Strunk Sends Message, Big Diamond Opener Notes – DTD Exclusive

By KEN BRUCE

2021 was a building year for Jeff Strunk and the Zubi’s No. 88Z racing team, putting together a brand-new team in only a few months was stressful for everyone, but Strunk was able to do so. The season did not get off to a great start for the team but they did come around to win some races during the year. Coming into 2022, the team was prepared to race, albeit with the exception of waiting for last years motors to come back after being refreshed, which is an industry wide problem. Ultimately, the Morrison spec 358 motors were ready to go and after two races in 2022, Strunk has finished second at the Grandview Speedway opener and last Friday night the “Bechtelsville Bullet” showed everyone at Big Diamond Speedway that he is the man to beat dominating the last half of the feature to take the win along with the $4,000 first prize. 

The win for Strunk on Friday night now ties him with Duane Howard for the most opening night victories at six and was his 58th career win (56 small-block, two big-block) at Big Diamond.

“We ended last season good and are off to a great start here this year,” said a happy Strunk in the Big Diamond tech shed after Friday night’s win. “I can’t ask more than that. We have a great team, the same guys are back from last year and a great owner in Zubi (car owner Dave Zubikowski). We have great engines from Pat Morrison, great Bicknell cars and I can’t ask for more and hopefully we can just keep plugging away here.”

Starting second, Strunk fell in behind early leader Alex Yankowski at the start of the 25-lap race. After some yellows at the start of the race that prevented continuous laps of competition, Strunk was all over the teenager Yankowski. Finally with ten laps to go Strunk was able to power by on the inside of Yankowski to take the lead.




“I think Alex was searching, he knew I was right there,” explained Strunk. “I felt like he was slowing down. I felt like I was slowing down there mid-race, but then I found a better line in (turns) one and two underneath that little dip there and that’s what really helped us. I got a good run at him there, I thought I had a good run at him about two or three laps before that, but the yellow came out.  I didn’t show myself altogether, and luckily, I was able to do it again and get past him. He (Alex Yankowski) is a great racer and is going to be one of the best of all time in my opinion so I better beat him now why I still can. Alex is like a little brother to me, and I wasn’t going to wreck him to get by or do anything dumb.

“It was a good run for us, and I cannot thank Dave (Zubikowski) enough for giving us what we need to compete and win races. We are having a lot of fun racing and that is a big part of it. You have to enjoy yourselves to do this. It’s a lot of work, especially with all the stuff going on right now and hopefully we can keep racing every week. I am anxious to see what’s going to happen and hopefully we can race every week.”

Solid Second-Place Finish for Reimert

Starting Friday night’s feature in the 10th spot, young Louden Reimert knew it was going to be tough to get up into the top five yet alone race for the win with the talent of the drivers in front of him. Reimert didn’t let that stop him as he steadily worked his way through the field passing the likes of Brett Kressley, Duane Howard, Nick Rochinski, Alex Yankowski and others en route to very impressive second place finish.

“It was a good finish, one more spot would’ve been better, but we will take it to start the season off,” said Reimert at his trailer after the race. “We tried something new here and luckily it worked, and we are off to a good start. We still have a little bit of tweaking to do yet, but I think we have a pretty good baseline to start with here. I think that will help us carry some momentum here through the season. Hopefully that win will come soon.

“I am hoping we can take some of this momentum we have here and the stuff that worked here and put it in our New Egypt car. We need to find some more speed down there. But happy though we had some good speed in our car tonight which was more than we had last year and hopefully we can build on that and get faster as the year goes on.”

Dejected Yankowksi Finishes Third

Leading the first 15 laps of the feature, Alex Yankowski looked to be the car to beat and continue his winning ways at Big Diamond. If you recall, Yankowski won the last race of the season in 2021 capturing the Jack Rich 72 lap Coalcracker. Unfortunately for Yankowski, Jeff Strunk was just a little bit better and passed him for the lead with Louden Reimert also getting by moving Yankowski back to third which is where he finished. 

“It was a good finish, but driver error cost us the race,” said a very subdued Yankowski while awaiting for his car to go through post-race tech inspection. “There is no one else to blame but me. I will learn from it and move forward.”

Driving the Rich Stankiewicz No. 2 on Friday night instead of his No. 84Y, Alex explained,

“We just wanted to get this car ready to go for Rich, he wanted to put a strong PA spec head and we did just that and proved it the first night out. Now we have to get the driver from making mistakes like he did tonight and go racing.”

Talon Carter Gets First Ever Crate 602 Sportsman Win

Young Talon Carter has a very strong lineage in racing as part of the Rags Carter Racing team. Talon’s great grandfather is the late and legendary racer Rags Carter giving the youngster the DNA to have a successful career in racing.

Friday night, the young Carter outdueled another up-and-coming driver in Doug Smith to win his first ever feature event in a stock car. Carter took the lead just past the halfway point of the race and held off Smith for the memorable win.

“I am feeling great, this car was on rails tonight,” said a very ecstatic Carter in victory lane with track announcer Dino Oberto. “I want to thank Skylar Sheriff here for helping me set it up, this is unbelievable. All the hard work we have put into this really paid off tonight, this is crazy to think I am standing here.”

Diamond Nuggets:

Strong fields of car on hand in all divisions for opening night. 36 Insigner Performance Modifieds, 39 USS Achey Crate 602 Sportsman and 19 Red White and Blue Autos all signed in for action on Friday night…

Modified heat winners were Nick Rochnski, Joel Smith and Louden Reimert with Mike Gular winning the consi…

Ryan Krachun, Tanner Vandoren, JR Fulper, Dillon Steuer were a few of the drivers who were not able to make the original opening night but were able to race this week…

Anthony Perrego and Matt Stangle, who were at Big Diamond last Friday when opening night was rained out, did not make the return trip this Friday, but both should be back at the track this upcoming Friday for the Money in the Mountains race…

Craig Von Dohren’s chances of winning another Big Diamond points title took a big hit on Friday night when the motor in the Dave Dissinger No. 88X expired in his heat race…

Ryan Watt’s 2022 season debut in the Shawn Fitzpatrick No. T102 got off to a rough start as the car experienced electrical issues all night long resulting in an DNQ…

Billy Pauch Jr’s night came to a abrupt stop as the No. 15 broke the front end in the early stages of the feature race…

Dominick Buffalino exited the feature race early on with a flat tire after contact with another car…

Good runs for both Mike Gular and Eddie Strada who both started towards the back of the field. Gular would end up with a fifth-place finish and a nice solid seventh place finish for Strada. Gular’s fifth place finish resulted in him winning The Four Wide Podcast $100 Hard Charger Award…

Great runs for both Kyle Kania and Logan Watt in the Crate 602 feature. Kania who started tenth ended up finishing third and was coming on strong late in the race. Watt who started eleventh ended up fourth. Watt who was making moves early was up to sixth when Steve Lyle slowed in front of him causing Watt to lose many spots and drop out of the top ten…

The USS Achey Crate 602 Sportsman looks to be very competitive once again with many drivers seemingly capable of winning races throughout the season. I don’t see many multiple winners in this division…

Congratulations to Andrew Fayash III on winning his second consecutive Red White and Blue Autos Roadrunner opening night feature…

Next up on the schedule for Big Diamond Speedway will be the annual Money in the Mountains feature race paying a cool $12,000 to the winner with $400 to take the green. Look for former MITM winner and arguably the hottest modified driver in the northeast Ryan Godown to make a trip to God’s Country looking for the extra cash. This will be a spec 358 race only, cars can run either gas (2350 lbs) or alcohol (2400 lbs)…

If you have any questions or comments. I can be reached at dirtracefan25@hotmail.com or on Twitter @dirtracefan25.