MECHANICSBURG – “The Royersford Rocket,” Steve Buckwalter won a thrilling and hotly contested sprint car event at Williams Grove Speedway on Friday night, holding off the furious challenges of Brian Montieth, Danny Dietrich and Greg Hodnett to pick up the victory.
Elsewhere, the kickoff of the 2016 Nouse Signs and Graphics 358 Sprint Summer Series saw the $1,000 victory go to lady racer Brie Hershey of Enola.
Buckwalter slid to the outside of the front row for the start of the 25-lap 410-sprint car main when Chad Trout failed to start the event.
However polesitter Rodney Westhafer had things well in hand when the race began and was leading over Buckwalter on the second tour when he spun his car in the fourth turn at the same time as Lucas Wolfe slowed with a flipped up front wing.
This handed control to Buckwalter who saw Aaron Ott blast from fourth to second on the restart and begin challenging for the lead.
Ott pulled a slider on Buckwalter in the fourth turn as the pair raced to complete lap nine only to see Buckwalter drop off of the cushion and reclaim command and all the while the front duo were racing one another, moving forward was Montieth from 12th starting spot, Danny Dietrich from ninth and Greg Hodnett from 11th.
Buckwalter was still doing his best to keep Ott at bay when the red flag appeared with 13 laps down for a frontstretch series of flips by Todd Allen.
It was Allen whom Buckwalter had just put a lap down as the pair exited the fourth turn that ended up biting the outside rail before catapaulting up and forward into the wall and catch fence.
Buckwalter had Ott, Montieth, Dietrich and Hodnett in tow for the new green and as the final 12 laps went non-stop, so was the action for the lead and win.
With five laps to go, the front four cars were under a blanket with no more than one car length between each of them as they sliced and diced high and low for the win.
Montieth threw down a major slide job in the second turn of the 21st lap only to see Buckwalter vault back out in front as the pair shot onto the backstretch and all the while both Dietrich and Hodnett were waiting to pounce.
Two laps later, Montieth layed down another huge slider in the second corner to gain command and again Buckwalter retook the top spot however this time as Montieth slid sideways Dietrich bit fast on the bottom and drove up off of the low groove into second as both he and Buckwalter overtook Montieth.
Dietrich then made his attempts for the win with Buckwalter on the high cushion however the Gettysburg driver came up just short at the finish with Buckwalter scoring the payday by a scant .164-second margin.
It was Buckwalter’s seventh career victory at the oval.
“I could hear them back there,” Buckwalter said of his three challengers.
“I don’t like winning that way. I played a lot of defense there but then a wins a win.”
Montieth was third followed by Hodnett and Freddie Rahmer.
Sixth through 10th went to Aaron Ott, Cory Haas, Alan Krimes, Doug Esh and Brock Zearfoss.
Heats went to Alan Krimes, Lucas Wolfe and Rodney Westhafer with Rick Lafferty claiming the consolation.
Brie Hershey would end up leading all 25-laps of the 358 sprint main however to say she cruised to the win would be incorrect.
For most of the race she had the lead well in hand but a late race challenge developed from 12th starter Doug Hammaker.
On a lap 16 restart, Hammaker blasted from sixth to third, driving to the outside and around Kevin Nouse, Troy Wagaman Jr. and Kyle Denmyer.
And then with seven laps to go, Hammaker disposed of Nyle Berkes for second in order to have a clear shot at the leader when a final caution flag bunched the field on lap 19.
Hershey went for the low block when action resumed as Hammaker committed to the top and then as Hershey scrubbed speed while sliding up across the track, Hammaker shot into the lead however Hershey was stout enough to not led Hammaker get away and she motored back alongside and into control on the backchute.
This gave her the edge she needed to the finish to pick up the win, her third career Williams Grove checkers.
Hammker rode home second followed by Berkes, Nouse and Denmyer.
Sixth through 10th went to Wagaman, Matt Findley, Todd Rittenouse Jr., Glenndon Forsythe and David Holbrook.
Holbrook was the Consumer Insurance Agency Hard Charger for driving from 23rd spot up to 10th.
Heats went to Findley, Denmyer and Hammaker with Rich Eichelberger scoring the consolation.
June 17, 2016 Feature Finishes:
410 sprints, 25 laps: 1. Steve Buckwalter, 2. Danny Dietrich, 3. Brian Montieth, 4. Greg Hodnett, 5. Freddie Rahmer, 6. Aaron Ott, 7. Cory Haas, 8. Alan Krimes, 9. Doug Esh, 10. Brock Zearfoss, 11. Austin Hogue, 12. Rodney Westhafer, 13. Brent Marks, 14. Matt Campbell, 15. Frankie Herr, 16. Daryl Stimeling, 17. Troy Fraker, 18. Jim Shuster, 19. Zach Eucalano, 20. Rick Lafferty, 21. Todd Allen, 22. Todd Berkheimer, 23. Lucas Wolfe, 24. Chad Trout
DNQ: Brandon Rahmer, Pat Cannon
358 sprints, 25 laps: 1. Brie Hershey, 2. Doug Hammaker, 3. Nyle Berkes, 4. Kevin Nouse, 5. Kyle Denmyer, 6. Tim Wagaman Jr., 7. Matt Findley, 8. Todd Rittenouse Jr., 9. Glenndon Forsythe, 10. David Holbrook, 11. Rich Eichelberger, 12. Brian Garland, 13. DJ Montgomery, 14. AaronEichelberger, 15. Chris Arnold, 16. Todd Reed, 17. Tyler Esh, 18. Chris Frank, 19. Chad Trout, 20. Jordan Givler, 21. Adrian Shaffer, 22. Jeff Halligan, 23. Phil Walter, 24. Chandler Leiby
DNQ: Dave Carlberg, Adam Lyman, Nathan Prezenica, Wyatt Hinkle, Alyson Dietz.