Big Diamond race report 2003-04-25

Ray Swinehart beats rain and stars for Big Diamond win. Ryan Moyer takes 1st Sportsman win; Doug Hendricks wins again in Roadrunners. Minersville, PA - (April 25) - Ray Swinehart was glad he was not one of the competitors who stayed home due to...

Ray Swinehart beats rain and stars for Big Diamond win.
Ryan Moyer takes 1st Sportsman win; Doug Hendricks wins again in Roadrunners.

Minersville, PA - (April 25) - Ray Swinehart was glad he was not one of the competitors who stayed home due to a bad weather forecasted as the Bechtelsville racer took the $2000 victory in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Modified 25-lap feature at Big Diamond Raceway on Friday night. Ryan Moyer of Orwigsburg surprised the Sportsman-Modified competitors in the 20-lap feature while Doug Hendricks of Auburn repeated his opening day feat by capturing the roadrunner main event.

With threatening skies and a poor weather forecast, Big Diamond officials, with great cooperation from the competitors, hustled and completed the entire three-division racing card in 1-3/4 hours.

The luck of the draw put Rick Laubach (Richlandtown) on the pole for the 25-lap modified feature. But on the first lap defending Big Diamond champion, Keith Hoffman (Whitehall), dove to the inside of both Laubach and Ray Swinehart to take the lead. Swinehart grabbed second followed by the team cars of opening day winner, Kevin Hartnett (Perkasie), and Rick Schaffer (Woxall) while Laubach lost fifth to the leader's brother, Doug Hoffman (Allentown), on lap 3.

The first two yellows flew on laps 10 and 11 for single car incidents with the top five intact followed by Billy Pauch (Frenchtown, NJ), Meme DeSantis (Temple), Laubach, Craig Von Dohren (Barto), and Steve Bottcher (Lehighton). Before the green returned, Laubach pitted with an apparent flat tire the cause of his early problems, moving Kenny Brightbill (Sinking Spring) into the top ten. The yellow returned again with 13 laps complete for Jason Andrews and Ed Scott with DeSantis pitting out of the top ten. Todd Biever (New York, NY) surged by both Bottcher and Brightbill on the restart to go to eighth as the battle for fifth through tenth was a fierce as the battle for the lead.

Back up at the front of the field, Hoffman, in the Johnny Rae-owned, Troyer #1, continued to hold on despite heavy pressure from Swinehart in his own Bicknell #33. Following a minor tangle which caused a yellow with 17 laps complete, Hoffman saw Swinehart stay even with him using the inside on the restart. Swinehart refused to back off and got the advantage in turns three and four to muscle into the lead. At the same time Schaffer's #73 faltered and Doug Hoffman moved to third while Steve Bottcher took advantage of the traffic jam to go from seventh to fourth.

The final yellow on lap 19 appeared to give Keith Hoffman a final shot to regain the lead but Doug Hoffman had other ideas. When Swinehart got away to a clean advantage, Doug took second from his brother. But Doug's Troyer #60 over was not strong enough to close Swinehart's advantage to make a run for the lead.

Craig Von Dohren made a big late charge taking fourth from Bottcher on lap 19 and third from Keith Hoffman on lap 21. He did not stop there as he closed up on Doug Hoffman and took second as they came down to take the checkered flag.

"Keith was real fast early," shared Swinehart in the Pritz Dodge Winners' Circle after the race. "I was not sure I'd get a shot. But our Bicknell really stayed hooked up tonight. When I stayed with him on that restart, I ran as hard as could to get by him."

The final rundown saw Swinehart taking his first Big Diamond win since the 2000 season in his J&L Speed Supplies 33 followed by Craig Von Dohren in the Devine Transport 70d, Doug Hoffman, Keith Hoffman, Billy Pauch, Steve Bottcher, Kevin Hartnett, Shawn Reimert (Oley), Terry Meitzler (Kutztown) and Larry Solomon (Birdsboro). Heat winners were Keith Hoffman, Billy Pauch and Rick Laubach.

Chris Clemens (Coopersburg) drew the starting position for the 20-lap Sportsman Modified main event and took the early lead, holding off front row starter, Ryan Moyer. Moyer pressured the leader in the early laps in his first start with his 93 Sportsman after spending some time, without success, in the modifieds and limited sprints. Fred Fisher (Womelsdorf) ran third while defending track champion, Craig Whitmoyer (Hamburg), moved from his tenth starting spot to take fourth from Luke Wagner (Hershey) on lap two. Jesse Sterling (Lehighton) spun his #4 in turn two before the seventh lap could be completed. On the restart, Moyer set up Clemens and swept to the inside to make the pass for the lead coming off turn two. Whitemoyer followed suit as Fisher's 95 slowed. Tom Umbenhauer (Richland) and Billy Moyer (Pine Grove) moved to fourth and fifth. The yellow flew one lap later as Rick Hendricks lost the engine in his 11X.

Moyer stayed in front on lap 8 with Whitmoyer's 99 all over him. Whitmoyer actually made a successful pass of Ryan Moyer on lap 9 only to see the yellow fly for a tangle involving Dan Guinther (Allentown) and Gary Weiland (Pottsville), negating the pass. Ryan never gave Whitmoyer another chance to draw even although he really felt the pressure. Ryan Moyer took his first career win over Craig Whitmoyer, Billy Moyer, Tom Umbenhauer, Jesse Sterling, Chris Clemens, Luke Wagner, John Deatrich, Jr. (Pottsville), Andy Fayash, Jr. (Tamaqua) and Brent Boyer (Bloomsburg). Heat winners were Whitmoyer and Brad Force (Sellersville). Rodney Ulsh (Summit Station), Doug Hendricks and Dave Winslow (Fleetwood) started in the top three spots in the roadrunner feature and it looked like a long night for the rest of the field. Opening Day winner, Hendricks, outgunned Ulsh at the drop of the green for the lead and Winslow took second on lap four. Winslow could run with Hendricks but was never able to draw beside the eventual winner. Kevin Beach of Pottsville and Kevin Holland of Pine Grove started ninth and 13th respectively and overtook Ulsh for third and fourth on lap 5. While Beach dropped out, Holland continued his charge to finish third behind Hendricks and Winslow. Ulsh ended fourth followed by Jason Heffner (Pottsville), Phil Levering (Parkersburg), Kirby Schlappich (Temple), Ken Eckert, Jr. (Minersville), Jason Purcell (Pottsville) and Butch Solt.

Special thanks go out to the racing teams and the fans that braved the weather to support the racing at Big Diamond Raceway. Also thanks to Keith Sweigart and "gmi First Mechanical Solutions" for all of their help this week to adjust and upgrade the lighting at the speedway. The improvement was very noticeable and more work is planned. Racing continues this Friday night, May 5, at Big Diamond Raceway with the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Modifieds, Sportsman-Modifieds and Roadrunners.


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Drivers Billy Pauch , Johnny R