By Charlie Brown, Delmar, DE (10/19/12) – It is often said in racing that if you put yourself in a position to win you will eventually win. That was the case for Richie Pratt, Jr. on Saturday night as he found himself in the right place at the right time and ended up winning the 50-lap Delaware State Small Block Modified Dirt Track Championship.
Doug Manmiller started on the pole but the caution was out quickly as the back of the pack got crossed up and second place start, H.J. Bunting was called for a jump and had to restart at the rear. Manmiller quickly settled into a rhythm at the point with Ryan Watt battling with Craig VonDohren for third.
By lap ten, VonDohren had worked into the second spot dropping Watt to third. Keith Hoffman held the fourth spot and Jamie Mills had already shot from 17th to fifth. Two laps later, Mills was up to fourth and on the next circuit took third from Watt.
With Manmiller clear out front, Mills continued his charge by taking second from VonDohren. Pratt, Jr. was now up to fifth and on lap 22 took the fourth spot from Watt. The battle for second continued with VonDohren regaining the spot at the halfway sign.
Manmiller’s night came to a slow end as the car started to slow with 20 laps to go. VonDohren took the lead on lap 32 with Mills following into second and Pratt, Jr. into third. Mills began applying pressure to the lead with 12 to go. On lap 41, Mills slid under VonDohren going into the first turn. The pair slid up the banking with Mills coming off turn two in the lead. The pass was not to be however as Shawn Reimert brought out the yellow before the lap could be completed putting VonDohren back on the point.
VonDohren got a great restart and Pratt mounted a challenge on Mills for second. Mills held off Pratt and reeled VonDohren back in. With three laps to go, Mills went to the outside in the second turn. VonDohren and Mills made contact coming off the turn which resulted in Mills spinning off the top of the third turn with a flat rear tire. Under the yellow, the leader VanDohren slowed with a flat and pulled from the race.
Pratt, Jr., who had been running in third, now found himself on top with Eric Kormann second and Watt third. Pratt controlled the restart as Nate Christman jumped to the outside groove driving past Watt and taking second from Kormann with one to go. Christman ran out of time as Pratt, Jr. took the checkered. Christman had to settle for second with Kormann third. Fourth went to Watt and Kevin Hirthler got by David Van Horn, Jr. on the final lap for fifth.
“It’s great to get a win here at Delmar. I’ve wanted one bad,” said Pratt. “Since the late ’80’s –early ‘90’s I was sitting in the stands on Saturday night’s watching my dad race. So this place has a special place in my heart and I wanted to win here.” The win was worth $5000 for Pratt plus lap money for the final two laps.
Heats for the 37 cars were won by Solomon over Pratt; Bunting over VonDohren by inches; Manmiller over Hoffman; and Watt over Neal Williams. Kyle Merkel and Van Horn, Jr. won the consolations. Ending their nights early in the heats were former Fall Championship winners Billy Pauch, Dave Witte, and Wade Hendrickson.
50-Lap Small Block Modified Finish: 1. Ritchie Pratt; 2. Nate Christman; 3. Eric Kormann; 4. Ryan Watt; 5. Kevin Hirthler;; 6. David Van Horn Jr; 7. Keith Hoffman; 8. HJ Bunting; 9. Larry Soloman; 10. Brad Trice; 11. Kyle Merkel; 12. Shawn Reimert; 13. Kyle Borror; 14. Tom Maccherone; 15. Brad Grimm; 16. Craig VonDohren; 17. Jamie Mills; 18. George Richardson; 19. Neil Huber; 20. Norman Short Jr; 21. Doug Manmiller; 22. Chris Grbac; 23. Scott Hulmes; 24. Pete Serra; 25. Neal Williams; 26. Jason Smythe; 27. Adam Weber; 28. Brad Brightbill; 29. Chris Hitchens; 30. Ron Roberts; DNQ: Ray Swinehart; Rick Laubach; Dave Witte; Deron Rust; Wade Hendrickson; Billy Pauch; Brandon Sturgis.