The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 6, 2013

Motorsports: Rahmer wins elusive National Open


Daily Item

---- — By Shawn Wood

For The Daily Item

MECHANISCBURG -- The only thing missing from victory lane on Sunday morning was orchestral music from John Williams and the Boston Pops set to fire works.

For the first and only time in his Hall of Fame career, Fred Rahmer, of Salfordville, won the 51st annual National Open at Williams Grove Speedway in his 28th try,

The 40-lap, $50,000 victory comes as Rahmer, 55, is ending his career this year.

Rahmer's win gave the Pennsylvania Posses a weekend sweep of the World of Outlaws as Donnie Kreitz Jr., of Sinking Spring, won the 25-lap preliminary feature on Saturday night.

Rahmer also re-takes the Williams Grove Speedway 410 sprint car points lead.

A heavy rain shower hit the track around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, causing a delay in the program which resulted in the 40-lap feature taking the green at 12:12 a.m. on Sunday as 63 cars were on hand for the prestigious event.

The ride to victory lane seemed to take forever for Rahmer.

"Coming off the scales and having all of the World of Outlaws guys come over and congratulate me and having good friends in from California in all the people who have helped including and Al and Joe Harz here, it's pretty cool." Rahmer said.

Rahmer forgot to put in his ear piece for the one-way communication from the track to the drivers after the fuel stop on lap 15.

"It was long," he said of the last few laps of the race. "For five or six years now, we've been running with the ear plugs, so I was hearing crazy and funny noises those last few laps."

Steve Buckwalter, of Royersford, a former ARDC midget champion, took the lead on the start of the 40-lap feature.

By lap eight, Rahmer had closed in enough on Buckwalter to make a bid for the lead.

On lap nine, Buckwalter jumped the cushion coming through Turn 4 and that allowed Rahmer to take the top spot. Buckwalter then drove the car deep into Turn 1 and slid up in front of Rahmer in Turn 2, only to have Rahmer to take the lead going down the backstretch.

On lap 10, after Buckwalter slid by Rahmer in Turn 4 to retake the lead, Rahmer then slid in front of Buckwalter in Turn 2 to once again to take the lead.

"I was just trying not to spin the tires. It's a 40-lap race and I knew that I had to pace myself," he said of the battle for the lead. "I'm old, wore out and smart enough to do no more than I had to do. I figured the longer the race went on, we had a better chance as we had the car set up for slicker conditions. Moon (Byers) and Freddie (son) did a great job on the car."

The first caution of the race came on lap 13 when 20-time WoO champion Steve Kinser suffered engine issues while coming out of Turn 4.

On the double-file restart, Buckwalter regained the lead, but Rahmer, who was hiking his right front wheel down the front straight, took the lead for good on lap 14.

Rahmer opened a straightaway lead over the field when the second caution of the race came on lap 25 for Chad Layton who had front-end issues.

The caution also brought out a fuel stop with 15 laps left in the race.

"We didn't move around that much and Moon said he though that we were going to be OK," Rahmer said. "I've raced here long enough and it's an advantage to have a home track and we just drove through the parts of the track that I thought were the best and it all worked out."

On the lap 25 restart, Rahmer chose the inside lane and pulled way from Buckwalter while Lance Dewease, who started fourth, got by Buckwalter for the runner-up position.

Dewease closed in on Rahmer for a few laps, but was passed on lap 27 by WoO points leader Daryn Pittman for the runner-up spot.

Rahmer entered lapped traffic with six laps to go as several fans on the frontstretch side were standing up and showing Rahmer with there arms stretched out that his lead over Pittman was growing.

When the white flag came out, the entire frontstretch grandstand rose as one to salute Rahmer and then erupted in euphoria when he took the checkered flag for a 3.4-second win over Pittman.

"I am going to talk to everybody and maybe by Wednesday we'll see, but you couldn't write a script any better than to quit right now," he said on when he might hang it up.

Pittman holds a 57-point lead over Schatz with four races left in the season to determine the 2013 WoO champion.

"We gained the points back that we lost last on Friday night," Pittman said. "We'll take it, but, three races is a long way to go yet. We have to beat him every race and that's one down."

Pittman spent the past four years racing in Central Pennsylvania and while there is a bit of sting in finishing runner-up again in the Open, to finish second to Rahmer was OK by him.

"That's my third second-place finish in the National Open and it's hard to get into a position to win these races, but I'm happy with second, we didn't have anything for Fred."

"It's fun to race with Fred and I've learned a lot about racing in the last four years and about myself and there's guys you have respect for and guys you don't in just how they drive a race car and I have a lot of respect for Fred and how he drives," Pittman added. "You couldn't ask for a cleaner race car driver and he's a really good person."

Dewease, a three-time winner of the Open, finished third.

"We gave it everything we had," he said. "With it being wet early we didn't know how far to go with it (car) and we didn't go far enough. But we left everything we had on the track."

Paul McMahan was fourth and Craig Dollansky fifth.

Sixth through 10th were Buckwalter, Greg Hodnett, David Gravel, Joey Saldana and Donny Schatz.

Pittman holds a 57-point lead over Schatz with four races left in the season to determine the 2013 WoO champion.

Heats for the 62 410 sprint car were won by Rahmer, Sammy Swindell, Gravel, Rodney Westhafer and Logan Schuchart. Kerry Madsen won the D-Main; Justin Henderson won the C-Main and Hodnett won the B-Main.

Buckwalter won the Dash while fast time of the night went to Saldana with a lap of 17.192 seconds.