Montieth overcomes difficult start

MECHANICSBURG — After a rough start to his season at Williams Grove Speedway, Brian Montieth finally got the monkey off his back with a win in the 25-lap sprint car feature Friday night.

For the driver known as “The Edge” from Phoenixville, his 24th career Grove win was worth $3,600.

Steve Buckwalter started on the pole and drove into the lead over second starter Brandon Rahmer and third starter Montieth.

Montieth pressured Rahmer for the runner-up spot and was inside of him in the corners, but couldn’t make the pass.

Buckwalter built a comfortable lead, but Rahmer began to close when Buckwalter began to lap slower cars.

By lap 10, Rahmer was there working the inside lane as Buckwalter pounded the cushion. Montieth was right behind the lead pair in third.

Buckwalter ducked low entering turn one taking Rahmer’s line away. This broke Rahmer’s momentum and Montieth got by for second.

Montieth closed on the leader as the top three were nose-to-tail as they raced down the frontstretch. Montieth looked under Buckwalter in turn one, but couldn’t make the pass.

Buckwalter nearly made contact with a lapped car in turn three and got sideways. He saved the car, but Montieth drove by and into the lead on lap 14. Rahmer also passed Buckwalter.

“I was just hoping Stevie didn’t drift all the way up because I would have taken a flight,” Montieth said. “Brandon was going pretty good. We were way too tight in the beginning. I don’t know if I could have caught Brandon if he got out front. He was pretty good in clean air. My boys keep it going every week. I was trying to just hold myself up. Scott (Zellers) told me it was going to be tight, but we were a lot tighter than I thought we were going to be. It was a good night. Hopefully, this gets the monkey off our back and we can get going now.”

From there, it was all Montieth as he streaked away on a fast racing surface.

“I thought the race track was pretty good,” Montieth said. “It’s getting there. It needs about another lane and a half up and then I think the top and bottom will be pretty even. I think, honestly, this is by far one of the better ones. You could run the bottom. They’re making progress on it.”

His final margin of victory over Rahmer was 3.755. The non-stop race was timed in 7:45. 367.

Buckwalter, defending champion Freddie Rahmer and T.J. Stutts completed the top five. Bill Balog, Anthony Macri, Lucas Wolfe, Greg Hodnett and Aaron Ott rounded out the top 10.

Buckwalter, B. Rahmer and Montieth won the 410 sprint heats. A total of 24 cars were pit side.

Chris Frank led the opening lap of the 358 sprint feature before Jeff Halligan blasted by for the top spot on the second lap. Defending track champion Kevin Nouse raced into second on lap five quickly closing on the leader.

Halligan pulled away again as they worked the cushion. The leaders reached heavy lapped traffic with five laps to go and Halligan kept Nouse at bay.

Nouse looked under Halligan in turn three, but couldn’t make the pass as they cleared the heaviest traffic. The first caution flag flew interrupting the battle with two laps left.

Nouse squeezed under Halligan as they raced into turn one taking the lead on the restart and on to his 19th career win.

Halligan, Frank, Brett Wanner and Todd Rittenhouse Jr. completed the top five. Scott Fisher, Matt Findley, Rich Eichelberger, Brie Hershey and Dwight Leppo rounded out the top 10.

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