Howard takes points title at Big Diamond, Beach Jr. gets first career victory
It was a gorgeous night for racing on Friday at the Big Diamond Speedway and since opening night when Billy Pauch Jr. was victorious, we finally had a feature winner in the Mattera’s General & Electrical Contracting Modified division not named Duane Howard, Craig Von Dohren or Ryan Godown. Not only was the winner a first-time winner this season but for Kevin Beach Jr. it was his first career Modified victory ever at Big Diamond.
Howard didn’t win Friday night’s battle, but he did win the seasonal war at Big Diamond. While the battle for the win was going on there was another internal battle going on for the track title between Von Dohren, Godown and Howard. Howard was the points leader going into the night with Godown lurking closely behind just waiting to make a move. Von Dohren was mathematically still in the hunt but for him to win it would’ve taken disastrous nights by both Howard and Godown for him to pull it off. Howard knew going in that for him to win the title he would only have to keep Godown in his sights and the title was his. Howard was able to maintain a top five spot throughout the second half of the race to capture the track title. The title was Howard’s eight career points championship at the Schuylkill County oval and 23rd career overall track championship.
“It feels great to win the championship,” said Howard. “Norm gives me and the team everything we need to be competitive and this year we had a great year here at Big Diamond. Championships are about the team, not the driver and winning this championship shows just what a great team we have here on the No. 357.”
It has been a downright miserable season for Beach at the speedway. The speed has been there all year, but mechanical woes and wrecks have derailed Beach for most of the year even forcing the veteran to take off a couple of weeks to have his car repaired and to give the team a chance to reboot. That decision proved to be a good one as Beach has found some extra speed in his Bicknell #17 that propelled him to victory last night with the top three-point getters in Von Dohren, Godown and Howard all breathing right down his neck.
“Man, we needed this” said a happy Beach in the tech shed after the race. “This win ended a lot of doubt in my mind. We haven’t had any luck this year at all. Last week we bumped wheels with someone and the rear broke in half. Tonight, I started seventh and we were in second after the first lap and I thought man this thing wants to go tonight. Thank god, finally it happened. This is my fourth-year driving modifieds and when we switched from sportsman to the modifieds, we put all of our money into this. We got this new car this year and it’s been really good. I just can’t believe it, we won on the final points night. Wow, what a night! It’s been a real struggle this year and especially the last two weeks after losing my Pop. I am just so unbelievably happy right now for myself and for my crew”
Alex Yankowski continued his march to his first career Big Diamond championship as the young teenager marched to front after winning the consolation event to win the 25-lap “Fayash Memorial” USS Achey Sportsman feature event.
Jason Geesaman once again was victorious in the No Sweat Service Group feature event. Jeff Haag took the lead on lap one. Geesaman was on the move early and into the second spot on lap five. Haag was able to hold off Geesaman until lap 14 when Geesaman went by to take the lead and go onto the win. Completing the top five were Ryan Smith, Jeff Haag, Kyle Saylor and Chris Derr.
The Savage 61 Road Runners put a good show for the fans in their 20-lap main event with Chris Holland holding off Andrew Fayash in a great battle over the last eight laps to take the win. Matt Ney was third with Jim Kost and Mike Reichert completing the top five. The No Sweat Service Group Street Stock feature was won by Jasen Geesaman followed by Ryan Smith, Jeff Haag, Kyle Saylor, Chris Derr, Elvin Brennan III, Jim Somers, Dean Hine, Mike Radocha Sr., Scott Thuneberg, Butch Helsel and Robin Wagner. Did not finish were Bobby Kupp, Chris Heller, Cory Phillips and Mike Radocha Sr. The street stock heats were won by Jasen Geesaman and Kyle Saylor
Savage 61 Road Runners were won by Chris Holland followed by Andrew Fayash III, Matt Ney, Jim Kost, Mike Reichert, Kyle Wingle and Fred Everly. Did not finish were Terry Kramer, Kris Ney, Bill Wingle Jr., Cory Lindenmuth and Shon Elk. The road runner heats were won by Kris Ney and Mike Reichert. Kris Ney also went on to win the Road Runner Challenge Race.
Duane Howard celebrates in victory lane after winning the 2018 Big Diamond modified point championship at Big Diamond on Aug. 24.