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A BAD START, ENDS GOOD FOR SPRINT STAR TYLER WALKER

From Bob Miller

For the twenty-first season and ninety-second event of the NAPA Auto Parts Thunder on the Hill Racing Series presented by COMDIAL Telephone Communications and Lee Myles, the race fans were once again treated to a thriller at the Grandview Speedway. The always exciting Tyler Walker of Los Angeles, CA began his night with a hard hit to the third turn wall that ended in a series of flips. And that’s how his night started in warm-ups. But when the checker flag fell at the completion of the 35 lap Keystone Cup Sprint Series opener, it was Walker doing donuts on the homestretch and back-flips in victory lane as he collected the $5,000 first place prize money. The race provided a storybook finish for Walker. Also on the program was the Sportsman stock cars and Craig Whitmoyer took the win after a fierce battle with Brad Grim in their 20 lap feature that went non-stop.

The 410 sprints opened the program with time trials as Daryn Pittman set fast time of 11.889 for the one third mile high banked oval. Three heat race events were presented with victories going to Mark Smith and Lance Dewease. After crashing in warm-ups, a disappointed Walker pulled his back-up Keen Motorsports sprinter from the trailer and without an opportunity to warm-up the second car, he went on to win the third heat.

In their 35 lap feature event, Greg Hodnett, the defending Thunder on the Hill Series Champion led the first lap after two restart attempts. As the field completed lap two, Ryan Taylor flipped, displaying the red flag. On the restart, Hodnett was the pace setter followed by Chad Layton and Stevie Smith. The yellow flag was displayed on lap five, this time for Doug Esh.

On the restart, Hodnett was still in command over Layton and Smith with Lance Dewease now in the battle, racing in fourth. A caution on lap eleven for Steve Petry slowed the field once again. The restart saw Hodnett battling with Layton as Smith, Walker and Dewease made up the top five.

By lap fourteen, Hodnett was on point with Tyler Walker in second followed by Layton, Smith and Dewease. Stevie Smith went to the top of the track and moved into second on lap sixteen. One lap later, Smith made a bid for the lead using the high groove, but Hodnett was up to the challenge as the field passed for the halfway sign. Suddenly the top five shuffled again on lap nineteen as Hodnett held the lead with Walker in second and Dewease in third. Smith followed in fourth with Daryn Pittman now in fifth. The shuffling was far from over.

Hodnett had his hands full with Walker using every inch of the speedway, looking for a lane to pass. On laps twenty-five and twenty-six, Hodnett and Walker crossed the line in a near tie. Finally, on lap twenty-seven, Walker wrestled the lead from Hodnett. Dewease was now running a solid third and he made up ground as Walker and Hodnett battled for the lead. It was shaping up to be a three car race for the lead. Then Daryn Pittman moved into the mix to make it even more interesting.

In the closing laps, Walker extended his lead to take the win over Greg Hodnett with Lance Dewease in third. Fred Rahmer made a late race rally to finish fourth with Daryn Pittman making up the top five.

A field of thirty-seven Sportsman Modifieds turned out for their first even on the Thunder Series. Heat race winners include Doug Hendricks, Kyle Weiss, Justin Holland and Mike Loney. Two consolation events were presented with victories going to Mick Petrilak and Ray Woodall Jr.

The field of twenty-four Sportsman Modifieds took the green flag wit Kevin Smith setting the early pace. Brad Grim was challenging for the outset and on lap six, he became the new leader. Then Craig Whitmoyer was on a run, now racing in second followed by Mike Loney. Grim and Whitmoyer battled lap after lap, then on lap fourteen, Whitmoyer became the new leader.

One lap later, Grim was again on top to lead laps fifteen and sixteen before turning the lead over to Whitmoyer on lap seventeen. Whitmoyer set the pace for the final four laps to earn the win, his first ever under the Thunder on the Hill banner. Following Whitmoyer to victory lane was Brad Grim, Mike Loney, Justin Holland and Kyle Weiss.

410 Sprint Feature Finish 35 laps: #17 Tyler Walker, #22 Greg Hodnett, #30c Lance Dewease, #51 Fred Rahmer, #27 Daryn Pittman, #1 Stevie Smith, #87 Alan Krimes, #71 Brian Leppo, #48 Dan Dietrich, #39 Doug Esh, #70 Sam Schlosberg, #56 Dave Wilson, #12 Jared Ridge, #74jr. JR Berry, #7 Chad Layton, #7m Mark Smith, #35 Justin Henderson, #8 Steve Petry, #2h Dave Hahn, #20 Ryan Taylor, #65 Johnny Mackison, #25 Aaron Ott.