- Phil Allaway
Brett Hearn Adds to his Win Tally at Lebanon Valley
On Friday night, Brett Hearn claimed his 900th career victory of his career. Saturday night saw him waste no time in adding to that number.
After delays due to a wet track, the Modifieds took to the high banks for 30 laps of action. Mike King started from the pole and led early over Elmo Reckner. Further back, Hearn had to charge from the 11th starting spot. It didn’t take long for the multiple-time champion to start making some passes.
King led early, but Reckner was right on his tail. After 10 laps, Reckner made a move to the inside of King. King tried to hold on, but could not keep Ballston Spa’s Reckner out of the lead.
A spin for Jeff Sukup in turn 3 brought out the first yellow of the night on lap 12. This brought everyone back together. Hearn capitalized. On the restart, he moved up from fifth to second and put the pressure on Reckner for the lead. A lap later, Hearn was past Reckner for the lead.
From there, Hearn pulled away from the rest of the field and hid. By the finish, he was nine seconds ahead as he took his 101st career win at Lebanon Valley and 901st of his career.
Afterwards, Hearn credited his form to being able to work at the shop.
“[Our team] getting back in the shop for a couple of days allowed us to reset and recalibrate,” Hearn said. “[We were able] to think about our setup a little bit and improve on it.”
In the Small Block Modifieds, Frank Hoard, III appeared to be the man to beat. Starting from the pole, he was easily able to run away from the pack. Most of the other main players started way back and had to charge through traffic.
Despite showing a substantial amount of speed, Hoard’s car had a mechanical failure and stopped on track to draw a caution on lap 9. Alan Houghtaling took the lead as a result.
The man on the move ended up being Kenny Tremont Jr. Starting 15th, Tremont slowly but surely moved up the order. Cautions allowed him to stay close to his adversaries and pick them off on restart. By halfway, Tremont was up to second.
Houghtaling appeared to be 98 percent of a match for Tremont. It took most of the rest of the feature for Tremont to run down Houghtaling, but once he did, the battle was fierce. On the final lap, Houghtaling tried to defend the preferred outside line in turns 3 and 4. Houghtaling going high meant that there was an opening to the inside.
A long-time veteran like Tremont relishes those opportunities. Tremont dove to the inside and crossed Houghtaling over. With substantial momentum, Tremont was easily able to make the pass and take the win.
Behind Tremont and Houghtaling was J.R. Heffner in third. Jason Herrington finished fourth and Brett Haas was fifth.
Pro Stock teams competed in the Ol’ Buzzard 30, a special 30-lap feature in memory of the late Jimmy Langenback. Extra money was on the line and the racers were driving like they wanted it bad.
Nick Hilt started on pole and led early without any challenges. Behind Hilt, there was a lot of action as drivers fought for every inch. Rick Dempsey effectively spun himself out while racing with Steven LaRochelle. Tom O’Connor and Joe LaFlamme had issues in turn 3. Add in some debris and mechanical issues and you end up with five cautions in eight laps.
Points leader Rob Yetman caused the first yellow when he lost his hood as a result of what he called a "squirmish." From there, the Castleton native was on fire. He moved back up through the field and ran Hilt down in the race. With a mere two laps to go, Yetman snatched the lead away and held on to win his fourth race of the year.
Yetman credited his speed to being able to get out of the crowd.
"When [the field] gets strung out, its a lot easier to pass," Yetman said after the race. "When we get strung out, I can start working on guys. That's what happened tonight."
Behind Yetman, Towslee spun in turn 4 after being hit from behind by Hilt. Officials determined that Hilt's actions were intentional and moved him back to last.
As a result of the penalty, Jason Meltz inherited second. It is his second runner-up finish in a row. Rick Duzlak was third, followed by Jon Routhier and Rich Crane.
Sportsman saw Nikki Ouellette start from the pole, but trouble broke out early in turn 2. John Virgilio was eliminated in the crash that also involved Chris Curtis, Frank Hoard Jr. and Peter Carlotto. The fastest man in Sportsman Saturday night was Michael Sabia. Starting fourth, Sabia quickly ran up on Ouellette a couple of laps after the restart. Once there, Sabia made short work of the young racer as he took the lead.
From there, Sabia drove off into the night. Despite an issue with the engine late, Sabia held on to take the victory.
Afterwards, Sabia was legitimately nervous about his engine.
"I think we broke a valve spring," Sabia said after the race. "With five [laps] to go, it really fell apart. In the last two [laps], I was waiting for [the engine] to blow up. That's what it sounded like to me."
Further back, it was a career night for Ouellette as she held off a charge from Houghtaling to finish second. For Ouellette, Saturday night was the culmination of improved form ever since the team bought a new car.
"My dad gave me a really great car tonight," Ouellette said. "I was a little concerned about the track conditions considering that we had a really early warm-up and then we were the last race of the night. I tried the high side and it just worked for me. The car was right where I wanted it to be."
Cody Ochs finished fourth, while Chris Lynch was fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Wuggie Burdick led from the pole, but instantly came under pressure from Chris Murphy in the silver and purple No. 011. On the first lap in turn 4, Mike Eichstedt spun out his No. 51 after being tapped by Jordan Miller. Murphy was able to beat Burdick back to the line and thus had the lead when the yellow flew.
Despite the spin, Eichstedt's car was still the class of the field. Once the green came back out, Eichstedt charged to the front and within three laps, had the lead. Following in Eichstedt's wake was Chad Arsenault in the No. 04. Completing the last of his "new driver" weeks of having to start in the rear, Arsenault pressured Eichstedt strongly over the final four laps.
On the last lap, Arsenault made a strong move to the inside in turns 1 and 2, but simply could not get enough momentum to take the spot. Eichstedt held on to take the victory.
Arsenault was second, followed by Murphy. Zach Sorrentino, returning after thrashing his previous car earlier this year, was fourth. Scott Morris was fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 2, Joe Walcott started on pole, but was quickly usurped by Nick Reilly. While Reilly tried to open up a gap on Adam Schneider and the rest of the pack, the man on the move was Larry Perez.
Starting ninth, Perez quickly moved up the order. By halfway, he was up to fourth and still charging. Ultimately, it took Perez all the way until the final lap to get up to Reilly. Once there, Perez simply used his pace to drive past Reilly on the inside. From there, Perez pulled away to take the win. Perez's supporters were very pleased.
Reilly was second, followed by Schneider. Lou Gancarz was fourth and Dom Denue fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 3, Tim Thompson started from the pole in his No. 144. However, Ed Hatch was quick from the very start. On the first lap, he drove up from his fifth starting spot to snatch the lead away from Thompson.
Once in the lead, Hatch pulled way from the rest of pack. Ray Hall Sr. was second, but had contact that resulted in a cut tire. Hall would pit and eventually finish seventh.
Shortly after Hall's issue, Gary O'Brien and Jeff Meltz Jr. collided and went into the wall in turn 4. Meltz ended up on his side as a result of the incident. While Meltz was ok, he was done for the night.
Following another caution, Hatch had to deal with John Devine, who has been on a roll recently. However, Hatch was able to hold off Devine's push to take his first win of the year.
Devine was second, followed by Jeff Kreutziger and Bill Deak Jr. O'Brien recovered from his incident to finish fifth.
A-VERDI Presents Firefighters, EMS and Police Night Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Brett Hearn, 2) Elmo Reckner, 3) Brian Berger, 4) Rob Pitcher, 5) Keith Flach, 6) Kenny Tremont Jr., 7) Eddie Marshall, 8) Kyle Sheldon, 9) Andy Bachetti, 10) J.R. Heffner, 11) Mike King, 12) Steve Hough, 13) Matt Pupello, 14) Chad Jeseo, 15) Kyle Armstrong, 16) Wayne Jelley, 17) Kolby Schroder, 18) Mike Keeler, 19) Jeff Sukup, 20) Kyle Hoffman, 21) L.J. Lombardo, 22) Denny Soltis, 23) Paul Gilardi, 24) Olden Dwyer, 25) John Ruchel
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Kenny Tremont Jr., 2) Alan Houghtaling, 3) J.R. Heffner, 4) Jason Herrington, 5) Brett Haas, 6) Brian Sandstedt, 7) Timothy Davis, 8) Brandon Pitcher, 9) Ray Hall Jr., 10) Frank Harper, 11) Bryan McGuire, 12) Ryan Charland, 13) Chad Pierce, 14) Sean Mandel, 15) Frank Hoard, III, 16) Demetrios Drellos, 17) Jason Tompkins, 18) Kenny Aanonsen Jr.
Sportsman Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Michael Sabia, 2) Nikki Ouellette, 3) Alan Houghtaling, 4) Cody Ochs, 5) Chris Lynch, 6) Rob Maxon, 7) Whitey Slavin, 8) Kevin Ward, 9) Chris Curtis, 10) Frank Hoard Jr., 11) Lem Atkins, 12) Brandon Lane, 13) Zeb Catlin, 14) Harold Robitaille, 15) John Virgilio, 16) Peter Carlotto
Pro Stock Ol’ Buzzard 30 Results (30 laps): 1) Rob Yetman, 2) Jason Meltz, 3) Rick Duzlak, 4) Jon Routhier, 5) Rich Crane, 6) Rick Dempsey, 7) Steven LaRochelle, 8) Ed Bishop, 9) Scott Govertsen, 10) Brian Keough, 11) Tom O’Connor, 12) Joe LaFlamme, 13) Tom Dean, 14) Rick Spencer, 15) Chuck Towslee, 16) Hugh Page, 17) Jeff Kelmel, 18) Jay Corbin, 19) Dan Cote, 20) Nick Hilt
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (8 laps): 1) Mike Eichstedt, 2) Chad Arsenault, 3) Chris Murphy, 4) Zach Sorrentino, 5) Scott Morris, 6) Tim Meltz, 7) Wuggie Burdick, 8) Keri VanDenburg, 9) Jordan Miller, 10) Evan Denue
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (8 laps): 1) Larry Perez, 2) Nick Reilly, 3) Adam Schneider, 4) Lou Gancarz, 5) Dom Denue, 6) Dennis O’Connor Jr., 7) Joe Walcott, 8) Clifford Booth, 9) Rich Smith, 10) Luke Van Allen
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 Results (12 laps): 1) Ed Hatch, 2) John Devine, 3) Jeff Kreutziger, 4) Bill Deak Jr., 5) Gary O’Brien, 6) Jeff Meltz Sr., 7) Ray Hall Sr., 8) Mike Arnold, 9) Shawn Perez, 10) Tim Thompson, 11) Brian Walsh, 12) Zach Seyerlein, 13) Jeff Meltz Jr.