Craig VonDohren has been racing at Pa.’s Grandview Speedway since he was in high school. He won his first feature event there when he was just 16-years-old in his family owned race car. Over the years a lot has changed in the sport. However there’s been one constant, VonDohren winning.
Last Saturday night, VonDohren pulled into Grandview’s Victory Lane after winning an unprecedented sixth Forrest Rogers Memorial and earned over $10,000 for his effort. That win pushed his career total on the high-banks to 93 and counting. Craig actually has more than 93 wins at Grandview since the Thunder on the Hill wins aren’t included in that tally.
To win that many races at Grandview is quite the accomplishment. The weekly handicapping system makes it extremely hard for the top runners to win. They start in the rear in their heats and then have to finish in the top-five to be handicapped in the top-15 for the feature line up. It’s often a matter of which of the top runners can get to the front first. To do so you have to be an aggressive racer, however sometimes that can lead to trouble. There’s a fine line between aggressive driving and patience. A good racer knows the difference.
“We’ve been the fastest car here every week… you know how it is,” stated VonDohren after winning the prestigious event. In recent weeks Craig has tangled with other cars in his quest to get to the front. “We lost a little bit of ground. I knew we had a good car and it was time for our turn.”
VonDohren lined up 14th on the starting grid for 50-lap event. From the drop of the green he had his Bicknell-built Modified, powered by a Nick Gatto motor, going forward. By the completion of the 12th lap he was up to fourth when he got boxed in behind Ryan Kunkle and Kyle Borror who were racing side by side for the runner up position. This is when a little bit of patience paid off for the seasoned veteran.
“They were side by side there for second and third. I think those guys were side by side forever,” recalled Craig. “You know, they’re racing and you’re just waiting to see which one goes first. It was a rough couple of laps there. You don’t who’s coming from behind. It’s a good field. You have to be aggressive but you can’t stick it in the guard rail down there in two. You could get a flat tire or something. You can’t get into the cars in front of you… they could spin and take you out with them.”
VonDohren bided his time for six laps and then pulled the trigger. In just two circuits he charged by the top three racers to take the lead. Once in front there was no stopping him as he skillfully raced through lapped traffic. The seven time track champion survived a few late race restarts to race on to his third victory of the season and pad his point lead over Duane Howard.
“I didn’t know how big of a lead we had. I knew those lapped cars were just running in the groove. The bottom took rubber and the top was getting slippery. I saw Jeff (Strunk) was on the board, he’s been running good. I was running the preferred line and then it was just caution, caution, caution. I was glad to see the checkered.” remarked VonDohren with a sigh of relief. He had also celebrated his birthday a few days early as he turned 52 on Thursday.
Sometimes a little bit of patience can go a long way. I’d say VonDohren had $10,000 worth of it!