POTTSVILLE, Pa. – A strong field of 358 Modifieds were on hand Sunday night at Big Diamond Speedway as Jack Rich Inc presented the annual Coalcracker 72.
When it was all said and done it was invader Danny Bouc taking home the $10,000 first place prize.
“Man, I had to really work for that one,” said Bouc in victory lane. “The track was really hammer down up top and that’s me and once I got out front I knew I had to just hit my marks and I knew it was going to be tough for them guys to get around me. That trophy is pretty cool, but the check is what I really want so I can pay some bills.”
Fourteen-year-old USS Achey Sportsman champion Alex Yankowski brought the field down for the green flag and immediately darted out to the lead. The youngster, in his first 358 modified race at the speedway, looked like a veteran as he easily sped off to an early advantage. The first yellow of the race waved on lap six for Alex’s cousin, Frank Yankowski, who had rolled to a stop.
When the green came back out Yankowski jumped back to the lead with former Coalcracker winner Ryan Godown now on the move and up to fourth. The young driver continued to lead the way and had opened up his lead when Brett Kressley spun in turn two to bring out the second stoppage of the race on lap 18.
Back to green and once again Yankowski easily jumped to the lead as a heated battle for second was going between the No. 27 of David Hunt and the No. 32 of Bouc. Lap after lap Bouc hounded Hunt and finally was able to wrestle second away just past the 20-lap mark. Gary Hager brought out another yellow flag on lap 23 to bunch the field back up.
After fighting off challengers on the previous restarts, the young Yankowki finally gave up the lead on the restart to Bouc as Godown made is way to third past Hunt. Billy Pauch Jr., Craig Von Dohren and Duane Howard were now in the mix as they converged on the leaders. Lap 24 saw the fourth place running Hunt have troubles as he started to slide back through the field, eventually bringing out the yellow as he went to the pits.
The race would get one more lap in the books before Jared Umbenhauer went off the back stretch slowing the pace once again but not before Godown passed Yankowski for second. Bouc held the point on the restart as Godown was starting to pressure the young driver out of Pipersville, Pa., for the lead.
Bouc would get a small advantage over Godown but as the laps clicked off Godown seemed to be running down the leader. The mandatary fuel break stopped the race on lap 40 giving all the drivers a chance to get out of the cars and take a breath to get ready for the last 32 circuits. The running order at the fuel break saw Bouc leading the way with Godown, Pauch, Yankowski and Howard the top five.
When the race resumed it was Bouc once again taking command as he opened up a small advantage over Godown. Von Dohren was now into fifth and starting to make his move as he worked his way past Howard setting his sights on Pauch. The next stoppage was on lap 57 as Strunk slowed to bring out the yellow as he headed for the pits.
The restart is where Godown made his move as he pulled up alongside Bouc coming out of four but Bouc never wavered and held off the veteran going into turn one to keep the lead. Von Dohren who had gotten by Pauch was now putting the pressure on Godown and at one point slid under him only to have Godown cross back over to take the spot back.
This was exactly what Bouc wanted to see as he was able to open up a small lead while they battled it out for second behind him. The last yellow of the race was thrown on lap 57 when the fourth-place car of Pauch stopped in turn two with an apparent flat tire.
Bouc would have to have the restart of his life as now he had the track’s big three in Godown, Von Dohren and Howard all right behind him. However, Bouc was not fazed and hit the restart perfectly to grab the lead once again with Godown directly behind him just waiting for a mistake.
It did not happen as Bouc hit his marks to perfection each and every lap to stay in front and take the biggest win of his career. Godown drove a great race to finish second with Mike Gular who pitted after the fuel break to replace a leaking left rear tire making a remarkable comeback to finish third.
“After the night we had last night (at New Egypt) this is just awesome” cited Bouc. “This is exactly what we needed, I’ve been up since 7:30 a.m. this morning hammering away on this car after last night. It was a great race, Ryan (Godown) is tough wherever we go, he ran me clean and I knew I had to hit my marks to keep him behind me. I couldn’t have done any of this without my crew and my sponsors and I can’t thank them enough.”
Yankowski didn’t leave the track empty handed as he captured the sportsman feature. Kris Ney won the road runner main event and D.J. Hunt won the Excel 600 modified feature.