Rich Vleck, MERCER, PA, (June 1, 2013)- Sometimes overall track experience is just more critical than time on the track that night.
Danny Holtgraver, of Pittsburgh, PA, used his hundreds of laps around Mercer Raceway Park’s unique 3/8-mile oval over his career to his advantage on Saturday Night as he drove from his 20th place starting position to a thrilling win in the first Patriot Sprint Tour feature at “The Great Race Place” since 2005.
Holtgraver’s participation in the PST event was in question even after the heat race action as his team’s hauler was broken down just outside of town and unable to get to the track. Once the No. 45 was in the pits, he got two quick laps during the dash, which appeared to be all the time the youngster needed.
“We had an awesome car for getting just two hot laps,” noted Holtgraver, 23, in Victory Lane. “We just made some good moves and it was fun out there.”
Scott Kreutter and Justin Barger, the defending PST America and Canada Champions, respectively, started on the front row, with Kreutter jumping out to the early advantage. Barger appeared poised to pounce on the lead on a lap six restart, but Kreutter stayed in front and eventually Jared Zimbardi would take over the runner-up position. Zimbardi was positioning himself well, but while that was happening, Holtgraver was on a mad-dash to the front.
At the time of the first caution flag on lap five, Holtgraver’s No. 45 was already inside the top 10. Getting inside the top five was a taller task, but he was still able to accomplish it via some extra restarts. Holtgraver was up to third by lap nine and already in position.
Despite cracking in to the top three before halfway, Kreutter and Zimbardi were not ready to roll over. The two most recent winners on tour, as well as the two most recent PST America Champions battled it out for the lead over the second half of the race, but with five laps remaining, Zimbardi was going for the lead on two occasions when the caution flew. On his third bid, “The Juice” drifted high coming off of turn two, opening up the door for Holtgraver to snatch second.
Kreutter still had a solid car, but as he approached lap traffic coming to three laps to go, Holtgraver saw his opportunity and dove to the inside of the No. 52 entering turn three and had just enough momentum to lead coming back to complete lap 22. Over the final three circuits, he would pad his lead and hang on to become the 52nd different winner of a PST Points-paying race.
Holtgraver’s win makes it five different winners in the five PST America events this season. Add to it Steve Poirier’s victory in the PST Canada race at Merrittville, and no driver has won multiple PST events thus far in 2013.
Kreutter would surely would have liked to win his fourth feature in his last five starts in Pennsylvania, but his second place showing not only preserved his point lead, but helped him expand on it. Zimbardi’s third place effort enabled him to move into second in the standings as the season nears its halfway point.
George Suprick won the Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash for the second time this season and parlayed that performance into a fourth place finish. Unfortunately, as great as his evening was, his night took a frightening turn as he suffered a heart attack on the ride home and was flown to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Justin Barger faded back to fifth with a tight-handling race car, placing just ahead of Tommy Wickham, who won his heat and finished sixth for the third straight race. Steve Collins also won his heat and would place in seventh at one of his favorite tracks.
Brad Knab would finish eighth, just ahead of Adam Anderson, who charged up from ninth to move in front of Geoff Quackenbush, who rounded out the top 10.
A total of 20 Patriot Sprints were in competition once Holtgraver’s No. 45 finally made it into the pits. Jason Scoville was a surprise heat race winner but spun during the feature drawing on of the four cautions of the event.
For more information, visit www.PatriotSprintTour.com.
Patriot Sprint Tour America Series Results: 6/1/13, Mercer Raceway Park, Mercer, PA.
Bonnell’s Collision A-Main (25 Laps)- 1. Danny Holtgraver (45), 2. Scott Kreutter (52), 3. Jared Zimbardi (35), 4. George Suprick (87), 5. Justin Barger (5), 6. Tommy Wickham (75), 7. Steve Collins (67), 8. Brad Knab (38), 9. Adam Anderson (69), 10. Geoff Quackenbush (25), 11. Steven Hutchinson Jr. (2), 12. Bruce DeWick (22D), 13. Dennis Wagner (38o), 14. Jason Scoville (26), 15. Clint Ide (3), 16. Tyler Graves (25G), 17. Scott Just (54jx), 18. Brandan Warner (10b), 19. Scott Just (54j), 20. Dave Wickham (80).
Lap Leaders- Kreutter 1-21, Holtgraver 22-25.
Original Pizza Logs Four Laps of Fame Dash (4 Laps)- 1. George Suprick (87), 2. Scott Just (54jx), 3. Clint Ide (3), 4. Brandan Warner (10b), 5. Dennis Wagner (38o), 6. Steven Hutchinson Jr. (2).
Heats Winners: Collins, Scoville, T. Wickham.