GEORGETOWN, Del. — H.J. Bunting was not going to be denied in the Big-Block/Small-Block 25-lap ‘Blast at the Beach’ Qualifier event at the historic Georgetown Speedway on Friday night.
Bunting, the Milford, Del. veteran, wheeled his No. 85 Jake Marine-owned big-block Modified to the triumph after holding back Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series hotshoes Ryan Godown and Jordan Watson in the late stages.
Along with a $2,300 payday ($2,000 from posted purse and an additional $300 from the Dutton family in memory of late racer Harry Dutton), Bunting earned a redraw spot in the Short Track Super Series third annual ‘Blast at the Beach’ special, hosted at Georgetown on Tuesday, August 30.
“This gives us a lot of confidence going into the ‘Blast at the Beach’ race,” Bunting said. “There is a little things we can work on to get some more speed, but a lot of winning here is starting position. The front brakes were burning there a little, and it just seemed like it was getting a harder to drive.”
Godown, the 41-year-old, Ringoes, N.J. native recorded a runner-up finish, but was unable to pass Bunting during the final two restarts – handing him his second top-five in two starts at the Georgetown, Del. track this season.
Defending ‘Blast at the Beach’ victor Watson closed the top-three podium positions in the 25-lap feature, but was left with some things to adjust on for when Georgetown returns to action next month for the Short Track Super Series Velocita South Region season finale.
“Tonight was our first night running this new motor, we lost this one at the beginning of the season,” Watson said. “We thrashed to get here all week, too – even got here late tonight. We did not even know what gear to run when we first got here. But, it was a good first night out with this new package.”
Substituting for his injured uncle Jamie Mills (he suffered five broken ribs in a vicious crash at New Jersey’s Bridgeport Speedway in June), Joseph ‘Jo Jo’ Watson (from dead last in a spirited drive) and Matt Jester completed the top-five positions in the action-packed feature.
Hailing from Laurel, Del., Scott Van Gorder started the event from the pole position after dominating his respective heat race. However, before even one circuit was contested, Bunting utilized his second starting spot to take the lead in the opening laps.
From that point, aside from a few spaced-out cautions and persistent lap traffic, Bunting soared to the winners circle untouched, adding to his impressive resume at Delaware dirt tracks. Godown closed significantly in the race’s final third, working the inside as Bunting struggled to maintain control of his ailing car.
Van Gorder, Howard O’Neal, Dale Hawkins, Eric Vent, and Dale Hawkins capped the top-10 positions.
For the second time at Georgetown this season, Davie Franek of Wantage, N.J., captured the checkers in the United Racing Club (URC) 360 Sprint Cars feature after a late-race maneuver in his No. 28F Franek Auto Sales machine.
Franek, the current URC Sprint Cars championship leader, rocketed through lap traffic in the closing laps of the 25-lap main – passing polesitter and Delaware native Kevin Darling in the process – to earn his fifth win in the series this season.
“We set up for the long run there and the motor kept stumbling for us on the starts,” Franek expressed. “But, Kevin (Darling) was running a helluva pace. I was just glad that lapped traffic was there (laughter). It was do or die there.”
Making his third URC Sprint Cars appearance this season, the runner-up result was both uplifting and heartbreaking for Darling, who was hoping to score a breakthrough win in his home state (he resides an hour from the track).
“We read the track and we knew we could run up top,” Darling said. “So when we got in lap traffic, we could really only run the top – so at one point, we actually got a little from the track trying to get around them. But, we had a great night.
“To go up there and compete against Davie Franek, who has won half the races this season … I will take second, for sure.”
Josh Weller, Curt Michael, and Davey Sammons made up the top-five in the results.
New Jersey’s Frank Holmes triumphed in the Crate 602 Sportsman feature after leading wire-to-wire and celebrated with some emotion after capturing his first win at Georgetown. Holmes utilized a restart to power outside Westley Smith for a lead he never relinquished.
Smith, Brett Ballard, Dillon Steuer, and Jeremy Harrington rounded out the top-five positions.
During their 20-lap feature, Blades Motorsports’ Dylan Betts and rookie Trevor Collins made contact entering the first corner, throwing Collins modified upside down.
After track personnel responded quickly to the incident, Collins was helped from his machine and walked away unscathed.
There were three other divisions that closed the jam-packed lineup at the track, with veteran Dwayne Heck celebrating in the Southern Delaware Vintage Stock Club 15-lap feature, with Fred Brightbill slotting in second. David Parsons in fifth-place was declared the Vintage Sportsman winner.
Celebrating his birthday, Billy Cropper closed the night with a win in the Delaware Super Truck feature and Geoff Carey scored in the Delmarva Chargers event.
Cropper emerged victorious from a wild battle for the lead during the mid-portions of the 12-lap main. The top-three fanned out three-wide for the top spot before Cropper ultimately seized control.
Carey pulled away from a three-car battle for second late in his 12-lap conquest.
For now, Georgetown resumes a break from action, but not-for-too-long.
On Tuesday, August 30, the track hosts the highly-anticipated $5,000-to-win Big-Block Modified/Small-Block Modified ‘Blast at the Beach’ event, Crate 602 Sportsman, Delmarva Chargers, and Delaware Super Trucks.
Georgetown Speedway, originally constructed by Melvin L. Joseph in 1949, is located at the intersection of Route 113 and Speedway Road in Georgetown, Del., just miles from the Delaware beaches and less than a 40-minute drive from Ocean City, Md.
A new website is live for the speedway at www.thegeorgetownspeedway.com. Like Georgetown Speedway on Facebook, follow @thegtownspdwy on Twitter, e-mail email@example.com or contact Brett Deyo at845.728.2781 during business hours for more information.
FRIDAY NIGHT NOTES: After an absence of nearly seven weeks, Georgetown Speedway returned to action with a huge crowd filling the speedway’s large grandstands. The pit area was filled with 97 race cars….
A week-long track preparation process that included more than 100,000 gallons of water being applied to the surface provided dust-free, multi-grooved racing on the 90-plus degree day….
A moment of silence was held prior to the start of racing in remembrance of Harry Dutton. The family posted $500 in Harry’s honor – $300 went to Modified winner H.J. Bunting, $100 to 10th-place finisher Ron Roberts and $100 to 17th-place finisher Kevin Gardner….
Boy Scout Troup No. 186 of Milford, Del., attended the event and had the opportunity for a group photo with Crate 602 winner Frank Holmes….
RESULTS; ‘Blast at the Beach’ Qualifier Night; Georgetown Speedway; July 22, 2016
Big-Block Modified Feature Finish (25 Laps): H.J. BUNTING III, Ryan Godown, Jordan Watson, Joseph Watson, Matt Jester, Scott Van Gorder, Howard O’Neal, Dale Hawkins, Eric Vent, Ron Roberts, Kevin Sockriter, Matt Peck, Don Hallowell, Dave Gerhart, Bobby Watkins, Michael White, Kevin Gardner.
Did Not Start: Shawn Ward.
United Racing Club (URC) 360 Sprint Car Feature Finish (25 Laps): DAVIE FRANEK, Kevin Darling, Josh Weller, Curt Michael, Davey Sammons, Robbie Stillwaggon, Chris Coyle, Justin Whittall, Troy Betts, Brett Michalski, Will Eggimann, Jason Cherry, Mike Haggenbottom, Adam Carberry, Jason Clauss.
602 Sportsman Feature Finish (20 Laps): FRANK HOLMES, Westley Smith, Brett Ballard, Dillon Steuer, Jeremy Harrington, Connor King, Scott Hitchens, Adam White, Joseph Tracy, Daniel Hudson, Jordn Justice, Brian Hitz, Brandon Watkins, David Jenkins, George Freeman, Duane Rust, Mike Hough, Ryan Mortimer, Jeff Marker, Trevor Collins, Dylan Betts, Trent Van Vorst.
Southern Delaware Vintage Stock Car Feature Finish (15 Laps): DWAYNE HECK, Fred Brightbill, C.J. Schirmer, Mark Williams, Dave Parsons (Sportsman Winner), Todd Millen, Vic Thomas, Chris Loveland, Kelly Putz, Josh Smith, Dave Schamp, John Burton.
Delaware Super Truck Feature Finish (12 Laps): BILLY CROPPER, David Smith, Robert Reid, Robert Paczowski, Matt Esham, Cory Sapp, Jerry Hill, Dale Elliott, Luke Weideman, Kirk Miles, Michelle Jackson, Tim Quay, Dwayne Jackson, Kara Klink, Matt Long, Matthew Smith, Reid Mitchell, Robert Smith.
Delmarva Charger Feature Finish (12 Laps): GEOFF CAREY, Jay Sippel, Ashley Merritt, Scott Calhoun, Tanner Marvel, Brett Sellers, Derek Swafford, Joe Waters, Randy Merritt, Jerry Barker, Chuck Hudson.
Did Not Start: Butch Hudson.
About the Writer
Marshall Gabell is the Mid-Atlantic Correspondent for Race Chaser Online, and was also formerly the public relations director for NASCAR Next member Austin Hill. Gabell is currently attending Stephen Decatur High School in Ocean City, Maryland, entering his junior semesters. He is just 15 years old.
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