By KEN BRUCE
After weeks of trying, all four New Jersey, Pennsylvania tracks were finally able to get their shows in on the same weekend. Sunshine and summer like temperatures greeted the fans on both Friday at Big Diamond and Saturday for New Egypt and Grandview. Sunday at Bridgeport was more like a typical spring day with the temps a little cooler and much less sunshine but still a great day for some big block action.
Big Diamond Speedway 4/28/17 – The weather has surely been a thorn in the side to Big Diamond Speedway in the month of April but on Friday this week the track was rewarded with a beautiful day. Not only was the weather hot, but the action on the track was smoking as well as Craig Von Dohren and Billy Pauch Jr put on a show for the fans.
Ryan Grim led the first seven laps of the feature before Pauch Jr was able to get by him on a restart to take the point. Von Dohren was on the move from his 12th starting spot and was making moves through field taking second away from Grim on lap eight and then setting his sights on the quick running Pauch Jr.
Von Dohren was able to move in on Pauch Jr but catching the leader is one thing, but passing him is another. The man known mostly as just “CVD” has the hot set-up going right now at the Schuylkill County oval and was able to catch the leader and after a restart was able to work by Pauch Jr and grab the lead a couple of laps later. Once in front it was all Von Dohren as he pulled away from Pauch Jr to grab his track leading 86th career win. Pauch would cross the line in second with Howard, Strunk and Grim rounding out the top five. After two races in the books Von Dohren is your point leader with Howard and Strunk close behind.
I had a chance to talk to Pauch Jr regarding his battle with Von Dohren in the pits before Sundays show at Bridgeport.
“It was a good battle with Craig there, we both were running hard and he was able to get by me there after the restart. I’m not sure he would’ve got me without the restart although he was better than me so I can’t definitely say that I guess.”
After a tough opening night at Big Diamond, the driver of the Kid Racing #15 was happy with this week’s result of second place finish.
“We had a bad opening night so it’s a good rebound night for us. We got tangled up early on opening night so that set us back but we have a really good car for here (Big Diamond) and hopefully we can show it all year.”
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
New Egypt Speedway 4/29/17 – New Egypt Speedway is another of the many tracks that have been plagued by weather issues trying to get their season going. The track was greeted with warm sunshine on Saturday as they presented the popular Twin 20’s for the 358 modifieds.
Ryan Godown charged from his 15th starting spot to win the first twin 20 after taking the lead from Danny Bouc on lap nine to record his first modified win of the season and also his first with the #66 Petruska Team. Bouc held on to finish second with Ryan Krachun, DJ Ruppert and Rocco Infante completing the top five.
I caught up with Godown and asked him how it feels to get that first win for the Petruska team.
“Yeah it means a lot to get our first victory together as a team. Mike’s (Petruska) is a really good owner, Jared and the rest of the crew are fantastic to work with and have blended together well with some of my guys. The car is really great right now. I mean, it’s only our second race at New Egypt together and to be this good this fast is a really good thing.”
Godown backed up his win in the first twin 20 with a close second place finish to Pauch Jr in the second twin 20. Godown as winner of the first 20 lap feature was the one who would have to draw the invert pill for the race #2 and Godown picked number 12 meaning he would have to start 12th and since his biggest rival Billy Pauch Jr happened to finish twelfth in the first race would start on the pole for the second feature. Godown then knew he had his work cut out for him in the second race and made it up to second place early but felt he had used up some of his equipment to get there making it hard make a run on Pauch Jr for the lead.
“We got to second pretty quick but we were just a little too free to make a run-on Billy. I thought I had something for him early on when I got to second fairly quickly but the track freed up a little bit when I got there but it came to be more of a bottom track then the top, if we had a two lane track it might’ve made a difference but maybe not. I started twelfth and Billy starts on the pole so he was able to get to the lead and was able to save his stuff a little bit and we had to hammer it up some.”
I asked Godown if it was going to be a race within a race between himself and Pauch Jr just to get to the front each and every week at New Egypt and while he agreed with me somewhat, he also talked about how there are some other fast cars and drivers out there and it shouldn’t all be about him and Pauch Jr all the time.
“There are a lot of good cars here at New Egypt. Look Danny Bouc ran really good this week, Johnny Mac (McClelland), Willie Osmun and (David) Van Horn have all been good and have really fast race cars. So you got a good handful of guys that are running good there that normally struggle and are able to get to the front from the back as well. It’s not all about us (Godown & Pauch Jr) and if you ask Little Billy that I am sure he would say the same thing. The first week was a draw so it’s hard to gauge things when you start near the front. But this week I had to start 15th in the first race and 12th in the second race and both times we were able to get to the front fairly quickly which makes me really happy. We just have to fine tune it a little bit here and there and we’ll be fine.”
Having to deal with a flat tire in the first twin 20 relegating him to a 12th-place finish, Billy Pauch Jr was able bounce back in the second twin 20 for the win. For Pauch Jr it was his second win of the young season. Pauch Jr was the recipient of a lucky invert draw by his rival Godown and ended up with the pole position for race #2. It wasn’t an easy race for Pauch Jr and Godown was on the move quickly and was in second a few laps before the halfway flags. But Pauch Jr wasn’t going to be denied and started to open a little daylight between himself and Godown. Even after a late race restart gave Godown another shot at Pauch Jr, he was able to hold him off for the win. Godown finished second with Willie Osmun, Ryan Krachun and Brandon Grosso rounding out the top five.
I talked to Pauch about his struggles is the first twin 20 and how he was able to bounce back for the win.
“Yeah we started in 17th in the first feature and were up to fifth early on. Ryan beat us to the front and we would’ve probably finished no worse than third but we got a flat tire so that sent us to the back and then we got banged around a little and ended up 12th. Lady luck shined on us with the invert of twelve so that definitely helped us.”
Pauch Jr said he knew Godown was there and was forced to change his line up a little to hold off his rival.
“Yeah, I knew he was there. He got through the field in a hurry and with us starting on the pole, sometimes you are not sure where you are at and you keep running the bottom but once I seen him show me the lane I moved up a little bit and they said I was able to take off a little bit. He’s seemed to get better this week so I guess we’ll have to work on it a little and get better for next week.”
358 MODIFIEDS – 20 LAPS FEATURE #1 – 1. RYAN GODOWN 2. Danny Bouc 3. Ryan Krachun 4. DJ Ruppert 5. Rocco Infante 6. Dominick Buffalino 7. Brandon Grosso 8. Willie Osmun 9. John McClelland 10. David Van Horn 11. Tad Cox 12. Billy Pauch, Jr. 13. PJ Oliver 14. Bryan Kuhl 15. Roger Manning 16. Lou Cicconi 17. John Pakenham 18. Doug Ostwald 19. Marty Saxton 20. Tim Apgar 21. Andrew Bohn 22. Steve Davis 23. Chad Barney 24. Chris Grbac
358 MODIFIEDS – 20 LAPS FEATURE #2 – 1. BILLY PAUCH, JR. 2. Ryan Godown 3. Willie Osmun 4. Ryan Krachun 5. Brandon Grosso 6. Danny Bouc 7. Tad Cox 8. Chad Barney 9. John McClelland 10. Andrew Bohn 11. Lou Cicconi 12. John Pakenham 13. Doug Ostwald 14. DJ Ruppert 15. Tim Apgar 16. David Van Horn 17. PJ Oliver 18. Rocco Infante 19. Dominick Buffalino 20. Chris Grbac 21. Bryan Kuhl 22. Roger Manning 23. Steve Davis
HAMMER SPORTSMAN – 20 LAPS FEATURE
1. TJ LILLY 2. Billy Osmun, III 3. Pat Wall 4. Cale Ross 5. Mike Lyons 6. Bob Lineman, Jr. 7. Ryan Simmons 8. J.T. Trstensky 9. JR Fulper 10. Jeremy Martino 11. Jimmy Amato 12. Will Dupree 13. Jesse Dill 14. Jason Kosch 15. Richard Wegner, Sr. 16. Rob Mancini 17. Shaun Ratchford 18. Frank Dorry, Jr. 19. Joe Dill 20. Joseph Brown 21. Walt McIntyre 22. Marty Resnick 23. David Burns
DNS: Dakota Kessler
Grandview Speedway 4/29/17 – The “Handler” Doug Manmiller made an early season statement to not count him out of the championship battle at the Grandview Speedway by taking the 30 lap TFP Trailers Modified main event on Saturday night. It was Manmiller’s 28th career 358 win at the Bechtelsville oval.
Danny Erb grabbed the lead early on and seemed to be the man in charge until lap thirteen when for the second time this season Erb was forced to drop out while leading handing the lead over to Ryan Grim. Manmiller was on the move and was in second place and chasing down Grim. Manmiller continued to work the inside groove lap after lap until he was able to grab the lead as the field completed lap 24.
Once in front Manmiller was able stretch his lead out over Grim and race under the checkered flag for the win. Mike Gular was able to work by Grim to finish second with Grim, Kyle Borror and Craig Von Dohren the top five.
Craig Von Dohren has grabbed the early points lead followed very closely by Jeff Strunk, Kevin Hirthler, Doug Manmiller and Duane Howard.
NASCAR T.P. Trailers Modified Feature (30-Laps): 1. Doug Manmiller, 2. Mike Gular, 3. Ryan Grim, 4. Kyle Borror, 5. Craig Von Dohren, 6. Jared Umbenhauer, 7. Jeff Strunk, 8. John Willman, 9. Kevin Hirthler, 10. Frank Cozze, 11. Kenny Gilmore, 12. Duane Howard, 13. Ryan Watt, 14. Brian Krummel, 15. Kyle Weiss, 16. Mike Laise, 17. Justin Grim, 18. Brett Gilmore, 19. Brian Houseknecht, 20. Kory Fleming (alternate), 21. Joe Fanelli, 22. Chris Gambler, 23. Dan Waisempacher, 24. Danny Erb, 25. Addison Meitzler, 25. Colt Harris, 27. Brett Kressley, 28. Rick Laubach. DNQ: Ron Seltmann Jr., Blaine Bracelin, Bobby Gunther-Walsh, Briggs Danner, Steve Swinehart and Ray Swinehart.
Sportsman Feature (25-Laps): 1. Dylan Swinehart, 2. Mark Kemmerer, 3. Jim Housworth, 4. Brian Hirthler, 5. Louden Reimert, 6. Mike Mammana, 7. Brad Arnold, 8. Brad Grim, 9. Jesse Landis, 10. Kyle Lilick, 11. Kurt Bettler, 12. Joe Funk III, 13. Ryan Shupp, 14. Jeromy Guistwite, 15. Ken Eckert Jr., 16. Ryan Beltz, 17. John McGovern, 18. Jack Butler, 19. Ryan Lilick, 20. Ryan Higgs, 21. Craig Whitmoyer, 22. Mike Lisowski, 23. Nathan Mohr, 24. Jordan Henn. DNQ: Andy Kreis, Kenny Bock, Jordan Cox, Dean Bachman, Andy Clemmer, Paul Houseknecht, Derrick Smith, B.J. Joly.
Bridgeport Speedway 4/15/17 – After a miserable season in 2016, David Hunt is determined to make this season go a much better route. Hunt delivered a crushing blow to his competitors on Sunday completely dominating all 25 laps of the modified feature.
By luck of the draw Hunt started on the pole position and on lap one Hunt jumped to the lead and never looked back. Hunt was able to motor out to big leads even after a multitude of caution flags were thrown putting modified stars Ryan Godown and Jeff Strunk on his rear bumper each and every time for the restarts but neither one could mount a challenge as today it was all David Hunt as he sped under starter Ken Golden’s checkered flag unchallenged. Godown was able to hold off Strunk for second with Richie Pratt and Ryan Watt completing the top five.
Putting last season’s troubles behind him, Hunt was a pretty happy driver talking by his race car behind the stands after his big win.
“We made a couple of small changes from last week on this Troyer chassis after we faded late in last week’s race and it really got us going today. This is just awesome after the motor troubles we had last year. Roger Mahan came onboard this year and that has made all the difference. Roger builds our motors and this wouldn’t be possible without him.”
With drivers like Godown and Strunk right behind him on the restarts I asked Hunt if he knew they were there and was he worried about them getting by.
“I knew who was behind and that definitely didn’t make it any easier. I knew if I could hit the line right coming out of four I would be okay. Every week coming off the bottom lane there in four there seems to be a little water and I knew if I could just almost clip the wall with my left front it gets you down there low enough where it gives you almost an extra foot that’ll help you and give you a little extra drive off going down the front.”
Finishing second was Godown and he talked about the move he made on the lap six restart that vaulted him from fourth to second.
“It really wasn’t like I made a big move there, Neal (Williams) wasn’t really next to him (Hunt) and was like two car lengths up on the track and I knew why he did it because the top was a little bit better up there in (turns) three and four. But when he went to hit the gas he kind of just spun his wheels. It was like a two-car width hole opened up there and why wouldn’t you go for it. If I don’t go for it the guy behind me sure will. I understand why Neal wanted to do that because I thought about doing the same thing, but after I saw that I decided to stay where I was.”
Godown went to say how the restarts were very trick today and what he was trying to do to get the lead and protect second from Strunk at the same time.
“Restarts were real tricky over there. It seemed like there was grip on the top but there really wasn’t. I mean I couldn’t even get next to him when he decided to go. The last restart was my best and I was able to get to his back bumper but that’s as far as I could get to him. But listen David had a good car today and could handle a little better coming off the corner so you have to tip your hat to him. So, if dared to try the outside on the restarts Jeff (Strunk) would have got by so I had to get the inside as quick as I could to keep second. Jeff is always going to run you clean so you don’t need to worry about getting pushed out of the way.”
Strunk was disappointed with a third-place finish but was happy with the team’s progress regarding their big-block program.
“Our big block program is much better than last year for sure. We’re dam close, just need to find a little bit more speed and we’ll be even better. If we can get the car hooked a little more I think we can get a win here this year for sure. It was a good run, Ryan got a good run on the restart and got by us, but I think we were pretty equal him and I. But Hunt was gone, I think he’s still going! We are close here and that gives the team confidence in coming back the next time.”
MODIFIEDS – 1 – David Hunt, 2 – Ryan Godown, 3 – Jeff Strunk, 4 – Richie Pratt Jr, 5 – Ryan Watt, 6 – Wade Hendrickson, 7 – Mike Barone, 8 – Neal Williams, 9 – PJ Oliver, 10 – Jimmy Horton, 11 – Dave Shirk, 12 – Rusty Smith, 13 – Jack Swain, 14 – Bob Sarkisian, 15 – Jim Britt, 16 – Ron Roberts, 17 – Tommy Beamer, 18 – Ricky Dieva, 19 – Billy Pauch Jr, 20 – Mike Franz, 21 – Sammy Martz, 22 – Rick Laubach
CRATE SPORTSMAN – 1 – Brian Papiez, 2 – Dave Damiano, 3 – Scott Hitchens, 4 – Brandon Grosso, 5 – Eric Kormann, 6 – Louden Reimert, 7 – Clyde Cox, 8 – Roger Manning, 9 – Chris Jenkins, 10 – Ryan Simmons, 11 – Matthew Peck, 12 – Tom Sherby, 13 – Rich Deck Jr, 14 – Bobby Bracall, 15 – Adam Cox, 16 – Scott Hulmes, 17 – Steve Kemery, 18 – Matt Stangle, 19 – Jim Gallagher Jr, 20 – Billy Briggs, 21 – Brad Roberts, 22 – Matt Budd, 23 – Chuck Sayres, 24 – David Crossman, 25 – Chad Kohler, 26 – Andrew Belmont
NJ/PA Mod News N Notes:
Motor troubles continue to plague Brett Kressley and his team. The #19K had motor issues Friday at Big Diamond Speedway in the small-block and their bad luck continued on Sunday after their big-block suffered issues in the warmups forcing the team to pack it in for the night. Kressley has been fast all year and once they get their engine problems worked out should be able to contend for some wins….
Rick Laubach was a rocket in his heat race on Sunday at Bridgeport in the Gary & Lori Herrman #7 winning his heat by a large margin. Unfortunately, a rocker arm issue was discovered and the team decided play it safe and not risk hurting the engine even worse. Laubach did take a few laps in the feature driving Matt Stangle’s backup sportsman car…
Thought, prayers and good wishes to Grandview Sportman driver Jordan Henn after suffering four broken vertebrae in a hard crash during the Sportsman feature on Saturday….
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: This week’s honor goes to the “Ringoes Rocket” Ryan Godown. After a tough night Friday in the Searock Fabrication #26 at Big Diamond all Godown did was gather a win and two second place finishes to complete the weekend in the Atlas Paving #66. Congratulations to Ryan and entire team on their weekend efforts.
As always, I can be reached for any comments or questions at email@example.com or on Twitter @dirtracefan25