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Defending Champ Buckwalter back in the fray

The SpeedSTR feature became a "family feud" as the Buckwalter cousins, Steve and Tim, waged a terrific battle for the top spot before Tim fell victim to mechanical ills and Steve, the defending SpeedSTR champion, notched his first triumph of the year at Action Track USA.

The Speedway Entertainment All Pro SpeedSTRs, presented by VP Racing Fuels, competed in a 30 lap headliner that saw Tim Buckwalter grab the early lead while his cousin, Steve, quickly motored into the runner-up spot. The two family members engaged in a knock-down, drag out fight for the lead and were soon joined by Briggs Danner.

Tim and Steve Buckwalter took turns at sliding one another while Danner lurked close behind. On one occasion, when Tim ducked down in front of his cousin on the homestretch, Steve turned right to go high. He made slight contact with the back end of Tim's No. 52, and that shot him even higher on the track--and right into the path of a charging Danner, who had gotten a big run off turn four. Steve Buckwalter clipped Danner's left side, sending the No. 78's right side up onto the wall. Danner rode the concrete into the first corner where he finally stopped to bring out the yellow flag. His race was finished.

"I honestly didn't know he was there," said Steve Buckwalter in victory lane. "I apologize to him; I thought Tim was going to run higher but he moved down. I turned up to try and go around him and just saw a flash of yellow (Danner's car). I didn't mean to get into him.'

A few laps after the restart, Tim Buckwalter bobbled a bit in turn one, causing him to lift for a split second, and that is all his cousin needed. The Royersford, PA Rocket, Steve Buckwalter, shot to the inside and zipped past Tim to grab the lead for the final time. With ten to go and Tim still within striking distance, his blue No. 52 suddenly slowed on the front chute and coasted to a stop in turn two.

That put Alex Yankowski, already a one-time winner in 2021, into the runner-up slot. But Yankowski's Bagel Rack No. 7 was no match for the Bob Swavely owned, Wheeler Contracting No. 56 on this night. When the checkered flag waved after 30 hard fought laps, Steve Buckwalter had his first Action Track USA win of the year by nearly 1.5 seconds over Yankowski.

Young lion Louden Reimert nipped the ageless veteran Billy Pauch Sr. for third by a scant 0.046 seconds as they crossed the stripe. Dillon Steuer rounded out the top five.

"I didn't think we would be able to start the feature," stated S. Buckwalter in Weaknecht Archery Victory Lane. "We had a water leak and were not sure how to fix it. But then someone suggested black pepper, and it worked. Thank to the nice people in the refreshment stand for giving us some black pepper to stop the leak."

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