Big Diamond report 2001-07-27

Minersville, PA - (July 27) - Keith Hoffman of Whitehall, PA put the Bashore Trucking, Troyer 5 into the lead on lap 18 and then held off Duane Howard of Oley, Pa to take his second NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Modified feature win on Friday night...

Minersville, PA - (July 27) - Keith Hoffman of Whitehall, PA put the Bashore Trucking, Troyer 5 into the lead on lap 18 and then held off Duane Howard of Oley, Pa to take his second NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Modified feature win on Friday night in the 25-lap main event worth $2000. Not only did Hoffman hold off Howard for the feature win but he also extended his championship point lead over Howard from 69 to 84 points in the Simpson Race Products Contingency Night action.

Jeff Graby of Lebanon, PA proved that, when he can shake the black clouds that have been hanging over his head, he is still one of the best in the NASCAR ShorTrack Sportsman ranks as he led all 20 laps to take his first feature win of the year. In the Roadrunner ranks, Dave Miller of Pine Grove, PA must have taken lessons from watching Ron Hornaday in Winston Cup action last week as he overcame a pinch into the outside wall in turn three on lap one, which saw him ride with two wheels atop the wall for over 200 feet, to take his fourth feature win in the 15-lap main event.

Third place starter, Kevin Graver, Jr. (Lehighton, PA) powered under the front row of Rick Stankiewicz (Laureldale, PA) and Ron Seltmann (Pottstown, PA) in turn one on the opening lap of the 25-lap main event for the NASCAR WRS Modifieds to take the early lead. Glenn Strunk (Bechtelsville, PA) started fifth and quickly moved to second as the field completed lap two. Strunk had his Norm's Save Station 357 Flying and he blew by Graver on lap 4. Terry Meitzler (Kutztown, PA) moved the Dick Biever 14 from ninth to second by lap 8 and the leaders began lapping the rear of the field on lap 10. The feature went 12 laps before the first yellow flew as Shawn Reimert's 58s came to a stop in turn four. The top five read "Strunk, Meitzler, Tim Fitzpatrick (Branchdale, PA), Jim Hauer (Lebanon, PA) and Larry Kelleher (Scranton, PA)" but sixth through tenth were five of the track's strongest racers, Keith Hoffman, Ray Swinehart (Bechtelsville, PA), Duane Howard, Jeff Strunk (Bethel, PA) and Craig Von Dohren (Barto, PA). On the restart Kelleher bobbled and Hoffman and Howard capitalized for fifth and sixth. Suddenly with 18 laps in the books, Terry Meitzler's 14 and Jimmy Hauer's 9 developed tire woes with both stopping in turn four and the front stretch respectively. Now Hoffman and Howard were third and fourth but the expected showdown was delayed, as someone got out of shape in mid-pack in turn two resulting in a six-car pile-up with Bob Ebersole (Hummelstown, PA) rolling his 27 without injury.

This time, while Strunk looked to hold off Fitzpatrick and got tangled up, Hoffman got a big run and took the lead. Strunk maintained second and Larry Kelleher capitalized to get third while Fitzpatrick lost eight spots. Howard, Von Dohren, and Jeff Strunk were now running fourth through sixth when the event's final yellow with six laps left. Howard quickly moved by Kelleher on lap 20 but took four more laps to get by the strong Glenn Strunk. By then one lap was not enough for Howard to even challenge the leader. Keith Hoffman took his second win over Duane Howard, Glenn Strunk, Craig Von Dohren, Jeff Strunk, young Larry Kelleher in another good run, a late closing Steve Bottcher (Lehighton, PA), Kyle Weiss (Hamburg, PA), Ray Swinehart and Tim Fitzpatrick. There were four heats with five winners as Kevin Graver, Jr. and Craig Von Dohren tied for the fourth heat win. The other three winners were both Jeff and Glenn Strunk and Ron Seltmann. The consolation honors went to Shawn Reimert and Doug Manmiller (Wyomissing, PA) in a test run in the Greg Sarangoulis GMI 711. Jeff Graby bad luck provided his with one positive on Friday night... the pole position in the 20-lap NASCAR Sportsman feature. Graby held off Tom Solderich (Bethlehem, PA) and Lance Hoch (Topton, PA) in the early laps but Ed Scott (New Tripoli, PA) was back on his game and moved from his seventh starting spot to second by lap seven. They completed ten laps before the events first caution and a brief bout of yellow fever followed.

Impressive rookie Mike Schane (Lake Ariel, PA) moved to fourth on lap 12 and Jim Payne (Lebanon, PA) in the Subway 00 Northern Lebanon High School project car was fifth. Suddenly on lap 14 the 35 of Lance Hoch broke and Schane collected just enough of the crippled car to flatten the left front of his M16. Schane continued to the finish with the flat but his hopes of his first Big Diamond win were dashed. Payne looked to be the big benefactor but following three more yellow flag incidents, Shawn Fitzpatrick (Pottsville, PA), another impressive rookie Jesse Sterling (Lehighton, PA) and point leader Dave Dissinger (Mohrsville, PA) freight trained by as the 00 bobbled. Opening night winner Ed Scott threw all he had at Graby on this night but Graby held on to take his first win of the year in the Sleezy Sign's and Designs/Childress Heating and Plumbing 77 which is a Tobias car with MOPAR power from Hammaker's Machine Shop. Graby was followed at the finish by Ed Scott, Shawn Fitzparick, Dave Dissinger, Jesse Sterling, Scott Singley (Milford, NJ), Billy Moyer, Jr. (Pine Grove, PA), Gary Hager (Stewartsville, NJ), Brent Boyer (Bloomsburg, PA) and Jimmy Payne. Heat winners were Lance Hoch, Scott and Graby with Fitzpatrick winning the consolation to start 19th in the 26-car field.

In the Roadrunner 15-lap Main Event, Mike Allar (Orwigsburg, PA) took the early lead. Dave Miller (Pine Grove, PA0 started 12th in the field and on the opening lap went three wide into turn three only to find his Dodge City 1 with two wheels on the racing surface and two wheels on top of the wall much like Ron Hornaday did five days earlier in the Winston Cup race at New Hampshire. Miller's 1 came off the wall, after over 200 of two wheeling that looked like a Joie Chitwood Thrill Show audition, and continued racing up in eighth spot without causing a yellow. Meanwhile Steve Fessler (Schuylkill Haven, PA) took the lead from Allar and looked like a winner until, of all competitors, Dave Miller charged into contention. Miller took second on lap 6 from Allar and stalked Fessler trying inside and outside several times until he made an outside pass in turn two for the lead on lap 11.

The crowd went wild as Miller emerged from his car in the winner's circle in the non-stop event. Fessler held on for second followed by Barry Schrader (Orwigsburg, PA0, Marc Berzowski (Llewellyn, PA) and John Ulsh (Summit Station, PA). Heat winners were Fessler and Dave Winslow (Fleetwood, PA). All nine top three finishers on the evening's racing card raced with a Simpson helmet and/or a Simpson driving uniform and earned contingency cash from Simpson race Products. This was the fifth of six such programs at Big Diamond this season and it is paying off to the drivers in cash as well as to Simpson with increased product use.

This Friday night, August 3, West Side Wood Products and Hamburg's Dark 'n Go Tanning Salon will bring the Super Sportsman cars to Big Diamond on a card with the NASCAR Modifieds and Roadrunners. There have been many changes in the super sportsman ranks since they last appeared at Big Diamond Raceway as the division continues to flourish with more new young drivers joining the ranks than there are older drivers moving on. The list of Sportsman Tour stars expected includes Carmen Perigo, Frankie Herr, Ken Carberry, Howie Locke, Smokey Snellbaker, Rich Eichelberger, Russ Mitten, Danny Hager, Craig Morrow, Pat and Steve Cannon, Jim Shuttlesworth, Bob Fannasy, Donnie Beaver, Bob Howard, Steve Wilbur, and Leroy Martin, as well as local favorites like Bill Schoffstall, Pat Kelly, Chris Reed, Kirby Sites, Charlie Sorokach, and recent Lincoln Speedway winner Keith Prutzman.

Regarding the Super Sportsman at Big Diamond, the track will be paying all position including non-qualifiers money will be increased $20 over the usual Super Sportsman Tour payoff. It is hoped that this will be seen as a good faith effort by the track to listen to the concerns of the sportsman drivers and partially cover some of their added expenses due to Big Diamond's pit gate fee of $25 being higher than the tour drivers are accustomed to paying.

The annual Big Diamond Raceway Coal Cracker Golf Outing has been scheduled for Sunday, August 26, at the Mountain Valley Golf Course off Burma Road in St. Clair, PA. The shotgun start will be at 1:30 PM for the four-man scramble that benefits the Georgie Stevenson Memorial Fund and the J. Smully Foundation. Golf shirts are included for each golfer and teams are urged to sign up as soon as possible to assure proper sized shirts are available to all entries. There will be door prizes in addition to awards provided to the top three in each of three flites determined upon completion of the golfing.

A pig roast follows the round of golf. Entries are now being accepted for four-man teams. Cost is $65 per golfer and foursomes should include their name, address, phone number and shirt size to Big Diamond Raceway Golf Outing, PO Box 298, Minersville, PA 17954. Door prizes are also being accepted from anyone interested in supporting this event which the track hopes to grow in support of the Stevenson Memorial and Smully Foundation!

Big Diamond Raceway continues to accept lap sponsorship money for the Modified Coal Cracker 100 to be run on the Friday night of the Labor Day weekend. Laps are $10 each and can be purchased from Mary Bagley at the track on race night in the officials' tower or by contacting Mary at (610) 327-2057. For more info on racing at Big Diamond Raceway call (570) 544-6434 or drop in at the track web site,


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Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr.