Big Diamond race notes 2003-05-30

Minersville, Pa - May 30 - After four straight rain-outs, Big Diamond Raceway was back in action Friday night with Meme DeSantis of Temple, PA capturing his first NASCAR Dodge Weekly Modified feature win of the year as part of United Disabilities...

Minersville, Pa - May 30 - After four straight rain-outs, Big Diamond Raceway was back in action Friday night with Meme DeSantis of Temple, PA capturing his first NASCAR Dodge Weekly Modified feature win of the year as part of United Disabilities Services Night. Dave Ely of West Lawn, PA led a strong United Racing Club Advance Auto Parts sprint field to his third win of the year on tour and his first career Big Diamond win. Doug Hendricks of Auburn, PA extended his perfect 2003 record with his third roadrunner win in three races this season.

Ron Mawson, Jr. (Hughestown) started on the pole in the 25-lap NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Modified feature. After a tangle before a lap could be completed involving Craig Von Dohren (Barto), Jeff Strunk (Bethel), Billy Pauch, Sr. (Frenchtown, NJ) and Terry Meitzler (Kutztown), Mawson got away to the early lead with outside front row starter, Bruce Williams (Mahanoy Plane, PA) and Bobby Gunther Walsh (Emmaus) in hot pursuit. The early laps saw no change in the top four spots as Kenny Brightbill (Sinking Spring) held fourth but Meme DeSantis, who started ninth, took fifth from Todd Biever (New York, NY) on lap five. Williams began poking the nose of his 901 to the inside of Mawson on lap eight. The second yellow the event flew with ten laps complete as Gary Hager (Stewartsville, NJ) stopped his 44 with a flar left rear tire. On the restart Williams made an outside run at Mawson and secured the top spot on lap 11. Brightbill and then DeSantis battle by Walsh on laps 11 and 12 respectively but DeSantis showed he was the man quickly as he overtook Brightbill on lap 15 and Mawson on lap 17.

DeSantis has closed in on Williams' rear bumper when the yellow flew with 18 laps complete, first for Mawson's powerless 3x, then for a backstretch tangle between Von Dohren and Steve Bottcher (Lehighton) and finally for a tangle between Paul Kline (Reading) and Pauch, Sr. Each of the attempted restarts saw Williams hold the lead on the outside but on the third try, DeSantis stayed even with him and took command on the backstretch. From there it was Meme's race but Keith Hoffman (Whitehall) and Doug Manmiller (Wyomissing) made impressive late race charges after starting 10th and 18th to finish second and fifth. Hoffman took second on lap 21 and a restart on lap 22, following a yellow involving Kyle Weiss (Hamburg) and Bottcher, was not enough to allow Hoffman to challenge for the win.

Meme DeSantis took his first Big Diamond win of the year in Norm Hansell's Norm's Save Station 357 over defending track champion, Keith Hoffman, an impressive Bruce Williams, a steady Kenny Brightbill, Doug Manmiller, Doug Hoffman (Allentown), Rick Laubach (Richlandtown), the returning Jeff Strunk (Bethel), Bobby Gunther Walsh and Jeff Sechrist (Womelsdorf). Heat winners were DeSantis, Williams, Walsh and Brightbill with Strunk and Ray Swinehart (Bechtelsville) taking the consolations.

Dave Ely rallied home the winner of the 25 lap URC Advance Auto Parts Sprint feature. For Ely, it was his third URC win of the season with just eight races completed on the 2003 season. Ely's good fortune came to an end after he crossed the finish line as the race winner was collected in multi-car pile-up in turn one. The Ely sprint car was then towed to victory lane. The Big Diamond URC event was the fourth race of the Valley Forge INC Pennsylvania Sprint Series. Kevin Welsh currently leads that point chase as well as the season long Advance Auto Parts Sprint Series.

A field of thirty-three URC sprint cars took part in the racing program with heat race victories going to Bill Brian Jr., Midge Miller, Mike Haggenbottom and Justin Collett. Brian Seidel was the winner of the Rislone Engine Treatment "B" Main.

The field was set for the twenty-five lap URC sprint feature but before the completion of lap one, the yellow was displayed for Jeff Whary who spun in turn one. On the restart, John Eldreth, Trevor Lewis, Doug Emery and Brian Seidel were involved in a third turn crash. Both Emery and Seidel lipped in the accident and fortunately, they walked away uninjured. The next restart finally delivered some serious racing as Mike Haggenbottom dashed to an early lead with Dave Ely following in second. Defending champion Bill Brian Jr. settled in to run in third followed by Scott Pursell and Dave McGough. On lap six, Randy West came to a stop in turn one and the caution was displayed once again.

It was back to racing and with the green flag waiving, Ely was putting on a challenge for the lead. On lap twelve, Haggenbottom was still the leader but as the field passed for the halfway sign, Ely took the top spot as. Haggenbottom followed in second with Bill Brian, Scott Pursell and Dave McGough to make-up the top five. By lap eighteen, Ely was now racing with lapped cars just ahead. Haggenbottom began to close on the leader and it appeared that he would make another charge for the top spot. Further back in the pack, current point leader Kevin Welsh was on a mission, making a solid drive to the front.

With five laps remaining, the top five were unchanged and now Ely once again had a comfortable lead as the field passed for the white flag,. Kevin Welsh moved into fifth and on the final lap, Welsh passed Scott Pursell to take fourth. Pete Green and Ashley Parlett were involved in a tangle in turn one. The mishap happened just as Dave Ely took the checker flag. With nowhere to go, Ely found himself involved in the post checker flag accident and his car had to be towed to victory lane. Ely took the win over Mike Haggenbottom, Bill Brian Jr., Kevin Welsh and Scott Pursell. Making up the top ten was Dave McGough, Curt Michael, Chris Coyle, Jason Clauss and Midge Miller.

Elvin Brennan (Forestville) outgunned pole sitter Derek Bender (Tremont) to take the lead at the start of the NASCAR Roadrunner 15-lap feature. Brennan led until lap four when he got crossed in turn two and amazingly save his 555 from a spin but dropped to fourth giving Bender the lead. Kevin Beach (Minersville, PA) was second and Doug Hendricks was third, but Hendricks quickly overtook Beach on lap two and, one lap later, Bender on lap 6 for the lead. Just as it looked like a Hendricks blow-out, Elvin Brennan worked his way to third on lap seven and second on lap eight. Brennan actually closed the wide margin and ran on Hendricks bumper with five laps remaining. But each time he tried something different to attempt to pass, Hendricks' line in the groove proved superior and cost Brennan ground.

Hendrick's took win three on the year over Brennan, Rodney Ulsh (Summit Station), Dave Winslow (Fleetwood) and Beach. Heat winners were Ken Eckert, Jr. (Minersville) and Brennan.

Two-time Daytona ARCA winner and former Big Diamond Modified feature winner, Bobby Gerhart of Lebanon, PA was on hand for United Disabilities Services (UDS) Night to sign autographs. Gerhart's #5 Bodycoat/UDS ARCA Pontiac was on display to kickoff his effort to assist UDS with marketing and fundraising with their Track the Laps program in association with the ARCA RE/MAX Giant Food Stores 200 at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2003 to further their cause to Advance the Independence of People with Disabilities.

Racing returns to Big Diamond Raceway this Friday night, June 6, kicking off a big month of action with U.S. Army night featuring the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Modifieds, ShorTrack Sportsman Modifieds and Roadrunners. Gates open at 6 PM with warm-ups at 7:40 and the first heat at 8 o'clock.


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About this article
Series NASCAR , Sprint , Stock car
Drivers Bobby Gerhart , Billy Pauch
Teams Williams