First ever Modified win for Eddie Strada at Big Diamond, Yoder wins Wingless Sportsman

It was a night to remember Friday night at Big Diamond Speedway as Eddie Strada won his first ever Quandel Concrete 358 Modified feature in the second round of the Modified Month of Money. Strada took the lead on lap four and was never headed after that to win the 25-lap, $5,000 to win Modified feature. Trent Yoder was the winner of the Wingless Sportsman with Joe Toth taking the win in the USS Achey 602 Crate Sportsman feature. McKenzi Smith doubled up on the night winning both Big Creek Concrete Rookie 602 Crate Sportsman features.

Shawn Fitzpatrick and Cliff Quinn brought the 24-car Quandel Concrete Modified field to starter Warren Alston’s green flag with Fitzpatrick jumping out to the early lead. The initial yellow of the race was on lap one when Ken Eckert Jr stopped on the backstretch. The yellow was out again after the restart when defending Modified champion Brett Kressley spun after contact with Mike Gular as the field checked up ahead. Logan Watt and Doug Smith were also involved and headed to the pits, both returning. Fitzpatrick led the way on the restart with the yellow coming out again on lap two as Bryan Rhoads slowed.

After the lap two caution, we were able to get in some racing with Fitzpatrick out front with the cars of Duane Howard, Eddie Strada, Tim Buckwalter and Mike Gular all advancing quickly towards the front. Strada was a man on a mission as he used the inside line to flash by Howard, Buckwalter, Mike Burrows and Aleia Geisler to rocket into second behind leader Fitzpatrick. Strada continued his march to the front as he easily cleared Fitzpatrick to become the new leader as lap four was completed. One lap later, Buckwalter cleared Fitzpatrick and moved into second as Howard was now next to get by and into third. As Strada was pulling away, Howard was reeling in Buckwalter for second as the yellow was out for two cars stopping on the pit entrance. During this yellow, Howard headed to the pits with electrical issues and was done for the night.

The top five after eleven laps were completed were Strada, Buckwalter, Gular from 12th, Fitzpatrick and a flying Ryan Watt who had started in 17th. Strada again asserted himself as the man to beat on this night as he rocketed away from Buckwalter, who was now battling Gular for second. Gular was losing distance to leader Strada when the final yellow flag of the race was put out on lap 20 for a stopped Wayne Witmer. This was the break that the veteran Gular was looking for as it now put him alongside Strada for the restart.

The restart saw Gular give it all he had on the outside, but to no avail as Strada kept his No. 33 cranking on the inside to stay in front and start to pull away. Behind the two leaders, all eyes were on Kressley as he used the “Kressley Line” to put himself into the top five and challenge Ryan Watt for fourth. This night belonged to Strada as he finally closed the deal to take the $5,000 win over Gular, Buckwalter, Ryan Watt and Kressley.

“We have had a really stellar car this year at this place, I don’t know if it just jives or what it is,” said the victorious driver. “I can’t thank my crew enough, they bust their butts every week. They have been coming to these races and been finishing runner ups and not even in the top ten and tonight we finally pulled one off against a good field. We had one helluva hot rod tonight. I knew Mike (Gular) wasn’t going to get me on the restart tonight, he got me a couple of years ago on a restart and it wasn’t happening tonight. I appreciate Mike racing me clean and everyone racing me clean and we’re going to celebrate this one tonight, that’s for sure. These cars are probably the hardest thing I have ever drove, sprint cars and everything else you just put your foot to the floor and turn the wheel, these things are a lot more finesse and to finally get one after my grandfather and father had modified wins all of their lives and I had sprint car and micro wins and now I get to add a modified win.”

The Wingless Sportsman feature was permeated with many yellows and three red flags with Curt Stroup grabbing the lead on the initial start with the red flag coming out quickly as five cars get together in turns three and four blocking the track. Stroup led the way again only to have the second red flag displayed as a car went over the fence in turn three, thankfully the driver, Joe Gabner, was okay. The field went back to racing and Stroup continued to lead the way as Trent Yoder worked his way into second place. Lap after lap, Yoder was able to cut into Stroup’s lead with both cars racing side by side, with Yoder finally able to complete the pass for the lead on lap 19. Two yellows and another red flag slowed the action over the remaining six laps with Yoder able to hold off Stroup for the win. Completing the top five were Brett Perigo, Chad Thomas and Cooper Shue.

The 20-lap USS Achey Inc Crate Sportsman feature saw Joe Toth winning his second career 602 Crate Sportsman at Big Diamond Speedway. Tyler Vidal took the lead from his pole starting spot and immediately opened up a lead over John McGeoy and the rest of the field. Vidal continued to lead the way as the field took the crossed flags signaling the halfway mark. The first yellow of the race was displayed with Vidal leading McGeoy, Toth – up from his ninth starting spot, Logan Starr and Daryl Dissinger. Vidal kept his No. 17 out front as Toth moved by McGeoy for the runner-up spot. The next and final yellow was out on lap 15. On the restart Toth asserted himself and quickly drove around the outside of Vidal and to the lead. Toth stretched his lead over the final five laps to take the checkered flag over Vidal, Daryl Dissinger, Jordan Henn and Kevin Olenick.

The Big Creek Concrete Rookie 602 Crate Sportsman ran two features as they raced their makeup feature from opening night. The Thaw Brawl feature win belonged to McKenzi Smith, and she kept the momentum going and swept both features. Smith ran away with the race to win over Teague Miller and Reese Widger in the Thaw Brawl Feature. In the regularly scheduled feature, Smith took the lead from Miller late in the race to record the Rookie 602 Crate Sportsman sweep followed by Miller once again. These two wins would be marked in the Big Diamond Speedway record books as McKenzi was the youngest female to ever win a feature at the Speedway. McKenzi also made history alongside her father, Joel Smith, becoming the first father and daughter to become feature winners at Big Diamond Speedway.