By KEN BRUCE
If you remember back to last year around this time everyone was asking what was wrong with Ryan Godown. Godown was a model of consistency early last year with a slew of top five finishes but was having a hard time getting wins. Once the summer rolled around and the weather started to heat up so did the driver out of Ringoes, N.J.
Godown then got himself on quite a roll last season winning three straight races on the STSS races. First Godown won the Crazy Eight’s race at Afton Motorsports Park (formerly I-88), then followed that win with consecutive wins at Susquehanna Speedway and Woodhull Speedway. In 2017, Godown was having a similar type season until this weekend. Godown had managed a couple of wins along the way at his home tracks New Egypt and Big Diamond but was clearly not satisfied with how his season has gone.
This weekend however, Godown was on his game. The “Ringoes Rocket” started off by winning the New Egypt Wingless Sprint feature on Saturday night and then went on to win his second Modified race of the season at New Egypt Speedway in the Atlas Paving #66. Then on Sunday night at Big Diamond Speedway Godown continued his hot streak by winning the 50 lap STSS “Anthracite Assault”.
Godown took advantage of a bad break suffered by race leader Rick Laubach on lap 32 when Laubach ran into the back of a slowing Danny Creeden entering turn one as Creeden was trying to make his way to the pits with rear end problems. With Laubach now done for the night, Godown was now the leader of the race which he went on to win convincingly.
“You hate to see that happen to anybody but when it does happen you have to be in position to take advantage of it and tonight we were able to do that. Would we have been able to catch Laubach if he didn’t have his issue? I doubt it, but you never know. Sometimes things change later in the race where my car gets better and his starts to backup, but I guess we’ll never know that now. It definitely looked like Laubach had us covered tonight. But the fastest car doesn’t always win and tonight we are the team sitting here in victory lane.”
Matt Delorenzo and Billy Decker led the field to the green flag with Decker getting the jump on the pole-sitter to lead lap one. Third place starter Laubach was quickly on the move in the Ryan Kerr #1K and immediately grabbed second place and started to pressure the leader Decker. Laubach wrestled the lead away from Decker on lap 12 and started to set sail on the rest of the field.
A caution for a tangle in turns one and two between the cars of Anthony Perrego and Bobby Trapper slowed the action on lap 14. While the battle was going on up front, the ninth-place starting Godown was starting to make his way to the front and was up to the fourth spot. When the green flag waived to restart the race, Godown made a bold move going into turn one to get by both Duane Howard and Decker to grab the runner-up position.
Multiple cautions slowed the field between laps 14 and lap 21 and each time the green came out Laubach fired off to the lead. After the lap 21 caution we were finally able to get some continuous green flag action going and when we did, Laubach sprinted out to a huge advantage over Godown and the rest of the field. Within a few laps, Laubach caught the back of the field and started to lap cars with no problems. Laubach had the race in hand and looked to be unstoppable until that fateful lap 32.
After contact with another car, Creeden had slowed dramatically coming off of turn four with what turned out to be a broken bird cage. Creeden pulled up high on the track coming down the frontstretch looking to head to the pits thru the pit entrance entering turn one. Unfortunately for Laubach, who was running the high groove while setting the pace, he never saw Creeden until it was too late. Labauch swerved to avoid Creeden but to no avail as they made hard contact. Laubach’s car came to a stop in turn one awaiting the hook, done for the night.
That was the break Godown needed and when the race resumed Godown was gone as Billy Pauch and Craig Von Dohren battled behind him. With the race running non-stop from that point on, Godown was able to move out to a big lead and was never challenged.
Godown raced under the checkered to flag to collect the big $5,000 payday with Pauch, Von Dohren, Andy Bachetti and Decker completing the top five. Rounding out the top ten were Brett Tonkin, Ryan Watt, Howard, David VanHorn and Billy Pauch Jr.
Talking with Godown as his car was going through tech inspection, as you would imagine the driver was very pleased with how the night turned out.
“Our car was really good tonight, I was surprised how quick we were able to get from ninth into the top five. The first few laps we were able to get by a good chunk of cars and then we took advantage of a couple of the restarts to get by a couple of others. Everybody seemed kind of tight tonight so that helped us out as well.”
Some of the other drivers I talked to were not pleased with the track conditions but as you would expect Godown had no issues with how the track was for the feature.
“The track had a nice berm out there but I couldn’t get a rhythm going with it. I would try to kiss up to the berm and then I would come in on it. I thought about coming in over it and crossing back down over it so then I just tried to keep it in the middle and just trying to kiss it (berm) and that seemed to work best for us. I wasn’t too worried about the tires because we run the Coalcracker race here with no problems. We used the right rear tire up a little bit but not too bad. Hey, the track tonight was just like what we have to deal with on a normal Friday night. It had a cushion on top, but if your car was good enough you could roll the bottom as well.”
The car Godown was driving tonight was his old trusted Troyer car that he has had so much success with in these bigger races and he couldn’t have been any happier with the it performed tonight.
“This is our old Troyer Outlaw car with our Outlaw motor in it. This car just seems to run good wherever we take it and the Outlaw motor seems to fit this car perfectly. So I guess we’ll keep running them together until one of them permanently breaks. I have to thank Steve and Diane Searock for giving us the means to do this, without them none of this is possible and also my crew who works so hard on this deal.”
Pauch Pleased with his Second-Place Finish at Big Diamond
Of all the tracks Billy Pauch has raced at in his storied career, he was quick to say that Big Diamond was never one of his favorites. Even though Pauch has had success at the track nestled up in coal country with five career small-block victories to go along with two regular modified wins, it was never a track he looked forward racing at.
“We had a good run tonight. It was a good field of cars and we finished near the front. You always want to win but this ain’t one of my favorite tracks. It’s a shame, it could be a really nice track. If the cushion was up against the wall and it had better lights it would a killer track. You could run way up there or you could run down at the bottom. Tonight, it seemed like the running the cushion was the way to but with everybody running there it was tough to pass. It was dusty out there and tough to see especially with the way they have the lights positioned.”
Despite all of that, Pauch towed his Kevin Bifulco #1 to the speedway yesterday to compete in the STSS “Anthracite Assault”. After finally having a good draw in one of these shows Pauch was able to show that he can still wheel a dirt Modified with the best of them as he held off a determined Von Dohren for the final 15 laps. Pauch was able to cross the finish line with a well earned second place finish.
Although Pauch would’ve much rather had the win, he was still happy with his run in the 50-lap main event.
“We’re running up front when we run, we had a nice second place run at Bridgeport in the SDS race but it sure would be nice to get a win or two instead of finishing second and third all the time. Not running every week doesn’t help. If you’re going to be good at anything you have to do it all the time but after 40 years of doing this, it’s time. I want to do something else. I still love to race and I know nobody wants to hear it but and I’m just going to say it. Picking sucks in these shows, you see a lot of good guys that get stuffed in the back and they are screwed. I don’t know, that’s the only thing I don’t like about his (Brett Deyo) deal. He pays good, he runs at some really neat tracks but it’s just the picking deal. You know if I time trial bad, I can go home and work on it to try and get better, but how do you get better at picking. I can’t go home and work on that and that aggravates me.”
Tonkin Makes Rare Diamond Appearance a Good One
Brett Tonkin has only raced at the Big Diamond Speedway a few times in his career with not so great results. But nonetheless, the driver out of Carbondale, Pa., was looking forward to making the trip south to try something different.
Talking to Tonkin before the night started he wasn’t quite sure what the night would bring but was optimistic if they could get a good draw he would have a decent showing. Tonkins night started off okay when he drew the number 21 pill which lined him up starting fourth in heat one. Tonkins had a good run in his heat race finishing in the second spot which also qualified him for the redraw for the feature. With only ten cars eligible for the redraw, that assured Tonkins he would start the feature no worse than the 10th position.
When the feature started Tonkin had a rough first couple of laps and when it was all said in done he found himself back in the seventeenth spot when the first caution flag came out on lap five.
“Where we run normally, you kind of let thing spread out early on in the race, but running with these guys it’s hammer down right from the beginning. They freaking go man, right from the start. It was a little slimy in the first couple of laps and when I took off on the start I went down into turn one and started to slide around and kind of got a little squirrely and got sideways and they went by me on the top and the bottom.”
Not to be deterred, Tonkins dug down deep and after a few more laps found the car coming around to his liking as made his back towards the front.
“(Jordan) Watson got by me and I started to follow him and then he went to the bottom so I followed him down there and I said man that felt good. Then I was able to clear him and I started running the bottom and it started hooking up really good. I hated to see that caution come out when it did because I was really rolling the bottom good at that point. After the caution, it took a few laps for my tires to get going again. I really wish the race would’ve been 100 laps.”
After finishing a very strong fifth, Tonkin was very pleased with his night and happy just to get back to racing after being on the track only once in the month of July due to so many rain-outs.
“To come home tonight with a top ten finish, I am tickled about that. This Hig-Fab chassis really ran good. I mean to come down here to a track that I have only run three or four times and without much success and to come home with a sixth-place finish is just awesome.”
Season of Pain Continues to Laubach and Kerr Team
When the 2017 racing season started Rick Laubach and Ryan Kerr thought they had everything worked out and a great season was upcoming for the talented driver and owner. After winning a couple of races early on with their aluminum block, late model open-small black motor bolted up under the hood of their Bicknell chassis the season has certainly taken a hard turn for the worse for team. After dominating wins at both Bridgeport and Delaware, the team was forced to make a change when the motor they were running was declared illegal at most tracks and on the traveling series they had planned to run it in. All of which was documented in an earlier article regarding the change.
Not to be deterred, car owner Kerr never publicly complained and made the necessary changes he needed to do to make his car competitive again on the circuit. But it seems like the team hasn’t been able to regain the much-needed mojo that they had going earlier in the season.
A few weeks ago, at the New Egypt Speedway, Laubach was very fast and looked like he would be able to contend for the win when he jumped the tire of fellow racer Danny Bouc going into turn one launching the car into the first turn wall making a hard impact. Rick told me that might’ve been the hardest hit he had ever taken in a Modified. Once again, not to be deterred, the team was able to fix the car by replacing the front end and had the car ready for this week’s STSS show at Big Diamond Speedway.
The night started out on a high note for the team when they won their heat race in convincing fashion. Laubach sent his son Matthew up to draw for his starting spot in the feature and Matthew drew the third starting spot.
It didn’t take long for Laubach to get to the front in the feature event as he passed early leader Decker to take the lead on lap 12. Once Laubach was in the lead, the “Quaker Shaker” was gone. Even a rash of early race yellows couldn’t hold back Laubach as he sped off to big leads each and every time the race was restarted. Laubach had the dominant car and looked like nothing was going to stop him on his way to a dominating victory. Then it happened!
As documented earlier in this article, Laubach couldn’t avoid contact with the slowing car of Danny Creeden and his day was over. A very disappointing ending to what had looked so promising just a lap ago.
I tried to talk to Laubach after the race but the team had already packed up and left the speedway by the time I headed to their pit area. I did however contact Laubach the day after via text message to get his perspective on what happened the night before.
“I was coming down the front straight and the dust was so bad. I couldn’t see much, just the shapes of the cars. Then the #16 appeared right in front of me. I was already next to another lapped car with nowhere to turn. They never warned me on the radio nor did the flagman signal that there was a slow car moving down the straightaway. It was a really bad day for my team after all we’ve been through this year with all the complaints about the engines. Then to have a race in our control and to lose it from poor officiating really brings us down. Ryan wanted to build a team for us to run Brett’s (Deyo) series and honestly it has been nothing but slaps in his and our teams face!”
It was a really tough end to the night for the Laubach/Kerr team to have to endure. But if you know Kerr, you know he has battled through much tougher things in life than this. I am sure this team will bounce back yet once again and get that big win that they so much deserve.
39 cars signed in for the night’s action with Jordan Watson, Matt DeLorenzo, Ryan Godown, Billy Pauch and Rick Laubach winning the five heats. Billy Pauch Jr, Jeremy Smith and Stewart Friesen won the three consolation races…
Provisional feature starting spots were given to Tommy Meier (North Series), Ryan Jordan (North Series), JR Hurlbert (North Series), Craig Hanson (South Series), Nick Nye (Perfect Attendance) and Bobby Trapper (Track)…
Good luck to STSS drivers; Jimmy Horton, Ryan Watt, Billy Decker, Stewart Friesen and Frank Cozze as they head west to Rossburg, Ohio to compete in the SDS race at The Eldora Speedway…
Danny Creeden had the bird cage break on his Modified in the feature event when he was battling with Brett Kressley for position…
Ryan Watt continues to lead in the battle for the STSS South Region title with a seven-point lead over Duane Howard. Stewart Friesen, Jimmy Horton and Ryan Godown complete the top five after 4 of 8 events…
In the battle for the STSS North Series championship, two-time winner Andy Bachetti leads Stewart Friesen by the same seven-point margin. Billy Decker, Anthony Perrego and Jeremy Smith round out the top five after five of nine events…
The next race on the schedule for the STSS South Region will be the “York County Nationals” paying a whopping $10,000 to the winner on Sunday July 30th…
As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dirtracefan25 for any questions or comments.