Fairgrounds at Kutztown, The
Friday, May 18, 2012
Hartman, Kunkle, Dreher and Mertz Victorious in Kutztown's Goldie Meitzler Memorial
by Barry Angstadt
KUTZTOWN, Pa. -- Two-time and defending point champion Jeff Hartman didn't waste any time showing that he's still the man to beat in Wingless 600cc Sprint Car competition at the Kutztown Fair Speedway.
Hartman calmly and patiently threaded his way to the front of the talent-laden field, then ran off with the season opening Goldie Meitzler Memorial on Wednesday night.
Joining the Flagtown, NJ resident in the winner's circle were Jarid Kunkle (270cc Sprints); Jordan Dreher (Xcel Sportsman); and Matt Mertz (All Star Slingshots).
Starting right behind his brother, Jay, and just inside the top ten, Jeff Hartman watched as Doug Snyder paced the early laps of the Wingless 600cc main event and brother Jay was the man on the move.
After a red flag with nine laps completed, Jeff turned up the wick and began slicing his way toward the front. He picked off his brother for third, then wrestled the runner-up spot away from Joe Smith. Blasting off turn four on the twelfth circuit, Hartman muscled under Snyder, then accelerated past the Hellertown, Pa. driver to take command of the 20-lap affair. He went on to win handily, beating Rick Perone to the finish line by two seconds.
"It's having more than ten years of experience here, plus this is my favorite track," said Hartman, when asked his secret to being so good at the Berks County oval.
Perone executed a late race pass to finish second ahead of Snyder, J. Smith, and Jay Hartman.
Kutztown's own Jarid Kunkle took the 270cc green flag from the pole and proceeded to lead every one of the winged Sprints' 20-lap feature race.
Kunkle did not have an easy time, however, as he fought off intense pressure from a trio of drivers including Mertztown's Tom Schearer, Brandon Edgar, and finally Ryan Smith. And it was Smith who came closest to pulling off the pass for the lead, as Kunkle banged wheels with a lapped car as they headed for the white flag, allowing Smith to motor to the outside and draw even with the leader. Kunkle survived the wheel banging incident and forged ahead once again as he and Smith navigated through turns one and two.
While dueling with all three challengers, Kunkle's advantage appeared to be on restarts, as his No. 75 deftly pulled away from his pursuers each time the green waved.
"Oh, absolutely, the restarts were the key," stated the victor afterward. "We were real good on the restarts, and that allowed me to get away and run my own race with a clear track in front of me."
Ryan Smith chased Kunkle to the finish line, with Jonathan Pepe, Tommy Kunsman Jr., and Pete Skias rounding out the top five. It was quite a turnaround for Kunsman, who started dead last in the 24-car field after flipping in his heat race.
In the main event for the Xcel Sportsman, Jordan Dreher passed Jason Dunkelberger to grab the top spot on lap two. Dreher opened a comfortable advantage as a three-car tussle took place for the runner-up position. Josh Fox, Kevin Gruber, and Ryan Suchon battled for several laps before Suchon claimed the spot and began to run down the leader.
Suchon and Gruber caught Dreher just after the halfway mark, and Suchon made his move for the lead in turns one and two. Just as he nosed in front, Gruber spun, bringing out the yellow and negating the pass for the lead. During the caution period, Suchon pulled off with mechanical problems.
Josh Fox was now in second as the race went back to green, but Dreher held on to score the triumph over Fox, Justin Schraden, Aaron Bowes, and Eric Whitby.
Scranton's Matt Mertz prevailed in the Wert's Beverages All Star Slingshot feature, holding back repeated assaults from Rob Sentner, with Brett Bieber glued to Sentner's back bumper in third.
"This is only the second time on the track for this car," explained Mertz in victory lane. "And it was fast...I'm really pleased with it."
Sentner and Bieber trailed Mertz to the stripe, with Kurt Bettler and Shannon Smith finishing fourth and fifth.
Goldie Meitzler Memorial car counts were solid with 28 of the Wingless 600cc and 24 of the winged 270cc Sprints, 26 All Star Slingshots, and 17 of the Xcel Sportsman cars signed in for competition.
Shane Lewis, Kyle Lick, and Rhett Long were victorious in Wingless 600 heat races and Greg Stevens won the consolation.
Ryan Smith, Jonathan Pepe, and Trevor Kobylarz notched heat wins for the winged 270 Sprints.
Richie Hitzler and Eric Whitby won the two heat races for the Xcel Sportsman.
Kurt Bettler, Matt Massone, and Jim Housworth tallied victories in the All Star Slingshot heat races. The Slingshot competitors were vying for the NAPA Know How Quick Qualifier Award, and it was Massone who turned the single quickest lap in heat race action to earn the cash bonus from NAPA Auto Parts. Massone's time was 14.058 seconds.
This Wednesday, May 23rd, Kutztown Fair Speedway presents its second event of the 2012 season. The Wingless 600cc and winged 270cc Sprints will be joined once again by the Xcel Sportsman and the All Star Slingshots. The Slingshots will be spotlighted in the second annual Mike O'Pake Memorial Race, honoring the memory of the popular State Senator who passed away in 2010. The O'Pake Memorial also serves as a Mid-Atlantic Silver Tour Regional event for the Slingshots.
The Goldie Meitzler Memorial Race Results:
Wingless 600cc Sprint Feature, 20 laps: 1.Jeff Hartman, 2.Rick Perone, 3.Doug Snyder, 4.Joseph Smith, 5.Jay Hartman, 6.Ryan Smith, 7.Chad Van Horn, 8.Brett Schoenly, 9.Brian Carber, 10.Shane Lewis, 11.Billy Ney, 12.Kyle Lick, 13.Rhett Long, 14.Brett Michalski, 15.Tony DiMattia, 16.Taylor Troxel, 17.Tim Iulg, 18.Mark Manieri, 19.Blaine Emery, 20.Joe Kay, 21.Steve Kemery, 22.Kyle Reinhardt, 23.Bowen Decker, 24.Greg Stevens.
270cc Sprint Feature, 20 laps: 1.Jarid Kunkle, 2.Ryan Smith, 3.Jonathan Pepe, 4.Tom Kunsman Jr., 5.Pete Skias, 6.Tiffany Wambold, 7.Steve Walters, 8.Paul Richards, 9.Rusty Crone, 10.Trevor Kobylarz, 11.Harlee Schaffer, 12.Justin Harrington, 13.Trevor Dunn, 14.Luke Kroboth, 15.Tom Schearer, 16.Brandon Edgar, 17.Alex Reinsmith, 18.Dan Lane Jr., 19.Andrew Dietrich, 20.Hayden Miller, 21.Ronald Helmick, 22.Jeff Carman, 23.Josh Pepe, 24.Phil Rupert.
Xcel Sportsman Modified Feature, 20 laps: 1.Jordan Dreher, 2.Josh Fox, 3.Justin Schraden, 4.Aaron Bowes, 5.Eric Whitby, 6.Richie Hitzler, 7.Jason Dunkelberger, 8.Kermit Horning, 9.Kyle Kocher, 10.Andy Ressler, 11.Shawn Horning, 12.Ray Horning, 13.Jeromy Guistwite, 14.Jordyn Mohr, 15.Kevin Gruber, 16.Ryan Suchon, 17.Ryan Snyder.
Wert's Beverages All Star Slingshot Feature, 20 laps: 1.Matt Mertz, 2.Rob Sentner, 3.Brett Bieber, 4.Kurt Bettler, 5.Shannon Smith, 6.Simon Egan, 7.Travis Bieber, 8.Kyle Gruber, 9.Matt Miller, 10.Joseph Nemeth, 11.Louden Reimert, 12.Mark Sensenig, 13.Tayllor Schoenly, 14.William Mohring, 15.Jacob Dunn, 16.Ryan Grim, 17.Collin Sentner, 18.PJ Knappenberger, 19.Dylan Hoch, 20.Tianna Rabenold, 21.Danny Buccafusca, 22.BJ Antonio, 23.Jim Housworth, 24.Nick Timar III, 25.Blaire Schoenly.