Race Results 09/19/2009Grandview PR
The 2002 winner of the event patiently worked his way through the field in the Harvey Bitler-owned No. 88D. By the 62nd lap DeSantis was second behind leader Duane Howard, whose left front tire was going flat. A caution on the 68th lap forced Howard to pit and DeSantis was the new leader. DeSantis continued his pace the remaining eight laps and went on to collect a $20,000 paydirt plus lap money for his second win in the event and his second win of the season at the 1/3-mile oval.
Polesitter Jon kellner led for four laps before mechanical problems sidelined him which put Ryan Godown into the lead.
Behind Godown, Jeff Strunk, the 2009 point champion; Kerry Kratz, Jason Smythe and Billy Pauch Jr. jockeyed for the remaining positions. Godown held the high lane while Strunk, a three-time winner of the Freedom, stuck to the low side as the pair battled for first. Waiting for either one to slip up was Craig Von Dohren, who won the event four times.
On the 15th lap Von Dohren moved into second and set his sight on Godown. The yellow was brought out on the 20th lap when Bobby Gunther-Walsh spun in the third turn. Godown held onto first on the restart. Coming out of the third turn it was three-wide racing between Godown, Von Dohren and Strunk as the track narrows at that point. Contact was made between Godown and Von Dohren and Von Dohren ended up in the fence. Von Dohren was uninjured, but the car was badly damaged. For the incident Godown was put to the rear of the pack and now Strunk was the new leader. After three tries the restart was completed with Strunk at the head of the pack trailed by Howard, Pauch Jr., Kratz and Keith Brightbill.
Howard overtook Strunk for the lead on the 25th lap and within no time he was putting distance between himself and second through fifth which was now comprised of Strunk, Doug Manmiller, Pauch Jr. and Kratz. Making bids to break into the top five was DeSantis.
Todd Smith stopped in the first turn to bring out the yellow on the 35th lap. On the restart Kratz, who was having a solid run, spun in the third turn with a flat right rear tire. The next attempt was void as Ryan Grim spun on the backstretch with a left front flat.
When action finally went green again Howard, a three-time Freedom winner last winning it in 1999, was still the leader followed by Strunk, Manmiller, DeSantis and Pauch Jr.
The order at the Dan?s Deli 1/2-way hoagie award mark continued to be Howard, Strunk, Manmiller, DeSantis and Pauch Jr. with neither one giving way. Manmiller and DeSantis were in an intense battle for the third spot.
The field was brought to a stop along the homestretch on the 44th lap for a fuel stop. After the cars were refueled and action resumed Howard remained the leader with Strunk, Manmiller, DeSantis and Pauch Jr. in tow. The order behind Howard pretty well stayed the same as the race went on, but by the 62nd lap DeSantis was in the runner-up spot trying to reel Howard in. Howard and the others had to race some of the lap traffic that wouldn?t heed the radio-warning that the front runners were right behind them.
The final caution brought out on the 68th lap when Don Norris Jr., a lap car, spun on the backstretch was not a good sign for Howard, whose tire was flat. The rules state a driver cannot restart with a front flat. The turn of events put DeSantis as the new leader followed by Manmiller, Strunk, Tommy Scheetz Jr. and Mike Gular.
DeSantis never looked back once he inherited the lead and went on to capture his biggest win of the season which was a well-deserved crowd-pleasing one. Following DeSantis across the line was Manmiller, who finally had Lady Luck with him to score h