POTTSVILLE, PA –On a rather cold night, a fantastic crowd was on hand to get the fifty-first season of racing at Big Diamond underway and when it was all over it was the track’s all-time leader in feature wins Craig Von Dohren adding another notch to his belt with the win in the Quandel Concrete Modifieds. Logan Watt held off multiple challengers to take the win in the USS Achey Crate 602 Sportsman and Alex Schoffstall kept up his winning ways in the Red White and Blue Autos Roadrunners.
By virtue of the draw, Rick Laubach and Craig Von Dohren led the starting field to the green in the 25-lap Quandel Concrete modified “Thaw Brawl” with Laubach taking the lead at the drop of starter Jeff Merkel’s green flag. Laubach was looking strong and continued to lead the way the first ten laps over Von Dohren, while Alex Yankowski and Brett Kressley waged a war for third with Jeff Strunk right behind in the fifth spot. Von Dohren was all over Laubach for the lead when the race was slowed as the yellow was put out on lap 11 for a spinning Ken Eckert Jr on the backstretch. The top five at that point were Laubach, Von Dohren, Kressley, Yankowski and Strunk.
On the ensuing restart, Von Dohren powered to the lead with an inside move in turn one and two to take the lead over Laubach with Kressley also getting by Laubach to move into the runner-up position. Add Ryan Watt to the picture as he raced three-wide with Strunk and Yankowski battling for the fourth spot. The red was thrown one lap later on lap 12 when Keving Beach Jr and Justin Grim got together in turn two with Beach doing a slow rollover. Both drivers were okay.
The restart saw Von Dohren remain in front over Kressley as Yankowski passed Laubach to move into third with Watt getting by the No. 20 as well to take over fourth. Caution slowed the race on lap 14 as Nick Rochinski and Dave Dissinger got together on the back with Rochinski needing wrecker service.
With Von Dohren and Kressley on the front row for the restart, the two veterans and rivals were each trying to anticipate what the other was going to do. The first restart was called back with Kressley going a little too early. The second restart saw Von Dohren getting the upper hand with Kressley in tow as Strunk moved by Laubach into fourth. Von Dohren continues to lead Kressley by two car lengths as the battles behind them for the top five as Louden Reimert goes by Watt for fifth.
With five laps to go, it was Von Dohren leading Kressley, Yankowksi, Strunk and Reimert. Kressley’s strong run came to an end on lap 22 as the motor in his No. 19K went up in smoke coming down the front stretch to bring out the yellow. This put Yankowski on the front row for the restart with three laps to go. The veteran Von Dohren had them all covered on the restart as he kept the No. 88x in the lead to lead the remaining laps to take the win and the $4,051 first place winner’s prize. Yankowski finished second with Reimert getting by Strunk on the last lap for third. Strunk and Eddie Strada completed the top five.
“Starting position was the key tonight,” said a happy Von Dohren standing in victory lane with track announcer Barry Angstadt. “The track was fast and it was going to be hard to pass. I had to hit my marks and the restarts are always tricky, but we had a good car, and it was flawless. I didn’t want to see the restarts, but we had to take them and it is part of it. I have to thank Dave Dissinger for giving us everythin here, it is a good car. This Morgantini engine is really good and there are so many people involved. We have Trick Race Parts doing our stuff again this year. Jason Bashore, his boy, won the sportsman (rookie) race there and Bryce (Bashore) is such an incredible kid. He has been around this stuff since the day he was born, he knows a lot and understands it and I was really happy for him.”
The 20-lap USS Achey Crate 602 Sportsman feature saw Danny Buccafusca and Logan Watt lead the field to the green flag with Watt taking the lead at the start. Lap four saw the yellow come out for the first time. Watt continues to lead with Nick Desantis now up to second to challenge Watt. Watt continues to hold off Desantis with another yellow slowing the pace on lap 10. A new challenger appeared as teenager Paulie Hartwig III is now applying the pressure to Watt. Hartwig tried to make his move on the inside, but Watt was able to hit his marks through turns one and two on the outside to keep his momentum up and hold the lead.
Hartwig was not giving up and it bit him on lap 17 as he went into turn three a little too hot and spun out to bring out the final yellow. Another new challenge was on the horizon as teenager Talan Carter, now driving the No. 17G, was alongside Watt on the restart. Carter was very fast all night and now was in position to challenge Watt for the win. Carter tried his hardest to work the inside to get past Watt, but Watt was able to hold his ground and power to the win and collect the first-place prize of $1,051. Carter was an impressive second with Jordan Henn, defending Crate 602 champion Brandon Edgar and Kevin Olenick the top five.
“The track was very good tonight,” said an elated Logan Watt with track co-announcer Dino Oberto. “It was wide, and it had a cushion down in (turns) one and two and you could run the top, bottom or wherever you needed to. I was kind of scared on the restarts there, (Nick) Desantis was good, Talan (Carter) was very fast and it stinks that (Danny) Buccafusca broke and (Brandon) Edgar is always fast and it was always a different person on the restarts so I was asking myself what I should do here and it is always unpredictable but we were able to get the win.”
Alex Schoffstall continued where he left off last season in winning the Red White and Blue Autos Roadrunner feature. CJ Ferguson led lap one with Schoffstall coming hard from his fifth place starting spot to take the lead on lap three. Once in front it was all Schoffstall as he led the rest of the way for the win Chuck Fayash, Ferguson, Kris Ney and Todd Roth were the top five.
The first ever Crate 602 Sportsman Rookie race was won by Bryce Bashore over Jax Yohn, Chase Rehbein, Brady Shea & McKenzi Smith
Full Race Results: Friday, April 7th “Thaw Brawl”
Quandel Concrete Modifieds: 1. Craig Von Dohren 2. Alex Yankowski 3. Louden Reimert 4. Jeff Strunk 5. Eddie Strada 6. Ryan Watt 7. Rick Laubach 8. Mike Gular 9. Doug Manmiller 10. Duane Howard 11. Mike Lisowski 12. Heath Metzger 13. Bobby Trapper Jr 14. Tim Fitzpatrick 15. Bob Trapper Sr 16. Dave Dissinger 17. Shawn Fitzpatrick 18. Doug Smith Jr 19. Ken Eckert Jr 20. Brett Kressley 21. Nick Rochinski 22. Kevin Beach Jr 23. Justin Grim 24. Shawn Light
Modified Heat Winners: Bobby Trapper Jr, Jeff Strunk, Craig Von Dohren & Ken Eckert Jr
Modified Consolation Winners: Keven Beach Jr & Bob Trapper Sr.
Did Not Qualify: Scott Albert, Wayne Witmer, Aleia Geisler, Frank Cozze, Bryan Rhoads, Craig Whitmoyer, Corey Renninger, Mike Behm, Dylan Swinehart and Hunter Metzger.
Penkse Shocks Certificate Winners: Craig Von Dohren ($100), Alex Yankowksi ($75), Louden Reimert ($50)
USS Achey Crate 602 Sportsman: 1. Logan Watt 2. Talon Carter 3. Jordan Henn 4. Brandon Edgar 5. Kevin Olenick 6. Nick Desantis 7. Justin Lilick 8. Mike Loney 9. Paulie Hartwig III 10. John McGeoy 11. Shon Elk 12. Kevin Kaplafka 13. Xavier Sprague 14. Mike Schneck Jr 15. BJ Joly 16. Brandon Oleski 17. Brandon Firestine 18. Danny Buccafusca 19. Matt Martino 20. Chad Putalavage 21. Glenn Rowan 22. Tyler Vidal 23. Mike Stofflet 24. Matt Yoder (DNS)
Crate 602 Sportsman Heat Winners: Talan Carter, Justin Lilick & Danny Buccafusca
Crate 602 Sportsman Consolation Winner: Mike Loney
Did Not Qualify: Daryl Dissinger & Marty Shappell
Penske Shocks Certificate Winners: Logan Watt ($100), Talan Carter ($75), Jordan Henn ($50)
Red White and Blue Autos Roadrunners: 1. Alex Schoffstall 2. Chuck Fayash 3. CJ Ferguson 4. Kris Ney 5. Tod Roth Jr 6. Terry Kramer 7. Blaine Fritz 8. Jesse Krasnitsky 9. Samantha Zipp 10. Josh Harris 11. Jim Kost 12. Eric Buchinski
Roadrunner Heat Winners: Chuck Fayash & Alex Schoffstall
Big Creek Concrete Crate 602 Sportsman Rookie Feature: 1. Bryce Bashore 2. Jax Yohn 3. Chase Rehbein 4. Brady Shea 5. McKenzi Smith 6. Danica Getz 7. Matt Fidler 8. Brennan Chapman 9. Blake Vidal (DNS)