By BOBBY SWEENEY
Billy Pauch Jr. took advantage of Jimmy Horton’s struggles with lapped traffic and the cushion, stealing the lead late in the Short Track Super Series Anthracite Assault at Big Diamond Speedway. The $5,000 win is Pauch’s third with the STSS, going along with victories in 2016 and 2019.
Horton and Pauch led the field to the green for the 50-lap main event, with Horton getting the best of Pauch at the start. The early stages of the event were plagued with cautions, notably a lap three red flag for Stewart Friesen flipping, and a lap seven yellow for Matt Sheppard breaking. Following a lap 11 pileup, the race finally got a green flag feel.
Horton and Pauch separated themselves from third place Mike Gular, who was under heavy pressure from Ryan Godown. After a battle, Godown took third from Gular on lap 16, but was already three seconds behind the top two. Up front, Horton had a steady one-second lead as the race neared halfway, but traffic on the 3/8 mile was soon to plague the frontrunners.
While Pauch initially closed in at halfway, Horton worked traffic masterfully to reestablish a comfortable gap. A bobble on lap 30 erased any comfort Horton had, but as before, Horton pulled away. With fifteen laps left, Horton looked strong and steady out front.
On lap 39, Horton hopped the cushion while working over a lapped car, and Pauch jumped at the chance. Pauch dove low while Horton struggled to regain his footing, with Pauch taking the lead.
Pauch ran away once he got clean air, but a lap 41 yellow for third place Godown halted his pace. This put Gular back in third, and Horton was left to fend off Gular on the restart. Pauch darted away, but a final yellow on lap 46 set up a single file restart. Pauch went high, Horton higher, and Gular low, but all three cars were essentially matched on speed. After a flawless final laps, it was Pauch grabbing his third Short Track Super Series win in the 50-lap Anthracite Assault.
“I was starting to catch him a little bit, I was riding around for a while there saving my stuff,” Pauch Jr. said. “Jimmy is phenomenal, him and my dad are the best in the business in my book, so it was awesome to see him run well and battle with him. I knew I had to get on it after Mike Mallett was telling me how hard I’ve stepped on it twice this week. There’s a lot of people here tonight, I’m glad dirt racing is continuing to thrive though all of this. I’m thankful for a lot of people, I’m just happy to be here.”
Horton was credited with 39 laps led on the evening. While second is a strong run, Horton was understandably disappointed after not leading the most important lap.
“We got a little loose at the end,” Horton stated. “We got into traffic and they were in our way some. We had to search for a way by, and we killed our tires searching. Sometimes it’s better to be second, and we have to get a little better ourselves. Even then, this is the best we’ve been in some time.”
Gular spent much of the race in fourth, but slipped into third after Godown’s issues. While Pauch and Horton ripped the top, Gular was way down low at the end of the event and nearly stole some extra spots.
“I was hoping the top would get wide, but it didn’t get wide enough,” said Gular. “We were digging on the bottom, but we just didn’t have quite the car we needed to win. Finding the last little bit to get those wins is hard, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Tyler Dippel and Richie Pratt completed the top five.
ANTHRACITE ASSAULT RACE SUMMARY – BIG DIAMOND SPEEDWAY JUNE 16, 2020
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Modified North-South Combination Event Feature Finish (50 laps): BILLY PAUCH JR., Jimmy Horton, Mike Gular, Tyler Dippel, Richie Pratt Jr., Jeff Strunk, Andy Bachetti, David Van Horn Jr., Jared Umbenhauer, Mike Mahaney, Larry Wight, Mat Williamson, Danny Creeden, Allison Ricci, Craig Hanson, Ryan Watt, Danny Bouc, Shawn Fitzpatrick, Billy Van Pelt, Alex Yankowski, Ryan Godown, Rick Laubach, Jordan Watson, Erick Rudolph, Danny Tyler, Matt Sheppard, Anthony Perrego, Stewart Friesen, Brett Kressley.
Did Not Qualify: Brett Tonkin, Nick Rochinski, Ricky Davis III, Alex Tonkin, Josh Delea, Billy Lasko, Jim Bobbitt Jr., Frank Yankowski, Joe Judge, Danny Hieber, Kailee Dimorier, Skylar Sherriff, Brandon Grosso, Duane Howard, Nick Mady, Craig Von Dohren.
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificates): David Van Horn Jr. (eighth) & Allison Ricci (14th)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Tyler Dippel (fourth) & Jared Umbenhauer (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($50): Richie Pratt Jr. (Redrew 10th)
Bill Brown & Co. Heat-Race Hard Charger ($50): Billy Pauch Jr. (7th to 2nd)
EIBACH Springs Bonus ($100 Certificate): Jeff Strunk (sixth)
Henry’s Exhaust Power Position ($50 Certificate): Larry Wight (11th)
Mat Mike Tools LLC Winner’s Bonus ($200 plus Product): Billy Pauch Jr.
On-Track Automotive Ironman Award ($100): Allison Ricci (14th)
Precision Hydraulic & Oil Halfway Leader ($200): Jimmy Horton
Racing Optics Bonus (Tear-Off Sleeve): Mike Gular (third)
Smith Site Development Hard Charger ($250): Jared Umbenhauer (29th to ninth)
Wilwood Brakes ‘Lucky 7’ Bonus ($75 Certificate): Andy Bachetti (seventh)