Rich Vleck, HAMMETT, PA, (September 2, 2012)- Entering the final race of the PST America season, Scott Kreutter’s opportunity to claim the championship was out of his control; but when point leader Bryan Howland fell out of the event on lap 6, Kreutter seized the moment and pulled off a stunning upset.
Kreutter, of Alden, NY, dominated the 25-lap Patriot Sprint Tour American Series Finale and in the process claimed his first career championship by a PST-record nine points to earn the $10,000 championship payout. Kreutter had been in the championship mix all season, but after the feature at Mercer the night before was lost to rain, it appeared that it had slipped away.
“After last night getting rained out I didn’t think it was possible,” Kreutter reflected in Victory Lane on his championship expectations entering the night. “Bryan usually runs really good. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get to race for but it came down to the wire and I can’t believe it. It’s awesome!”
“Going in to (the event) I just figured if (the championship) was meant to be it would happen. I tried not to think about the points, obviously I knew how far back I was but was and it was my mind. My whole goal was to get a second feature win for the first time in a season.”
Kreutter dominated his heat race for his series-high seventh heat win of the season and then drew the fourth starting position for the A-Main. Upon the drop of the green flag, “The Straight Shooter” quickly leaped to third, shot to the bottom of the track, and drove underneath front row starters Tim Kelly and Jamie Bodo to take the lead off of turn two; he would never look back.
Entering the weekend, Kreutter knew it would take a near-miracle to jump to the top of the standings, a process that would start by doing all he could do. With that said, the six-year sprint competitor that has almost always run a No. 52 sprint jumped back behind his teammate Todd Hoddick’s No. 49, a machine he is very confident in.
“This is definitely a good car,” Kreutter noted standing in front of the Hoddick Motorsports/ Airport Collision No. 49 Maxim. “They gave me the pick of the cars to drive this weekend and we won with this car at McKean so I figured we’d take it. This is an awesome piece.”
The race started slowly with a trio of caution flags appearing on lap six, the final one for Howland’s No. 51. Howland needed to finish 12th or better to claim the championship, and was running in sixth when the steering bolts in the right from sheered and knocked the four-time champion out of the event. Just because Howland was out though did not mean the championship picture was settled though; Kreutter still needed to finish in the top-two to ensure the title, a situation that he was not fully aware of.
“When I saw Bryan pull off I figured it was for a flat tire. When I heard over the radio we were coming back to green a slung the car sideways quick to see the back of the field and didn’t see him back there. I didn’t know how many cars were already out but I knew I had a chance.”
The final 19 laps would run off without another stoppage. Kreutter had no pressure from behind, but had a multitude of lapped cars to deal with. For the most part, he was able to drive around them, but at times things got tricky for the leader. As the 25-year-old drove underneath Scott Hixson’s double-checkered flags, he had lapped up to eighth.
Only seconds after pulling into Victory Lane, Kreutter climbed out and before even removing his helmet did a wing dance in front of a packed house on a beautiful night in Northwest Pennsylvania. Track Owner Bobby Roehrer soon after would present Kreutter with the 2012 Championship Trophy, as he becomes the sixth different driver to claim a Patriot Championship.
Kreutter was the class of the field all night long, but his buddy Jamie Collard was also strong, and was able to run in second from start-to-finish in his first trip to Eriez. The Canadian was all smiles in Victory Lane after his best finish on American Soil. In the process, Collard will join Kreutter in the Ohsweken Shootout at the Canadian Sprint Car Nationals with this event serving as the PST qualifier.
Jamie Bodo, another driver that made his first trip to Eriez on Sunday, was also impressive, as he won his heat and fought hard to round out the podium in third. Bodo had fallen behind Jared Zimbardi midway through the race but got back in to his groove and shuffled the defending PST Champion back. Tim Kelly was also able to move back by Zimbardi late in the event to finish in fourth. Kelly drew the pole and was looking to win his first Patriot event since this event two years ago, a feat that as it played out would have earned him the title as well. Nonetheless, Kelly was able to earn a fourth place effort.
Zimbardi would cross in fifth at the site of his first career win back in 2007. “The Juice” had driven from 10th to 5th on the opening lap and was still going forward until just after halfway.
The second five also had a host of compelling stories. George Suprick was involved in the lap one caution when Steve Collins was spun and Tommy Wickham was also collected. Suprick would drive back up to finish in sixth.
Dave Wickham, who scored his first heat race win since August of 2004 earlier in the night, stayed steady throughout the feature and finished in seventh, just ahead Tommy Wickham, his cousin who, like Suprick, drove from the back to inside the top 10 to place in eighth.
Bruce DeWick earned a strong ninth place effort, with Steve Hutchinson Jr. capping off a successful rookie year with a career-best 10th place showing.
For the second straight night, 21 Patriot sprints were in competition; despite some issues early on, all but two of those drivers were running at the finish, with one being Howland. The team did not get off on the right foot for the 51 Team when on the opening lap of his heat race Howland bicycled his ride on to the right side and perhaps damaged the right front spindle to cause the first failure of such kind for the nine-year sprint veteran.
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Patriot Sprint Tour Results: 9/2/12, Eriez Speedway, Hammett, PA.
Bonnell’s A-Main (25 Laps)- 1. Scott Kreutter (49), 2. Jamie Collard (7x), 3. Jamie Bodo (76), 4. Tim Kelly (12), 5. Jared Zimbardi (35), 6. George Suprick (87), 7. Dave Wickham (80), 8. Tommy Wickham (75), 9. Bruce DeWick (31B), 10. Steve Hutchinson Jr. (2), 11. Clint Ide (3), 12. Brandan Warner (10B), 13. Adam Anderson (5B), 14. Derek Jonathan (81), 15. Jay Groves (25), 16. Stan Zanchin (94), 17. Doug Bowman (57), 18. Dalton Daniels (23), 19. Craig Daniels (16), 20. Bryan Howland (51), 21. Steve Collins (67).
Lap Leaders- Kreutter 1-25.
Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash (4 Laps)- 1. Bryan Howland(51), 2. Jared Zimbardi (35), 3. Bruce DeWick (31B), 4. Jay Groves (25), 5. Craig Daniels (16), 6. Clint Ide (3).
National Parts Peddler Heats (8 Laps Each)-
Race 1: 1. Jamie Bodo (76), 2. Tommy Wickham (75), 3. Jared Zimbardi (35), 4. Jamie Collard (7x), 5. Craig Daniels (16), 6. Derek Jonathan (81), 7. Doug Bowman (57).
Race 2: 1. Dave Wickham (80), 2. Tim Kelly (12), 3. Bryan Howland (51), 4. Steve Collins (67), 5. Stan Zanchin (94), 6. Steve Hutchinson Jr. (2), 7. Brandan Warner (10B).
Race 3: 1. Scott Kreutter (49), 2. George Suprick (87), 3. Bruce DeWick (31B), 4. Clint Ide (3), 5. Jay Groves (25), 6. Adam Anderson (5B), 7. Dalton Daniels (23).
Patriot Sprint Tour America Series Final Standings (Top 10)- 1. Scott Kreutter 1401, 2. Bryan Howland 1392, 3. Tim Kelly 1387, 4. Tommy Wickham 1361, 5. George Suprick 1321, 6. Jared Zimbardi 1304, 7. Steve Collins 1224, 8. Brandan Warner 1164, 9. Steve Hutchinson Jr. 1089, 10. Clint Ide 1067.
Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash Series Final Standings (Top 5)- 1. Don Adamczyk 36, 2. Tim Kelly 20, Tie-3. Tommy Wickham, Scott Kreutter and Jared Zimbardi 15.
Gater Racing News Hard Charger of the Season Final Standings (Top 5)- 1. Bryan Howland 57, 2. Chuck Hebing 27, Tie-3. Tim Kelly and Scott Kreutter 24, 5. Charlie Donk 23.