Big Diamond race report 2002-07-26

Duane Howard takes third Big Diamond NASCAR Modified win; Chad Layton thrills crowd with late KARS charge to victory. MINERSVILLE, PA - July 26 - Duane Howard of Oley, PA charged through the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Modified field with Craig...

Duane Howard takes third Big Diamond NASCAR Modified win; Chad Layton thrills crowd with late KARS charge to victory.

MINERSVILLE, PA - July 26 - Duane Howard of Oley, PA charged through the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Modified field with Craig Von Dohren (Barto, PA), Keith Hoffman (Whitehall, PA) and Meme DeSantis (Temple, PA) on Friday night in a classic Big Diamond Raceway race to the front. Howard edged his rivals for his third win of the season on JR Trucking Night at the speedway.

Chad Layton of Harrisburg, PA may not have led many laps during the Doorways Unlimited KARS 358-Sprint Series' two visits to Big Diamond this season, but he's been out front when it mattered and now has two more feature wins to show for it after taking this week's 25-lapper in classic Layton style.

Doug Hendricks of Auburn, PA rounded out the action, taking his 8th Roadrunner win.

Bruce Williams (Pottsville, PA) got away on top early in the Modified 25-lap main and paced Bobby Gunther Walsh (Allentown, PA) and Shawn Fitzpatrick (Pottsville, PA) in the opening laps. Two-time feature winner Kyle Weiss (Hamburg, PA) led the heavy hitters to the front taking fourth on lap four but point leader, Keith Hoffman was flying from his eleventh starting spot and passed Weiss and Fitzpatrick for third on lap five.

Walsh spun his TV2 trying to hold off Hoffman with seven laps complete and on the restart Keith overpowered Williams to take charge. But not far behind Meme DeSantis, Craig Von Dohren and Duane Howard were staging a war and al three went by Fitzpatrick in order on lap nine for third through fifth. On lap ten DeSantis and Von Dohren made contact off turn two and Howard shot under both of them for third. While DeSantis pitted on a lap 12 yellow to fix a flat tire, Howard began stalking Hoffman.

Howard powered to the inside of Hoffman coming off turn four as they completed lap 14 and they passed the starter's stand even. Howard held his ground as they went side-by-side for the full laps before Howard got the edge off four on lap 15. Von Dohren then worked Hoffman hard to the finish, taking second on lap 22. Likewise Barry Readinger (Fleetwood, PA) was trying all he had to overtake Bruce Williams for fourth when Doug Manmiller (Wyomissing,PA) who started 13th made it a three-car battle. Manmiller went by both to take fourth on lap 23 and on the final lap Readinger edged Williams for fifth.

Howard took the win over Von Dohren, Hoffman, Manmiller, Readinger, Williams, terry Meitzler (Kutztown, PA), Rick Schaffer (Woxall, PA), Steve Bottcher (Lehighton, PA) and Meme DeSantis. Heat winners were Von Dohren, DeSantis and Kyle Weiss with Jack Hartnett (Telford, PA) taking the consolation win. In a KARS Sprint race that mirrored the outcome of the June event at the Big Diamond, Chad Layton took the checkered after making a late-race pass, this time on Keith Prutzman - who held the top spot from lap three through 22. In June, Danny Richcreek dominated the first 20 laps of the feature before also relinquishing the lead - and the win - to the 358-sprint standout.

"I love this track," Layton told an appreciative crowd. "Whenever we race here, I'll be back.. I live near Penn National and this is my backyard." The victory was no easy feat.. Layton started 10th, but was sent to the rear of the field after a caution on the race's initial lap for driving deep through the infield to avoid hitting Bob Beidleman and Jamie Schwartz, who tangled on the backstretch.

"I kept moving down to avoid (the incident) and ended up in the infield," Layton said. "They have their rules here they told me for safety so I'll live with it. But getting sent to the rear really made me sit up in the seat, put my elbows up and go for it. Prutzman was fast but when the lapped traffic gave me a chance I went for it and decided I would ball park it or win."

After winning the second heat in convincing fashion and drawing the second starting spot for the feature, Prutzman looked like he had the car to beat. New Freedom's Denny Gross led the opening two laps of the feature before Prutzman asserted himself. After the caution on the opening lap, racing action was slowed two other times, on lap seven for a spin by Gross, and on lap 10 when Richie Carnathan, Schwartz and Joe Ross got together in turn three. This closed the field in on Prutzman but both times he powered away from his chief rival Jake Raudabaugh (Carlisle, PA).

Dale Hammaker (Grantville, PA), Layton, and Dan Richcreek (Enola, PA) were coming and Layton took second on lap 17 as the leaders caught the rear of the field. Slowed by some of the slower traffic, Prutzman did a great job fending off the charging Layton until a third-turn pass with two to go gave the eventual race winner the lead. Layton's comments about ball parking it or winning were exemplified with his pass as he threaded the needle between Prutzman in the middle groove and the lapped car of Joe Ross (Glen Rock, PA) on the inside as they entered turn three. A fraction of a second later or maybe a foot left or right, Layton would have gone for a tumble, but the move paid off with the win.

Given his experience and history at the track, winning a feature in a sprint car would have meant a lot to the 1982 Big Diamond Limited Late Model Champion. "The lapped traffic killed me," a disappointed Prutzman said after the race. "I saw the U1 coming and knew I was in trouble."

Hammaker, Raudabaugh and Richcreek - the drivers in the top three in KARS points going into the race - rounded out the top five. Hammaker maintains the points lead, while Raudabaugh gained ground on second-place Richcreek. Completing the top ten were Ron Kramer (Ephrata, PA), Dave Gable (Reading, PA), Bob Beidleman (Walnutport, PA), former Big Diamond program salesman as a youth Keith Wetzel (Fleetwood, PA) and Brian Eichelberger (Etters, PA). Eichelberger was awarded the Mt. Joy Pennzoil Stop 'n Go Oil Change hard charger award after starting 22nd. Heat winners on the KARS card sponsored by Hennigan's Restaurant and Deck of Mt. Joy, PA were Layton, Prutzman and Jamie Swartz (Pottsville, PA).

Very uncharacteristically, the Roadrunner was a slugfest with four cautions in the 15-lap event. Ken Eckert, Jr. (Minersville, PA) led the opening two laps before Steve Fessler (Schuylkill Haven, PA) took the lead. But Fessler tangled with Eckert and Kevin Beach (Minersville, PA) in turn two and Doug Hendricks powered his JR Trucking sponsored 8JR to the lead on lap five. Two frontrunners, Dave Miller (Pine Grove, PA) and Marty Shappell (Pottsville, PA) retired when Shappell 117 broke on the front stretch sending Miller's 1 head on into a infield tire barrier. Also point leader Dave Winslow (Fleetwood, PA) retired with damage to the front-end of his 27X take could not be properly repaired in time.

Hendricks took his eighth win over Rodney Ulsh (Summit Station, PA0, Barry Schrader (Orwigsburg, Steve Fessler and Derek bender (Tremont, PA) Heat winners were Winslow and Bender.

Racing resumes this weekend at Big Diamond with two nights of racing.

On Friday, August 2, the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Modifieds, Sportsman and Roadrunners see action at 8PM on Dodge Night.

Then on Sunday, August 4, at 6:30PM fans get a rare opportunity to see some of the best late model drivers from Pennsylvania and all surrounding states as the MACS Late Models participate in the $5000-to-win Black Gold 50. The Sportsman and Roadrunners will also be on the card on Aug. 4 in non-point race action.

For more information on action at Big Diamond Raceway, call 570-544-6434 or visit


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Series NASCAR , Stock car
Teams Williams