schlosberg racing underneath Schlosberg through turns three and four. Schlosberg continued to pressure Merkel until a slower lapped car got in the way with a circuit remaining to give Merkel that break he needed. Merkel crossed under the checkered first to give him his seventh career win and earn his first win ever on Opening Night at the track.
Schlosberg settled for the runner-up position at the line in front of Miller, Wayne Pfeil and former track champion Lou Egrie Sr. finished out the top five.
In Victory Lane Merkel mentioned, “Sammy caught me sleeping, there. I got help from a lapped car to get back around him, but that’s what happens when you fall asleep. Some nights things just go your way. The car was real good tonight, but we finished the race with the motor running hot. We hope to get that fixed by next week, but we took full advantage of the starting spot and pulled it off, tonight.”
Merkel got an additional $100 bonus from T.P. Trailers of Limerick, PA.
In the Sportsman feature Jordan Henn started from the pole and immediately put the HigFab chassied family-owned No. 77H machine out in front with a wave of the green over fourth-place starter Brad Brightbill and outside front row starter Joe Funk. On lap three Craig Whitmoyer hopped a wheel battling as the fifth-place car and drove his self-owned No. 99 hot rod hard into the outside boilerplate wall in turn four to bring out a red flag.
It was Henn again out in front with the green over the high-flying No. 19K of Brett Kressley, who started from eleventh-place and raced past the competition running the high outside lane, after four rounds. Henn held on as the leader and Kressley was running second with ten in the books, as the race leaders got into lapped traffic. On lap 12 exiting turn four and racing down the front straight, Kressley used a lapped car to drive past Henn, who got caught behind a lapped car running the inside, with Kressley grabbing first as they crossed at the starters stand.
Kressley pulled away as the leader, but a caution on lap 16 brought the field together again. With the restart Kressley assumed the top spot over Henn, with the two-time defending division champion and eighth-place starter Jared Umbenhauer moving up to third. Brightbill fell back to fourth and Dean Bachman, who started from third-place with his self-owned No. 65 mount, now was running fifth. The top five remained that way as the checkered waved, as Kressley turned in a strong Opening Night performance to claim his sixth career feature win at the track to tie Umbenhauer at the top of the all-time career winners list.
Brett Kressley was awarded an additional $100 from T.P. Trailers for his win.
In qualifying events Late Model heat winners were Sean Merkel and former division champ Ron Kline. Sportsman heat race victors were Jordan Henn, Joe Funk and Dean Bachman. In the 358 Modified division qualifying event winners were Stewart Friesen, Mike Gular, seven-time point champion and the defending track champ Craig VonDohren, plus Justin Grim, with consolation triumphs going to Nate Christman and Don Norris Jr. There were no consolation races in Late Model and Sportsman divisions.
Coming up next Saturday night, April 12 at the Berks County track the NASCAR 358 Modified cars run a Twin-20’s program, with the NASCAR Late Models and NASCAR Sportsman running regular races. Racing gets the green flag by 7 P.M. throughout the month of April. Information on racing at Grandview Speedway can be found at www.grandviewspeedway.com or check Facebook or Twitter. Track info number is 610.754.7688.
NASCAR Late Models 1) Sean Merkel 2) Sam Schlosberg 3) Jason Miller 4) Wayne Pfeil 5) Lou Egrie Sr. 6) Dan Green 7) Lou Egrie Jr. 8) Chuck Schutz 9) Bryan Sipe 10) Dirk Rimrott 11) Bill Henning 12) Dave Ogin 13) Buddy Mertz 14) Randy Stoudt 15) George Irwin 16) Kory Fleming 17) John Giesler 18) Ron Kline 19) Rick Todorow 20) Steve Butler 21) Cory Merkel
NASCAR 358 Modifieds 1) Stewart Friesen 2) Duane Howard 3) Meme DeSantis 4) Mike Gular 5) Kyle Weiss 6) Ryan Grim 7) Tim Buckwalter 8) Justin Grim 9) Mike Kellner 10) Nate Christman 11) Brad Arnold 12) Terry Meitzler 13) Don Norris Jr. 14) Andy Ressler 15) Frank Cozze 16) Brian Houseknecht 17) Craig VonDohren 18) Chris Esposito 19) Bobby Gunther Walsh 20) Jeff Strunk 21) Chris Gambler 22) Jordan Umbenhauer 23) Jon Kellner Sr. 24) Ron Seltman 25) John Willman 26) Ryan Watt 27) Doug Manmiller 28) Ray Swinehart
NASCAR Sportsman 1) Brett Kressley 2) Jordan Henn 3) Jared Umbenhauer 4) Brad Brightbill 5) Dean Bachman 6) Tom Miller 7) Kenny Gilmore 8) Guy Germano 9) Kaitie McCardle 10) Ron Krex 11) Jim Housworth 12) Joe Fanelli 13) Mike Stringer 14) Ryan Lilick 15) Erik Renninger 16) Ken Eckert 17) Joe Funk 18) Dave Bartram 19) Craig Whitmoyer 20) Brian Hirthler 21) Jamie Undercoffler 22) Jason Neidlinger DNS) Mike Lisowski DNS) Ryan Beltz DNS) Lex Shire