By KEN BRUCE
It was a perfect night for racing Friday night at the Georgetown Speedway on Blue Hen Disposal Night for the Modifieds who displayed their skills to the overflow crowd. Promoter Brett Deyo had to be pleased with the car turnout and more importantly the size of the crowd on this beautiful night.
When it was all said and done it was Duane Howard who took home the trophy and the $3,250 that went with it. Driving the Norm Hansell Save Station No. 357 Bicknell chassis, Howard held off the late race charge of Jordan Watson to take the checkered flag.
Howard started fifth in the 30-lap main event and wasted no time getting to the front as he advanced to the runner-up spot as the 24-car field completed lap two. Jordan Watson had taken the lead from brother Jojo Watson at the start and had started to extend his lead as Howard took second. It looked like Watson was on cruise control as he set a blistering pace through the first ten laps before he started to get into lapped traffic. Howard was still second, but had his hands full holding off David VanHorn and Ryan Watt as the three star drivers raced through the lapped traffic. Howard was starting to make up some ground on the leader Watson through traffic when the first caution of the night was brought out for the #91 of Carson Wright just after the field had taken starter Warren Alston’s crossed flags signaling the halfway mark of the race.
“I was trying to take it a little easy early in the race and when I got to second I was just trying to ride it out there” said a happy winner at his trailer afterwards. “I didn’t quite know where I wanted to be at that point. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep working the bottom or try the middle groove. I seen he was creeping up on lapped traffic so I knew that was going to be a problem for him so I just wanted to stay back and see his line a little bit and see what might be there that I could take advantage of when I got close to him.”
On the ensuing restart Howard gave it all had, but Watson was able to hold him off and surge ahead as the field entered turn one. Watson’s momentum was stalled again as the yellow was back on for debris. This time Howard knew what he had to do and made it work to perfection as he was able to get up underneath the 1J of Watson and slide in front of going through turn one to take the lead. Once in front it was Howard’s turn to set a torrid pace as he was able to pull out to a safe margin over Watson.
“I had a good restart there and I was going to cross him over going into one”, cited Howard, “I saw him slip up and slide out there a little bit and I just let the car drift up to take his line away. He just got up the track a little too far and I was able to slip by. If had been able to keep his line I wouldn’t have been able to get by.”
Another yellow on lap No. 21 gave Watson a chance, but it was Howard who was able to withstand the Watson’s charge on the restart to remain in front. Watson would get one more shot at Howard as the yellow was again brought out one lap later. Once again Howard was up to the challenge on the restart and was able to open up a small lead on the runner-up Watson.
Just as it looked like Howard had everything under control, Watson started to close the gap with around three to go. As Howard took the white flag, Watson was right there. Howard ran a good line through turns one and two to stay in front but as the two leaders went into turn three Watson gave it one more shot as he tried to slide under Howard. The raced side by side coming out of turn four, but Howard had the momentum on the outside to stay in front to take the big win.
“It was a fun race” cited mentioned Howard. “I was worried about the right rear tire there at the end. On that last restart when I went into one, the car just felt so free and I knew then I didn’t have much left on my tire. I was trying not to slide it and keep it as straight as I could because I knew the tire was junk at that point. Jordan gave it a good try there at the end and luckily, we were able to hold him off. If the race was one or two laps longer I wouldn’t have been able hold him off even if the tire lasted.”
With Big Diamond giving the Modifieds off this Friday, Howard was looking for a nice relaxing Friday night away from the race track, but the team obviously had other ideas for Friday night.
“The funny thing is as of Wednesday we weren’t even coming, but when I went to the shop on Thursday they said do you want to go to Georgetown and I said not really but if you want to go I guess we can go. I guess we made the right call. We’ve been good all year, but just haven’t been able to quite get over the hump to get that big win and tonight it all came together. This team is really good, and Norm gives us everything we need to be successful. Jay (crew chief Jay Thomas) does a great job preparing these Bicknell chassis’ and the crew works very hard to keep us going strong. It’s really hard to win these races, the competition is so tough, and the cars are so equal anymore that it’s hard to find an advantage.”
Jordan Watson disappointed with second place finish.
After leading the first 15 laps of the 30-lap feature event, Jordan Watson looked to have everything going his way as he was able to open up a safe advantage over the second-place car of Duane Howard. However, a lap 17 restart proved to be his undoing as he wasn’t able to hold off the veteran Howard who slid by him to take the lead.
“I made a mistake there on the restart” cited a disappointed Watson. “I got on the gas there and the car shoved, and I didn’t quite get it turned down enough there. I guess I learned a little something there racing with Duane and I guess next time we go green I need to come down the race track a little more. I felt at the end there we were just as good as he was and I kind of found the middle there and he was starting to hang there at the end, but it was a little too late. I was able to make a run on Duane on the last lap and was hoping I could slide him, but I just couldn’t get ahead of him there and I didn’t want to wreck him. I don’t race like that and Duane has always raced me clean in the past.”
Watson talked about racing with a veteran driver like Duane Howard and what he needs to do to get to their level.
Continuing, he said,“I made a mistake tonight, I have to run with them guys more often to get better. The better drivers you race against the better driver you become. Tonight, was a good run for myself and the team and it gives us some confidence going forward and hopefully we can be a little better at the Beach Blast race here at the end of August. Being able to run with David (Vanhorn), Watty (Ryan Watt) and Duane here at Georgetown shows we are making some progress.”
After a tough start to the season with motor struggles, Watson says the team has turned it around and looks forward to hopefully getting out on the road some later this season.
“We’ve been on a good roll lately at Delaware (Delaware International Speedway) so hopefully we can keep it going there. Right now, we only have one car and one motor, so we have to be careful not to overdue for now. We plan on going to Susky (BAPS Motor Speedway) for the Deyo show next Sunday as long as everything goes okay at Delaware on Saturday and I would like to go to Afton in October for the Short Track Nationals, but we’ll see how it goes. I would like to travel more if I get the opportunity, but we’ve got what we’ve got for now. I have some great sponsors behind me like Remax Twin Counties, Courtland Manor Nursing Home, Corrado Construction, Meridian Bank, The Premo Connection. I have to thank Will Brown and Will Brown Trucking for loaning us his motor. I also need to thank my wife Alison, my crew and especially my mom and dad for all of their support.”
Horton charges from 16th to finish 4th
Modified superstar Jimmy Horton would be the first to tell you that he has struggled mightily this year trying to find the right combination to start running up front on a consistent basis. If the last two races are any indication, Horton seems to have started to turn his season around.
Thursday night up at his Saturday night home track of Orange County Fair Speedway, Horton was able to battle to a fourth-place finish in the “Battle of the Midway” 100-lap S
Super Dirt Series race. Looking to back up his strong Thursday night effort Friday at Georgetown, Horton was able to do just that taking home another fourth-place finish after starting way back in the 16th spot.
Horton looked to have the fastest car on the track at time, but simply ran out of time to challenge the top three finishers at night’s end.
“Our Halmar car was really good tonight” cited Horton. “We were trying something a little different tonight and it seemed to pay off tonight. You said we’ve been struggling a little this year, make no mistake about it we’ve been struggling a lot. Last night we had a good finish, but we weren’t still competitive enough for the win but it’s starting to turn around for us I think. Tonight, I thought we had a car that could win but we needed to have a better starting spot to get up there. I needed to do a better job in the heat earlier but it was a good run for us so we’ll take it home get it ready for the next dance.”
A total of 27 Modifieds signed in for the night’s action with Jordan Watson, Rick Laubach and Frank Cozze taking the heat wins. No consi was run.
Heat #2 was a destructive race, eliminating Brandon Grosso, Danny Bouc and Robert Dutton from the night’s action after being caught up in a multi-car tangle when Grosso got completely sideways in turn two causing a chain reaction behind him that ended up with Ronnie Roberts taking a nasty ride up and over. Roberts was okay, but the car suffered severe damage. Luckily for Roberts he had a backup car on sited and was able to start the main event. Unlucky were the cars of Grosso and Bouc who had to call it quits for the night with too much damage to repair.
Ryan Krachun debuted a brand new Teo chassis outfitted with a Morrison big block bolted under the hood. Running a solid third in his heat race, the car suddenly bogged down coming to the checkered flag, but he was still able to hold onto the fourth and final redraw spot. The team determined it was a carburetor issue and had it all fixed in time for the feature event.
Two-time winner at Georgetown this season Craig Von Dohren went out for his heat race when the car inexplicably shut off. After being pushed to try and get his car running, Von Dorhren was forced to go pit side to check out the problem. Thought to be a battery issue, the team changed out the battery but still wasn’t able to get any power. After a thorough going over of the electrical system, the team found a wire had shorted out causing the problem. Von Dohren took some warmup laps at the tail end of the truck feature to make sure the situation was remedied. Von Dohren took the green flag in the 24th spot in the feature and was up in the top ten when he over shot the top in turn three and went over the edge dropping him back in the pack. Von Dohren again battled back to finish in the eighth spot.
Ryan Watt was another driver who suffered the same fate as Von Dohren when he went over the banking in turn three trying to get around Watson for the second spot. When asked about his excursion over the top a smiling Watt said “I didn’t come here to finish third” .
I readily admit that I am not a big watcher of the Super late model division, but I did watch the main event last night and I can’t say enough how much I was impressed with the way Amanda Whaley put a beatdown on the field last night. The young driver was simply fantastic the way she drove to the lead and never let up. It was an awe-inspiring sight to watch and boy did she have the crowd on her side as the ovation she received in victory lane was one of the biggest I have ever witnessed. Congratulations Amanda.
As always,s I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dirtracefan25 for any questions or comments.