- Phil Allaway
J.R. Heffner Wins 2018 Lebanon Valley King of the Track
Saturday night saw Rifenburg Construction back the annual King of the Track night. $5500 was on the line and everyone would race hard to get it.
Olden Dwyer started from the pole and led early while Mike King stalked him. On lap 3, King was able to get past and took over the lead. J.R. Heffner, who started sixth, followed King past.
It did not take long for Heffner to get to King for the lead. King definitely did not make things easy. The two veterans battled for more than 10 laps. King had the outside line and fought off Heffner’s advances as best as he could. On lap 16, Heffner was finally able to make the pass for the lead stick. Once out front, Heffner began to pull away.
Further back, the track conditions made it rather difficult since everyone had a decent amount of grip. Brett Hearn started in ninth and had some difficult running his way up through the field. Kenny Tremont Jr. started 15th and effectively went nowhere, finishing 14th.
Eventually, Hearn was able to get up to the leaders late in the race. He was able to take third from Wayne Jelley on lap 22 and ran down King. Much like how he fought Heffner earlier, King went toe to toe with Hearn. Hearn was able to take second with two laps to go, but it was much too late to prevent Heffner from taking his first win of the year.
Heffner will take the momentum of winning into Eldora for Wednesday night's Eldora Dirt Derby, but all he could talk about was his duel with King.
“Mike King did an awesome job,” Heffner said after the race. “That race could have gone either way. I was just a little bit better. It was amazing how well he did.”
Behind Heffner and Hearn was King with his best run of the season in third. Jelley was fourth, while Kolby Schroder was fifth.
The Small Block Modifieds had a more physical feature than usual. Alan Houghtaling started from the pole and led early with ease. Dwyer gave chase.
The first few laps were relatively tame as Kim LaVoy was able to take second from Dwyer and attempt to run down Houghtaling. Then Bryan McGuire’s car caught on fire to bring out a yellow. Then the contact started. Shortly after the restart, Jason Herrington and Ricky Davis had contact that caused him to nearly stop on track.
Then, Timothy Davis smacked the wall in turn 1 to bring out another yellow. A crash on the frontstretch involving Brandon Pitcher and Frank Harper brought out another.
Finally, Andy Bachetti made a three-wide move to the inside in turn 3 and hit Frank Hoard, III. That contact bounced Hoard into Heffner, who hit the wall hard. Heffner was shaken up but walked away. Bachetti was sent to the rear for causing the wreck and finished ninth.
Over the final 11 laps, Houghtaling was able to open up a decent gap on the pack as Tremont moved up the order. Tremont took second from Dwyer with five laps to go but could do nothing to prevent Houghtaling from taking his first win of the year.
Tremont finished second, while Dwyer came across the line in third. Dwyer was later disqualified due to his team exhibiting unsportsmanlike conduct at the pit shack. That elevated Jason Herrington to third. Brett Haas was fourth, followed by Brian Sandstedt.
The Pro Stock feature was once again a spirited affair. Scott Kilmer started from the pole and led early on.
Then, one of the scariest incidents of the night occurred. Nick Arnold jumped the cushion in turn 4 and hit the wall hard enough that his car started rolling. Arnold was then hit by Jon Routhier and Craig Whiting (driving in place of Rich Crane). Arnold was ok, but his car was not. Routhier and Whiting continued after repairs.
Steven LaRochelle stated before the heat races that he thought his car was perfect. He took advantage of his fourth starting spot and quickly moved up to second. On lap 4, LaRochelle was able to snatch the lead away from Kilmer. Shortly afterwards, the lead was confirmed when a yellow flew due to an incident involving Dave Stickles, Frank Twing and Tom O’Connor.
After the fourth yellow, things calmed down a little and drivers finally got into a groove. A pack of five drivers (LaRochelle, Jason Casey, Rick Duzlak, Jay Casey and Rob Yetman) pulled away from the pack with intentions of settling the race by themselves.
Jason Casey did stick his nose to the inside of LaRochelle on a couple of occasions but could not make it stick. LaRochelle was able to hold on to take his second win of the year.
Jason Casey finished second, followed by Duzlak. Jay Casey was fourth, while Yetman was fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Shawn Perez started from the pole and opened up a gap on his competitors. Further back, Rocco Procopio spun his No. 62 in Turn 4, collecting Kevin Paul, Keri VanDenburg and Adam Schneider.
The night would be one to forget for Paul as he got caught up in another incident on the restart when Karen Verhagen spun out in Turn 1, leaving him nowhere to go.
On the next restart, contact was made exiting Turn 2 that resulted in a wheel breaking off of Jesse Murphy's No. 012.
Following a fourth yellow, the man on the move was Gary O'Brien. Starting 13th, O'Brien moved up through the field and threatened Perez for the lead. However, O'Brien hit the wall exiting Turn 4 on lap 8, damaging his No. 57 and forcing him out of the race.
A couple of laps later, Chris Murphy spun in Turn 2 after contact from Paul. For that incident, Paul was sent to the rear of the field. On the restart, Clifford Booth, who had recovered from an earlier spin, shot past Perez to take the lead.
Another incident in Turn 2 brought out the sixth and final caution and set up a one-lap shootout. Booth was able to hold on to take the victory. Perez was second, followed by Scott Morris. Chris Murphy recovered from his spin to finish fourth, while Don Kennedy was fifth.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 had the top contenders in Pure Stock points. With only 14 points separating the top 10 in points entering the race, the action was sure to be fast and furious.
Sure enough, it was. Brian Walsh started from the pole and was quite competitive early on. Fellow front-row starter Zach Seyerlein could not clear the pack and ended up in a battle with Jeff Meltz Jr. On the second lap, Meltz spun and hit the inside wall on the frontstretch. The contact broke the right rear wheel off of the No. 15, ending Meltz's night.
Walsh continued to lead in his No. 43, but Ed Hatch ran him down from behind and began pressuring him for the point. On lap 7, Hatch was able to get past for the lead. Shortly afterwards, a yellow was thrown for Al Relyea running slowly due to a flat tire.
Once the green came back out, Hatch was able to hold off the pack for his first win of 2018. Walsh was second, followed by Zach Sorrentino. Seyerlein was fourth and maintains the points lead. John Devine was fifth.
Rifenburg Construction King of the Track Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) J.R. Heffner, 2) Brett Hearn, 3) Mike King, 4) Wayne Jelley, 5) Kolby Schroder, 6) Elmo Reckner, 7) Andy Bachetti, 8) Keith Flach, 9) Ronnie Johnson, 10) Eddie Marshall, 11) Brian Berger, 12) Kyle Armstrong, 13) Kyle Sheldon, 14) Kenny Tremont Jr., 15) L.J. Lombardo, 16) Chad Jeseo, 17) Mike Keeler, 18) Paul Gilardi, 19) John Ruchel, 20) Brett Haas, 21) Steve Hough, 22) Denny Soltis, 23) Rob Pitcher, 24) Josh Marcus, 25) Olden Dwyer
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Alan Houghtaling, 2) Kenny Tremont Jr., 3) Jason Herrington, 4) Brett Haas, 5) Brian Sandstedt, 6) Dillon Steuer, 7) Ricky Davis, 8) Brandon Pitcher, 9) Andy Bachetti, 10) Ray Hall Jr., 11) Frank Hoard, III, 12) Ryan Charland, 13) J.R. Heffner, 14) Frank Harper, 15) Kim LaVoy, 16) Timothy Davis, 17) Bryan McGuire, 18) Chad Pierce, 19) Steve Hough. DQ: Olden Dwyer
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Steven LaRochelle, 2) Jason Casey, 3) Rick Duzlak, 4) Jay Casey, 5) Rob Yetman, 6) Jason Meltz, 7) Jon Routhier, 8) Joe LaFlamme, 9) Dave Depaulo, 10) Don Collins, 11) Rick Dempsey, 12) Chuck Towslee, 13) Tom O’Connor, 14) Tom Dean, 15) Rick Spencer, 16) Dave Stickles, 17) Ed Bishop, 18) Scott Kilmer, 19) Victor Hopkins, 20) Brian Keough, 21) Frank Twing, 22) Craig Whiting, 23) Nick Hilt, 24) Nick Arnold, 25) Jay Casey
Note: The fourth-place finisher Jay Casey is from Canaan, Conn. while the Jay Casey that finished 25th is from Massachusetts.
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (12 laps): 1) Clifford Booth, 2) Shawn Perez, 3) Scott Morris, 4) Chris Murphy, 5) Don Kennedy, 6) Rocco Procopio, 7) Greg DeCamp, 8) Karen Verhagen, 9) Adam Schneider, 10) Kevin Paul, 11) Gary O’Brien, 12) Jesse Murphy, 13) Keri VanDenburg, 14) Dennis O’Connor Jr., 15) Craig Coons
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (12 laps): 1) Ed Hatch, 2) Brian Walsh, 3) Zach Sorrentino, 4) Zach Seyerlein, 5) John Devine, 6) Ray Hall Sr., 7) Chad Arsenault, 8) Jeff Meltz Sr., 9) Jeff Kreutziger, 10) Dom Denue, 11) Al Relyea, 12) Jeff Meltz Jr.