Big Diamond PA Speedweek report 2001-06-26

Minersville, PA - June 26, 2001 - Keith Kauffman of Mifflintown, PA powered the Middleswarth Potato Chip ...

Minersville, PA - June 26, 2001 - Keith Kauffman of Mifflintown, PA powered the Middleswarth Potato Chip #7 to his first 2001 CARQUEST Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek win in the 30-lap main at Big Diamond Raceway on Tuesday night (June 26). The win was also the first in Kauffman's storied career at Big Diamond.

In the accompanying NASCAR Sportsman 30-lap feature, Joe Biasi, Jr. of Tamaqua, PA was awarded the feature win when apparent winner, Mike Lyons of Cranberry, NJ, was disqualified with illegal aluminum wheels. Keith Kauffman took the $4000 Speedweek feature win over Greg Hodnett (Memphis, TN), Don Kreitz, Jr. (Fritztown, PA), Lance Dewease (Fayetteville, PA), Fred Rahmer (Salfordville, PA), Craig Keel (Weedsport, NY), Todd Shaffer (Millerstown, PA), Mark Smith (Newville, PA), Jeff Rohrbaugh (Hanover, PA) and Shawn Keen (Carlisle, PA).

"It's hard to win races around here (in PA)," shared Kauffman when asked about how this win compares to his long list of wins across the country. "You know you have had a great day when you win against these guys here. They are as tough as This (Speedweek) series is lots of fun. We get to see a lot of different tracks that we do not get to race on very much. We've met a lot of nice people up here (at Big Diamond) and this is a really nice race track."

The 3/8th-mile track was certainly to Kauffman's liking as he opened the evening by turning the fastest lap of time trials at 13.681 seconds (98.68 mph), breaking the former record of 13.856 sec. held by P.J. Chesson since June 29, 1999.

The inversion for the feature, drawn by Kauffman, was 8 putting Don Kreitz, Jr. on the pole and Kauffman back in eighth for the start of the 30-lap main. Second place started Len Thompson (Macungie, PA) spun on the opening start but when they went green again, Kreitz jumped out on top while Greg Hodnett swept by Lance Dewease and Sean Michael for second. Kreitz began lapping cars on lap four while Dewease regained second from Hodnett on lap eight. Keith Kauffman was now charging and, after taking fourth on lap eight, he overtook both Hodnett and Dewease for second on lap ten. The events second yellow flew with 14 laps complete as Brook Weibley had problems in turns three and four.

Following a third yellow with 18 laps complete for a Fred Rahmer spin, Kauffman decided it was time to go and he blew around the outside of Kreitz in turn three to lead lap 17. Hodnett was now back in third and he began pressuring Kreitz. Yellow fever suddenly hit with two cautions on 18. Hodnett battled by Kreitz for second on lap 19 and closed quickly on the leader. Hodnett, driving for the Bob Stewart/Apple Motorsports #12 Team won all three previous Big Diamond sprint shows in history, looked like he would extend the streak and become the first two time sprint winner as a driver at the track. But a spin by Shawn Keen in turn one changed everything as it resulted in a red flag fuel stop with nine laps remaining. Billy Pauch of Frenchtown, NJ had just moved to fourth after starting ninth when the red flew. But when they pushed off the 55 refused to stay fired and he was forced pit side. On the restart the line-up read 'Kauffman, Hodnett, Kreitz, Dewease and Todd Shaffer' but after the tires cooled, Kauffman was again dominant and pulled away from Hodnett by about three to four car lengths. The only big move in the closing laps was by Fred Rahmer who restarted tenth and finished fifth.

Sprint car heat wins went to Todd Shaffer, Lance Dewease and Mark Smith with Shaffer's time of 2:30.75 topping the charts for the 10-lap qualifiers.

In the NASCAR Sportsman 20, the track permitted outsiders to participate on their hometrack tires as long as they abided by the Big Diamond rules book for all other specifications. Mike Lyons showed up with his 1M decked out with sail panels. Although they were not legal per Big Diamond rules, Lyons was permitted to race with them due to a clause in the rulebook, which grants drivers a one-week waiver to make adjustments if their car body is illegal.

Tom Solderich (Bethlehem, PA) took the early feature lead with Lance Hoch (Topton, PA) charging quickly to second. Hoch took the lead coming down the frontstretch on lap 3 and point leader, Dave Dissinger (Mohrsville, PA) moved to second one lap later. Following a lap four yellow restart, Dissinger powered around Hoch for the lead going down the backstretch only to have Hoch clip the rear of the Dissinger 88X exiting turn three. This sent Dissinger into a spin and both cars to the rear. Solderich was back on top now followed by Tom Brennan (Pottsville, PA), Shawn Fitzpatrick (Branchdale, PA), Mike Lyons and Joe Biasi.

Following the restart, Lyons quickly overtook Brennan and Fitzpatrick. Solderich led lap five but Lyons moved to the outside of the leader in turn four on lap six to take the lead followed by Fitzpatrick and Biasi. Fitzpatrick made several runs at Lyons and pulled even a few times on the straightaway but flying billboard of Lyons was superior in the turns. On lap 14 Biasi took second from Fitzpatrick. Biasi too drew even with Lyons a few times on the straights but Lyons was strong in the turns with the thinner-walled Windsor track tire.

Lyons took what appeared to be his first career Big Diamond in only his second or third appearance ever. But in a post race inspection, the car was found to be running illegal wheels. Joe Biasi was awarded his second win of the year followed by Shawn Fitzpatrick, Doug Manmiller (Wyomissing, PA) in the Symons 21, Tom Brennan, Dave Dissinger, Leroy Long, Billy Moyer, Jr. (Pine Grove, PA), Ed Scott (New Tripoli, PA), Brent Boyer (Bloomsburg, PA) and Jesse Sterling (Lehighton, PA). Heat winners were Jeff Ebersole (Palmyra, PA), Sterling, Luke Wagner (Hershey, PA) and Fitzpatrick. Mike Reutter, Jr. (Howell, NJ) and Boyer captured consolation wins.

Due to a post race confrontation with the track starter following the feature before Lyons was found illegal, actual feature winner Joe Biasi, Jr. was given a one-race suspension from Big Diamond Raceway.

On Friday, June 29, the NASCAR Modifieds, Sportsman and Roadrunners will be in action on Dairy Association Night. There will also be a very special Meet the Drivers/Big Diamond Be a Reader program. Between 6PM and 7:15PM, drivers Duane Howard, Shawn Fitzpatrick and Mike Allar will read a few books to their young fans as meet them and sign autographs.

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.

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

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About this article
Series Sprint , Stock car
Drivers P.J. Chesson , Billy Pauch