PAULIE HARTWIG III PICKS UP FIRST EVERGREEN MOD WIN; KEN ERNEY TOPS IN STREET STOCKS
By DINO OBERTO
(Butler Township, Pa. 5-28-23) Defending Evergreen Modified champion Paulie Hartwig III came out of the box with all cylinders firing to perfection. The 12-year old phenomenon from Galloway, NJ was able to hold back veteran Jerry Hildebrand and collect his very first class win Sunday afternoon at the 1/3-mile paved Evergreen Raceway.
Hartwig started pole and then had a race-long battle with Hildebrand who was on his tail for most of the 35-lap distance. Try as he may including several restarts, Hildebrand could not get by Hartwig who took the win as the pair crossed the line going bumper-to-bumper.
“These guys are really hard on me and it’s not easy with this class because they’re all so tough. I’ve been running these Evergreen Mods the past two years and this is finally my first time winning with it,” said Hartwig.
“I love racing here at Evergreen and the track was not to slick even though it was hot all day. But the car was really good and with stickers (tires) on it made all the difference. As always I have to thank my crew chief Bob Geiger and my mom and dad for all they do for me.”
At the drop of the green Hartwig and second starting Hildebrand immediately began their duel. Hildebrand was able to run on the outside of Hartwig over the opening laps before settling in behind him albeit riding on his rear bumper.
A few early cautions would see Hildebrand make some very valid attempts to unseat Hartwig but each time his efforts where thwarted.
The as the final laps where underway Hildebrand began to turn up the pressure and even gave Hartwig a few shots including one on the final go-around. But the young lion would not waver and stood his ground.
“The car was really on point today and we kind of lost some of the forward drive near the end but we held on and here we are,” said Hartwig.
“I thought he (Hildebrand) was going to try and move me there but I kept my line.”
For Hartwig this was his fourth win in the past month, winning twice on dirt in a 602 Crate Sportsman Modified at Bloomsburg Fair Raceway and once at Big Diamond Speedway.
Hildebrand, who is also a past Evergreen Modified champion, felt he needed just a few more laps to get the job done.
“He (Hartwig) made me work out there and I really felt we had something for him but he didn’t give me the room that I was looking for. But a second place is better than being up there in the guard rail,” admitted Hildebrand.
“My car was very good on the outside today and I would have liked to have stayed out there but during feature there wasn’t as much grip as I would have liked. It was getting better at the end who knows if there would have been a few more laps to run what the outcome would have been,” he continued.
“He’s amazing and more power to him. He’s winning races on dirt and on asphalt and his future is very bright.”
Steve Shultz was solid in garnering third with Nick Bear and Geary Rinehimer Jr., rounding out the top five.
Former Street Stock champ Ken Erney Jr., of Allentown proved that practice makes perfect. Days leading up to Sunday’s race Erney had been getting in as much testing as possible including an all-day session on Friday.
Erney was looking for that perfect setup and he apparently found it too as once he took the lead from Brandon Oltra on a lap 14 restart he was then able to pull away and cruise to his first win of the season.
Oltra had led from the outset and was in a torrid battle with Erney and Jacob Christman over the first dozen circuits. A lap 14 caution then put Erney alongside Oltra for the restart and when the action resumed he was able to pull off his race winning move. And not only was in front but gradually pulled a safe distance from the pack en route to his sixth Evergreen win and first in two years.
Opening Day winner Mike Pollack was second with Christman, Oltra and Bobby Kibler Jr., completing out the top five.
Jimmy Ayre of Mountain Top has been racing at Evergreen for the past 35 years and it showed on Sunday as the veteran wheelman exhibited his years of know-how in a rousing drive to victory with the 4-Cylinder Stocks.
Ayre started second to his teammate TJ Kapish and no sooner was the first lap complete he was in control. There would be no looking back from there either as he cruised handily to the win. Kapish was second with Michael Wambold third.
The Rotten and Forgotten cars hit the track and in a field made up largely of the Jensen family, Dan Jensen came out as the winner over Anthony Nappy and previous week winner Chub Jensen.
For Legends car winner Justice Calabro, his day can be summed up as 2674 miles and 20 laps! Calabro hails from Hollywood, CA which is almost 2700 miles from the track. The 20 laps was his racing distance that he ran and finished number one in.
Calabro, who was the pole sitter, led each lap while fending off Brad Lowmaster and Tanner Jones in attaining his long distance victory.
William Sipala led all but one lap in scoring the Bandolero verdict over Phillip Alaimo.
Evergreen Modified feature finish (30 laps): 1. Paulie Hartwig III, 2. Jerry Hildebrand, 3. Steve Shultz, 4. Nick Baer, 5. Geary Rinehimer, Jr., 6. Gunnar Zeiner, 7. Russ Frantz, 8. Jaden Brown, 9. Jayden Harman
Street Stock feature finish (30 laps): 1. Ken Erney Jr., 2. Mike Pollack, 3. Jacob Christman, 4. Brandon Oltra, 5. Bobby Kibler Jr., 6. Mitch Hawk, 7. Dan Pawlicki, 8. Tucker Muffley, 9. Gordie Buchman Jr., 10. Amber Knecht, 11. Brandon Christman, 12. Abe Romanik, 13. Mike Erney DQ: Jason Harman
4-Cylinder Stock feature finish (25 laps): 1. Jimmy Ayre, 2. TJ Kapish, 3. Michael Wambold, 4. Jay Kanor, 5. Micah Adams, 6. Larry Spencer III, 7. Dave Imler Jr., 8. Robert McNulty, 9. Nicholas Kerstetter, 10. Brooklyn Peters, 11. Ralph Borger Jr., 12. PJ Peters, 13. Mallory Kutz, 14. Tom Cavagnino, 15. Doug DeHaven, 16. Tony Hilliard, 17. Johnny Bennett DNS: Ed Herman
Rotten and Forgotten feature finish (25 laps): 1. Dan Jensen, 2. Anthony Nappy, 3. Chub Jensen, 4. Joe Jensen, 5. Tom Jensen, 6. Same Jensen, 7. Ryan Casagrande, 8. Jon Jensen, 9. Tommy Dawson
Legends feature finish (20 laps): 1. Justice Calabro, 2. Brad Lowmaster, 3. Tanner Jones, 4. Jeffery Farruggia, 5. Charles Hodge, 6. Chris Sintro, 7. Nate Divone, 8. Chris Piasecki, 9. Lexi Przybylinski, 10. Joey Przybylinski, 11. AJ Wright, 12. Mike Sinagra, 13. Justin Teresak
Bandolero feature finish (12 laps): 1. William Sipala, 2. Phillip Alaimo, 3. Nick Hodge