Record field races at Hagerstown Speedway

October 31, 2003

A record 249 late models, modified and sprint cars signed in for the 16th Annual Octoberfest 350 at the Hagerstown Speedway last Saturday.

Following 37 qualifying events and 350 laps of feature racing, four happy drivers, each $10,000 richer, stood in Victory lane Sunday evening before a record crowd.

Brian Weaver of Windsor, N.Y., grabbed the biggest win of his career in the 100-lap big-block modified feature, Andy Bachetti of Shefield, Mass., decided to make the long tow to Hagerstown for a change of scenery that made him $10,000 richer with a win in the 100-lap small-block modified feature, Greg Hodnett of Memphis, Tenn., ended a great season with a $10,000 payday in the 50-lap super sprint feature and Gary Stuhler of Greencastle, Pa., the 2003 Hagerstown Speedway track champion, ended his record-setting season with his second straight $10,000-to-win victory with the win in the late model 100-lap finale. It was the first Octoberfest win for Hodnett, Weaver and Bachetti and the fourth for Stuhler.


"We wanted to try something different," said Bachetti. "We knew we could race closer to home, but we thought we come down here for a change and it paid off. This was awesome. Just can't say enough about the track."

"The race track was great, it was real racy and have to congratulate Randy (Grove) and the rest of the crew, said Hodnett. "You could race anywhere on the track, high or low. It is a great way to end the season."

"This is my biggest win ever," said Weaver. "We went back and forth there with Heffner and were real fortunate to stay out in front of him there at the end."

In the 100-lap late model feature, Gary Stuhler started fourth as polesitter Tom Myers took the lead. Stuhler moved into second before the first lap was complete with Rick Eckert and Todd Andrews right behind. Stuhler stayed within three car lengths of Myers as the field of cars raced nose-to-tail. On lap 40, a caution was waved for debris on the track and when the race resumed, Eckert got the jump on a surprised Stuhler to take over the runner-up spot.

Eckert was unable to close the gap on race long leader Myers as the red flag was waved on lap 50 for the fuel stop. As the cars stopped for fuel, steam rolled from the leader's car and Myers was forced to call it a day turning the lead over to Eckert.

With Myers in the pits, Eckert led the field for the second half with Stuhler, Andrews, D.J. Myers and Brian Ruhlman in pursuit. By lap 70, Eckert had opened a 10-car-length lead and looked like he was on his way to his third straight Octoberfest win when he rolled to a stop on the next lap with a broken ball joint, turning the lead over to Stuhler.

Stuhler pulled away from second- place Andrews on the restart and stayed three car lengths in front. On the final lap, Dan Stone brought out the caution to set up a one-lap shootout. Stuhler had no problem on the restart as he crossed the finish line five car lengths in front of Andrews. D.J. Myers and Ruhlman were next with Kenny Pettyjohn coming from 15th for fifth. Alan Sagi was next with 25th-starting Frankie Plessinger seventh. Twenty-second- starting John Mason was next with 19th-starting Scott Brode and 21st- starting Chuck Shultz finishing out the top 10. Heat winners for the 54 late models were T. Myers, Eckert, Andrews, Stuhler and D.J. Myers. Shultz, Mason and Paul Crowl won the consolations.

"We were lucky, I don't think we could have caught Rick (Eckert)," said Stuhler. "But we'll take it anyway we can." For Stuhler, Sunday's win was his ninth of the year and111th of his career, only three behind leader Rodney Franklin.

Tickets are now on sale for the annual Awards Banquet and Dance. The gala event is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 20, at 6 p.m.

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