By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- Duane Howard of Oley made a lot of personnel changes during the offseason.
Those changes paid off Friday night as he won his second straight Race of Champions 25-lap 358 modified feature at Selinsgrove Speedway.
The speedway returns to action today at 4 with the sixth running of the Icebreaker 40. The pro stocks will also be on the card.
Howard, who has won two of the past three 358 modified track titles at the Grandview Speedway, needed a lap-16 restart to get past Ryan Godown of Ringoes, N.J., for the win.
"When Ryan was behind lapped traffic, I could rotate the top and cut across to the bottom and all it took was that one time to make the move happen," Howard said.
Howard took a page from three-time Selinsgrove Speedway 358 sprint car champion Pat Cannon of Etters as he hugged the inside guardrail on the restart as Godown slipped up a half-lane.
Howard stayed low coming off of Turn 2 and completed what would turn out to be the winning pass as he took the lead at the start of the backstretch.
"I don't know about this team, we had a lot of changes that went on during the offseason but they had the car really dialed in and it was an awesome race car to drive," Howard said.
Godown, of Ringoes, N.J., was living up to his nickname of the 'Ringoes Rocket' in the early portion of the race as he took the lead on the frontstretch on lap three when early race leader Doug Manmiller slowed to a stop in Turn 2 with engine issues.
Craig VonDohren also slowed on lap three and went pit side. They were two of 10 drivers who did not finish the event.
Pat Ward slowed on lap 15 to bring out the second caution of the night as Howard, who started third, was closing in on Godown.
"As a driver, I made a few mistakes early and that got me back in some lapped traffic," Howard said.
The final caution flew on lap 20 for Danny Johnson who slowed on the frontstretch after running in the top five.
Godown took one final shot at Howard on the restart but he was unable to complete the pass in turn 2.
Godown held on for second with Larry Wight third, Billy Decker (started 15th) fourth and Bobby Varin, fifth.
Sixth through 10th were Chad Brachman, Jerry Higbie Jr., Tim Buckwalter, Mel Schrufer and Mike Mahaney.
Frank Cozze of Wind Gap had a short return to his modified roots as the engine broke in his heat race.
Heat winners for the 26 358 modifieds went to Godown, Friesen and VonDohren. Godown set an eight-lap 358 modified heat race record with a non-stop time of 2 minutes, 39.754 seconds.
In the 12-lap roadrunner feature, Brian Johnson of Ashland held off several challenges from two-time defending roadrunner champion Bob Bussey of Northumberland to score the season-opening win. Corey Collier was third with John Schoch fourth and John Fowler rounded out the top five.
"The track was real fast and it was getting a bit rough and I was worried about a tire going down," Johnson said. "It was a long night as we finished working on the car at 5 and then the truck broke down on the way here and we had to get another truck to get the us to the speedway."
Brandon Shultz, Ricky Bender and Jeremy Kline rounded out the field.
Schoch won the heat race for the eight roadrunners on hand.