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Friday, May 13 - The weather prediction for the weekend was for rain to move in late Friday night and to remain in the area the entire weekend. Our only chance to get in a race was Friday night and we chose to go to Big Diamond. Normally we go to Williams Grove on Friday night but when the World of Outlaws are in town we go elsewhere. With the change of management at Big Diamond they went back to their old starting time of 8:15, which was always fine with me. This means we can actually get to a race prior to the start. The trek to Big Diamond is about 40 minutes less then Williams Grove and there was a time when this was our normal Friday night stop. I actually got home early and Bruce and I set out at 6:00 and arrived on the grounds at 7:20. It was gray, chilly and a light drizzle was falling.
The car count in the pits was a bit light I thought. There were 25 modifieds, 26 sportsman and 16 road runners. Racing started promptly at 8:15 and the heats were run off one after the other. Big Diamond put new clay on the track since last year and I must admit the surface was better then I have seen it in years. The eight qualifying heats were run off in 45 minutes and they only ran one consolation race and that was for the sportsman. At 9:07 it was intermission. There was some minor track preparation and then the 25 car modified feature lined up on the homestretch.
Tonight the feature was 35 laps instead of the normal 30 laps. It was Friday the 13th and this race was called Freaky Friday and the winner would receive $3,000. Big Diamond lines up the feature with a handicapping system. The top 6 qualify in the heat and the top 5 are handicapped in the feature. This assures that if the top guys want to win they need to pass cars. The green dropped on the field at 9:34 and it looked like the Big Diamond of old. There was plenty of exciting racing and passing. But from the drop of the green there was one car that looked like a hot knife through butter, Craig Von Dohren. On lap 8 Von Dohren took the lead from Billy Pauch Jr. and started to drive away. The race went green until lap 20 when Rick Laubach came to a halt in turn two. This bunched up the field and for the next 15 laps Pauch Jr. became Von Dohren’s biggest nightmare. He was all over Von Dohren like white on rice. It was a great show to watch as Pauch tried the inside and outside but could not manage to get by the 1C of Von Dohren. Top gun, Duane Howard was in third when he pulled the #4 in the pits on lap 26. While the battle for the lead was going on Mike Gular and Jeff Strunk were in a battle for third. In the end it was Von Dohren picking up win number 70 at Big Diamond with Pauch second. Strunk got by Gular on the final circuit for third and Michael Weinert finished fifth. Weinert will be celebrating his 16th birthday this week. The modified faeture was over at 9:58 and I was surprised at how few fans left.
The roadrunner 20 lap event was next and these guys really run hard. Three wide racing is not unheard of for this bunch. Even though Kody Sites lead all 20 laps it was a good race. Jeremy Becker was second with Elvin Brennan III in third. The time was now 10:23 and the wind picked up, it got considerably cooler and a drizzle started to fall. I watched up to the third caution and then called it quits. Bruce stayed for the remainder of the 20 lap event that saw the caution wave 6 times. When these guys run good they are very good but when they are bad they are very very bad.
Still the complete show was over by 10:58. The surface was virtually dust free up through the modified feature and it was also smooth throughout the entire night. We also saw some real good racing. It was a pleasant surprise and we just might visit the Minersville coal region more often.
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