Brett Hearn Blasts Field for 2nd Valley Win of 2017
Last week, Brett Hearn indicated that he and Madsen Motorsports needed to up their game. They most definitely came to play on Saturday night.
Mike King inherited the pole after Rob Pitcher voluntarily dropped to the rear and led early. However, Andy Bachetti was hot on King’s heels. On lap 5, Bachetti was able to sneak past to take the lead.
At the same time, Hearn was on the move. By the time Bachetti took the lead, Hearn was already up to fifth. From there, it was a methodical move to the front. He dispatched of Brian Berger for fourth. Then it was Eddie Marshall (driving Kolby Schroder’s backup car) who was dropped like a bad habit.
Hearn eventually ran down Bachetti and made short work of him for the lead on lap 14. From that point on, Hearn pulled away from the pack.
Further back, Kenny Tremont Jr. was quick in his No. 115, but starting 14th really hurt him. With no cautions, he was a long way behind by the time he got to the top five.
Hearn held on through the second half of the feature to claim his second win of the season. Afterwards, Hearn was amazed at the ease in which he claimed victory.
“I thought that my car was good from the start,” Hearn said in the pits. “I ran three really hard laps to get myself some distance, then I settled in. They’re rarely this easy.”
Hearn's win was the 99th Big Block Modified win of his career at Lebanon Valley, good for second all-time. It was also his 897th career feature triumph.
Bachetti, who was strong in his own right, finished second. Eddie Marshall finished third in the Schroder backup. Marshall has taken delivery of a new Teo chassis on Sunday to replace the one thrashed on 5/20. He plans to debut it next weekend at Lebanon Valley.
Tremont ended up finishing in a distant fourth, while Keith Flach was fifth. Through five races, Flach and Bachetti are tied for the points lead.
In the Small Block Modifieds, Peter Carlotto led the field to green and showed a lot of pace. However, he didn’t get a chance to show it before heck broke loose.
On the first lap, Jason Herrington got out of shape in turn 4, triggering a chain reaction incident. Sean Mandel, Jason Tompkins, Chad Pierce and Harold Robitaille piled up in turn 4 to bring out the yellow, but they weren’t the only ones to get damage. Tremont took a big hit to the right rear that bent a tie rod. Demetrios Drellos cut a tire and was forced to pit to replace it. Herrington was forced to retire from the race due to the incident, but everyone else continued.
The lack of rhythm to the race continued when Ray Hall Jr. lost his right front wheel to bring out the second yellow. Enough damage was done to Hall’s No. 72 to put him out for the night. A couple of laps later, Ricky Davis had an issue with his left front corner. The team tried a simple fix, but that didn’t work and Davis was done for the night.
Despite these stoppages, Carlotto was able to maintain his good pace. Bryan McGuire turned some heads with his pace as well.
Sure enough, the faster drivers made their presence known. Brett Haas came up from 13th to battle for the lead. A short battle ensued before the Pittsfield native was able to get past on lap 8. Once he got the lead, Haas believed that he had the race won. Not so fast.
J.R. Heffner was hot on Haas’ trail the whole time. Heffner got to Haas just after he took the
lead. The two racers spent multiple laps fighting for the lead. On lap 13, Heffner was finally able to make a move for the lead that stuck. From there, Heffner pulled away to take the Small Block victory.
For Heffner, the Small Block win gave him something to smile about after a Big Block Modified feature that made him want to curl up into a ball.
“[My car] worked the best right around the top,” Heffner said after the race. “If you can hit the corner just right, there’s a lot of momentum up there. We were able to keep more speed up in the corners [as compared to Haas]. That allowed us to take the lead.”
Tremont passed Haas with four laps to go to take second. Drellos came back from his early flat tire to finish in fourth, while Olden Dwyer was fifth.
In Pro Stock, a bumper crop of 27 cars took the green. Unfortunately, it took a little while to get going. Rich Crane spun on the first lap in turn 4 and hit by Jason Casey, making his first start in a regular Lebanon Valley Pro Stock feature since 2013. Both drivers would continue.
On the restart, Dan Cote spun out in turn 1 to draw another caution. Later on, Nick Hilt spun exiting turn 2 to draw another yellow. Hilt’s trouble continued when he got involved in a second crash with Matt Cross.
Later on, Rick Dempsey spun in turn 4 after contact from Jay Corbin. Officials sent Corbin to the rear for causing the spin. At the same time the spin occurred, Rick Duzlak cut a tire. He would replace the flat and continue, eventually finishing eighth
Through all of that action, pole sitter Hugh Page was at the front of the field and setting the pace. However, Rob Yetman was on the move once again, charging up from the 14th starting spot to second by lap 8.
Page gave it his all, but Yetman was able to get past to take the lead on lap 11. From there, Yetman pulled away into the distance.
Steven LaRochelle ran strong all night, maintaining a spot in the top five. However, with four laps to go, LaRochelle cut a left front tire and pulled to a stop on the track. A quick tire change allowed LaRochelle to continue, but what could have been a fourth-place finish ended up being a very disappointing 23rd.
A late caution for Brian Keough hitting the wall in turn 4 resulted in a one-lap shootout. Yetman got a good restart and easily held on to take his third win of the year.
Page held on for second in his best race in many years. He was quite pleased afterwards
“[My car] wasn’t too bad,” Page said after the race. “We were struggling a little center off, which has been our nemesis for the whole season. We’re definitely getting better. Bringing the car home in one piece sure helps for next week.
“I used to enjoy starting last and just having fun, but now I’ve got to step up. I’ve got good equipment and its time we showed it.”
Jason Meltz was third and moved up to second in Pro Stock points, followed by Jon Routhier, who started 24th. Victor Hopkins was fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Tim Meltz started from the pole, but quickly lost that advantage to Doug Olds. While Olds had a solid No. 73 on Saturday night, it paled in comparison to what Jay Casey was fielding.
It took a mere lap and change for Jay Casey to bring his No. 93 from the fourth row to the front of the pack. From there, Jay Casey pulled away to take his second win of the year.
Larry Perez was second, followed by Olds. Zach Sorrentino was fourth and Dave Stickles was fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 2, a couple of pre-race retirements resulted in Nick Reilly starting from the pole. Reilly got a good start in his Camaro and maintained the advantage through the first caution of the race, thrown due to a Lou Gancarz spin in turn 2.
On lap 3, Tom Murphy challenged Reilly in his Chevrolet Malibu. The Camaro was no match for the ‘Bu as Murphy swept into the lead. From there, Murphy pulled away to take his second win in his second start of the year.
Reilly held on to take a well-deserved second-place finish, followed by Scott Morris. Clifford Booth was fourth and Mark Dwyer was fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 3, Jeff Kreutziger was on pole and led a rush to turn 1. The last Pure Stock feature is nothing short of a scrum and Saturday night was no different. The racing was fast and furious as the drivers vied for position.
Jesse Murphy had a lot of speed early on, but his G-Body let him down on lap 3 to bring out the race’s sole caution. On the restart, Meltz Racing teamed up on Kreutziger. Jeff Meltz Jr. was able to take the lead on lap 4 and his father followed through.
From there, the metallic blue Meltz cars ran away from the field. Jeff Meltz Sr. could do nothing with his son, who held on to take the win.
Behind father and son was Ed Hatch in third. Ray Hall Sr. was fourth and Al Relyea fifth.
The 4-Cylinder class had double features on Saturday night. The night of racing started with a 15-lap combined feature that was originally scheduled to run on May 6.
In the first feature, Joey Morey started on the overall pole in his Honda Prelude. However, the race couldn’t even get underway before Victor Duncan spun and was hit by John Sheppard to bring out a caution.
A lap after the restart, Gary Malloy spun exiting turn 4 after contact from Brandon Ely. Officials determined that the contact was blatant, so Ely and his Honda Civic were sent to the rear of the field.
As is the norm, the Dual-Cam teams started behind the Single-Cam contenders and had to weave their way up through the field. Derek Quintero led the division early in his Hyundai Tiburon, but P.J. Bleau took the advantage on lap 4.
Bleau and Chris Vandeputte were the class of the field, quickly moving forward. On lap 7, Vandeputte was able to get past Bleau for the class lead. A lap later, Vandeputte made short work of Morey to take the overall lead in his Ford Escort.
After a debris caution, Bleau got past Morey and the two Dual-Cam contenders ran away from the field while Morey continued to lead Single-Cam. Unfortunately, Morey’s lead did not last for long.
On lap 11, Morey spun in turn 4 after being hit from behind by the Dual-Cam entry of Mike Dianda. Dianda was sent to the rear for the contact. James Street was able to get past the incident and take the Single-Cam lead as a result.
Once the race restarted, Vandeputte was able to open up a gap and take the overall victory. Bleau was second, followed by Shawny Hazel, Jake Gomm and Street. Street’s fifth-place finish was good enough for the Single-cam victory.
For the regularly scheduled 4-Cylinder feature, 29 cars signed in at the track. Officials made the decision to split the division into separate features for Single-Cam and Dual-Cam cars.