Howard and Henn break slumps at Big Diamond, Kepner PASS 305 Sprint winner

2024 has not been the year both Duane Howard and Jordan Henn pictured when they started the year. Howard, the winner of 92 Big Diamond features, and Henn, the defending 602 Crate Champion, just could not find the right combination to get to victory lane in 2024, so far. Friday night on Bill Bowers Memorial night, both Howard and Henn put it all together to pick up first wins of this year. Howard blasted to the front around the halfway mark to win the Quandel Concrete 358 Modified race and Henn used a lap 19 pass to win the USS Achey, Inc. 602 Crate Sportsman race. Mike Reichert and Jared Bassininsky were the winners of the Red White and Blue Autos Twin 12 Roadrunner features for the Bob Bowers Memorial and Kruz Kepner was the winner of the PASS 305 Sprint race.

Michael Burrows and Wayne Witmer were on the front row as the Quandel Concrete Modifieds were set to race for 25 laps with Burrows darting out to the front with the drop of starter Warren Alston’s green flag. But, this race was not ready to get going as a multi-car wreck took place going down the backstretch involving Ryan Watt, Jack Butler, Doug Smith Jr, Aleia Geisler, Ron Haring and Eddie Strada bringing out the red flag. The second attempt to get the race started was negated again when Scott Albert was spun out on the backstretch. Another complete restart was in order and this restart was short lived again as Heath Metzger and Geisler tangled off of turn two.

The fourth time was a charm on this night as the race finally was able to get underway with Burrows again darting out to the lead and leading lap one. The yellow flag waved again as Brandon Edgar stopped in turn four. Racing resumed with Burrows going to the lead as Witmer and a hard charging Paulie Hartwig III battled for second. Hartwig III was able to make the pass on Witmer and move into second as the field completed lap seven with a hungry Duane Howard also getting by Witmer and into third. One lap later, Howard was past Hartwig III for second and setting his sights on the leader Burrows while Hartwig III was trying to hold off Mike Lisowski for third. Howard ran down Burrows and made the pass for the lead on lap 14. Howard was on a mission and was pulling away from the field.

With Howard putting down fast laps and pulling away, the racing behind him was intense as Lisowski was finally able to get by Burrows for second. The battle for fourth and fifth was a see saw battle with Louden Reimert and Brett Kressley swapping the spot back and forth multiple times. None of that mattered to Howard who had the dominant car on this night to take the win in the Butch Getz Motorsports No. 15G. Mike Lisowski, Michael Burrows, Louden Reimert and Brett Kressley completed the top five.

“I am sure everybody out there fan wise was wondering what happened to Howard, did he lose it or what,” said a happy and relieved Howard after the race. “I have to give credit to this Getz Motorsports team, we never stopped working and it might now show with our performance on the track. It’s been a trying year and with the Getz family losing their pet dog this week, it’s just been a tough time. We needed something like this to break the ice and get that big monkey off our back and start racing like we should. This team is good and we have good cars but this is just so tough anymore and you just need things to fall into place to get one of these wins. It’s been a trying year but we’re gonna push through and be good at the end of the year.”

Friday night was the season debut of the PASS 305 Sprint Cars with Kruz Kepner and former Big Diamond 602 Crate Sportsman driver Danny Buccafusca bringing the 18-car field to the green flag with Kepner charging out from the pole to lead lap one as Buccafusca settled into second. Kepner continued to lead the way and opened a 3.5 second lead over Buccafusca when the yellow was out for Kyle Hart who stopped in turn four after nine laps were in. Kepner was back on the gas and in charge as Logan Spahr tried to make a move under Buccafusca for second place, but to no avail, as Spahr couldn’t pull off the pass. Kepner was on cruise control at this point and took the checkered flag by a large margin over Danny Buccafusca, Logan Spahr, Zack Rhodes and Erin Statler.

Tyler Vidal looked like he was going to win his first ever Big Diamond 602 Crate Sportsman feature, but defending points champion Jordan Henn had other ideas. Wes Brady and Tyler Vidal led the field to the green flag and just like the modified feature, it was yellow fever early in the race as starter Warren Alston was busy with cautions on the start, lap 2, lap 5 and lap 6. Once we got past the staggered start, it was green flag racing for the remaining 14 laps with Vidal out front and pulling away. While Vidal was leading the way by a large margin, it was the No. 4R of Jordan Henn that was making quick moves to the front. Henn was up to second when Colin Cox brought out the final yellow on lap 6 and was now set up to take the win. But Vidal was fast and was able to stay in front as the veteran Henn threw everything he could at the No. 17 of Vidal. Vidal, running about a half a lane off of the inside groove, was able to slam the door shut each time Henn would make a move on the very bottom. Lap after lap it was more of the same as Henn tried each corner to work his way past the leader Vidal. Finally, after 12 laps of trying Vidal slipped up just a little going into turn three coming to the white and Henn took advantage of the slight miscue to pounce and muscle by Vidal to take the lead with the white flag waving. Henn would go on to win followed by Tyler Vidal, Brennan Chapman, Mike Schneck Jr and Jax Yohn.

It was Twin 12 lap features for the Red White and Blue Autos Roadrunners in honor of Bob Bowers. The first 12 lap feature was a barnburner with Alex Schoffstall and Mike Reichert battling to the end with Reichert coming out on top to win over Alex Schoffstall, Andrew Fayash III, TJ Fitzpatrick and Kris Ney. With an invert of six, it was Jarod Bassininsky leading the field to the start and immediately jumped to the lead, Kris Ney in tow. Bassininsky would go on to lead all 12 laps to win his third Red White and Blue Autos Roadrunner feature in 2024. Alex Schoffstall would once again having to settle for second with Mike Reichert, Terry Kramer and Kris Ney the top five.

Next up at Big Diamond will be the Georgie Stevenson Memorial consisting of “Twin 20’s” for the Quandel Concrete Modifieds along with the USS Achey, Inc. 602 Crate Sportsman, the Red White and Blue Autos Roadrunners and the XCEL 600 Modifieds.