By: Bobby Sweeney
MINERSVILLE, PA – Ryan Watt was a man on a mission at Big Diamond Speedway, leading nearly every lap of the Coalcracker 72 and hardly ever challenged en route to a $17,000 payday. The win is Watt’s first in the event, holding off a strong set of track regulars and invaders.
Shawn Fitzpatrick led Watt in the opening pair of circuits, with Watt securing the lead early with a lap three pass. Tyler Dippel followed Watt and slipped into second, settling in at about six carlengths behind by lap ten. A yellow with 11 digits on the scoreboard nixed Watt’s lead, but a good restart meant Dippel was left alone in second. A new set of challengers were now behind Dippel, with Craig VonDohren and Matt Sheppard reaching third and fourth by lap 15.
Watt kept a comfortable lead over Dippel, who felt regular pressure from VonDohren. Following a short battle, Dippel broke free from VonDohren and slowly closed in on Watt, but a yellow on lap 25 did the hard part of reeling in the leader for Dippel. A great restart nearly got Dippel the lead, but Watt launched off the bottom well enough to hold Dippel at bay.
Once again, Watt opened up a steady lead, with a see-saw battle for second through fourth. With Dippel low, VonDohren took repeated shots on the cushion during the middle stages of the event, but could never complete the pass. Worth mentioning, Sheppard was still very much in the fight, momentarily taking third from VonDohren on multiple occasions.
By lap 45, Dippel had broken free of VonDohren, while Mike Gular had caught the frontrunners. Gular snuck under Sheppard for fourth on lap 48, but handed the spot right back. While Gular and Sheppard argued over fourth, Watt was still holding a consistent gap over Dippel, hovering around two seconds. Just as everything seemed to be leveling out, Dippel’s left rear shock let go on lap 57, with Dippel slowing and heading to the pits while the yellow waived.
This put VonDohren on Watt’s rear bumper for the restart, a new sight in the runner-up spot for the first time since the start of the event. The leaders all went to the bottom, except for Gular, the lone soul railing the top. With ten to go, Gular took advantage of VonDohren’s handling issues to grab second, with VonDohren shoving the nose harder every corner.
Despite being visibly very tight, Von Dohren wasn’t surrendering second easily, hanging at Gular’s door. A yellow with five to go erased Watt’s straightaway lead, but Watt wasn’t fazed, nailing the restart and driving off to his first Coalcracker 72 win. Gular came home second, with VonDohren, Duane Howard, and Sheppard the top five.
“We’ve been trying for this one for years, and it’s tough when we don’t run here weekly,” Watt said. “The last ten laps or so I started getting a little tight, I don’t know whether the right front was going away or the track was locking down that hard. My guys have certainly worked really hard, this car was just a standard bar car yesterday and we made the decision last night to flip it over to a coil car for this race tonight.”
Insinger Performance Modifieds – Coalcracker 72 – RYAN WATT, Mike Gular, Craig Von Dohren, Duane Howard, Matt Sheppard, Matt Stangle, Dillon Steuer, Billy Decker, Craig Whitmoyer, Alex Yankowski, Anthony Perrego, Lance Willix II, Frank Cozze, Jeff Strunk, Frank Yankowski, Tyler Dippel, Brett Kressley, Scott Albert, Cory Merkel, Louden Reimert, Kris Graver, Kevin Graver Jr, Andy Bachetti, Doug Hendricks, Shawn Fitzpatrick, Billy Pauch Jr, and Rick Laubach.
The Modified Heat Races were won by Anthony Perrego, Andy Bachetti, Shawn Fitzpatrick, Matt Sheppard, Craig Von Dohren, and Ryan Watt.
The Modified Consi Races were won by Dillon Steuer, Frank Cozze and Lance Willix II.
Did Not Qualify – Max McLaughlin, Jack Lehner, Briggs Danner, Larry Wight, Doug Manmiller, Billy Osmun, Bobby Trapper Jr, Jim Bobbitt, Andy Burkhart, Richie Pratt Jr, Mike Lisowski, Kyle Weiss, Corey Cormier, Ray Swinehart, Nate Brinker, Gary Hager, Bobby Trapper Sr, Neal Williams, Danny Creeden, Cale Ross, Shawn Light, Jordan Henn, Dan Hineline, and Rob Woleshok.
Disqualified – Jared Umbenhauer
Coalcracker 72 Lap Sponsorship Winners:
Lap 1 – Shawn Fitzpatrick ($20)
Lap 2 – 72 – Ryan Watt ($2,125)
“One From the Pound” 25th Starter Award – Kevin Graver Jr
Perfect Attendance 26th & 27th Starter Award – Doug Hendricks & Cory Merkel
Dirt Track Digest – Halfway Leader Bonus – Ryan Watt ($200)
Wiz Fab – First Non-Qualifier Award – Max McLaughlin (Set of rub rails/bumpers)
Competition Carburetion – Fast Time Award – Ryan Watt – 17.321 secs ($100)
Competition Carburetion – Hard Charger Award – Alex Yankowski (+13) ($500)
Big Diamond Racecar Recovery Team – First Car Towed-In Award – Rick Laubach ($100 Gift Card – Advanced Auto Parts of Cressona)
The Dog Pound Hard Luck Award – Corey Cormier ($400)
Ultra Shield Hard Charger Award – Alex Yankowski
GME Steering 9th Place Award – Craig Whitmoyer
Rod End Supply 6th Place Award – Matt Stangle
Bill Brown & Company Printing and Promotional Products Coalcracker Combo award – Mike Gular ($100)
Competition Carburetion Heat & Consi Award Winner Awards – Anthony Perrego, Andy Bachetti, Shawn Fitzpatrick, Matt Sheppard, Craig Von Dohren, Ryan Watt, Dillon Steuer, Frank Cozze, and Lance Willix II.
Savage 61 602 Crate Sportsman – Fritz Roehrig Memorial 30 – MATT PECK, Joe Toth, Ryan Conrad, Steve Davis, Jesse Leiby, Sammy Martz Jr, Dylan Swinehart, Shon Elk, Daniel Morgiewicz, Jonathan Swift, Dakota Kohler, Tyler Peet, Danny Buccafusca, Rick Wegner Jr, Jimmy Leiby, Eric Kocher, Joel Smith, Cody Manmiller, Gene Beadle, Ryan Graver, Troy Conrad, BJ Joly, Corey Edelman and Tommy Collins.
The 602 Crate Heat Races were won by Steve Davis, Tommy Collins, Rick Wegner Jr, and Ryan Graver.
The 602 Crate Consi Races were won by Daniel Morgiewicz and Eric Kocher.
Did Not Qualify – Bob Lineman Jr, Kevin Brady, Doug Snyder, Joey Vaccaro, Moose Gulley, Justin Eason, Louie Horvath, Billy Lasko III, David Banko, Beau Drobot, Chad Sandt, Steve Lyle, Pete Phillips, Craig Cuneo, Billy Eggers, Darren Cox, and Alex Konopka III.
The Dog Pound Hard Luck Award – Joey Vaccaro
Ultra Shield Hard Charger Award – Danny Buccafusca & Tyler Peet
GME Steering 9th Place Award – Daniel Morgiewicz
Rod End Supply 6th Place Award – Sammy Martz Jr.
Red, White & Blue Auto’s Roadrunners – KRYS NEY, Seth Reichert, Matt Ney, Jim Kost, Chris Holland, Kevin Holland, TJ Fitzpatrick, Alex Ditzler, Ronny Suhr Sr, Greg Zelinsky, Joe Bassininsky, Tod Roth Jr, Ronny Suhr Jr, Alex Schoffstall, and Tonya Lance.
Did Not Start – Mike Reichert
Roadrunner Heat Races were won by Matt Ney and TJ Fitzpatrick.
Ultra Shield Hard Charger Award – Jim Kost
Xcel 600 Modifieds – Geoffrey Sutton, Eric Whitby, Matt Warner, Hunter Diehl, Thomas Prychka, Corey Sechrist, Brett Gray, Korey Inglin, Sam Scicchitano, Ed Hollenbach, Matt Yoder, Sharon Sealy, Tim Vidal, Andy Luckenbill, Steve Sterner, Brian Blankenbiller, Josh Bewley, Ty Hoke, Josh Mudge, Brenton Miller, and Ray Gradwell.
Did Not Start – Shawn Baer
The 600 Modified Heat Races were won by Brian Blankenbiller and Matt Warner.