Friday, September 4, 2009


Coveted prize: Coalcracker 100 the event everyone wants to win
By Brett Deyo

Reading Eagle correspondent
This is the one they all want to win.Big Diamond Raceway hosts its highest-paying and most prestigious event of the season Sunday with the 29th edition of the Coalcracker 100.The winner of the 100-lap 358-modified event earns $10,000 and a permanent spot in the Forestville oval's record books.The victor won't be the only competitor cashing in at night's end. Big Diamond's management team has posted an impressive purse, paying $5,000 for second, $3,000 for third, $2,000 for fourth and $1,500 for fifth. A $1,000 bonus will go to the halfway leader.
The first Coalcracker race, then run as a 50-lap event, was won by Bob Emerich in 1979.The Coalcracker has run continuously with the exception of 1983 and 2005.Only 15 drivers have visited Coalcracker victory lane.
Oley's Duane Howard, who clinched his seventh Big Diamond 358-modified title with last Friday's rainout, leads all drivers with five victories.Howard is the defending champion, having come out on top of a torrid battle with Jason Hamilton. Hamilton's chances ended on a restart six laps from the finish when contact broke the front suspension of his car.A two-time Big D victor this season, Howard has won the event for three car owners: Carey Duncan (1998, '99), Glenn Hyneman (2001) and current team owner Chad Sinon ('06, '08).

Six-time track champion Jeff Strunk has three Coalcracker wins, his most recent in 1997. He has won the race in three different formats, at 50, 60 and 100 laps. He won in a self-owned car in 1990 and posted back-to-back wins in '96 and '97 for Keith Roussey.All-time Big D feature winner Craig Von Dohren has two Coalcracker wins, 20 years apart (1987, 2007). The Boyertown driver has won twice this year for car owner Mike Harvey of Millville, N.J.Billy Pauch Sr., the Frenchtown, N.J., icon with 657 career feature wins, aims for his third Coalcracker win as a teammate to his 22-year-old son, Billy Jr., for Bob Greene's PPB Racing operation. The elder Pauch won in 2000 and '02.Expected to compete for the win is legendary Kenny Brightbill of Sinking Spring, a two-time race winner (1992, '94).Keith Hoffman of Whitehall, who won in 2003, will return to Big D for the first time since July 3, when he earned a $4,000 payday in the Georgie Stevenson Memorial. Following that win, Hoffman ventured to other Friday venues, primarily Penn-Can Speedway in Susquehanna. He was second in last year's 100.The 35-time Big D winner is set to contend for car owner Dennis "Moose" Eisenhard, a winner of the event with Keith's older brother, Doug, in '04.Twelve different drivers won 358-mod events this season at Big D. Only four won more than once: Howard, Strunk, Von Dohren and Rick Laubach, with two each.Laubach is the leading candidate to break through as a Coalcracker winner. He teamed with Royersford car owner Norm Hansell and promptly won the 50-lap Memorial Race May 25 for a $5,000 payday. In nine starts aboard the No. 357, Laubach earned eight top-five finishes, climbing to third in the final point standings.
The 358-modified drivers who did not win this season have an opportunity to lock in a redraw position for Sunday's race by winning tonight's non-winners race. Drivers who entered four or more races without winning are eligible.Contact Brett Deyo:

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