Howard first to double up in Big Diamond Modifieds, Weller dominates URC feature
For Immediate Release
Big Diamond PR 5/20/23
Track Promoters – Jake and Jasmine Smulley
Track Website – www.bigdspeedway.net
In a highly competitive Quandel Concrete modified feature race, it was Duane Howard holding off the challenges of Jeff Strunk and Mike Gular to win the 25-lap main event. Josh Weller dominated the United Racing Club feature race with Danny Buccafusca finally fending off his season long bad luck to win in the USS Achey Crate 602 division. Jax Yohh registered his third win of the year in the Big Creek Concrete Crate Rookie class and Chuck Fayash won feature number two in the Red White and Blue Roadrunners.
The Quandel Concrete main event was a battle of the titans on Friday night with Aleia Geisler and Scott Albert bringing the field to the green after seventh place starter Nick Rochinski went pitside during the pace laps. Geisler takes the green flag and leads lap one. Seventh-place starter Duane Howard and ninth place starter Jeff Strunk wasted no time as they worked their way towards the front. Lap two saw Howard and Strunk already up to third and fourth and one lap later the dispersed Shawn Light to move into second and third with Geisler still in the lead. The “Diamond Cutter” Howard and the “Bechtelsville Bullet” Strunk were on a mission and when lap four was scored both had moved past Geisler to lead the way.
Howard was out front, but Strunk was not letting him get away. Why the two Big Diamond titans battle out front, last week’s feature winner Brett Kressley was quickly getting to the front and wanting to join in the battle. Kressley was up to fourth on lap eight after starting eleventh. The first yellow of the race was displayed with points leader Louden Reimert spinning his No. 16 in turn one setting up the first of many restarts of the race. Strunk tried working the outside of Howard on the restart but couldn’t get the bite coming off of turn two to get past the No. 15G. Kressley got past Light on the restart and was now third and pressuring Strunk for second. Mike Gular was also flexing his muscle getting by Light to move into fourth.
The yellow was put out once again as Ryan Watt and Tim Fitzpatrick got together in turn one setting up another restart for the long-time rivals. Howard got a good restart on Strunk to maintain his lead but one lap later, Ken Eckert Jr stopped his No. 29 in turn four necessitating another caution. Howard tried the same restart as his previous one, but this time starter Jeff Merkel put out the yellow signaling no start. Howard again was able to keep the lead on this restart with Gular working by Kressley for third. The middle portion of the race was slowed with many yellows as, yet it was out again with a tangle in turn four on lap 16 involving Keven Beach Jr, Dave Dissinger, Craig Von Dohren and Timmy Buckwalter.
The following restart was intense with Howard leading the way at the drop of the green with Strunk, Gular and Kressley running three abreast down the front stretch all vying for the that number two spot. Before the next lap could be scored the yellow was out again for a wreck in turn one involving Von Dohren, Scott Albert, Reimert, Heath Metzger, Corey Renninger and Dissinger. With the track being blocked, race officials put the red flag out to let the safety teams have access to the track. Once the wreck was cleared and the field was set up for the restart, disaster struck the No. 126 of Strunk as he pulled off the track with a left rear flat tire moving Gular up alongside Howard for the restart. Strunk would pit and return to the track with nine laps left.
The next restart would turn out to be the final restart of the race, Gular was not going to let Howard have an easy time of it as he was able to mount a challenge on the outside coming out of turn two to pull up on the outside of Howard as they two veterans race side by side down the backstretch. Gular raced into turn three as hard as he could to try and get an edge on Howard and it looked like Gular was going to take the lead, but Gular just couldn’t find the grip he needed coming off the turn to get in front as Howard used the extreme inside line to power off the corner to remain in front. Howard led the remaining laps to take his second win of the year and his 91st career Big Diamond win. Gular finished second with Kressley, Laubach and Light the top five.
“I got a great race team and once we got rolling, I felt pretty comfortable up front,” said the victorious Howard in the Red White and Blue Autos victory lane. “But these restarts, it’s a cat and mouse game. There’s not much of a zone there to start in and you got to go when you think you got to go and a couple of times, I went a little early but that’s what everybody has to do here to get up front. We just have a heckuva race team, everybody’s clicking, and everyone knows what to do when the get to the race shop and it is just so much fun racing for these guys, and I am having a blast.”
Reese Nowotarski and Josh Weller led the traveling series to the green flag. Racing was short lived, and Kyle Smith got upside down going into turn one to bring the red flag out immediately. Smith got out of his car and was okay. It was a complete restart with Nowotarski leading lap one over Weller. Lap two saw Weller go by Nowotarski on the backstretch to take the lead away. With Weller starting to stretch his lead out, the No. 7 of Tyler Reeser was working on Nowotarski for second. Lap four saw Reeser take over second with Weller out to a huge lead.
With the leader Weller catching the back of the field on lap eight, Reeser started to cut into his lead as the field reached the halfway mark. Reeser was making significant progress as he cut the lead to under two seconds. That was the closest Reeser would get as the distance between the two leaders started to grow again. With no yellows to slow his pace, Weller would streak under the checkered flag for the win with Reeser finishing second. Nowotarski, Robbie Stillwagon and Tyler Walton rounding out the top five.
“That first start coming back really helped us, I sort of figured out I could roll the top a little better,” said the winner Weller in victory lane with URC announcer Bert Wojcik. “I’ve heard some of the modified guys saying it has been sort of one lane here lately and I think we proved that wrong tonight. Thanks to Jake (track promoter Jake Smulley) and everybody. Glad to see a big crowd here on a Friday night and hopefully we put on a good show for them.”
After many weeks of heartache, it was Danny Buccafusca taking his first win in 2023 in the USS Achey Crate 602 Sportsman division. Buccafusca wasted no time getting to the front making a three wide pass of Matt Yoder and Xavier Sprague on lap two to take the lead. Multiple yellows slowed the race on laps three, five and twelve but each time Buccafusca would drive off to a big lead. There would be no bad luck for Buccafusca on this night as he drove to a comfortable win over Yoder, Sprague, Mike Scheck and Jordan Henn. It was Buccafusca’s eight career crate 602 sportsman win at Big Diamond.
The Big Creek Concrete Crate Rookie feature was dominated by Jax Yohn who started on the pole and went on to win his third rookie feature of the year. Danica Getz had her best finish of the season in second followed by Alex Bartorillo, Brennan Chapman & Brian Rehbein.
The Red White and Blue Autos Roadrunners feature race saw rivals Chuck Fayash and Alex Schoffstall put on another duel for the fans. Those two combatants would race door to door swapping the lead until contact between the two in the mid portion of the race found Schoffstall breaking his front end allowing Fayash to drive away for the win over Kris Ney.
Next Friday night, May 19th is the annual Big Diamond Topless night with the Quandel Concrete Modfieds, the USS Achey Crate 602 Sports and the Big Creek Concrete Crate Rookies all racing without roofs and windows. The Modifieds will race 30 laps for $5,000 to win first place prize with the Crate 602 Sportsman racing for a winners share of $1,500. Also on the schedule for next Friday are the Red White and Blue Autos Roadrunners along with the Gene Latta Ford Central PA Legends.
Full Results from Friday, May 19th, 2023:
Quandel Concrete Modifieds: 1. Duane Howard 2. Mike Gular 3. Brett Kressley 4. Rick Laubach 5. Shawn Light 6. Doug Smith Jr 7. Frank Cozze 8. Timmy Buckwalter 9. Craig Von Dohren 10. Mike Lisowski 11. Kevin Beach Jr 12. Dave Dissinger 13. Louden Reimert 14. Jeff Strunk 15. Shawn Fitzpatrick 16. Corey Renninger 17. Aleia Geisler 18. Scott Albert 19. Ken Eckert Jr 20. Ryan Watt 21. Tim Fitzpatrick 22. Joel Smith 23. Heath Metzger DNS: Nick Rochinski, Bobby Trapper Jr. DNQ: Wayne Witmer
Modified Heat Winners: Jeff Strunk, Duane Howard & Shawn Light
Penske Shocks Certificate Winners: Duane Howard ($100), Mike Gular ($75) & Brett Kressley ($50)
USS Achey Crate 602 Sportsman: 1. Danny Buccafusca 2. Matt Yoder 3. Xavier Sprague 4. Mike Schneck Jr 5. Jordan Henn 6. Logan Watt 7. Kevin Olenick 8. Paulie Hartwig III 9. Talan Carter 10. Mike Loney 11. Chad Putalavage 12. Brandon Firestine 13. Marty Shappell 14. Justin Lilick 15. John McGeoy 16. Logan Starr 17. John Deatrich 18. Nick Desantis 19. Dave McElroy 20. Tyler Vidal 21. Daryl Dissinger 22. Josh Mooney
Crate 602 Heat Winners: Danny Buccafusca, Daryl Dissinger & Jordan Henn
Penske Shock Certificate Winners: Danny Buccafusca ($100), Matt Yoder ($75) & Xavier Sprague ($50)
Big Creek Concrete Crate Rookies: 1. Jax Yohn 2. Danica Getz 3. Alex Bartorillo 4. Brennan Chapman 5. Brian Rehbein
Red White and Blue Autos Roadrunners: 1. Chuck Fayash 2. Kris Ney 3. Jim Kost 4. Louis Gara 5. Alex Schoffstall 6. CJ Ferguson 7. TJ Fitzpatrick DNS: Jesse Krasnitsky
Roadrunner Heat Winner: Kris Ney
United Racing Club Sprints: 1. Josh Weller 2. Tyler Reeser 3. Reese Nowotarski 4. Tyler Walton 5. Robbie Stillwagon 6. Joe Kata 7. Adam Carberry 8. Hayden Miller 9. Jason Schultz 10. Brandon McGough 11. Kyle Drum 12. Ken Meisner 13. Derek Hauck 14. Matthew Swift 15. Johnny Smith 16. Zack Burd 17. Devin Gundrum 18. Kyle Smith 19. Ryan Stillwagon
URC Heat Winners: Adam Carberry & Tyler Walton