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  • Phil Allaway

Keith Flach Blitzes the Field for 1st Valley Win of 2017

Saturday night brought some sketchy weather to Lebanon Valley Speedway. Rains came and stopped the program during the third Pro Stock heat. After the track was packed back in, the full card was completed.

The rain resulted in a very quick racing surface that usually makes it quite difficult to pass. No one bothered to inform Keith Flach of that.

Likely the biggest moment of the feature occurred on the very first lap. Paul Gilardi had a brief issue in turn 2. Elmo Reckner had to stomp on the brakes to avoid Gilardi and got hit from behind by Brett Hearn. Reckner spun while Hearn drove off with a bent right front corner.

Both drivers would continue after repairs. Hearn pulled out of the pits right after the restart, but got saved by an immediate caution when Mike King and Olden Dwyer got hooked together in turn 4. He would eventually finish tenth. Reckner ended up 20th.

Mike Keeler started from the pole and led early on. Kyle Armstrong, back after suffering injuries in a road accident, was hot on Keeler’s heels. L.J. Lombardo was not far behind.

On lap 14, Armstrong made his move to the inside of Keeler. The two Connecticut racers battled side-by-side for two laps before Armstrong assumed the advantage.

While the Armstrong-Keeler battle was going on, Flach was on a charge. Starting 17th, Flach glued his No. 43 to the cushion and drove up through the field in a hurry. He was already in the top 10 by lap 6 and in the top five by lap 17.

Flach was so fast in the outside groove that no one could really offer up a fight. Flach took second with six laps to go from Lombardo and ran Armstrong down in about a minute. With three laps to go, Flach took the lead and pulled away to take his first of the year.

Even though he looked amazing out there, Flach really didn’t see it.

“It didn’t seem quite like that,” Flach said after the race. “With traffic out there, we were making some passes. It felt good. I thought we were slightly better and we found the right lane.”

Armstrong ended up second, followed by Lombardo. Andy Bachetti was fourth, followed by Wayne Jelley.

In the Small Block Modifieds, the feature was caution-free for the second week of the race. Ray Hall Jr. started from the pole and spent much of the race trying to maintain a gap on Brian Sandstedt.

Further back, points leader Kenny Tremont Jr. had a terrible heat race and was forced to start in 17th. From there, he slowly worked his way towards the front along with Brett Haas and J.R. Heffner.

However, with a fast race track and no cautions, progress was difficult at best. While Hall and Sandstedt turned quick laps without traffic, the points leaders had to fight and claw.

Hall led flag-to-flag to take his first Small Block Modified feature win. Afterwards, Hall seemed relieved that he won.

"We just had to get out front and maintain," Hall stated after the race. "We did really well. We got into some lapped traffic and I was wondering how that was going to play out. Its about time that I got into Victory Lane."

Sandstedt was close behind, followed by Brian Peterson. Heffner, who had the fastest lap of the race, was fourth. Timothy Davis was fifth.

The DIRTcar Pro Stock Series made their one and only visit to Lebanon Valley Saturday night. That meant appearance points for Lebanon Valley’s regulars, different rules and a higher car count.

Steven LaRochelle drew the pole after winning his heat race. He explained that the extra 200 pounds he had to carry made his car feel like a dog, but he was still very fast.

Once the race started, he was able to open a small gap up over Roch Aubin.

Unfortunately for those competing, the race was a bit of a start-and-stop affair. There were nine cautions in the 30-lap feature. The first of these came when Ed Bishop spun in turn 4 on lap 3 and was hit by Robbie Speed. Both drivers continued, but Bishop's night was effectively ruined.

A series of stopped cars caused a number of yellows. Nick Arnold stalled to bring one out. Roch Aubin stopped on course to bring a yellow out after contact with Speed cut a tire. Jay Corbin slowed on track unintentionally and caused a yellow as well.

Aubin's night came to an end on lap 23 when his car caught fire in turn 2. Aubin was ok, but his Husqvarna Chevrolet had clearly seen better days.

Rob Yetman, who won Friday night at Albany-Saratoga, quickly moved up to second and set his sights on LaRochelle. Once there, Yetman noticed a loose shock on LaRochelle’s No. 178. Despite the loose shock, Yetman simply could not get alongside the youngster.

Pascal Preyer hit the wall in turn 4 on what was the final lap, which resulted in an extension of the race for a Green-White-Checker. On the GWC, LaRochelle was able to get a good restart and held off Yetman to take his first career Pro Stock victory.

Afterwards, an exuberant LaRochelle credited his car's setup for the victory. "My car was setup the best that its been in a long time," LaRochelle. "Its funny because we had to change our car to comply with the DIRTcar [Pro Stock Series] rules, which is totally different from Lebanon Valley's rules. It felt like a dog, but this thing was a rocket ship. "I had completely forgotten what winning even felt like because I hadn't been there since I had my Pure Stock three or four years ago," LaRochelle continued. "I went in there tonight, did a good donut, got my picture taken with everybody and it felt really good."

Behind LaRochelle and Yetman was Jason Casey in third. Robbie Speed finished fourth and Jon Routhier was fifth.

In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Karen Verhagen started from the pole and led early. Evan Denue gave chase in his No. 245 Chevrolet Camaro. On the third lap, Denue made his move to take the lead away. Shortly afterwards, Verhagen spun in turn 4 and collected Chris Streeter to bring out the yellow.

From there, Denue had to hold off Chad Arsenault, who was making his 2017 racing debut in Tom Murphy's car. Arsenault gave Denue all he could handle, but Denue was able to hold on for his first career victory. Arsenault was second, followed by Jordan Miller, Adam Schneider and Streeter.

Pure Stock Feature No. 2 saw a duel between Dave Stickles and Zach Seyerlein. Seyerlein had the advantage while Stickles stalked him from behind. It took all the way to lap 6 before Stickles finally put the move on Seyerlein to take the lead.

Once out front, Stickles pulled away in slippery conditions to take the victory. Seyerlein ended up second, followed by Mark Dwyer, Al Relyea and Scott Morris.

Pure Stock Feature No. 3 saw Mike Arnold start from the pole and lead early. However, John Devine had the car to beat in this race. Using his very loose Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Devine was able to get his No. 24 in front of Arnold around the midpoint of the race. From there, Devine held off the pack to take the win.

Jeff Meltz Sr. ended up in second followed by Ed Hatch and Jeff Meltz Jr. Jesse Murphy was fifth.

In the 4-Cylinders, Victor Duncan Jr. started from the overall pole in his Neon and led early until he slipped up the hill in turn 2. That allowed Chris White to take the overall lead with Tim Meltz in tow.

Tim Meltz, driving a Honda Prelude that debuted during the Eve of Destruction, was able to get past White for the overall lead on lap 3. Shortly afterwards, the race's lone yellow flew for debris.

From the back of the field, Dual-cam contenders Chris Vandeputte and P.J. Bleau were charging forward. They made short work of the rest of the Dual-cam field and carved up the slower Single-Cam cars as well.

It took only two laps past the restart for Vandeputte to take the overall lead away from Tim Meltz. From there, Vandeputte held off Bleau to take the overall win.

Tim Meltz held on for third overall, good enough to win the Single-cam class. White was fourth, followed by Brandon Ely. Jake Gomm was sixth (third in Dual-cam), followed by Kenny Stager and Tomm Gomm.

NBT Bank/Andy’s Speed Shop Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Keith Flach, 2) Kyle Armstrong, 3) L.J. Lombardo, 4) Andy Bachetti, 5) Wayne Jelley, 6) Mike Keeler, 7) Chad Jeseo, 8) Steve Hough, 9) Eddie Marshall, 10) Brett Hearn, 11) Kolby Schroder, 12) Kyle Sheldon, 13) Brian Berger, 14) Kyle Hoffman, 15) Denny Soltis, 16) Matt Pupello, 17) J.R. Heffner, 18) Mike King, 19) Kenny Tremont Jr., 20) Elmo Reckner, 21) Rob Pitcher, 22) Paul Gilardi, 23) John Ruchel, 24) Jeff Sukup, 25) Olden Dwyer

Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Ray Hall Jr., 2) Brian Sandstedt, 3) Brian Peterson, 4) J.R. Heffner, 5) Timothy Davis, 6) Kenny Tremont Jr., 7) Frank Hoard, III, 8) Brett Haas, 9) Jason Herrington, 10) Demetrios Drellos, 11) Chad Pierce, 12) Brandon Pitcher, 13) Frank Harper, 14) Alan Houghtaling, 15) Jessey Mueller, 16) Sean Mandel, 17) Jack Lehner, 18) Bryan McGuire, 19) Ryan Charland, 20) Mike Molloy, 21) Kim LaVoy, 22) Kenny Aanonsen Jr.

DIRTcar Pro Stock Series Feature (30 laps): 1) Steven LaRochelle, 2) Rob Yetman, 3) Jason Casey, 4) Robbie Speed, 5) Jon Routhier, 6) Frank Twing, 7) Chuck Towslee, 8) Dave Bissonette, 9) Jocelyn Roy, 10) Jay Casey, 11) Jay Corbin, 12) Bruno Cyr, 13) Dan Older, 14) Mark Lalonde, 15) Gus Hollner, 16) Joe LaFlamme, 17) Tom Dean, 18) Brian Keough, 19) Pascal Payeur, 20) Steve Chaput, 21) Roch Aubin, 22) Tom O’Connor, 23) Ed Bishop, 24) Scott Govertsen, 25) Nick Arnold, 26) Rich Crane, 27) Jason Meltz, 28) Don Collins, 29) Rick Dempsey, 30) Rick Duzlak, 31) Nick Hilt, 32) Hugh Page

Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (8 laps): 1) Evan Denue, 2) Chad Arsenault, 3) Jordan Miller, 4) Adam Schneider, 5) Chris Streeter, 6) Dennis O’Connor Jr., 7) Karen Verhagen, 8) Joe Walcott, 9) Wuggie Burdick

Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (8 laps): 1) Dave Stickles, 2) Zach Seyerlein, 3) Mark Dwyer, 4) Al Relyea, 5) Scott Morris, 6) Mike Eichstedt, 7) D.J. Reilly, 8) Chris Murphy

Pure Stock Feature No. 3 Results (12 laps): 1) John Devine, 2) Jeff Meltz Sr., 3) Ed Hatch, 4) Jeff Meltz Jr., 5) Jesse Murphy, 6) Bill Deak Jr. 7) Dom Denue, 8) Tim Thompson, 9) Mike Arnold, 10) Ra y Hall Sr., 11) Jeff Kreutziger, 12) Lou Gancarz, 13) Shawn Perez, 14) Gary O’Brien, 15) Brian Walsh

4-Cylinder Single-Cam Feature Results (15 laps): 1) Tim Meltz, 2) Chris White, 3) Brandon Ely, 4) Jim Williams, 5) Gary Malloy, 6) Victor Duncan Jr., 7) Jethro Rossman, 8) Bradley Batho, 9) James Street

4-Cylinder Dual-Cam Feature Results (15 laps): 1) Chris Vandeputte, 2) P.J. Bleau, 3) Jake Gomm, 4) Kenny Stager, 5) Tomm Gomm, 6) Jim Guertin, 7) Shawny Hazel, 8) Matt Thompson, 9) John Wright, 10) Mike Duncan

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