By KEN BRUCE
It has been since almost nine years to the day (June 15, 2011) since Mike Gular last visited victory lane at the Big Diamond Speedway. Although hardly ever a regular since that time, Gular has made many visits to the speedway and has been extremely competitive but just has not been ever to crack that victory lane drought.
With the track’s switch to gas only in 2020, Gular and his Terry Fasnacht owned No. 2A team decided to call Big Diamond Speedway their home on Friday nights for 2020. Running weekly at Big Diamond also gives Gular a chance to run for the American Racer Tire season end bonuses.
Opening night last Friday saw Gular run a strong race coming home with a solid fifth-place finish. On Tuesday night in the running of the Anthracite Assault STSS race Gular was once again very strong completing the race in the third spot.
“We’ve had a good car here the last two times we were here now,” cited Gular while his car was going through the post-race tech process. “We really didn’t change a lot, sort of just fine tuned it. We were good, we could roll the middle, the top and the bottom good. We did some adjustments on the motor after last week to get it more dialed in for here and I guess it paid off.”
This Friday Gular was determined to get himself into victory lane. Starting in the 13th spot Gular took his time early in the race to let the race sort out but soon after he turned up the wick and started to move through the pack. A lap 17 caution found Gular in the fourth position and when the race restarted he immediately made the move to third. Gular then started stalking leader Eddie Strada and second place running Alex Yankowski.
Lap 20 saw Gular slide past Yankowski and into second immediately starting to pressure the leader Strada.
“We were going for the win and when you see an opportunity, you got to go,” said Gular as he explained the move. “I saw the hole and I filled it. He left it open there and I went for it. I didn’t wreck him I don’t think, and I thought he stayed third. Racing is tight here; you can’t bobble and screw up here or you’re going to go backwards. We were chomping at the bit to go get him. He’s a good racer and he knows I didn’t mean nothing by it, it was just hard racing.”
A caution on lap 22 was what Gular was looking for, with a double-file restart coming up Gular knew this is where he had to make his move. Gular worked the restart to perfection staying alongside Strada coming out of turn four.
Coming past the starters stand, Gular started to edge in front and threw it hard into turn one sliding in front of Strada. Once in front, it was all Gular as he drove the Bicknell Chassis, Nick Gatto powered modified to the win. For Gular it was a well-earned win.
“I was just trying to break his momentum a little bit and make him want to lift a little earlier than he would like,” stated Gular as he talked about his winning move. “Hey, I learned from some of the best guys here and at Grandview like Craig (Von Dohren), Jeff (Strunk) and Duane (Howard), they do that same move all of the time and it’s one of those tricks you pick up to break the guys momentum. Not put them in the tires, just break their momentum. It is good to get the monkey off our back this early in the season so we don’t have to wait too long to get a win. Terry (car owner Terry Fasnacht) gives us everything we need, and the guys put the time in at the shop and this is a credit to them.”
Strong Race for Strada
Eddie Strada doesn’t have many starts in a Modified, but the young driver has shown quite a bit of potential so far in his limited starts. This season, Strada has decided to drive full-time on Friday nights at Big Diamond Speedway and if Friday’s race is of any indication, look for Strada to visit victory lane in the near future.
Starting from the pole, Strada drove a very strong race and led the first 22 laps before being overcome on a restart by winner Gular. Strada gave it all he could but could not hold off the veteran driver. Alex Yankowski was also able sneak by Strada one lap later forcing him to settle for a third-place finish. Still Strada was very pleased with his race.
“It’s a little tough to swallow, but it’s definitely a confidence booster for sure,” said a disappointed yet pleased Strada after the race. “It’s a shame that caution came out at that point. Usually you want a caution to come out so you can catch your breath and take a minute to relax, but that was the race. I wanted to keep going. But now at least we have something to work with. Races like tonight make you want to keep coming back and thinking you can run with these guys who are the best as far as I am concerned. Racing here on Friday nights is the place to be for competition. “
Strada went on to talk about the last restart when Gular got by him for the lead.
“I honestly thought I had him cleared and then going into one I heard those big ponies coming up alongside of me and he blew it down in there and kind of caught me by surprise. I wasn’t ready for it because I was doing good on the other restarts and I figured this was going to be just like any other restart when he was going to get trained on the bottom and I would be on my way. He is one of the best and has a lot of laps at this place and even if he didn’t, he’s still one of the best anywhere so if I was to get beat tonight I’m glad it was him to beat me.”
For his limited starts in a modified, the young Strada is doing very well and will only get better the more he races and learns the in and outs of tuning a dirt modified.
“These guys (his crew) are always asking, what can we do to make it better and I always answer I don’t really know what one feels like I guess. But seriously we’re getting better and we’ll just keep plugging away at it.”
Big Diamond Bits
This week saw the Modified car count drop from 37 last week to 26 Friday night. Craig Whitmoyer, Duane Howard and Eddie Strada won the three modified heats…
Duane Howard and the Norm Hansell No. 357 just can’t catch a break so far in 2020. After dropping out in last Friday’s opener with motor troubles, Howard looked strong Friday night running in the top five when Alex Yankowski and Doug Hendricks got together resulting in Hendricks spinning out directly in front of Howard. Somehow Howard jerked the car to the right and managed to avoid the Hendricks car only to have another car slip his front end ending his night…
Speaking of Hendricks, after tearing up the No. 80 car last Friday, the team was forced to do major work on the car to get it ready for this Friday. Hendricks looked strong in his heat race and was running in the top five in the feature until spinning out during the mid-portion of the race after some hard racing with Alex Yankowski…
After starting the season driving the Brietenstien No. 14, Billy Pauch Jr., was back in his own No. 15 this past Friday night coming home with a strong fifth place finish. Look for Pauch Jr to be back in the No. 14 next Friday…
A huge shoutout to second generation driver Cody Manmiller who won his career first crate sportsman main event on Friday night. Cody who is the son of PA star Doug Mamniller ran a flawless race to bring home the win…
Timmy Buckwalter looked to have one of the faster cars on the track during the early laps of the race making his way to the front quickly only to pull off the track when the driveline broke on the Norm Saxton No. 23X…
Last week’s winner and runner-up Jared Umbenhauer and Craig Von Dohren could never seem to get going Friday night. Umbenhauer ended the night finishing 10th with Von Dohren only able to make up to eighth…
After two races, Mike Gular leads the way in the chase for the season long title over Jeff Strunk, Jared Umbenhauer, Craig Von Dohren and Alex Yankowski…
Next Friday night at Big Diamond will be the Kamp Memorial race for the Insigner Performance Modifieds with the winner receiving $4000…
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