BUTLER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Evergreen Raceway put the punctuation mark on the season with day No. 3 of the 22nd Annual King of the Green held Sunday afternoon and the highlight was a pair of twin-30 lap features for the Evergreen Mods that would determine this year’s champion.
Coming into the day, Jerry Hildebrand, Paulie Hartwig III, Steve Shultz and Jayden Harman all had a shot at the title. But with Hartwig not present it would come down to the other three to fight it out and indeed they did as it turned into a nail-bitter in deciding the championship outcome.
In the opening feature Shultz out ran polesitter Micah Adams at the initial start and then kept Harman at bay the rest of the way as the pair ran closely together.
Only two laps into the race Hildebrand gave everyone a scare when he almost spun and narrowly escaped being clipped by oncoming traffic. The problem turned out to be a flat tire which he was able to replace and return to the action.
However, with Shultz and Harman still running one-two it left Hildebrand hustling to gain spots and more importantly points.
Leading to the finish Shultz would earn his first victory with a modified and more so head into the second main event just one point behind Hildebrand who notched fourth. Harman’s runner-up had him still very much in the hunt at just 10 points out of first.
“It feels great to win with a modified and it was just a matter of getting more time under my belt,” said Shultz after achieving his 36th career win. “We don’t have it dialed in just yet but we’ll keep on trying things and make the best of it.
“It was definitely hooked up on that (initial) start and from there we just continued to hit the marks and it worked out. We’ll have to come out and just find a good balance with the car and try to stay consistent in the next one. The end of that feature is what’s going to win the championship.”
Shultz couldn’t have been more spot on. Picking the five pill as the invert, it would see Adams and Hildebrand on the front row for the finale. And, as soon as the green flag dropped Hildebrand blasted to the lead with Mike Pollack settling into second.
Thanks to a nonstop race Hildebrand was able set a good pace, keep just enough ahead of Pollack and steadily cruise his way to the win and ultimately the championship.
“How about that, I get to come out and put a crown on my head for King of the Green and get the championship to boot, that’s pretty cool,” Hildebrand said.
“The track has changed a lot over the last couple weeks and I felt it would have been good on the high side because the Tour Modifieds where here yesterday and put down a lot of laps but that just wasn’t the case so it was big for us to start up front, it definitely helped.”
As Hildebrand was focusing on leading and Pollack holding down second, there was a very torrid battle for third between Adams, Harman, Shultz and Lou Strohl. The group ran under a blanket for most of the distance until late in the going when Harman got by and went on the take third at the checkered flag followed by Strohl and Shultz.
“I kept praying that it would stay green because my car was great on the long stints. We got to halfway and I thought good there are no cautions yet and let’s keep it going this way,” indicated Hildebrand.
“We did and it was a great race, a great day and I can’t thank the Ross gang enough for all they do for me. If it wasn’t for them I would be here.”
For Hildebrand, who has been racing at Evergreen since 1988, it was his second title in the last three years and also a repeat with a King of the Green win.
The Factory Stock cars were part of the action as well, running a 30-lap main which would also see a champion crowned. While Jarrod Hayes earned the win, a third-place finish for Brandon Cook earned him his third consecutive title.
The 4-Cylinder Stocks division contested a non-winners 25-lap feature, which went to Johnny Bennett. The 35-lap Rotten and Forgotten feature was won by Dan Jensen.