Bechtelsville, PA. April 11th: Kyle Hieber beat the best Sunday afternoon at Grandview Speedway. Hieber, 17, of Langhorne, Pa., repelled the advances of eight-time and defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series 358-Modified track champion Jeff Strunk to win the 20-lap SpeedSTR Series Season Opener.
Strunk, moonlighting in a No. 2 SpeedSTR ride arranged by Speedway Entertainment, settled for second-place pay. For Hieber, the win was his second in SpeedSTR competition. He won once last year at Trail-Way Speedway in Hanover, Pa.
"He has won so many Modified championships here, it was definitely on my mind," Hieber said of his battle with Strunk.
Hieber won the race in a No. 5 car owned by Rich Tobias. His own car was sidelined with a lack of oil pressure. "My car is at home, so Rich let me hop in this car," Hieber said, adding that he was originally slated to pick up a ride in the Doug Rose No. DR1 but didn't fit properly in the car. His brother, Gary, took over that car.
Hieber started the feature second and took command at the outset. Strunk, starting fourth, drove into the runner-up spot by lap two. A yellow on lap five for the slowing No. 10 of Mario Page put Strunk on Hieber's rear bumper for a single-file restart. Strunk looked to the inside entering turn one. Hieber turned back the advance and held the top spot.
"I was trying to get my rhythm going," Hieber said. "Jeff poked his nose the one time, so I figured I'd hug the bottom." Hieber's plan worked to perfection. He outdistanced Strunk to the checkered by nearly a half-straightaway to cap a winning weekend that included a Slingshot victory Friday night at Linda's Speedway in Jonestown, Pa.
Strunk, 41, of Bechtelsville, Pa., trailed Hieber in his second SpeedSTR start. He made one start last year at Sundance Vacations Speedway, a paved oval in St. John's, Pa. "I'll have to save my first win of the year for a Modified, I guess," Strunk said. "This was the first time I ran one of these cars on dirt. I ran on the asphalt last year. You've got to run them on the edge, that's for sure."
Pole starter Don Zrinski of Piscataway, N.J., finished third, reclaiming the position after a back-and-forth battle with Gary Hieber Jr. of Langhorne, Pa., who placed fourth. Tyler Potts of Milford, N.J., completed the front five.
SPEEDSTR SHORTS: Fourteen cars took part in the program. Heat winners were Strunk and Potts.... The afternoon marked the debut of Freddie Rahmer Jr., son of Sprint Car icon Fred Rahmer. The Salfordville, Pa., youngster clipped the wall in feature action, busting the car's pan hard rod. The elder Rahmer couldn't stick around to watch his son compete in the feature; he had a race to run at Susquehanna (Pa.) Speedway Park....
Doug Sherwood and Curt Weller both took wild rides in heat action. Sherwood made repairs for the feature, while Weller was done for the afternoon.... Winner Kyle Hieber has a strong racing lineage with his father Gary, uncle Danny and brother Gary Jr. all active in the sport....
The SpeedSTR Series resumes May 9 (Sunday) at Grandview in another doubleheader with the NEETS Enduro contingent. For further information, visit the SpeedSTR Web site: www.speedstr.biz....
SpeedSTR Feature Finish: KYLE HIEBER, Jeff Strunk, Don Zrinski, Gary Hieber Jr., Tyler Potts, Gary Huber, Doug Sherwood, Steve Hicks, D.J. Macri Jr., Katie McCardle, Freddie Rahmer Jr., Mario Page.
Did Not Start: Brittany Wixon, Curt Weller.
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