Duane Howard Bounces Back
BECHTELSVILLE, Pa. — Duane Howard rebounded after a wild crash Saturday night to win the Pioneer Pole Buildings Race of Champions 60-lap modified feature during Thunder on the Hill at Grandview Speedway.
Polesitter Stew Friesen led the first lap with Rick Laubach taking the top spot on lap two. The one and only caution flag of the race came on lap two for Craig VonDohren who had a flat tire. On the restart, Friesen remained the leader with Laubach in the hunt.
MeMe DeSantis passed Laubach for second on lap five, but one lap later, Laubach returned to second. Duane Howard, who flipped violently on Saturday night was in the hunt and running third.
On lap 15, a three-car battle for the lead was unfolding among Friesen, Laubach and Howard. As the leaders approached lapped traffic, Friesen appeared to have an edge, pulling away from the rest of the field. As the field approached the halfway point of the race, Jeff Strunk was now reeling in the leaders, making it a four-car race for win.
As the field passed on lap 38, Friesen, Laubach, Howard and Strunk were now surrounded by slower traffic as the four drivers began to duke it out for the lead. Howard moved into second and began his job to reel in the leader.
It was a new race on lap 40, as Laubach became the new leader and by lap forty-two, Howard was second with Friesen third and hard-charging Strunk was now running in fourth. With 10 laps to go, the race became more interesting as Laubach, Howard and Strunk were in the chase for the lead. Howard regained the lead on lap 52 and by lap 56, Laubach was again back on top.
With three laps to go, Laubach, Howard and Strunk were not only dodging each other but a list of slower cars just ahead of the leaders. On lap 58, Howard took the lead with Laubach and Strunk side-by-side for second.
With the checkered flag waiving, Howard took the victory to collect the $5,000 prize. Laubach finished second followed by Strunk, Friesen and Keith Hoffman.
Duane Howard, Rick Laubach, Jeff Strunk, Stewart Friesen, Keith Hoffman, Danny Johnson, Mike Gular, Matt Sheppard, Craig VonDohren, Keith Flach, Ryan Watt, Kyle Weiss, Kevin Hirthler, Anthony Perrego, John McClelland, Tyler Dippel, Kevin Smith, Mike Kellner, Lou Cicconi, Tyler Siri, Brian Houseknecht, Kyle Borror, Dominick Buffalino, Kyle Merkel, Meme DeSantis, Neal Williams.