Story By: BRETT DEYO / GEORGETOWN SPEEDWAY – GEORGETOWN, DE – Craig Von Dohren put on a show under the ‘Friday Night Lights’ at Georgetown Speedway.
Von Dohren, after starting ninth in the 30-lap Sunoco big-block/small-block Modified feature, roared to Victory Lane, pocketing $3,000 for his efforts. A heavy track surface from recent rainfall didn’t deter the Oley, Pa., driver, who rode the rim of the half-mile oval in Dick Biever’s No. 14s.
“With all the rain, it (the track) was fast and choppy in spots tonight,” noted Von Dohren, who was nearly a straightaway behind the leaders at one point during the main. “When I got to fourth, I couldn’t see anyone. Then little by little, I could see Watty (Ryan Watt). I knew I was catching them, but it’s a tenth at a time.”
Von Dohren thanked his crew and team for their support after his second Georgetown victory of 2018. His first came on March 16 in a small-block-only event.
“This is a three-and-a-half-hour ride on a work night for us,” he said. “I’ve got to thank all my guys for coming down tonight. We’ve got a great team here.”
Duane Howard launched off the outside pole to take the lead at the start of the main with Norm Hansell’s No. 357. Howard, a past feature winner at Georgetown, led the opening 11 laps before turning over the top spot to David Van Horn in Fred Vahlsing’s Vahlco Wheels No. 323ov.
Van Horn appeared to have the race in hand, pulling away with ease until a yellow flew on lap 20. That changed the race’s complexion. Not only did it erase Van Horn’s advantage; it also brought Von Dohren into contention with the leaders.
Howard reclaimed the lead off a restart on lap 22 and Van Horn’s ride slowed in turn four with rear-end issues.
It was now Von Dohren – who had been picking off cars throughout the race’s first two-thirds – on Howard’s tail.
The two Berks County, Pennsylvania drivers put on a show, swapping lanes and the lead, sparking rubrails at times.
Howard led lap 23, but it was Von Dohren out front on laps 24 and 25.
A yellow with five laps remaining led to a single-file restart with Von Dohren out front. Despite a bobble in turn three on the 28th lap, he held on for the win.
“The yellow on lap 20 made the race for me,” he said. “I found the top groove and knew we had a fast car, but I didn’t know if I had time to get there under green.”
Howard, like Von Dohren from Oley, Pa., earned a $2,000 runner-up finish. Billy Pauch Jr. of Milford, N.J., placed third in the Daniel Sommeling No. 51, with Brett Kressley of Orefield, Pa., who started 12th, and Jimmy Horton of Neshanic Station, N.J., completing the front five.
Sunoco Modified heat winners were Pauch Jr., Ryan Watt and H.J. Bunting.
In a 20-lap L&J Sheet Metal Crate 602 Sportsman feature that went green-to-checkered in just seven minutes, 24 seconds, Connor King led wire-to-wire and took home $1,100 for his efforts. King received $1,000 from the posted purse and a $100 cash bonus from Ad-Art Sign Company of Georgetown.
The race to watch for fans was a back-and-forth battle involving Jeremy Harrington and Scott Hitchens for the runner-up position. Harrington ultimately got the best of Hitchens and placed second, worth $575 with an Ad-Art bonus. Hitchens received $450 for third driving the Matt Smith-owned No. 97. John Stevenson and Adam White finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Super Late Model star Ross Robinson completely dominated the 12-lap Southern Delaware Vintage Stock Car Racing Club feature driving the Mark ‘Coot’ Williams No. 26. Freddy Brightbill finished second and Jamie Eicholz was declared the ‘Sportsman’ winner as he crossed the line third in his vintage Late Model.
Kirk Lawson picked up his second Little Lincoln 12-lap victory this season in convincing fashion. Joseph Tracy chased Lawson to the finish, with Jordan Herbert, Matt White and Bunky White in tow.
The Delmarva Charger 12-lap feature was a thriller won by Chris ‘Tippy’ Martinez. Ashley Merritt led the event until two laps remaining when she slipped high in turn four, allowing Martinez to gain the edge. Geoff Carey recovered from an early trip to the pits for second, with Merritt in third.
Jerry Hill ended the recent winning streak of David Smith in the 12-lap Delaware Super Truck feature. Hill won the event over Smith, Dale Elliott, Kirk Miles Jr. and David Godbold.
Racing resumes at the speedway on Friday, June 29 with the ‘Clash for Cash’ for Super Late Models paying $3,500 to win for 35 laps around the half-mile oval. This event marks the first Super Late Model appearance at Georgetown of the season. Also on the card: RUSH Late Models, Delaware Super Trucks, Delmarva Chargers, Southern Delaware Vintage Stock Cars and Little Lincolns.
Georgetown Speedway, originally constructed by Melvin L. Joseph in 1949, is located at the intersection of Route 113 and Speedway Road in Georgetown, Del., just miles from the Delaware beaches and less than a 40-minute drive from Ocean City, Md.
A website is live for the speedway at www.thegeorgetownspeedway.com. Like Georgetown Speedway on Facebook, follow @thegtownspdwy on Twitter, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting the speedway hotline at 302.563.GTWN (4896).
FRIDAY FODDER: The Sunoco Modified field traveled long distances to participate in Friday night’s event. Twelve of the teams towed in from out of state (New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) to compete….
Craig Von Dohren dedicated the win to his longtime fan Ben Moyer who is battling health issues….
Ashley Merritt, who nearly won the Delmarva Charger main, was mourning the loss of her father just the day before….
Tough luck again for Long Island’s Dillon Steuer, who was unable to start the Sunoco Modified feature due to rear-end failure….
Duane Howard returned home just in time from a weeklong vacation in Nashville with daughter Erica to compete….
A forecast for days in advance of rain never materialized and a healthy crowd took in the event run under beautiful blue skies….
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS RACE SUMMARY – GEORGETOWN SPEEDWAY JUNE 1, 2018
Sunoco Modified Feature Finish (30 laps): CRAIG VON DOHREN, Duane Howard, Billy Pauch Jr., Brett Kressley, Jimmy Horton, Shawn Ward, Jim Britt, Brandon Grosso, Howard O’Neal, Ryan Watt, David Van Horn, Jeff Strunk, H.J. Bunting, Clay Tatman, Charlie Moore, Jamie Mills, Joseph Watson, Jordan Watson, Carson Wright, Matt Stangle, Norman Short.
Did Not Start: Michael White, Dillon Steuer.
L&J Sheet Metal Crate 602 Sportsman (20 laps): CONNOR KING, Jeremy Harrington, Scott Hitchens, John Stevenson, Adam White, Nick Alberti, Jason Rush, Trey Hicks, David Jenkins.
Southern Delaware Vintage Stock Car Feature Finish (12 laps): ROSS ROBINSON, Freddy Brightbill, Jamie Eicholz (Sportsman winner), Don Davidson, David Schamp, Jamie Schirmer, David Tucker, Joe Walbert Jr., John Burton, Robert Paczkowski.
Little Lincoln Feature Finish (12 laps): KIRK LAWSON, Joseph Tracy, Jordan Herbert, Matt White, Bunky White, Sean Smith, Wayne Seaton, Bryan Piercy, Brian Bobst, Ryan Walsen, Zach Sbera.
Delaware Super Truck Feature Finish (12 laps): JERRY HILL, David Smith, Dale Elliott, Kirk Miles Jr., David Godbold, Kirk Miles Sr., Dick Beauchamp, Cory Sapp, Tony Bowers, Thomas Jackson, Michelle Jackson, Bill Dean.
Delmarva Charger Feature Finish (12 laps): CHRIS MARTINEZ, Geoff Carey, Ashley Merritt, Derek Swafford, Ben Knotts, Randy Merritt, Joe Waters, Robert Paczkowski, Kevin Taylor, John Bailey.