BECHTELSVILLE, PA. ? It appeared veteran campaigner Bobby Gunther-Walsh, who has led so many 30 -lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified features the past few Saturday nights at Grandview Speedway, was possibly on his way to his first career win at the 1/3-mile oval, but fell seven laps short when the yellow came out.
Kevin Hirthler, who last visited victory lane August 11, 2012 when he won the Forrest Rogers Memorial, shot to the outside and overtook Gunther-Walsh for the lead with Duane Howard following through for second. Hirthler proceeded to keep Howard behind him to score his first win of the season on WNPV-1410 AM radio night. He also received the $250 bonus from T.P. Trailers, Limerick.
It was Gunther-Walsh at the head of the 28-car starting grid at the start while Ryan Kunkle, Chris Esposito, Mike Kellner and Eric Biehn diced for positions.
Gunther-Walsh had a comfortable lead built up by the Dan?s Deli ?-way hoagie mark, which he received, but by this time Kunkle, Don Norris Jr., Hirthler and Esposito were the chasers.
At the conclusion of the 14th lap Norris Jr. and Hirthler were in a heated contest for second and neither one gave an inch which allowed Gunther-Walsh some leeway with Kevin Hartnett and M. Kellner in the wings waiting for a mistake.
With Gunther-Walsh at the head of the pack and the top five headed into turn one, Hirthler and Norris Jr., racing hard for second, made contact. As a result, Norris Jr. spun ending his best run in a long time and Hirthler continued as the yellow came out on the 23rd lap. Norris Jr. pitted and when he came trackside again he left Hirthler know he was not pleased with the turn of events.
When action went green again, Hirthler was in control and Howard was in the hunt in second. Behind the pair by this time were Gunther-Walsh, Doug Manmiller and Craig Von Dohren.
Hirthler, running the outside lane ?since that was the fastest spot, saw Howard stick his nose under him several times and he knew Howard was just waiting for him to slip-up.?
Hirthler never faltered and pulled the Green Lane/Wm. Penn family-owned No. 117 sponsored by Pioneer Pole Building into victory lane ending his winless drought. Following him across were Howard, Von Dohren, Manmiller and Kevin Hartnett, for his best run since returning a few weeks ago. Sixth through tenth were Jeff Strunk, the current point leader; Kunkle, who had his best run; Gunther-Walsh , who for the first time ever finished in the top ten at the track; Chris Esposito, recipient of the Cargo Trailer certificate and Ryan Grim.
Norris Jr., Frank Cozze and Tim Buckwalter won the heats. The consi went to Chris Gambler.
These same drivers, plus a host of others, used this race as a tune-up for the 44th annual Forrest Rogers Memorial sponsored by Pioneer Pole Builders with $10,000 to win.
Randy Stoudt, who returned to Late Model action this season in the Taylor White and Wanda Brown-owned No. 10, overtook Sean Merkel on the 20th lap restart to win his fourth 25-lap NASCAR BRC Late Model feature. In addition to the top prize money, he picked up an additional $100 from J & H Automotive, who is also one of his sponsors and T.P. Trailers.
Lou Egrie Jr. was the pacesetter for four laps until he had to pit with a flat left rear tire on the restart needed when Buddy Mertz spun. Egrie Jr.?s misfortune gave the lead to Joe Fanelli on the restart.
Fanelli held the lead until Sean Merkel passed him on the eighth circuit.
Stoudt overtook second to challenge S. Merkel for the lead. S. Merkel ran the high groove and Stoudt stuck to the inside trek as the pair went at it for first. Trailing them in their own race were Fanelli, Egrie Sr. and Jason Miller, the defending point champion.
Dan Green spun in the fourth turn to bring out the yellow on the 20th lap. The restart saw Stoudt succeed at getting underneath Merkel to become the new leader.