Howard wins Freedom 76
Oley racer breaks cold streak in Grandview’s marquee event for $25k payday
BECHTELSVILLE » Duane Howard, behind the wheel of the Norm Hansell owned Norm’s Save Station No. 357, has had his share of problems throughout the 2018 season on Saturday nights at Grandview Speedway, but the team never gave up. They continued to try different venues to put the Carroll Hine-powered mount in Grandview’s Saturday night victory lane – a place he had not stood in during the regular season since August 20, 2016.
The table finally turned for the five-time point champion during the running of the 48th Annual Freedom 76-lap T.P. Trailers Modified feature – a race Howard previously won four times.
Starting fifth through the luck of the draw in a field of 34 cars, Howard battled with Ryan Godown, runnerup and leader for 16 laps prior to the 31st lap restart when Howard took the lead.
Dealing with heavy lap traffic numerous times, Howard changed lanes to weave through the cars and this allowed Godown to reel him in, but Godown couldn’t make the move to the front and ran second the rest of the way while having to deal with thirdplace finisher Craig Von Dohren in the later stages.
When things were all set and done Howard, of Oley, picked up his biggest win of the season for a payday of $25,000 plus lap money, $250 from TP Trailers, products from VP Fuel providing he met the necessary requirements plus the Dan’s Deli ½-way hoagie. A winner of the event in 1993, 1997, 1999 and 2011 plus now this year, Howard is now tied with Craig Von Dohren at five wins in the prestigious event.
Richie Pratt put the Kyle Borror-owned No. B4 into the early lead at the drop of the green from starter Ray Kemp with Kyle Weiss, Godown, Howard and Brian Hirthler in pursuit.
The red was thrown with eight laps in the books when Ryan Krachun’s car caught fire in turn four. He was uninjured, but out of the race. Pratt continued his pace with Godown making his presence known.
Godown put the Searock No. 26 at the head of the pack on the 15th circuit while Pratt, Howard, Weiss and Mike Gular jockeyed for positions.
On the 20th lap Stewart Friesen, who came straight from Las Vegas after competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck race the previous night, Ryan Grim and Brian Papiez tangled between turns one and two right in front of the leaders and the other front runners bringing out the yellow. Godown narrowly missed the cars, but Pratt wasn’t as fortunate and got caught up in the melee which forced him to restart in the rear of the field. Godown held his pace when action resumed with pressure now coming from Howard, Gular, Weiss and Jeff Strunk, the defending race winner of the race the past two years.
Godown’s comfortable lead was erased when the red was thrown for a 10-car pile-up in which Pratt rolled and Billy Pauch Jr. was also involved. Several cars were eliminated. It was still Godown as the race leader when action resumed.
On the 30th lap while battling for positions, newly crowned 2018 NASCAR Modified point champion Mike Gular and Strunk made contact in the third turn with Strunk making contact with the wall erasing his chances of making the event a three-peat. Also involved was Skylar Sheriff, who hit the front end of Strunk’s car and hit the fourth turn wall with heavy impact. Sheriff was shaken up a bit and complained of leg pain.
While this took place Godown and Ray Swinehart, who were running first and third using alcohol while the others used gas, were allowed a fuel stop without losing their positions. When the race went green this time Howard took command trailed by Godown, Anthony Perrego, Gular and Swinehart.
By the 57th lap the race for the lead was a three-way one between Howard, Godown and Von Dohren, who started deep in the pack in 29th having to get in through the Schaeffer Motorsports Minuteman 20.
With ten laps to go and Howard encountering heavy lap traffic the order behind him was now comprised of Godown, Von Dohren, Jared Umbenhauer and Friesen, who came from the back of the pack several times.
Howard overcame all obstacles and held off all the competitors’ challenges to chalk up a well-earned win. Chasing him across were Godown, Von Dohren, who earned the Bobby Gunther Walsh and sponsors Hard Charger award worth $1,000, Umbenhauer and Friesen.
Meme DeSantis and Ray Swinehart, who finished ninth and 16th received a $100 bonus from Donnie and Patti Miller in memory of their son Chad who lost his life on September 16.
Alan Johnson, Frank Yankowski, Kenny Gilmore, Pratt, Perrego and Scott Albert won the five 12-lap heats.
T.J. Lilly, Alex Yankowski, Doug Manmiller, Don Norris Jr., Rich Rutski and Mike Lisowski qualified through the consolation races to get into the Schaeffer Motorsports Minuteman 20 – the last chance to get into the Freedom 76.
Rick Laubach won the event and dedicated the win to car owner Lori Hermann who recently lost her battle with cancer. Finishing second was Friesen followed by Von Dohren, Papiez and Manmiller.
Strunk won the 10-lap Cash Dash worth $1,000.
Coming up at Grandview is a Saturday, September 29th, 1 p.m. Enduro along with Blast from the Past Vintage doubleheader.
Saturday, October 13th, 6 p.m. Thunder on the Hill Halloween Special featuring the Big Block/358 Modifieds, Sportsman and MASS 305 Sprints.
Top 3 finishers Ryan Godown, left, Duane Howard, center, and Craig Von Dohren pose in victory lane after the Freedom 76 on Sept. 15 at Grandview Speedway, Howard took home the top prize and the $25,000 win.
Louden Reimert, second from left, is joined in victory lane by grandfather Terry, left, mother Marnita, second right, and father Shawn after being recognized as Sportsman points champion at Grandview Speedway on Sept. 15.
Mike Gular, center, is joined by family, friends and crew after being recognized as Modified points champion at Grandview Speedway on Sept. 15.
Danny Snyder, center, is joined by family, friends and crew upon being recognized as Late Model champion at Grandview Speedway on Sept. 15.