Big Diamond race report 2002-05-10

Duane Howard is 4th Modified winner in 4 races at Big Diamond. Singley equals Whitmoyer with second Sportsman win of 2002. Minersville, PA - May 10, 2002 - Duane Howard of Oley, PA captured his first NASCAR Modified win of the season in NASCAR...

Duane Howard is 4th Modified winner in 4 races at Big Diamond.
Singley equals Whitmoyer with second Sportsman win of 2002.

Minersville, PA - May 10, 2002 - Duane Howard of Oley, PA captured his first NASCAR Modified win of the season in NASCAR Weekly Racing Series action presented by Dodge at Big Diamond Raceway on Friday night. It was Howard's 42nd career Big Diamond modified win drawing him to with one of the all-time Big Diamond win leader, Craig Von Dohren.

Scott Singley of Milford, NJ powered his Gary's Septic Service 7X Sportsman to his second feature win of the year in a crash-filled 20-lap feature event while Doug Hendricks of Auburn, PA took his third roadrunner victory.

WAEB radio celebrity and racer Bobby Gunther-Walsh of Allentown, PA took the early lead in the 25-lap NASCAR Modified feature event. Gunther-Walsh paced the field until lap five when Jimmy Hauer of Lebanon, PA made an outside pass in turn four to take charge. Ironically both Hauer's and Gunther-Walsh's cars began to show some smoke and Jeff Strunk (Bethel, PA) closed in from his 11th starting spot. Meme DeSantis (Temple, PA) was also on the move and took fourth place from Smokey Warren (Jonestown, PA) on lap 6 after starting 14th. The only major tangle of the event occurred on lap 9 when Ray Swinehart, Jeff Sechrist, Kevin Graver, Jr., Don Keefer, Bob Ebersole, Bruce Williams, Terry Meitzler, Duane Howard and Jason Andrews running out of racing room while trying to crack the top ten.

On the restart Strunk slipped by Gunther-Walsh only to see BGW and DeSantis get back by him before the start/finish line. Strunk battled right back and secured second on lap 10 while DeSantis was passed by point leader Keith Hoffman (Whitehall, PA) for fourth. Hoffman pulled just ahead of Gunther-Walsh as they completed lap 12 but contact between those two saw Gunther-Walsh spin in turn one and Hoffman come to a stop in turn two.

On the lap 13 restart Strunk began his assault on leader Hauer as the W9 and 9 ran side-by-side several times over the next six laps with Hauer staying in front. Suddenly on lap 20 Hauer slowed in turn two with a blown engine and Strunk had nowhere to go but into the crippled 9. This put Meme DeSantis into the lead but now Duane Howard, who pitted and returned at the rear on lap 9, was to his outside.

When the green flew Howard stayed right beside DeSantis and as they entered one, DeSantis was forced to hold a tight inside line and Howard kept a bit more momentum to take command. Duane Howard took the Big Spring Car Wash 126 Lombardi powered Troyer to his first win of the season over Meme DeSantis, Steve Bottcher (Lehighton, PA), Craig Von Dohren (Barto, PA), Todd Bashore (Bethel, PA), who came back after rolling his 4 in last Sunday's event and took the fifth spot from teammate Burley on the final lap. Keith Hoffman (Whitehall, PA) led the second five trailed by Todd Burley (Spencerport, NY), Smokey Warren, Terry Meitzler (Kutztown, PA), and Ray Swinehart (Bechtelsville, PA). Heat winners were Hauer, Howard and Barry Readinger (Fleetwood, PA) while Rick Laubach (Richlandtown, PA) took the consolation win.

The feature win moved Duane Howard to within one victory of the all-time Big Diamond modified win lead as he now totals 42 wins as compared to 43 wins by Craig Von Dohren. The win also tightened the modified point race with Howard third just ten points behind leader, Meme DeSantis, and five behind Keith Hoffman while Von Dohren is only 40 points behind Howard in fourth.

Some changes to the Sportsman format to try to reduce cautions and crashed equipment proved to be less than successful as the initial start was aborted four times with multi-car tangles with the final resulting in a red flag as John Dietrich, Jr. (Pottsville, PA) rolled his 25 on the backstretch.

When they got to racing, Brad Grim (Coplay, PA) was on the pole but by the end of lap one Opening Day winner, Scott Singley, was up to fourth from his 14th starting spot on the initial line-up. The son of former modified driver, Gary Grim, surprised many fans as he held off Singley for eight laps before he slipped a bit high off turn four as they completed lap 9. Singley took advantage to take the lead and go on to the feature win.

Scott Singley grabbed his second win over Brad Grim, Billy Moyer, Jr. (Pine Grove, PA), Tom Brennan (Pottsville, PA), Lance Hoch (Topton, PA), Luke Wagner (Hershey, PA), Chris Clemens (Coopersburg, PA), Jesse Sterling (Lehighton, PA), Ed Scott (New Tripoli, PA), and Jeff Ebersole (Palmyra, PA), who spun out of sixth on the final lap. Heat winners were Scott, Singley and Donn Edgar (Lehighton, PA). Rookie Fred Fisher (Womelsdorf, PA) took the C-Main and Billy Moyer, Jr. won the B-Main in the new program format.

Rough luck in the first three events of the year but Steve Fessler (Schuylkill Haven, PA) on the pole for the 15-lap roadrunner main but by lap three Rodney Ulsh (Summit Station, PA), Doug Hendricks (Auburn, PA) and Dave Miller (Pine Grove, PA) were on his tail. Hendricks and Miller got by both Fessler and Ulsh on lap 7 and began their showdown. Miller pulled even with leader Hendricks several times in the last half of the race but each time Hendricks held on to the edge.

Doug Hendricks took his three win in four tries this year over Miller, Ulsh, Barry Schrader (Orwigsburg, PA) and Fessler. Fessler actually crossed the finish line ahead of Schrader but was penalized for contact coming off turn four which enabled him to take the position. Heat winners were Hendricks and Miller.

This Friday night, May 17, Big Diamond will open the stands at 6PM for an 8PM start. Action will feature the Modifieds, Sportsman-Modifieds and Roadrunners in NASCAR Weekly Racing Series action presented by Dodge.

Also of note on the Big Diamond schedule is a special Open Practice Night on Tuesday night, May 21, at 7:30. Any and all divisions of racing cars will be permitted to participate in this open practice with pit admission set at $15.00. In addition to the weekly Modified, Sportsman and Roadrunner cars it is possible that some of the touring divisions with dates at Big Diamond will have some cars on hand including the MACS Super Late Models, 410 Sprints, URC 360 Sprints and KARS 358 Sprints. Also a number of pure stocks have also indicated they plan to attend.

For information on Big Diamond Raceway, call (570) 544-6434 or check out the track's website at


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