BY Steve Williams
The Midgets of the American Racing Drivers Club were finally able to complete the first race of the season Sunday evening April 11th at Susquehanna Speedway Park as part of a double header, along with the popular Central Pennsylvania 410 Sprint Cars. The event, part of the opening weekend at Susquehanna was billed as the Sprint Car Spring Classic.
Not only did ARDC complete their first event of the season, they concluded the evening, finishing up some unfinished business from last year, making up the feature from October’s Candy Bowl Race.
All eyes on the event were on returning ARDC Champion Frank Polimeda and 2010 Chili Bowl B-Main Qualifier Steve Buckwalter. While Polimeda struggled most of the evening with electrical problems, Buckwalter won his heat race in dominating fashion over Drew Heistand and PJ Gargiulo. Polimeda was able to qualify for the Feature through the Consolation, a race that was won by another familiar name to Northeast Racing fans, Billy Pauch Jr.
Pauch, who was taken off of the speedway, hooked to the back of a wrecker, during his heat race, beat Stephanie Stevens to the Consolation Checkered Flag.
The other heats were won by Ryan Smith over Bruce Buckwalter Jr. and Tracy Readinger and Donnie Trent over Trevor Kobylarz and Steve Lenig.
At the start of the feature, Dusty Heistand exploded from his pole position starting spot, into the lead. Heistand was followed by Andrew Hannula, Steve Lenig , Gargiulo and Steve Buckwalter.
ARDC delivered on their promise of three wide racing throughout the opening laps and even treated the fans to some incredible four wide racing as well.
By lap seven Steve Buckwalter had picked his was into second place and dove low going into the first turn on the eighth lap to take the lead from Heistand. The lead was short lived as the yellow flag unfurled for a slowing car. On the restart, Buckwalter made a similar move and got similar results retaking the lead.
The furious action continued as Buckwalter was able to stretch out his lead. Late in the race Billy Pauch Jr. wheeled his Burkes Trucking orange number 54 into second place.
Everything looked to be going Buckwalters’ way, when another yellow flag slowed the field on the 19th lap. With just one lap to go, Pauch, Dusty Heistand, Lenig, Drew Heistand and Brett Arndt were now on his tail. Coming down for the restart green flag, Buckwalter got a strong start but going into the first turn, with the lead, his magneto momentarily shut off and the motor stuttered. With the leader suddenly slowing there was a big scramble not only to avoid contact but also for position. Buckwalter’s engine picked right back up but with the field so close behind he lost several positions, including the lead to Pauch, who lead the final three quarters of a lap for the win.
Pauch, who started the feature in 17th spot was followed by Drew Heistand, who started 7th and 5th starting Steve Lenig. Rounding out the top ten were, Dusty Heistand, Brett Arndt, Ryan Watt, Eric Heydenreich, Steve Buckwalter, Trevor Kobylarz and Carey Becker.
The second feature was the final race of the evening and the near capacity crowd stayed around to see if the excitement of the first feature would carry over into the makeup feature.
At the drop of the green flag it looked as if the pole starter, Scott Zipp would take the lead but outside front row starter Drew Heistand, still flying high from his earlier second place finish, had other ideas. Heistand drove his number 12 racer deep into the first turn and drove down the backstretch with the early lead.
Heistand was able to stretch his lead over 6th starting Carey Becker, when Steve Buckwalter, with his repaired magneto bolted into the second spot. Buckwalter kept chipping away at the lead and on lap15 overtook Heistand for the top spot. Buckwalter was not going to be denied and won the race by the length of the front straight over Frank Polimeda who clawed his way up to second place. Early race leader Heistand finished in third and Stephanie Stevens with a great run from the 18th starting spot finished fourth. Rounding out the top ten were Eric Heydenreich, Carey Becker, PJ Gargiulo, Trevor Kobylarz, Tracy Readinger and Dave Shirk.
A post race inspection found a problem with Frank Polimeda’s #44 and he was disqualified.
ARDC Feature #1 (4-11-10) 33 Entries
54-Billy Pauch Jr., 12-Drew Heistand, 9-Steve Lenig, 6-Dusty Heistand, 46-Brett Arndt, 75-Ryan Watt, 11-Eric Heydenreich, 0-Steve Buckwalter, 49-Trevor Kobylarz, 20-Carey Becker, 52-Tim Buckwalter, 44-Frank Polimeda, 25-Chris Zrinski, 51-PJ Gargiulo, 84-Jimmy Cammock, 89-Andrew Hannula, 83-Bruce Buckwalter Jr., 34-Ryan Smith, 26-Stephanie Stephens, 16-Dave Shirk, 78-Nick Wean, 77-Alex Bright, 2- Tracy Readinger, 55-Steve Craig, 19-Steve Drevicki, 91-Donnie Trent DNQ 99-Scott Zipp, 53 Randy Reid, 39-Justin Grosz, 17-Donnie Hoffman, 61-Parker Evans, 38 Bob Goerner
ARDC Makeup Feature #2 (4-11-10)
0-Steve Buckwalter, 12-Drew Heistand, 26-Stephanie Stevens, 11-Eric Heydenreich, 20-Carey Becker, 51-PJ Gargiulo, 49-Trevor Kobylarz, 2-Tracy Readinger, 16-Dave Shirk, 33-Steve Lenig 84-Jimmy Cammock, 46-Brett Arndt, 83-Bruce Buckwalter Jr. 99-Scott Zipp, 6-Dusty Heistand, 17-Donnie Hoffman, 25-Chris Zrinski, DNS 89-Andrew Hannula, 53-Randy Reid, 38-Bob Goerner, 1-Brad Cox, 57-Jason Rice, 91-Donnie Trent, DISQ 44-Frank Polimeda