Howard wins Free­dom 76

Oley racer breaks cold streak in Grand­view’s mar­quee event for $25k pay­day

The Boyertown Area Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Ernie Sax­ton For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

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.

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