FORESTVILLE, PA – Mark Bitner picked the right time to return to victory lane with the United Racing Club.
In the first-ever wingless event at Big Diamond Speedway for the oldest touring sprint-car series, a large crowd watched Bitner ran off the 25-lap feature in a non-stop time of 9 minutes, 58.905 seconds for his first URC win of the year.
Craig Von Dohren came from the 12th starting spot to score the win in the Steel & Metal Service Center 358 modified feature while Kody Sites made it two wins in a row in the Savage 61 roadrunner feature.
Big Diamond returns to action next Friday night May 5 with a four division show of 358 modifieds, US.S. Achey sportsman, roadrunners and the No Sweat Service Group street stocks.
The gates will open at 5:30 p.m. with racing 8:15. General admission is $15 while sniors are $13 and kids 12-and-under along with activemilitary with a valid ID are free.
Kevin Darling took the lead at the start of the 25-lap feature but it was short lived as Bitner, who started third, joined Darling and Joey Biasi for the top spot on the opening lap which Bitner took control of at the flagstand as the first lap of the race went into the books.
From there, Bitner pulled away from leaving Darling to battle Biasi –who had the fastest lap of the night at 16.785 seconds in his heat race– for second spot over the opening laps.
As Bitner encountered lapped traffic early, he was able to run the top or the bottom of the race track as the surface had multiple grooves throughout the night.
Bitner’s perfect run almost came to an abrupt end when he came up on a lapped car in Turn 3 on lap 11 and climbed over a wheel.
“I just misjudged the lapped car getting into the corner but the car landed, I saw the outside wall was pretty far away so I just got back on the gas and turned it around the corner,” Bitner said. “I had a blast racing the non-wing car tonight. I’d do it again in a heart beat and the track was great tonight. It has a bottom and top groove for the feature and I think it can only get better from here.”
Bitner used every available lane to negotiate lapped traffic from that point on as Carmen Perigo, chased down Biasi for the runner-up spot in which Perigo was able to take over on lap 22 going into turn one as he held on for second at the line.
“The track was really nice and racy as we were running around the top against the curb while other guys were racing on the bottom. I really like the place,” Perigo, who raced winged Super Sportsman at the track before, said.
Biasi would hold on for third with Bill Unglert and Darling rounding out the top five.
Sixth through 10th were Steven Drevicki, Chandler Leiby, Jimmy Stitzel, Curt Michael, and JR Berry. Heats for the 15 URC non-wing sprint cars were won by Darling and Biasi.
In all a total of 41 laps were run between the 25-lap feature and two, eight-lap heat races which produced just two cautions and no flips.
URC returns to the speedway on Friday, June 23, for a regular show with wings.
Big Diamond 358 modified rookie Frank Porreca led his first laps at the track this season after leading the field to the green flag but he would have his hands full with outside starter Ryan Grim.
Grim would take the lead from Porreca off of Turn 2 on lap 1. Grim would hold onto the top spot until a lap 7 restart when Billy Pauch, Jr., took over as he moved up from his eighth starting spot.
From there, Grim would battle a hard-charing VonDohren for the runner-up spot which VonDohren would take away going into Turn 1 on lap 8.
VonDohren then chased down Pauch as each driver was utilizing a different line to get around the speedway.
VonDorehn caught Pauch on lap 12 as the two raced side-by-side for the next two laps before the caution flew for Porreca who spun in Turn 2.
On the restart, Pauch maintained the lead but VonDohren battled hard and eventually grabbed the lead away going into Turn 3 on lap 16.
From there, VonDohren stretched out his lead over Pauch to the finish.
“We were just a little bit better than Billy but he ran a really good race and it was just a matter of picking your line and hoping that it worked for you,” VonDohren said. “It’s tough competition and there’s a lot of good car here.”
Duane Howard had a strong run to third from his 13th starting spot while Jeff Strunk and Grim would round out the top five.
Sixth through 10th were Rick Laubach, Mike Lisowski, Ryan Krachun, Kevin Albert Jr., and Jared Umbenahuer.
Heats for the 30 358 modifieds were won by John Willman, Grim and Godown while Albert, Jr., won the consolation event.
Sites, the opening day winner back on April 14, used the outside to his advantage on a lap 8 restart and pulled away from eventual runner-up Devon Trexler to score his second straight roadrunner win of the year.
“This car is rolling right now,” Sites said. “You can’t win the race on the first lap you have to pick and chose where to go and the car was fast enough to do that.”
Shon Elk and Devin Trexler would battle for the top spot in the early goings of the race before Sites, who started 10th, would track down the front runners and make it a three-car battle for the lead on lap 6.
Trexler would take over the top spot on lap 7 with Sites right behind him when the caution came out a lap later.
Sites would restart on the outside and he used it to his advantage but not without a fight through the first two turns from Trexler before Sites was able to clear him on the backstretch and pull away for the win over the closing laps.
Trexler held on for second with Elk, Terry Kramer and Jim Kost rounding out the top five.
Sixth through 10th were Shawn Mulhall, Luke Arbogast, Jon Schlauch, Fred Everly, and Nate Hill. Heats for the 13 roadrunners were won by Elk and Kost.
Ronnie Peak was the winner in the first visit of the season from the Blast From The Past Vintage Club over Brett Peters and Todd Lapp.
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Big Diamond Speedway
Friday, April 28
Steel & Metal Service Center Night
Steel & Metal Service Center 358 modified feature (25 laps): 1. Craig VonDohren, 2. Billy Pauch Jr, 3. Duane Howard, 4. Jeff Strunk, 5. Ryan Grim, 6. Rick Laubach, 7. Mike Lisowski, 8. Ryan Krachun, 9. Kevin Albert Jr., 10. Jared Umbenahuer, 11. Scott Albert, 12. Craig Whitmoyer, 13. Tim Fitzpatrick, 14. Shawn Fitzpatrick, 15. Kevin Beach, 16. Jimmy Reppert, 17. Frank Porreca, 18. Ron Haring Jr., 19. Jim Bobbitt Jr., 20. Billy Lasko, 21. Bob Trapper. 22. Bobby Trapper, DNF, 23. Ryan Godown, DNF, 24. Ray Swinehart, (DNF), 25. John Willman, (DNF), 26. Justin Grim, (DNF). DNQ: Kyle Borror, Heath Metzger, Paul Moyer, Skylar Sherriff, Brett Kressley. Heat winners: Willman, Grim, Godown. Consolation winner: Albert Jr.
URC wingless sprint car feature (25 laps): 1. Mark Bitner, 2. Carmen Perigo, 3. Joey Biasi, 4. Bill Unglert, 5. Kevin Darling, 6. Steven Drevicki, 7. Chandler Leiby, 8. Jimmy Stitzel, 9. Curt Michael, 10. JR Berry, 11. Scott Flammer, 12. Michael Hamer, 13. Rich Holley, 14. Jonathan Swanson (DNF), 15. David Swanson (DNF). Heat winners: Stitzel, Perigo. NTR: 9 minutes, 58.905 non-stop.
Savage 61 roadrunner feature (20 laps): 1. Kody Sites, 2. Devin Trexler, 3. Shon Elk, 4. Terry Kramer, 5. Jim Kost, 6. Shawn Mulhall, 7. Luke Arbogast, 8. Jon Schlauch, 9. Fred Everly, 10. Nate Hill, 11. Kyle Wingle, 12. Chris Reichert, 13. Mike Reichert. DNS: Kris Nye. Heat winners: Elk, Kost.
Vintage Feature (12 laps): 1. Ronnie Peck, 2. Brett Peters, 3. Todd Lapp, 4. Bobby Hall, 5. Mike Garris Sr.