MINERSVILLE, Pa. — In northeastern Pennsylvania, springtime can mean that race fans might experience all four seasons in one day or a week as was the case last week with rain, snow and cold which led to the postponement of the 4th annual Money In The Mountain race for the CJ’s Tire & Automotive Services 358 modifieds until this past Friday night.
It was a postponement that turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Rick Laubach.
The Quakertown resident put on a dominating performance on Friday night as he held off the challenge of Craig VonDohren to score the 40-lap; $5,000-to-win feature.
Laubach admitted in victory-lane that he was more than out-to-lunch in the season opener on April 1.
“It was a disgrace for what we had here with a car on opening night,” he said. “I blame it on myself for not doing my job and I really worked at it for this week and it showed.
Other winners on Friday night included Brandon Grosso (sportsman); Eric Trip (street stocks) and Devin Trexler (roadrunners).
The track returns to action on Friday, April 22 with twin 20-lap features for the sportsman modified.
It was VonDohren who took the lead on the initial start and the race was a lap old when the red flag came out as Justin Grim got sideways on the frontstretch and was collected by Jay Aten which resulted in Aten flipping on his roof to bring. Both drivers were OK.
VonDohren and Laubach would battle for the lead on the restart with Laubach taking control of the top spot in Turn 3.
Two more yellows in the next three laps slowed the pace of the field but once the field strung together green-flag laps, Laubach as he did in his heat race, started to pull away from the field and was putting some distance between him and VonDohren by lap 7.
VonDohren would charge back and close in on Laubach by lap 10. The final caution of the race would fly on lap 14 for a single-car spin.
It proved to be a pivotal point in the race.
“On that one restart I kind of tried to go a little bit early and I was watching the flagman but he really didn’t wave the green so I eased up and here came Craig and I saw the green and I thought that I better get going,” Laubach said.
Laubach and VonDohren raced hard into Turn 1 with Laubach maintaining the lead as the pair raced off of Turn 2.
Lapped traffic would come into play just after the midway point of the race yet by lap 37, Laubach had stretched his lead over VonDohren to a straightaway.
“Lapped traffic is pretty tough here as the field is pretty equal and it’s hard to get by them,” Laubach said. “Sometimes it’s not easy starting up front as you know everybody is coming for you and Craig runs good here.”
VonDohren finished second with Ray Swineheart completing the top three.
Ryan Godown continued his early-season streak of scoring a top-five finish as he finished fourth with Ryan Grim rounding out the top five.
Sixth through 10th were Danny Johnson, Jeff Strunk, Duane Howard, Billy Pauch, Jr. and Ryan Watt. Heats for the 28 358 modifieds were won by VonDohren, Laubach and Strunk.
Grosso became the first repeat winner of the season as he took the lead on a lap 16 from Tim Fitzpatrick to score his second straight win in the U.S.S. Achey sportsman division.
“I found some bite in the track towards the bottom near the end of the race as the was a bit tight in the beginning; but after I found the bottom, it was pretty good,” Grosso said.
Grosso used the lower grove to reel in race lead Fitzpatrick, Jr., as the laps wound down
Rookie Skylar Sheriff lead the field to the green and would lead the first few laps before Fitzpatrick took the lead with an inside move in Turn 3 on lap 4 of the feature.
Grosso moved into the top five just before the half-way mark and by lap 11, he was challenging Fitzpatrick for the lead.
Fitzpatrick would maintain the top spot through lap 14 when the caution flew. On the restart, Grosso used the low line to his advantage to reel in Fitzpatrick as he would take the lead for good on lap 16 as the two battled for the top spot at the line.
Ray Woodall, Jr., would get by Fitzpatrick for the runner-up spot late in the race while Fitzpatrick held on for third with Charles Fayash and Wayne Wittmer rounding out the top five.
Sixth through 10th were Mike Lisowski, Shawn Light, Darryl Dissinger, Glenn Rowan and Sheriff
Heats for the 21 sportsman were won by Fayash, Fitzpatrick.
In a race the featured multiple lead changes and three- and four-wide racing, Trip would take the lead on lap 16 to go and win the 20-lap No Sweat Service Group street stock feature. Rich Bossinger led through the first 14 laps.
Heats for the street stocks were won by Jasen Gessaman and Jeff Hagg.
A one-lap shootout would decide the 20-lap roadrunner feature to conclude the Money In The Mountain night as Devin Trexler claimed his first-ever win by holding off Shon Elk. Tim Fitzpatrick was third.
Heats for the roadrunners were won by Fitzpatrick and Jesse Krasnitsky.
On Friday, April 22, the track will present twin 20-lap features for the sportsman modified along with the 358 modifieds, roadrunners and an Enduro Dash 60.
Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. with warm-ups at 7:45 and racing getting underway at 8:15.
General admission is $18 while kids 12-and-under along with active military with a valid ID are free.
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-Big Diamond Speedway Press Release
-Photo Credit: SDS Photography