By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
The Coal Cracker 50 for the sportsman modifieds kicks off Coal Cracker Weekend at Big Diamond Speedway as the track wraps up its 40th anniversary season.
Tonight’s racing card features the final points race for the 358 modifieds, along with the held-over 25-lap feature. Craig VonDohren leads Rick Laubach by 74 points, with MeMe DeSantis 120 points back in third. DeSantis won his fourth feature of the season last Friday. The 358 modifieds will also compete in one-on-one match race.
The Sportsman Coal Cracker 50 is likely to see a first-time winner as 2011 champ Sammy Piazza has moved to the 358 modified ranks.
Sunday’s Coal Cracker will be a 72-lap feature to commemorate the start of the event in 1972. Bob Emerich was the winner of the first Coal Cracker. Charlie Eckert was the first driver to win three times, which occurred from 1980-1984. Duane Howard leads all drivers with six Coal Crackers in 13 attempts, his first in 1998.
In addition to Eckert, Doug Hoffman and Jeff Strunk each have three Coal Cracker wins, while Kenny Brightbill, Billy Pauch, VonDohren and Ryan Godown each have a pair of wins.
MOVIN’ ON UP: A.J. Hoffman of Richfield, the all-time winningest pro stock driver in the history of Selinsgrove Speedway, has confirmed that he is going to call Port Royal Speedway home on Saturday nights in 2013. Hoffman, the current points leader and two-time defending pro stock champion, is moving to the late model division where he’ll be racing for car owner Ed Powell.
BUSY WEEKEND AT PORT: Port Royal Speedway will host a daytime fair classic and the Butch Renninger Memorial this weekend as the 158th annual Juniata County Fair gets underway.
The Renninger Memorial is a Three State Flyers Series race for late models on Saturday night. The 410s, pro stocks and enduro-dash division will also be on the card. The 61st version of the Labor Day Classic for 410 sprints and ARDC midgets is slated for Monday at 1 p.m. Steve Buckwalter and Trevor Kobylarz have scored ARDC midget wins at Port Royal this year.
TWICE AS NICE: Williams Grove Speedway presents the Triple 20s Jack Gunn Memorial tonight and the Billy Kimmel Memorial on Sunday. The Triple 20s began in 2000 with the first Gunn Memorial in 1983. This year’s Triple 20s pays $2,500 to win the first two features and $5,000 to win the third feature. No driver has ever swept the Triple 20s.
TRACK CHAMPS: Danny Dietrich of Aspers, captured his first-ever 410 track title at Lincoln Speedway last weekend despite the track having several more races left this season. To date, Dietrich has eight wins, 16 top fives and 19 top-10s. Doug Hendricks, a former Super Sportsman driver, captured the 2012 sportsman modified title at Big Diamond Speedway last week. He also won the AMSOIL Sportsman series title.
NICE JOB COACH: Gary Keister, former Midd-West high school girls varsity soccer coach, scored his first-ever 270 micro sprint car feature win last Friday at Clinton County Raceway. The third-year driver led all 20 laps. Keister also has a 270 micro rookie win to his credit.
PLANNING AHEAD: Pocono Raceway announced its dates for the 2013 season with the Pocono 400 on June 9 and the Pennsylvania 400 on Aug. 4 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rejoins the Sprint Cup Series and ARCA Series for a triple-header weekend of racing action in August.