BECHTELSVILLE, Pa. – John Willman led the past three T.P. Trailers NASCAR 358 Modified 30-lap features, but always fell laps short of being in victory lane at the drop of the checkered.
The veteran racer missed several Saturday nights at the third-mile Grandview Speedway oval due to engine problems or lack of crew help.
The “Ultimate Underdog” hadn’t won a feature since April 3, 2010, but Willman changed the status of that to be the ninth different winner this season in the Modified division on Saturday.
He ran every groove possible once he put the Hampton Bros./Carroll Hine powered No. 74W in front on the seventh lap. No matter which lane runner-up and current point leader Duane Howard ran he couldn’t get around or underneath him for the pass.
Not only did Willman have to deal with Howard, Jeff Strunk joined the mix near the end for a three-way battle.
Willman dedicated the win to his father-in-law who is in ill-health and his wife Beth, who was not in attendance since she was home with him.
Jesse Leiby led six laps of the Modified feature, enduring pressure from Eric Biehn and Willman.
Biehn while running a solid second, found himself facing the wrong direction in the second turn with Steve Swinehart, left with nowhere to go becoming involved in the sixth lap caution. On the restart, Willman charged into first, while Whitmoyer followed through for second to challenge. Leiby, Frank Cozze and Howard made it a five-way battle for the lead.
Cozze, who was right in the thick of things in third, stopped in the fourth turn out of contention on the lap 12 restart.
It was still Willman showing the way with the top five composed of Whitmoyer, Howard, Strunk and Craig Von Dohren. Trying to get into a top five position was Brett Kressley.
Willman ran the middle, top and bottom portion of the track in anticipation of keeping Howard behind him. Howard had taken over second on the 15th lap and was running the highest path possible to try to become the new leader.
Right behind Willman and Howard, Von Dohren and Whitmoyer were waiting in anticipation for either one to falter and advance a position.
The top five remained the same bumper-to-bumper until Kressley overtook fifth on the 22nd lap.
Despite the struggle to gain a position the order never changed.
Howard made one last ditch effort to dive underneath Willman coming in for the checkered, but it was useless and Willman earned a crowd-pleasing fourth career Saturday night triumph.
Howard was a close second trailed by Howard, Von Dohren and Kressley.
In the TP Truck Equipment NASCAR Sportsman 25-lap feature, 16-year-old rookie Jimmy Leiby, who became a regular competitor with a crate motor in late July, took over the lead on the eighth lap and went on to win his first-ever career victory by holding off a fast closing second place Mike Mammana who gained ground as they approached lap traffic.
Leiby is the 14th different winner in the division.
Andy Cassel won the 10-lap Modified feature in the Blast From The Past while Rich Decker collected the win in the Vintage division.