Friday April 18, 7:30PM – 358 Modifieds, Sportsman (regular feature plus make-up feature from 4-11), Roadrunners.
Sunday April 20 – Nutty Buddy Enduro Series Presented by Naftzinger/Detweiller Race 1.
Friday April 25, 7:45PM – 358 Modifieds, Sportsman, Roadrunners, Xcel 600 Modifieds
RYAN WATT BEGINS NEW SEASON WITH A VICTORY AT BIG DIAMOND RACEWAY…By Gary Lileck
Forestville, PA – April 11, 2008 – Ryan Watt began his 2008 points season just the way he ended last year, with a feature victory. The driver from Boyertown, PA won Friday’s 358 Modified season opener at Big Diamond Raceway. His triumph in the 30-lap feature was worth a crisp $2250.
Watt began his racing career driving a Sportsman-car in 1997. Since that time, he has competed at several tracks, and joined the weekly BDR Modified contingent in 2006. Watt drives for famed local Pottsville, PA car owner Franny Purcell aboard the Bicknell chassis #6 machine.
After starting from tenth in the feature field, Watt worked his way into the runner-up position by the thirteenth lap. Watt and the entire field had been racing behind event dominator Duane Howard. The former six-time track champion led from the onset, but the BPG Troyer #4 car showed signs of smoke on lap 8. Howard set a rapid pace up until lap 17 when Howard's machine erupted in smoke and abruptly ended the past champion's evening.
“I got into third spot and I could see (Howard’s) car starting to smoke” noted Watt in victory circle. “I wasn’t sure if his car was going to make it all the way through so we just hung in there. Finishing second would have been just fine, but this is awesome.” It was Watt’s second career victory at Big Diamond.
Watt noted that his machine experienced power steering issues, however, nothing kept him from the winner’s circle.
Howard powered Chad Sinon’s #4 into the early lead with Ryan Grim in pursuit. The first yellow flag flew for newcomer Stewart Friesen on lap four. On the restart, Howard immediately pulled away from Grim and third place Keith Hoffman, in his new ride owned by Mike Dinatale. Watt occupied the fourth position by lap six and passed Hoffman via the inside lane of the ninth circuit.
The caution lights flashed with nine laps on the board for New Jersey’s Ryan Godown, whose Johnny Rea owned #R1 sat to the outside of the fourth corner. Racing went green for two laps before the yellow waved for defending track champion Jeff Strunk, who slowed with a flat right front tire. Doug Manmiller and Meme DeSantis were involved in a pair of separate restart attempts to follow.
Under green conditions on lap thirteen, Howard led while Watt drove past Grim via the inside groove to take the runner-up spot. A four car tangle took place in turn two of lap fourteen. Once again, Strunk was forced pitside with a flat tire. When racing went back to green, Hoffman followed Howard and Watt into the third position, dropping Grim to fourth. Friesen and Corey Sechrist went around in turn four of lap fifteen, bringing out the caution.
Howard would show the way until the seventeenth lap when his Troyer-4 smoked heavily in the fourth turn. This would trigger the contest’s final caution flag. In front of an excited grandstand, Watt became the new race leader. Watt brought the field back to the green and put some distance between himself and second place Hoffman. Watt extended his advantage to nearly two seconds over Hoffman.
Watt powered to the victory with Hoffman occupying second. Third generation racer Billy Pauch Jr. started seventh and finished third aboard his new ’08 ride, the Pioneer Pole Buildings #8. Pauch worked past Grim for the spot with five laps remaining. Grim held on to finish fourth and he was followed by Tom Umbenhauer, who powered from eighteenth to fifth.
32 cars were present for the ’08 points season opener. Heat winners were Duane Howard, Craig Whitmoyer, Ryan Watt, and Rick Laubach. Ryan Godown won the consolation.
Kevin Holland of Pine Grove PA made an early season statement with a strong feature victory in the 15-lap Roadrunner main event. After taking most of last year off, Holland is returning to the driver’s seat in 2008.
A strong showing of 22 Roadrunners took part in their A-main. Former Enduro competitor Gary Renninger throttled into the early race lead. Elvin Brennan, driving a brand new race-car this season, followed into second while tenth starter Holland was quickly working through the pack.
On lap four, Holland shot to the outside of Brennan for second in turns one and two. Holland remained on the accelerator and blazed ahead of Renninger via the outside of turns three and four. At the completion of four laps, Holland showed the way. The event’s only caution took place for a multi car tangle involving ’07 track champion Tom Hablett.
Holland continued to lead under green conditions followed by Renninger and third year racer Kevin Olenick. On lap nine, Olenick drove into the runner-up spot. Holland held a two lead with five laps to go, however, Olenick was on the move. Olenick soon closed within a few car lengths and looked for passing room on the inside with under two laps remaining.
Holland kept the hard charging Olenick at bay on the final lap and Holland drove to the season opening victory. Olenick finished second ahead of Renninger. Ryan Olenick, returning to the driver’s seat this season, finished fourth after starting from twelfth. Ricky Bender rebounded from the lap five caution and worked back to a fifth place finish.
Heat winners earlier in the night were Joe Hendricks and Gary Renninger.
Showers occasionally sprinkled during the course of the evening, however, rain became apparent during the Sportsman feature. Rick Raisner, driving a new Bicknell chassis this season, led the opening four circuits before a multi-car tangle erupted in the second turn, bringing out the red flag. During this time, rain intensified and the cars were called to the pits.
Raisner held the race lead followed by Clay Butler and Josh Biever.
The end result will find the final 16-laps of the Sportsman feature to be completed first on the agenda this Friday April 18. A full card of 358 Modifieds, Sportsman, and Roadrunners will follow with a special start time this week of 7:30PM.
Incidentally, 37 Sportsman were on hand with heat wins going to Richard Stankiewicz, Rick Raisner, Ebby Ridge, and Bill Moyer Jr. Gary Wagner and Mike Loney won the consi races.
The evening moved along very quickly as the 358 Modified feature took the checkered flag at 9:49PM.
COMPLETE RACE SUMMARY – BIG DIAMOND RACEWAY – APRIL 11, 2008
FEATURE (30-LAPS): 1) Ryan Watt, 2) Keith Hoffman, 3) Billy Pauch Jr., 4) Ryan Grim, 5) Tom Umbenhauer, 6) Rick Laubach, 7) Terry Meitzler, 8) Jason Hamilton, 9) Craig Von Dohren, 10) Doug Manmiller, 11) Sean Merkel, 12) Craig Whitmoyer, 13) Jeff Strunk, 14) Ray Swinehart, 15) Colt Harris, 16) Shawn Fitzpatrick, 17) Shawn Reimert, 18) Kenny Eckert Jr., 19) Duane Howard, 20) Dale Hartz, 21) Stewart Friesen, 22) Corey Sechrist, 23) Meme DeSantis, 24) Ryan Godown, 25) John Willman, 26) Jeff Sechrist.
DNQ: Kevin Hirthler, Kevin Albert, Troy Wink, Bobby Gunther-Walsh, Dan Hineline, Mike Nicholas.
FEATURE (15-LAPS): 1) Kevin Holland, 2) Kevin Olenick, 3) Gary Renninger, 4) Ryan Olenick, 5) Ricky Bender, 6) Jeremy Becker, 7) Gary Willard Jr., 8) Chris Holland, 9) Bud Vidal, 10) Davey Nester, 11) Cory Swartz, 12) Byrd Klinger, 13) Elvin Brennan, 14) Dan Mazy, 15) Mark Paine, 16) Joe Hendricks, 17) Tom Hablett, 18) Walter Lesher, 19) Brian Close, 20) Ed Kuperavage, 21) Toby Chase, 22) Rob Pyle.
LAST 16-LAPS OF THE FEATURE TO BE COMPLETED ON APRIL 18
HODNETT @ the Diamond.....AMAZING !!!!!!