BECHTELSVILLE, PA September 20, 2009 . . . Meme DeSantis looked like a sure bet for a second place finish on Saturday night at Grandview Speedway. With Duane Howard leading with just eight laps to go in the BPG Racing Freedom 76 Modified Classic a left front flat tire forced him to the pits giving the lead and the $20,000 win to DeSantis.
In victory lane DeSantis told the huge crowd on hand, “I did notice that Howard had a tire going down and I hate to say it but I was hoping that it would go flat.” Apparently his hopes came true and he was able to garner his second career Freedom 76 victory.
DeSantis had high praise for his team, some of the members having been with him for 15 years. “What a car, what a team, I had it all tonight,” said DeSantis. The veteran racer, 53 years old, admitting to being in the twilight of his career still had a lot left for the youngsters he left behind in winning the BPG Racing Freedom 76.
And how did he plan to celebrate the win? DeSantis and family will have their weekly spaghetti dinner and he was headed to his full time job on Sunday night.
Jon Kellner Sr. took the early lead in the 76-lap classic but that was short lived as his Banes Roofing No.8 modified broke on the fourth lap giving the lead to Ryan Godown. For the next 15 laps Godown was in charge but on the 20th circuit Jeff Strunk, Craig VonDohren and Godown went into turn three side by side with VonDohren ending up crashing and Godown getting the blame and being sent to the back of the field. VonDohren was not injured but the BPG Racing No. 1C was heavily damaged.
After a couple failed restarts it was Jeff Strunk in front and holding the top spot until the 26th circuit when Duane Howard, coming from 24th starting spot, got the front running position on a restart after a caution for a spinning Stewart Friesen.
Once in front it looked like Howard was going to have an easy time on his way to his fourth Freedom 76 win. Even when a fuel stop for the entire field on the 44th lap gave everyone another shot at the leader Howard was still able to pull away from the field. However with eight laps to go a left front flat tire sent Howard to the pits giving the lead to DeSantis who went on to win. The Temple, PA racer started in 22nd spot and steadily worked his way through the field to take the lead on the 68th circuit of the one-third-mile, banked clay oval. Second spot went to Doug Manmiller (Shoemakersville) for his strongest effort of the season followed by eight time NASCAR Whelen All American Series Modified track champion Jeff Strunk (Mohnton), Mike Gular (Green Lane) and Billy Pauch Jr. (Frenchtown, NJ).
Duane Howard came back to finish 11th.
The BFP Speciality/Pioneer Pole Buildings Cash Dash was won by Shawn Reimert earning him $1000 while Tommy Scheetz Jr. got the win in the Schaeffer Motorsports Minuteman 20 which got him a starting spot in the BPG Racing Freedom 76 and a set of Penske Racing Shocks.
Qualifying heat races for the more than 60 cars on hand for the Freedom 76 were won by Duane Howard, Danny Erb, Shawn Reimert, Jason Smythe, Kevin Hirthler and Mike Gular. The three consolation races earning the top three finishers starting spots in the Minuteman 20 went to Troy Wink, Keith Hoffman and Jason Hamilton.
The Cornerstone Auto Sales of Fleetwood, PA Hard Charger Award went to John Willman who advanced 23 positions in the 76-lap main event. He started 31st and finished 8th.
Jordan Umbenhauer, making his first Freedom 76 start, finished 10th to earn a gift certificate from Cargo Trailer Sales. The Dan’s Deli Halfway Leader Award went to Duane Howard and they also presented a 76 inch hoagie to the winner.
The LineX Freedom Fest, an afternoon of fan activities put together by Pete Knappenberger, raised more than $1,000 for the Camelot House in Allentown, PA.
The next event at Grandview Speedway is set for Sunday, September 27th at 2:30 p.m. and will feature the NEETS Enduro action.
BPG RACING FREEDOM 76 MODIFIED CLASSIC, 76 laps: 1. Meme DeSantis 2. Doug Manmiller 3. Jeff Strunk 4. Mike Gular 5. Billy Pauch Jr. 6. Tommy Scheetz Jr. 7. Stewart Friesen 8. John Willman 9. Jimmy Horton 10. Jordan Umbenhauer 11. Duane Howard 12. Kyle Weiss 13. Ryan Godown 14. Kerry Kratz 15. Kenny Brightbill 16. Ray Swinehart 17. Ryan Grim 18. Danny Hieber 19. Don Norris 20. Bobby Gunther Walsh 21. Kevin Hirthler 22. Keith Brightbill 23. Todd Smith 24. Todd Marburger 25. Jason Smythe 26. Shawn Reimert 27. Chris Esposito 28. Craig VonDohren 29. Addison Meitzler 30. Brad Missimer 31. Mike Nicholas 32. Tom Mayberry 33. Danny Erb 34. Jon Kellner Sr.