SELINSGROVE, Pa. — For the second year in a row, Duane Howard scored the victory in the Race of Champions/Alexander Family Dealerships season opener for 358 modifieds Friday night at Selinsgrove Speedway.
Howard found a burst of speed in his No. 4 during the second half of the 25-lap feature when he passed early leader Ryan Godown and went on to clinch the $2,500 win.
Brian Johnson won the season opener for the roadrunners in the division’s 12-lap feature. Johnson set a new track record in a time of 5:10.507 for the feature distance.
Second-place starter Doug Manmiller powered into the lead at the start of the 358 modified feature. Fifth-place starter Ryan Godown, who won the track’s big block modified race last June, advanced to second and set his sites on Manmiller. On the third circuit, Manmiller’s car fell off the pace while leading. At the same time, fourth-place starter Craig VonDohren also slowed on the track. Godown inherited the lead and quickly stretched his margin over polesitter Larry Wight.
Racing off turn four on lap four, third-place starter Duane Howard drove by Wight for the second position. At the midway point of the race, Howard reeled in Godown in traffic. The caution flag unfurled again on lap 15 for Pat Ward’s disabled race car. On the lap 16 restart, Howard raced underneath Godown exiting the second turn and took command of the field. Howard opened up a straightaway lead until a caution flag for Danny Johnson on lap 20 regrouped the field one more time.
When the race resumed, Howard checked out and went on to post a one-second margin of victory over Godown, Wight, 15th-place starter Billy Decker and eighth-place starter Bobby Varin. Second-place starter Brian Johnson pulled into the lead at the start of the roadrunner race.
Johnson was chased by fourth-place starter Bob Bussey for the entire distance. However, for the final two laps, Bussey moved within striking distance and put in a bid for the lead and win. At the checkered flag, Johnson held off Bussey by the slimmest of margins for the victory. Corey Collier, John Schoch, and John Fowler rounded out the top five.