Big diamond race report 2001-06-29

Minersville, PA - June 29, 2001 - After parting company with the Don Keefer 99K Team and missing a week of action, Meme DeSantis of Temple, PA returned with his reliable Dennis Eisenhart 88T to capture his first Big Diamond Raceway NASCAR Weekly...

Minersville, PA - June 29, 2001 - After parting company with the Don Keefer 99K Team and missing a week of action, Meme DeSantis of Temple, PA returned with his reliable Dennis Eisenhart 88T to capture his first Big Diamond Raceway NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Modified win of the season on Friday night (June 29).

Jesse Sterling of Lehighton, PA, in only the fifth race of his rookie season at Big Diamond, captured his first career ShorTrack Sportsman win while Steve Fessler of Schuylkill Haven, PA out dueled John Ulsh (Summit Station, PA) to take his second Roadrunner feature win of the year. The program was Dairy Association Night, as well at Checkered Flag Fan Club Night, and all fans were treated to free ice cream on the humid and hot summer evening.

Barry Readinger of Fleetwood, PA pushed his Devine Trucking 70D to an early lead at the start of the 25-lap NASCAR WRS Modified feature. Readinger was strong and opened up a half straightaway lead over Jason Andrews (Palmerton, PA) as the leaders completed 14 laps before the first yellow flew when the battled for third got nasty resulting in Kyle Weiss (Hamburg, PA), Larry Kelleher (Scranton, PA) and Jimmy Hauer (Lebanon, PA) tangling and Tim Fitzpatrick (Minersville, PA) being sidelined for his involvement. Suddenly Terry Meitzler (Kutztown, PA), Keith Hoffman (Whitehall, PA), Meme DeSantis, Kevin Graver, Jr. (Lehighton, PA), Duane Howard (Oley, PA), Jeff Strunk (Bethel, PA), Glenn Strunk (Boyertown, PA) and Ray Swinehart (Bechtelsville, PA) found themselves in the top ten after standing 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th respectively when the completed lap 14.

That first yellow triggered yellow fever as some drivers began showing impatience. After completing one more lap, Readinger was still on top but the train of Meitzler, DeSantis, Howard and Hoffman chugged by Andrews. The yellow flew again with 15 complete for a four-car tangle. On the restart DeSantis made a big move under the front row and Hoffman tried to follow through only to result in sparks flying and Hoffman spinning in turn three collecting five others.

On the next restart DeSantis repeated the same move under Readinger and Meitzler to take charge on lap 16. Meitzler took second and, on lap 17, point leader Duane Howard took third. Howard moved up one more on lap 18 and Craig Von Dohren (Barto, PA) charged to third, The yellow flew again on lap 19 and on the restart Meitzler, now fourth, got out in the lose stuff in turn four and recovered only to collect much of the field on the front stretch. When the sparks were over and the smoke cleared, Meitzler, Jack Hartnett (Telford, PA), Glenn Strunk, Kevin Hartnett (Perkasie, PA), Dennis Bailey (Kutztown, PA) and Smokey Warren (Jonestown, PA) were stacked up. They ran clean the rest of the way and Duane Howard gave it all he had, as they came off turn four for the checkered Howard drew right up on DeSantis bumper but the opening he looked for was not there and Meme DeSantis took his first win of the year. Howard settled for second followed by Craig Von Dohren, Jeff Strunk and the resurging Keith Hoffman. Kyle Weiss, Barry Readinger, Scott Albert (Fredericksburg, PA), Ron Mawson, Jr. (Pittston, PA) and Bob trapper (Scranton, PA) completed the top ten. Heat winners were Hoffman, Von Dohren, Howard and DeSantis while Jerry Higbie, Jr. (Slate Hill, NY) and Ray Swinehart captured consolation honors.

Joe Goerner (Hamburg, PA) led the opening laps of the NASCAR ShorTrack Sportsman 20-lap feature with Terry Bensinger (Schuylkill Haven, PA) taking the lead on lap four. In the pack, John Patchoski (Scranton, PA) and rookie Jesse Sterling, who started side-by-side in the fifth row of the feature line-up, were moving through the field. Sterling got to the leaders first and overtook Bensinger on lap 11 for the lead. The sharp yellow Sterling Racing Engines/Ahner's Furniture 414 was strong and consistent Big Diamond racer, Patchoski, ran right behind him the final 10 laps. Two of the most dominant drivers at Big Diamond since the inception of the Sportsman, Gary Hager (Stewartsville, NJ) and Dave Dissinger (Mohrsville, PA) moved to third and fourth by lap 12 but they had nothing for the top two.

Jesse Sterling took his first career win over John Patchoski, Gary Hager, Dave Dissinger, Terry Bensinger, Tom Cremer (Sinking Spring, PA), Brent Boyer (Bloomsburg, PA), Paul Koch (Neffs, PA) in the Biasi B1, Randy Mohn (Fredericksburg, PA) and Chris Clemens (Coopersburg, PA). Heat winners were Clemens, Bensinger and John heckler (Hatfield, PA) while Koch took the consolation.

A new format was attempted in the Sportsman feature to attempt to speed up the show and, in the long run, hopefully reduce the number of cautions. The feature distance remained 20-laps but, after one lap was complete, each time there was a caution flag, a lap was added to the lap counter on the charge lap. The charge lap was not actually scored for order but it was counted on the scoreboard. It seemed to work this week as the total number of cautions was reduced to five (and only four resulted to counted yellow laps as the final yellow flew with 19 laps complete).

Marc Berzowski (Minersville, PA) look like he was on his way to his first win of the year as he battled to hold off Kirby Schlappich (Temple, PA) and Dave Winslow (Fleetwood, PA) in the early laps of the Roadrunner 15-lap main. Steve Fessler moving through the field with point leader, John Ulsh (Summit Station, PA) right on his rear bumper. Barry Schrader (Orwigsburg, PA) and Corey Renninger (Llewellyn, PA) joined the charging pack right up to Berzowski by lap 7. On lap 8, Fessler took the lead on a restart. Schrader surged to second only to lose power one lap later putting Berzowski back behind Fessler. Ulsh and Renninger eventually overtook Berzowski on lap 12 and were all over Fessler for the lead. Ulsh actually was credited with leading lap 14 but when the checkered flag flew it was Fessler the winner over Renninger, Ulsh, Buck Crossley (Leesport, PA) and Phil Levering (Parkerburg, PA). Only one heat was run with Levering taking the win.

Two events are on the Big Diamond schedule this holiday week.

On Tuesday night, July 3, Big Diamond hosts the annual Georgie Stevenson Memorial 50 for Modifieds. With the new Tuesday night date and the $4000 top prize, a few invaders are expected to take on the already strong field of Big Diamond Modified stars. The Roadrunners will also be on the card that carries a 7:30 starting time. Both divisions will be running for Big Diamond NASCAR points in this event.

On Friday, July 6, it is True Value Hardware Night for the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Modifieds, ShorTrack Series Sportsman and Roadrunners at 8 PM. It is also another Simpson Race Products Contingency Night.

For more info on racing at Big Diamond call (570) 544-6434 or drop in at www.bigdiamondraceway.com.

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