GEORGETOWN, DE — Craig Von Dohren used a restart with 18 laps remaining to cruise to a season-opening victory on Friday night’s portion of the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial weekend at Georgetown Speedway.
Von Dohren, of Oley, Pa., jumped ahead of Billy Pauch Jr. on lap 12, and secured the lead before the caution flag flew again just two laps later in front of a packed grandstand despite a chilly evening to capture a $4,049-payday.
The pit area was jammed to capacity despite frigid temperatures with a solid crowd on hand.
“It’s really a great feeling to win right off the bat,” Von Dohren said in Victory Lane. “We found some things at the end of the season last year at Bridgeport, and it seemed to carry over tonight.”
Billy Pauch Jr. led from the opening lap, pushing ahead of Jeff Strunk and Von Dohren from his outside pole starting spot. The lead trio joined in a heated scuffle, with Von Dohren and Strunk trading positions on almost every lap. The first 10 laps clicked off without a stoppage until H.J. Bunting brought out the first yellow.
The first caution led to a few more, including a nasty flip for top-five running Jamie Mills. On the restart with 11 laps in, Strunk ran off the top of the banking coming off of turn two, dropping from the runner-up spot to the tail of the field. A lap ticked off before the next yellow on lap 12, sending him outside the top 20 on the next restart.
Von Dohren jumped in front of Pauch Jr. on the ensuing restart, using the outside lane to his advantage, and when Danny Bouc sat facing the other way on lap 14, Von Dohren was in control. He led Pauch Jr., Duane Howard, Jared Umbenhauer, Stewart Friesen, Doug Manmiller, Anthony Perrego, Mike Gular, Danny Creeden and Matt Stangle.
“I had to get there first,” Von Dohren said when asking how he took the lead. “When I finally cleared Jeff (Strunk) I was able to work on Billy a little bit.”
“I crossed him up coming off of two and had a good run heading down the backstretch on the next restart,” Von Dohren said. “I was able to slide up in front of him heading into turn three.”
The next 16 laps went out without a hitch, with Von Dohren opening his lead to over half a straightaway. Pauch Jr. held on for second, outdueling Howard in a spirited battle for the runner-up position. Howard was third, Umbenhauer took fourth and Friesen concluded the top five.
Rounding out the top ten was Gular, Perrego, Creeden, Manmiller and Stangle. Strunk battled back to 11th after his early-race mishap.
Von Dohren, Strunk, Billy Pauch Sr. and Friesen took the four qualifying races as 36 Small-Block Modifieds signed in for action.
Amanda Whaley made her move into the RUSH Crate Late Model division a successful one. The Millsboro, Del., driver led the 20-lap main event from start-to-finish, bringing home a $1,049 payday to her family team. RUSH point chaser Logan Roberson chased Whaley to the finish, diving hard into turn three on the final lap in pursuit. Matt Hill, Ross Robinson and Billy Thompson completed the front five.
A wild, four-car battle for the lead resulted in Tanner Marvel winning the 12-lap Delmarva Charger main event. Marvel cleared “Tippy” Martinez on the final lap of the race. Noah Vincent took the 12-lap Delaware Super Truck headliner.
Timed practice for the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Modifieds and Crate 602 Sportsman ended with David Van Horn Jr. (18.884) and Anthony Perrego (19.386) receiving redraw spots for the Modifieds and Dave Constantino (20.595) taking the Crate redraw position.
Saturday (March 17) brings the 50th event in Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco history with a 49-lap event paying $6,949 to the winner and $490 to start. This event kicks off the 10-race, $10,000 Velocita-USA South Region battle.
Also on the docket is the first STSS L&J Sheet Metal Crate 602 Sportsman South event ($1,049 to win) plus features only for Delmarva Chargers, Delaware Super Trucks, Little Lincolns and Southern Delaware Vintage Stock Cars.
Pit gates open at noon on Saturday. Grandstand gates are open at 1 p.m. Hot laps hit the track at 3 p.m. and racing gets underway at 4 p.m.
Grandstand admission is $25 for Adults, $20 for Seniors (ages 65 and up) and Students (ages 13-17), $10 for Children (ages 9-12) and Kids 8 and under are FREE. Pit admission is $35 (ages 13 and up), $10 for Kids (ages 6-12) and $2 for Children 5 and under.
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 [email protected] or contact the speedway hotline at 302.563.GTWN (4896).
MELVIN L. JOSEPH MEMORIAL WEEKEND RACE SUMMARY – GEORGETOWN SPEEDWAY MARCH 16, 2018
Sunoco Small-Block Modified Feature Finish (30 laps): CRAIG VON DOHREN, Billy Pauch Jr., Duane Howard, Jared Umbenhauer, Stewart Friesen, Mike Gular, Anthony Perrego, Danny Creeden, Doug Manmiller, Matt Stangle, Jeff Strunk, Roger Manning, Danny Bouc, H.J. Bunting, Jack Lehner, Brad Trice, Tyler Boniface, Danny Johnson, Ryan Godown, Mark Byram, Jamie Mills, Andy Bachetti, Carson Wright, Billy Pauch, Ryan Watt, David Van Horn, Frank Cozze, Allison Ricci, Jordn Justice.
-Georgetown Speedway Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51.com