Doug Manmiller is on an early-season roller coaster at one of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series’ most competitive tracks.
Manmiller won three of the first six dirt modified features of 2014 at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa. He won there just once in 2013. A winning percentage of .500 after six starts at Grandview is enviable. The success is tempered with three races in which he did not finish.
“For me to win three races this early in the season is unusual,” Manmiller said. “I’ve seen other guys do it, but it’s something I’d never expect to do.”
He had an up-and-down race night again Saturday night. Manmiller was leading the feature with two laps to go when he was collected by a spinning car. He was credited with a 16th-place finish.
Manmiller, 46, of Shoemakersville, Pa., has been competing at Grandview most of the time for the past 21 years. His two-decade win average is about one a year. He’s been runner-up in the track point race four times, most recently in 2012. The closest he came to a title was in 2006. He entered the final race of the season with the point lead but had problems, and wound up losing the championship to Craig Von Dohren.
Manmiller is seventh in track points and third in the NASCAR Pennsylvania standings.
Anthony Anders increased his NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national point lead with three wins in four starts over the weekend. The Easley, S.C., driver won twice at Anderson (S.C.) Motor Speedway Friday, and posted finishes of first and second at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway on Saturday.
Ander has 11 wins, 18 top fives and 19 top 10s in 20 starts for 611 points. He is also the first driver in the nation with more than 18 starts. NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I Top 500 drivers are ranked by their best 18 NASCAR points finishes in series-sanctioned events.
In addition to topping the national standings for a third week, Anders leads the South Carolina standings and the late model track point races at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway, Myrtle Beach and Anderson.
Bassett, of Winston-Salem, N.C., has 402 points racing at six southeastern tracks, while Pulliam of Semora, N.C., competes at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., and Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, N.C., and has 388 points.
Bassett, of Winston-Salem, N.C., races at six southeastern tracks, while Pulliam of Semora, N.C., competes at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., and Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, N.C.
Bowling, of Ridgeway, Va., had finishes of first and third in late model features at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C. Sellers, of Danville, Va., moved up from sixth with finishes of second and first at Caraway.
Tommy Lemons Jr. dropped two spots to sixth in national points. Greenville/Anderson driver Randy Porter moved up to seventh from ninth place. Pavement modified driver Keith Rocco (Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl, Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway and Thompson (Conn.) Speedway Motorsports Park), Trey Gibson (Greenville) and Daniel Alvarez (Greenville, Anderson) round out the top 10.
Alvarez also leads the national Rookie of the Year presented by Jostens standings.
Manmiller’s roller coaster ride started on opening night, April 5, with a flat tire resulting in a DNF and a 27th place finish. He won the first of twin 20-lap features a week later, but was eliminated by an accident in the second and finished 26th. He then won two weeks in a row leading up to last Saturday.
“We had pretty good starting spots (fourth and sixth) for the first two wins,” Manmiller said. “We started 16th when we got the third win. “It showed the first two wins weren’t a fluke. Winning from a deep starting spot made me feel good.”
Under the NASCAR point structure in Divisions I-V drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of in an event, up to 18 cars. Three bonus points will be awarded to a race winner with a single-digit starting position and five bonus points will be awarded to a race winner with a double-digit starting position.
Drivers must be NASCAR-licensed and cars will be verified for display of required series sponsor decals to be eligible for NASCAR points and awards.
Manmiller joined car owners Josh and Beth Biever in 2010. Josh Biever was an owner-driver through 2009. Manmiller drove for Biever’s dad, Dick, in 2009.
There is no easy route to Victory Lane at Grandview. Typical modified feature fields are 28 cars that crowd the third-mile high-banked clay oval. The better a driver is in points, the deeper his feature race starting spot. The regular-event feature distance is 30 laps.
“Grandview is a tough place to run,” Manmiller said. “The track preparation is great. It can change from warm-ups to heats to the feature. I believe it makes for better racing and puts a good show on for the fans.
“You just have to keep adjusting the car as the track changes. We keep an eye on it during all the races so we can judge what we need to do with the set-up. You have to be flexible. You can’t go there week to week with the same set-up and expect the same results. The temperature, the wind, any weather changes and daylight or night can change the track. The more laps on it the less moisture you get.”
Manmiller is Grandview’s only multiple feature winner in modifieds so far in 2014. Other winners include points leader Jeff Strunk, defending track champ Craig VonDohren and Stewart Friesen.
Rick Trumbo is crew chief. Crew members include Tim Rutherford, Tom Brennan and Keith Sweigart. Working in the race shop all week are Al Werner, “Pop” Werner, Elmo Sterner, Josh Ulsh and Matt Herring.
The team uses a Bicknell chassis powered by a Morrison Performance engine. Among the sponsors are GMI First Mechanical Solutions, Werner’s Auto Body, Ulsh Auto Sales and T.P. Trailers Inc.
Manmiller and his wife of 23 years Colleen have three children including Gabriella, 21, Cody, 19, and Austin 17. The driver operates Manmiller Electric in Shoemakersville. He established the business in 2007.
Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 58 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate.
Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars across North America are among the many showcases for Whelen products.