BY: Shawn Wood
The 23-year veteran from Shoemakersville passed race leader Billy Pauch, Jr, on a lap-23 restart to win the CJ’s Tire & Automotive Services 358 modified opener on Friday night at Big Diamond Speedway.
Other winners on Friday night were Brandon Grosso (U.S.S. Achey Sportsman), Kody Sites (Savage 61 Roadrunners) and Josh Pepe (Xcel 600 modifieds).
The track returns to action on April 8 with the Money In The Mountain race for the 358 modifieds. The 40-lap feature pays $5,000 to win and $400 to start. Ryan Watt is the defending winner of the race.
Manmiller started third in the feature but it was Pauch, Jr., leading the race from the drop of the green flag.
Manmiller would fall back in the running order early on when he was passed by Ray Swinehart and Duane Howard.
The 2010 358 modified champion went high into Turns 1 and 2 on the lap-23 restart and when leader Pauch, Jr., slid high, Manmiller drove under him and beat him into Turn 3 for the winning pass.
“Hopefully we can build upon the momentum and keep it going,” Manmiller added. “We had a good night overall and I was able to move around and pass on the top or the bottom of the track.”
It was the 10th career win for Manmiller at the speedway. He also won the 2012 edition of the Coal Cracker who he is driving his own car this season on Friday nights.
“We had good runs when we did get to Big Diamond last year but to get a win on opening night, it’s like a weight being lifted off your back,” he added.
Pauch, Jr., would hold on for second with Howard third as Godown and Erick Rudolph completed the top five.
Sixth through 10th were Jeff Strunk, Danny Bouc, Ryan Grim, Ryan Watt and Brett Kressley.
Heats for the 29 358 modifieds were won by VonDohren, Strunk and Manmiller while Watt won the consolation race.
Grosso took the lead on the opening lap of the 20-lap sportsman feature from his outside pole position and never looked back as he cruised to the win over sixth-place starter Ray Woodhall, Jr.. Mike Mamamma, Wayne Witmer, and Matt Stangle completed the top five.
Sixth through 10th were Daryl Dissinger, Tim Fitzpatrick, Mike Lisowski, Ray Woodall, Sr., and Charles Fayash.
Heats for the 20 sportsman modifieds were won by Fitzpatrick and Kevin Brady.
Sites took the lead in lap 14 from early race leader Chuck Eckert to score the 15- lap roadrunner win. Eckert would finish runner-up while Tim Fitzpatrick came from 19th to finish third. Chris Holland and Andy Fayash III rounded out the top five.
Sixth through 10th were Terry Kramer, Jim Kost, Steve Gromois, Devin Trexler, and T.J. Fitzpatrick.
Heat for the the 19 roadrunners were won by Kost and T.J. Fitzpatrick.
Josh Pepe made a late-race pass to score his first-ever 600 modified win.
On April 8, the Money In The Mountain race will also feature at the street stocks and roadrunners. The gates on Friday will open at 5:30 p.m. with warm ups at 7:45 and racing begins at 8:15.
General admission is $25, Seniors, $23 and kids 12 and under and active Military with a VALID ID are free. Normal Big Diamond rules apply.