Keith Flach Claims Modified Win, Hearn Repeats as Champion
Saturday night was the final night of Big Block Modified racing in 2016 at Lebanon Valley. Entering the night, Brett Hearn held an eight-point lead over Kenny Tremont, Jr. All Hearn had to do was keep Tremont in his sight.
Denny Soltis started from the pole, but quickly lost the advantage to Elmo Reckner, who charged up from the inside of row 2. Reckner has found something towards the end of the season that really fits his car. As a result, he was able to hold the lead for quite a while.
The only yellow of the race came just a couple of laps in when Chad Jeseo slid into the inside wall exiting turn 4. Jeseo was ok, but his No. 25 was done for the evening.
The three championship contenders (Keith Flach, Tremont and Hearn) started nose-to-tail and charged forward early. By lap 6, Flach was already up to fourth, knowing that his slim championship hopes depended on winning the race.
Tremont quickly moved up the order so that he was right behind Andy Bachetti. However, he could not get by Bachetti. Hearn was just behind, stalking Tremont.
Flach continued to move forward, taking second from Kyle Sheldon on lap 20. From there, he set out to run down Reckner. That did take long. Within two laps, Flach was on Reckner’s tail. On lap 23, Flach was past for the lead. From there, Flach pulled away from the pack and took the win.
Hearn was able to get past Tremont in the final laps for fourth and nearly got third. Regardless, that
performance was good enough to give Hearn the championship.
Flach was very happy with his car and his team’s performance.
“The car was very good all night. Gotta thank the team, its a team effort,” Flach said. “They’ve built me a good car all year. We’ve had a very fortunate, blessed season.”
Bachetti claimed second, followed by Reckner, who is dealing with transporter issues. Hearn was fourth, followed by Tremont.
In the Small Block Modifieds, Ryan Darcy started from the pole and got the better of Kenny Aanonsen, Jr. Aanonsen was trying quite hard and overdrove turn 1, spinning out and collecting Jason Herrington to bring out the race’s only yellow.
Darcy led after the restart, but Jeseo was right on his tail. He could see that Darcy was making a couple of mistakes up front and could lay in wait until a big mistake happened. That big mistake occurred on lap 10 when Darcy jumped the cushion in turn 3. Jeseo was able to take advantage of that to take the lead.
Tremont had the chance to clinch the title, but had to come from the rear to do it. Given the circumstances, all he needed to do was keep Brett Haas in his sights and it was. He did a little more than that, overtaking Haas for position just after halfway.
Demetrios Drellos, who started sixth, was the one driver who could challenge Jeseo late. He took second from Darcy at halfway and methodically ran down Jeseo. Slower traffic decided the race. Jeseo was able to deal with it better than Drellos, which gave him just enough of a gap to take the win.
Drellos was second, followed by Darcy, Tremont and Frank Hoard, III. Tremont’s fourth-place finish clinched his second straight Small Block Modified title.
In Sportsman, Cody Ochs started from the pole and led early. Chris Lynch, coming off of a top 5 on Thursday night, stopped on track in turn 4 to draw the only yellow. He would continue.
On the restart, John Virgilo was on the move. He was able to get past Michael Sabia for second, then immediately put the pressure on Ochs. Barely a lap later, Virgilio took the lead away. From there, Virgilio pulled away and took the victory.
Sabia finished second, followed by Timothy Davis, Rob Maxon and Whitey Slavin.
A quick note on Slavin. The crash on Thursday night during the Mr. Crate Track U.S.A. race totaled Slavin’s
No. 53. The team worked out a deal with Catlin21 Racing to race the No. 76 normally fielded by Kevin Arnold. Arnold had engine issues Thursday that would have made it impossible to race Saturday night.
Slavin’s team got the No. 76 Bicknell chassis in their shop, pulled out the bad engine and replaced it with the engine out of the totaled No. 53. It performed just as well as they expected it to. Slavin indicated prior to the race that the team has put a down payment to buy the chassis outright.
Meanwhile, points leader Jeff Watson couldn’t advance up the order and finished 11th. As a result, Watson’s point lead has dropped from 40 to 16. He can still win the Sportsman Championship Saturday night by finishing seventh or better.
In Pro Stock, Ed Bishop started from the pole and led early on. Jay Corbin, who started 14th, was the man on the move. He knew that his only chance at the title was winning the race. Corbin was able to snag a few positions in the opening laps, but was still mired back in the order.
The only yellow of the race flew on lap 8 when Scott Govertsen hit the wall in turn 2. At the same time, Tom Dean spun exiting turn 4 and stalled. Govertsen was able to continue, but Dean was not.
Following that caution, Corbin was able to take spots in bunches. By halfway, he was in the top 5.
Jon Routhier made a move on Bishop for the lead on lap 14 exiting turn 2. However, Routhier and Bishop were balked. That allowed Corbin to go 3-wide and take the lead going into turn 3. From there, Corbin pulled
away from the pack to take his sixth win of the year.
Routhier held on for second, followed by Nick Hilt, Jr., Chuck Towslee and Bishop. Rob Yetman finished seventh, which was enough to claim his fourth Pro Stock title.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Mike Arnold started on pole and was able to open up a gap on Karen Verhagen and the rest of the pace. Meanwhile, Zach Sorrentino returned to the track after time away to repair crash damage.
However, Saturday was not Sorrentino’s night. On the first lap, he spun out in turn 4 and dropped to the rear of the field. No yellow was thrown. Later, Sorrentino had contact with Verhagen and nearly wiped out. Once again, no yellow was thrown. Sorrentino would eventually finish 11th.
The race’s only actual caution flew when John Devine spun after being bumped by Doug Olds. Devine was able to continue, but was surely disappointed with his ninth-place finish.
Once again, Phil Sherman was the man on the move. It’s worth thinking about where Sherman would be in points if he had run the full season. On this night, Sherman started ninth and was right on Mike Arnold after the restart.
On lap 4, Sherman took the lead away from Mike Arnold and pulled away to take his fifth win of the year. Bob Palmer was second, followed by Doug Olds, Mike Arnold and Tim Thompson.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 saw Wuggie Burdick started on pole, but was quickly overhauled by Dennis O’Connor, Jr., who started third. O’Connor showed a lot of pace, but had pressure from Dom Denue behind.
The 14-year old Denue was able to make the move on O’Connor to take the lead on lap 6 and pulled away to take the victory. The win moved Denue up to 11th in Pure Stock points, normally enough to earn him a spot in the 12-lap third feature. O’Connor held on for second, followed by Ed Hatch in third. Bill Deak, Jr. and Scott Morris were fourth and fifth.
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 saw Larry Perez take the lead on the first lap from pole sitter Harold Robitaille. However, the rolling storm that is the third feature caught Shawn Perez out. The No. 09 spun in turn 4 to bring out a yellow.
Later, Al Relyea had contact and spun in turn 1. He was hit by Jeff Meltz, Jr. Both drivers would continue, but another yellow flew.
On the restart, the former owner of Jeff Meltz, Jr.’s No. 15, Gary O’Brien, put the moves on Larry Perez to take the lead. Shortly afterwards, Dan Cote smacked the wall in turn 2 to bring out the third and final yellow of the race.
On the restart, O’Brien pulled away from the pack to take his class-leading sixth win of 2016. Jay Casey came up to finished second, followed by Jeff Meltz, Sr. Jason Meltz was fourth, while Ray Hall, Sr. was fifth.
Pepsi Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Keith Flach, 2) Andy Bachetti, 3) Elmo Reckner, 4) Brett Hearn, 5) Kenny Tremont, Jr., 6) J.R. Heffner, 7) Eddie Marshall, 8) Kyle Sheldon, 9) Matt Pupello, 10) Mike King, 11) Steve Hough, 12) Kolby Schroder, 13) Wayne Jelley, 14) Brian Berger, 15) Kyle Armstrong, 16) John Ruchel, 17) Denny Soltis, 18) Mike Keeler, 19) Jeff Sukup, 20) Rob Pitcher, 21) Paul Gilardi, 22) Chad Jeseo, 23) Olden Dwyer. DNS: Dave McFeeters
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Chad Jeseo, 2) Demetrios Drellos, 3) Ryan Darcy, 4) Kenny Tremont, Jr., 5) Frank Hoard, Jr., 6) Alan Houghtaling, 7) Brett Haas, 8) Ryan Charland, 9) J.R. Heffner, 10) Olden Dwyer, 11) Frank Harper, 12) Jason Herrington, 13) Brian Sandstedt, 14) Brian Peterson, 15) Bryan McGuire, 16) Ray Hall, Jr., 17) Ricky Davis, 18) Chad Pierce, 19) Jason Tompkins, 20) Peter Carlotto, 21) Kenny Aanonsen, Jr., 22) Kim LaVoy, 23) Frank Hoard, Jr. DNS: Steve Hough
Sportsman Feature Results (20 laps, held over from 8/6): 1) John Virgilio, 2) Michael Sabia, 3) Timothy Davis, 4) Rob Maxon, 5) Whitey Slavin, 6) Chris Lynch, 7) Kevin Ward, 8) Frank Hoard, Jr., 9) Cody Ochs, 10) Carmen Carnibucci, 11) Jeff Watson, 12) Dan Lyle, 13) Mike Block, 14) Nikki Ouellette
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Jay Corbin, 2) Jon Routhier, 3) Nick Hilt, Jr., 4) Chuck Towslee, 5) Ed Bishop, 6) Rob Yetman, 7) Ray Hall, Jr., 8) Victor Hopkins, 9) Rick Duzlak, 10) Rick Dempsey, 11) Steven LaRochelle, 12) Paul LaRochelle, 13) Hugh Page, 14) Tom O’Connor, 15) Frank Twing, 16) Joe LaFlamme, 17) Brian Keough, 18) Tim McCarthy, 19) Scott Govertsen, 20) Richard Puff, 21) Tom Dean, 22) Jeff Kelmel, 23) Chad Arsenault, 2