Column By: RUSTY RHOADES / RPW – MINERSVILLE, PA – Craig Von Dohren and Mike Gular gave the fans much more than just their money’s worth in the mountains around Big Diamond Speedway on Friday night!
Although others made their presence known throughout the 50-lap race, the two talented Southeast PA modified hotshoes stole the show with numerous side-by-side battles at the front from the start.
Gular put his sharp looking Terry Fasnacht owned #2 into the early lead after drawing the pole. After a lap 4 yellow and restart wreck that collected Anthony Perrego, Dan Bouc and Kevin Beach, Von Dohren used a great following restart jump to sail into the lead.
Craig took off for several laps in his Dick Biever-owned #14s, but by lap 15 Gular had roped him in and was trying all routes to get around Von Dohren. By the time the next yellow came out on lap 21, Gular had finally executed the pass with that lap completed to take a hard-earned lead.
The last 2 Grandview Speedway track champions were far from done dicing this one out, as Von Dohren soared back into the lead with one of his patented power moves seen so many times before coming off turn 2 on the restart. He and Gular then took off, as an impressive Ryan Godown also assumed a spot in the top 3 during this time while a strong top 5 early effort from Billy Pauch, Jr. went by the waste side as he pulled off with problems.
A yellow for Alex Yankowski at lap 29 created a perfect time for the mandatory fuel stop. At that point it was Von Dohren over Gular, Godown, invading 20-time Woodhull NY track champ Billy VanPelt and a surging Jared Umbenhauer rounding out the top 5 over the ten minute stoppage.
“CVD” and Gular resumed their knockdown, dragout heavyweight brawl almost immediately upon the resumption of the race. And following a lap 35 yellow for 6th running Ryan Watt’s flat tire, Godown wanted in the fray. He pulled right up next to Gular in his Searock Motorsports #26 on lap 38, but couldn’t make it stick. At the 10 to go mark, you could throw a blanket over the top 3 runners.
The final 6 or 7 laps were very similar to laps 10-20, with Mike Gular throwing everything and the kitchen sink at Craig Von Dohren. He tried high to low, low to high and even through the middle, turn after turn, hitting his marks in a manner very worthy of having what it took to go after and take down a living Diamond legend the likes of a Craig Von Dohren.
Gular was markedly better in 3 and 4, and coming to the flagstand for the penultimate time had used that advantage to briefly take the lead. However, Craig once again went to the well, whipping it wide into one and gripping enough for another tremendous outside run coming out of two to basically clear Gular into the final turns and on to the checkered flags for the lucrative $10,000 winner’s share.
Gular has nothing to frown about, playing a huge role in creating one of the better Big Diamond (and Mid Atlantic region) modified main events in recent memory, bringing home a mighty fine runner-up finish.
Ryan Godown came home third. Jared Umbenhauer was the big mover on the night, coming all the way from outside row 8 at the start up into the top four when all was said and done! Jeff Strunk came on late from his 9th starting position to round out the top five.
If Friday night’s instant classic in the Pennsylvania Coal Region is any indication of what the Big Diamond surface and facility has to offer this season, then be sure to make your way to Minersville just a few days from now for another huge modified showcase! Brett Deyo’s Short Track Super Series hosts its only dual-region event of the year on Tuesday, June 4 as the Anthracite Assault is sure to draw a huge and deep car count from up North, down South and all other directions on the dirt racing compass, with $5,000+ waiting for the winner and the usual hefty STSS pay structure throughout the field!