On July 25 at Ransomville Speedway, Alden's Scott Kreutter sat at the back of his race hauler contemplating his ninth-place run in that evening's Patriot Sprint Tour America Series 25-lap A-Main.
Kreutter summarized at that moment, that despite being third in the PST America point standings that he and his Hoddick Motorsports/Airport Collision Racing Team were in serious rebound and recovery mode. A win seemed possible during the remaining PST America Series schedule but a championship was downright improbable.
The PST America Series runs Sprint Cars which are open-wheel, open-cockpit machines that sport large wings over the roll cage and utilize 360 cubic-inch engines.
Yet, through raw determination, hard shop work, good mechanical ability, solid driving, car swapping and a lot of unlikely but very fortunate good luck, not only did Kreutter and his Hoddick crew pick up a pair of wins over the remainder of the PST America Series season but in very dramatic fashion overcame all obstacles to earn the PST America Series championship.
How big were the obstacles that the team faced?
Consider that to begin with, the ninth-place run at Ransomville was accomplished in a back-up car after Kreutter heavily damaged the team's primary car a week earlier in Cornwall, Ont. Secondly, Kreutter had failed to win a single PST America event to that point in this season. (He had won at least one or more PST races a season since joining the PST circuit in 2007.)
Also Bryan Howland, a four-time PST champion, and Tim Kelly, two top flight veteran drivers who rarely falter stood ahead of Kreutter in the points standings.
Kreutter came into the final PST America Series weekend trailing Howland by a very large 36 markers. He had two races to erase the deficit and the task became much tougher when the first race set for Sept. 1 at Mercer Raceway Park in Mercer, Pa., was rained out.
That meant that all that Howland had to do was to place 12th or better in the season finale at Eriez Speedway in Erie, Pa., Sept. 2 and the championship was his. It appeared to be a done deal. Fate decided otherwise.
Kreutter sped from his fourth-place starting assignment at Eriez to grab the lead before the completion of the first lap of the 25-lap A-Main. He went on to lead all the remaining laps to record his second PST America Series win of the 2012 campaign.
Meanwhile Howland, who was running a comfortable sixth, had his power steering bolts sheer on lap six and retired from the event.
In stunning upset fashion, Kreutter had turned the table and clinched his first PST America Series championship by a mere nine points, the smallest margin to decide a PST America Series title in the series' 10-year history. The championship check is worth $10,000.
"I was leading the race at Eriez and the caution came out and I saw Bryan stopped at the top of the track," said Kreutter, 26. "I thought he had a flat tire and he would get back out. When the race went green I went into the first turn and threw the car sideways to look back through the field and see if he was at the back of the field. When I didn't see him out there I knew I had the title as long as I finished in a top two spot so I just got on the wheel and took it to victory lane.
"Even today because the odds of winning the title were so remote I don't think the championship has fully sunk in yet. When the race at Mercer rained out, I thought our championship hopes were gone for sure. To have everything work out so perfectly during the late season was so unexpected but great. I appreciate everything the Hoddick family has done for me."
Kreutter drove this season for the first time for Cheektowaga's Todd Hoddick with assistance from Hoddick's father Trey Hoddick, of Lancaster. Todd Hoddick also drives a Sprint Car himself weekly at Ohsweken (Ont.) Speedway.
"We had a hand-shake deal with Scott last winter that we would put him in one of our cars but if he blew an engine or destroyed a car, he was done for the season," said Trey Hoddick. "Once the season started, Scott was doing well in the PST so when he destroyed the car at Cornwall, I went out and bought a brand new car for him. While the new car was being finished he had to drive the back up.
"We got the new car out there eventually but when it came to the final race on the PST at Eriez, Todd gave his car to Scott to use. Todd's was a proven car.
"Our family for many years was known for asphalt racing but we left asphalt racing because there was a lot of in-fighting among the area promoters and they were always changing the rules from year to year and we couldn't keep up with it. We tried the ARCA series and that was financial suicide.
"So about two years ago I asked Todd what he wanted to do and he decided we would go to the dirt tracks and go Sprint Car racing where there has been far less rules changes. This year we added Scott as our second car. Todd helps Scott with technical advise and Scott helps Todd with driving.
"We couldn't have done it without our crew of Karl Hehr, Jim Jones Jr., Jim Jones III and advisor Mike Woodring."
The turn around began immediately after Ransomville when Kreutter led all 25 A-Main laps to win the very next PST America race Aug. 5, that at McKean County Raceway in East Smethport, Pa. He was still third in PST points.
At the next race, Aug. 10 at Black Rock Speedway, Kreutter finished ninth but jumped to second in points when Kelly did not qualify for the A-Main. This set-up the Eriez dramatics.
. Team Dunn Tire Raceway Park, a group of 43 local drag racers, traveled to Pittsburgh Motorsports Park this past week to compete against nine other drag strips from throughout the northeast in the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment Division 3 North Stars Team Finals.
Team Pittsburgh Raceway Park placed first with 61 points but DTRP was a very respectable sixth with 39 markers. Leicester's Empire Dragway contingent finished seventh with 31 markers.
Joe Karosik won Thursday's Gamblers Mod race in Pittsburgh while J.J. Passero was best in the Friday Gamblers Junior Dragster event. Paul Cochi was best in the Sunday Last Chance Top eliminations. Mike Nearhoof lost in the Friday Gamblers Motorcycle final but picked up the event's Best Engineered Motorcycle Award. Team DTRP won the Best Appearing Team Award while Empire Dragway claimed the Best Appearing Sponsor Banner Award. DTRP runs it's weekly IHRA drag racing program Friday at 7 p.m.