Column By: TOM WENNER / RPW – MINERSVILLE, PA – The ‘Bechtelsville Bullet,’ veteran Jeff Strunk, opened Big Diamond Speedway’s 50th anniversary season with a strong run and a lucrative $4,000-to-win feature event win on Good Friday of Easter Weekend.
Strunk in the Zubi’s Racing 88z Bicknell started 2nd and had to chase polesitter Alex Yankowski in the Stankewicz Roofing Bicknell #2 for the first 15 laps of the event before being able to get by him for the lead and the ultimate victory.
Big Diamond was gifted with wonderful weather on Good Friday as the sun was out all day in God’s Country. A strong wind over the track created a chilly evening that was warmed up by the outstanding track conditions and strong pitside car count. Jake had the track in outstanding opening day condition, water was added for the features and there were multiple racing grooves available. 94 cars signed in for the Spin City Night, 36 Insinger Performance Spec 358 Mods, 39 USS Achey Sportsman, and 19 Red, White and Blue Road Runners.
At the drop of the green flag for the 25 Lap Spin City A Main Alex Yankowski took command of the race. The caution lights were turned on 2 laps into the race for Eddie Strada who was turned around in 3 & 4. At the same time Dominick Buffalino took the Keystone Racing 126 to the pits.
Another attempt at the green flag yielded another caution flag as Frank Cozze in the Renaldo’s Mechanical 401 was pushed over the backstretch racing surface and came to a stop. At the same time we lost Dillon Steuer in the Zubi’s 17z as he headed pitside.
For the third time an attempt was made for the lap 3 green and caution lights were once again turned back on as Billy Pauch Jr. was on the receiving end of a skirmish that led to the Pauch 15 Bicknell sitting in 1 & 2 with a broken front end. Pauch Jr. was on the move to the front prior to the contact. Steuer returned the Zubi’s 17z back to the action during the caution.
The green lights were finally turned on for some racing action as things were heating up quickly in the field. You could tell it was opening night and the driver’s had $4000 reasons to urgently get to the front of the pack. Timmy Buckwalter, BD ’21 Champion was flying to the front from his 16th starting spot. By lap 3 T-Buck was 6th.
Joel Smith dropped from the event on lap 5.
With 7 down the Top 5 running order was Alex Yankowski with a solid lead, Strunk In 2nd, Rochinski in 3rd, Loudon Reimert in 4th and Duane Howard in 5th.
As the field scored lap 10, Ryan Krachun brought the 29 to a stop on the front stretch.
As the field goes back to green heading for lap 11, Timmy Buckwalter gets sideways in 1 & 2 and collects Brett Kressley. Both Timmy and Brett were able to continue racing but lost several spots in the field.
By lap 12 Jeff Strunk caught Alex Yankowski and was beginning his assault for the lead. Alex and Jeff were side by side for several laps. Both drivers gave each other room and never touched, Just good hard racing on the new Big Diamond Clay. Jeff was able to wrestle away the lead from Alex coming for lap 15. Yankowski stayed close, But as each lap was scored it was obvious that Strunk had the superior car.
With five to go, Strunk had a comfortable lead and was starting to drive away from the field. Loudon Reimert had snuck by Yankowski for 2nd, Duane Howard was in chase at 4th, and Mike Gular who had driven from 19th to 5th.
Jeff Strunk had no challenges over the final 5 laps scoring the $4000 pay day. Loudon Reimert finished 2nd with a strong run, Alex Yankowski finished 3rd, Duane Howard 4th, Mike Gular 5th from 19th, 6th was Modified Rookie Tanner VanDoren, 7th rebounding from an early race mishap Eddie “The Edge” Strada, 8th Nick Rochinski, 9th Timmy Buckwalter, 10th Brett Kressley.
In victory lane Strunk commented that Yankowski is like a little brother to him. He enjoyed the competition and raced him clean not looking to rough him up at all. Strunk Thanked Dave Zubikowski for the ride and the support of the sponsors on the team. He thanked the fans in the stands for braving the cold and Jake and the Big Diamond Speedway staff for a great night of racing action.