Big Diamond "Coal Cracker 100" race report

Minersville, PA - September 2 - In a daring three-wide move which saw the leaders bang wheels on the final lap and nearly crash out of the event, Duane Howard of Oley, Pa stole the win in the 22nd Annual Coal Cracker 100 at Big Diamond Raceway on...

Minersville, PA - September 2 - In a daring three-wide move which saw the leaders bang wheels on the final lap and nearly crash out of the event, Duane Howard of Oley, Pa stole the win in the 22nd Annual Coal Cracker 100 at Big Diamond Raceway on Sunday night at Big Diamond Raceway. The win earned Howard and the Glenn Hyneman/Big Spring Car Wash 126 Team $10,880.

Craig Von Dohren of Barto, PA took the lead from early leader Howard on lap 74 with his Mrs. T's Pierogies/BRB Racing 114 as he edged under Howard coming off turn four and they banged wheels. Von Dohren built up a lead of six car lengths and looked like the winner until Howard began to reel him in once again. With five laps to go, Howard was literally right on Von Dohren's rear bumper looking for an opening of the track that turned slick in the late laps.

Howard was sweeping high and diving low but could not get the bite he needed to overtake Von Dohren who was running like a rail in the clearly superior groove. As they came off turn four to take the white flag, Von Dohren went wide to overtake the lapped car of Larry Kelleher (Scranton, PA), but he went a bit too wide. A hole opened and Howard put the 126 between Kelleher on the inside and Von Dohren on the outside as they passed the starter's stand with all three cars nearly even. It appeared Howard put himself in the right position inside of the leader to steal the win but Von Dohren refused to yield and looked to hold a line that would keep his 114 out of the loose stuff in turn one. As Kelleher held a very clean line down on the bottom out of their way and motored toward turn two, Howard and Von Dohren locked wheels and slide way high just over the edge of the banking in turn one.

With third place Meme DeSantis of Temple, PA closing rapidly in the Take -Out Mushroom Soil/Dennis Eisenhart 88T, the duo stayed on their throttles and powered back onto the track with Howard well in front. As they crossed the finish line, Howard's obviously crippled 126 took the checkered flag with Von Dohren running out of time to catch him. Von Dohren showed his frustration and displeasure on the cool down lap but the 126 eventually made its way to the winner's circle

"We banged together when he (Craig Von Dohren) took the lead from me (on lap 74) and I just gathered it up and went back to trying to catch him and we did," commented Howard following the event. "Lapped traffic played a bit of a part when I lost the lead but it ended up giving me an opening at the end. I just can say enough about Glenn (Hyneman) and the team. This Troyer car was hooked up all night long."

Following Howard and Von Dohren at the finish were DeSantis, Keith Hoffman (Whitehall, PA), Billy Pauch (Frenchtown, NJ), Terry Meitzler (Kutztown, PA) and Jeff Strunk (Bethel, PA). Completing the top ten, one lap down, were Glenn Strunk (Bechtelsville, PA), Doug Manmiller (Wyomissing, PA) and Chip Slocum (Ewing Township, NJ). Also finishing the event were Tom Mayberry (Sellersville, PA) and Larry Kelleher, one lap down, and Gary Hager (Stewartsville, NJ), two laps down in 13th.

Cars failing late but completing the top twenty were Rick Schaffer (Woxall, PA), Jim Hauer (Lebanon, PA), Kenny Brightbill (Sinking Spring, PA), Kevin Hartnett (Perkasie, PA), Shawn Fitzpatrick (Pottsville, PA), Kevin Graver, Jr. (Lehighton, PA0 and Scott Singley (Milford, NJ).

Heat winners in the 68-car field were Hoffman, Howard, Manmiller, DeSantis, Von Dohren and Todd Bashore (Bethel, PA). Jeff Strunk, Ron Mawson, Jr. (Hughestown, PA) and Kevin Hartnett took the consolation wins while Shawn Fitzpatrick captured the win in the lap chance race.

The feature line-up was quite interesting as the luck of the draw put Keith Hoffman, Duane Howard, Chip Slocum, Kenny Brightbill and Craig Von Dohren in the top five starting positions. Hoffman took the early lead in the Bashore Trucking 4 but Howard powered around the outside of him in turn two to take the lead. Brightbill pressured Hoffman for second While Bill Pauch moved his 1 from ninth starting spot to sixth on lap six behind Von Dohren, fourth, and Slocum, fifth. Meme DeSantis, Doug Manmiller and Rick Schaffer refused to give-up easily and put on a war for sixth battling back-and-forth with Pauch.

Howard began lapping cars on lap 9 and, in the first 50 laps, lapped cars were permitted to remain in position following yellow flags. As Pauch faded to eighth on lap nine, Hoffman, Brightbill, Von Dohren, DeSantis, Slocum and Manmiller continued to chase the very strong Howard.

DeSantis was the first to put on a big charge, passing both Von Dohren and Brightbill on lap 20. He blew by Hoffman on lap 23 and kept coming. Meme used the outside to draw even with the leader, Howard, in turn two on lap 24 but could not make the move stick. One lap later DeSantis tried again but push out too wide and Hoffman and Von Dohren dropped him to fourth.

Two new faces made their presence known as Jeff Strunk, who started 19th in the Cummins W9, and Tom Mayberry, who started 12th, moved into the top ten. Strunk and Mayberry got by Pauch on lap 18 for eighth and ninth but the battle was not over as these three swapped spots while pulling Doug Manmiller into the battle which now was for seventh.

Up front, Von Dohren got by Hoffman for second on lap 29 and things fairly well stabilized until the lap 50 red flag fuel stop. At the mid-point it was still Howard in front followed by Von Dohren, Hoffman, DeSantis, Pauch, Brightbill, Slocum, Jeff Strunk, Manmiller, Terry Meitzler, Glenn Strunk, Tom Mayberry, Jimmy Hauer, Rick Schaffer, Larry Kelleher and Kevin Hartnett. Lapped cars filling the next spots were Gary Hager and Shawn Fitzpatrick.

Rather than stopping on the track for fuel and holding their positions, Glenn Strunk, Hartnett and Meitzler pitted along with the lapped cars, who had nothing to lose as in the final 50, lapped cars were placed at the rear at every caution. This only came into place once as the yellow flew just once on the final 50, on lap 85, for the stalled 77 of Rick Schaffer.

When they went back to green and completed lap 51 Meme DeSantis overtook Hoffman as it was now Howard in front trailed by Hoffman, DeSantis, Hoffman, Pauch, Brightbill, Slocum, Jeff Strunk, Manmiller, and Hauer. Mayberry, Kelleher, Glenn Strunk, Meitzler and Hartnett, who retired on lap 55.

There were few changes in the next 20 laps but Manmiller had problems on lap 33 and began to fade a bit and Brightbill retired on lap 71 with a flat tire. It became obvious that Von Dohren was cutting into Howard big lead around lap 60 and on lap 74 as they lapped Manmiller, Von Dohren got the nose of his 114 under Howard in turn three and nudge his way into the lead. In Schaffer yellow came with 85 complete and from that single file restart to the finish was the war for the win.

Duane Howard took home $880 and 30 gallons of racing fuel for the laps he led. Craig Von Dohren earned an extra $160 to go with his $4000 second place money.

In the accompanying roadrunner 20-lap feature, Dave Winslow of Fleetwood, Pa led the early laps but on lap 9 Dave Miller of Pine Grove, PA, who started 8th, pushed his powerful red, white and blue 1 into the lead. Miller took the win over Winslow, Corey Renninger (Llewellyn, PA), John Ulsh (Summit Station, PA) and Jason Oswald (New Ringgold, PA). Heat winners were Miller and Renninger.

Program Dynamics presented their fan selected Most Popular Driver Awards. The winners were Jeff Strunk in the Modifieds, John Deatrich, Jr. in the Sportsman and Corey Renninger in the Roadrunners.

In addition to the cash rewards earned by Thursday night's sportsman winner Jeff Ebersole and Sunday's Modified 100 winner Duane Howard at Big Diamond Raceway, they each received a racing wheel from Bair Wheel Repair and Art Bair.

At the 2001 Big Diamond Raceway Awards Banquet, Art will also be providing cash and a racing wheel to the season's leading Modified heat winner and the leading Sportsman heat winner.

Racing continues at Big Diamond Raceway this Friday, September 7, with the Winged Super Sportsman returning to complete their rained out show along with NASCAR WRS Modifieds and Roadrunners on West Side Wood Products/Dark 'n Go Tanning Salon Night. In addition to the only appearance of the Super Sportsman at Big Diamond in 2001 the night will feature the war for the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Modified track championship among the three remaining contenders, Keith Hoffman, Duane Howard and Craig Von Dohren. Racing starts at 8 PM.


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About this article
Series NASCAR , Stock car
Drivers Billy Pauch