Howard bests field for 7th time in Coal­cracker 72

The Boyertown Area Times - - SPORTS - For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Duane Howard’s nick­name at Big Di­a­mond Speed­way is the “The Di­a­mond Cut­ter” in ref­er­ence to how he used to dom­i­nate the field at the Schuylkill County oval. How­ever in re­cent years the victories have come far and in be­tween team for the driver out of Oley. As a mat­ter of fact Howard’s last vic­tory at the speed­way was back on May 29th of 2015. Well over two years ago.

Howard broke out of his two year win­ning drought in a big way by tak­ing the vic­tory in the track’s sig­na­ture race, the Jack Rich, Inc Coal­cracker 72. It was the sev­enth time Howard has won the event in his ca­reer.

The race started out with pole sit­ter Anthony Per­rego in the Su­pe­rior Re­mod­el­ing #44 TEO get­ting the jump on the vet­eran Frank Cozze to take the lead. Per­rego would go on to lead the first four laps be­fore Ray Swine­hart would stop to bring out the first cau­tion of the night. Cozze was able to beat Per­rego on the restart to turn one to take the lead. Cozze would stretch his lead on the field as Per­rego was now try­ing to hold off the charges of Billy Pauch Jr for the sec­ond spot. Cozze was dic­ing his way through lapped traf­fic when the 2017 track cham­pion Craig Von Dohren slowed to bring out the yel­low on lap 27.

Von Dohren limped into the pits and made re­pairs just as the green was com­ing out as Cozze still main­tained his lead over the new sec­ond place run­ner Pauch Jr. Howard was also start­ing to make his pres­ence known as well by tak­ing over third. Yel­low again was dis­played for Do­minick Buf­falino who went around in turn one. Start­ing to make his way through the field from his eleventh start­ing spot was three time win­ner of this race Ryan Godown as he now sat in fourth.

The yel­low flag flew for the manda­tory fuel stop on lap 40 with Cozze in charge over Pauch Jr, Howard, Godown, Per­rego, Ryan Watt, Jeff Strunk, Rick Laubach, Mike Gu­lar and Brett Kress­ley mak­ing up the top ten.

When the field took the green flag for the sec­ond part of the race it was Pauch Jr get­ting around Cozze go­ing into turn one to take over the top spot. Godown was also able to get around Howard at that point for third. The yel­low again was shown to the field as Laubach and Kress­ley tan­gled. On the en­su­ing restart Pauch Jr con­tin­ued to lead as Godown and Howard both slipped by Cozze drop­ping him to fourth. Mike Gu­lar and Bobby Trap­per each brought out cau­tions on laps 50 and 52. With the laps run­ning out the bat­tle for the lead on the en­su­ing restarts were get­ting phys­i­cal be­tween Pauch Jr and Godown.

The two arch ri­vals bat­tled hard on the restarts with con­tact be­ing made. Pauch Jr con­tin­ued to hold off Godown but now Howard was turn­ing up the wick on the Mor­ri­son small block bolted un­der the hood of the #357 Bick­nell chas­sis as he worked his way past Godown for sec­ond and quickly ran down Pauch Jr look­ing for the lead. Howard would get un­der Pauch Jr but the leader would hold his po­si­tion and main­tain the top spot. An­other yel­low in­ter­rupted the fight for the lead.

Howard would not be de­nied on the restart as he was able to use the out­side line to his ad­van­tage and power by Pauch Jr go­ing into turn one to take over the top spot. Once in front Howard never looked back and started to stretch his ad­van­tage over Pauch Jr. The yel­low flag came out for the last time with four to go but Howard was up to the chal­lenge as he sped away on the restart to claim the $10,000 win. Godown was able to slip past Pauch Jr late to fin­ish sec­ond with Pauch Jr, Cozze and Per­rego round­ing out the top five.

“Man, it’s great to fi­nally win one here again” said Howard. “It’s been way too long for sure. This team works too hard in the shop and to not get a win here is some­thing that is not ac­cept­able to me or to Norm. Norm gives me great equip­ment to run and I am re­ally glad to be able to get it done for him. We thought we hit on some­thing last Fri­day in the Pre­lude to the Coal­cracker race and we car­ried it through to tonight and it worked to per­fec­tion.”

RICK KEPNER - FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Coal­cracker 72 win­ner Duane Howard, right, cel­e­brates in vic­tory lane with daugh­ter Erica at Big Di­a­mond on Sept. 3.

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