- Phil Allaway
Keith Flach Uses The Inside Line to Snag Victory
Drivers had a chilly Saturday night on the high banks at Lebanon Valley. Despite that, the racing was hot at the front of the field.
Steve Hough claimed the pole for the feature and had a lot of speed early on as held off Olden Dwyer. However, there was trouble further down the order. Kolby Schroder spun exiting Turn 3 a couple of laps in, creating a mess. J.R. Heffner, who started 23rd, collected Schroder. They were both hit by Ken McGuire, who ended up rolling his No. 6 a couple of times while Josh Marcus spun to avoid. While Marcus continued, Heffner, McGuire and Schroder were all eliminated on the spot.
Shortly after the restart, Paul Gilardi’s car slowed suddenly in Turn 2 in front of much of the pack. This led to a scramble as everyone tried to dodge the Pittsfield native. Unfortunately, Brian Berger ran into the back of Gilardi to bring out the second and final yellow. Berger was able to continue, but Gilardi was done for the night.
The remaining 27 laps were under green. Quickly, a pack of five drivers broke away from the pack to settle things among themselves. Hough, Dwyer, Kyle Armstrong, Kyle Sheldon and Keith Flach. At first, these five drivers all stuck to the outside line.
However, in the final seven laps, the bottom line came to life. Here, Flach turned it on. He was able to make a move past Sheldon for fourth. Shortly afterwards, he was able to get past Armstrong for third.
The next lap, he passed Dwyer for second and went to work to Hough. With four laps to go, Flach was able to take the lead for the first time on the evening. From there, he pulled away to take the victory.
“We were able to find a little something on the bottom; [the lanes] evened out,” Flach said. “I’ve always been told my whole career to go where no one else is if they’re all running the same line. I’m happy it paid off for us.”
Sheldon was able to get past Hough on the final to take second. Dwyer was fourth, while Armstrong was fifth.
In the Small Block Modifieds, Alan Houghtaling started from the pole, but Hough was able to take his No. 34 to the lead early on. Further back, Andy Bachetti showed that he once again had the car to beat by moving into the top five from 12th in the first five laps.
Brian Sandstedt hit the wall in Turn 3 to bring out a yellow on Lap 7, which closed the pack back up. On the restart, Timothy Davis spun in Turn 1, collecting Ray Hall Jr., Chris Curtis and Frank Harper. Davis’ car was significantly damaged in the incident. His first attempt to continue resulted in another spin into the wall in Turn 1 that brought out another yellow.
Curtis’ night ended on Lap 10 when he hit the wall in Turn 1 to bring out a fourth yellow.
Through these incidents, Bachetti was able to continue marching up through the field, reaching second by the time Curtis crashed. On the restart, Bachetti made short work of Hough to take the lead and immediately started pulling away.
Saturday was a miserable night for Jason Herrington. Issues kept him off the track until right before the feature. In the race itself, he got himself up to seventh before he lost his brakes. That resulted in a big hit on the wall in Turn 4. Herrington was ok, but done for the night.
Once the green came back out, Bachetti ran away and hid as he took his third straight win. Hough was second, followed by Guy Sheldon, Brett Haas and Brandon Pitcher.
Pro Stock saw Tom Dean start on pole and run very well, holding back Nick Hilt, Nick Arnold and Jason Casey. Further back, things got rather physical. On Lap 8, the yellow flew for a crash in Turn 2 that wrapped up Chad Jeseo, Rob Yetman, Rick Duzlak and more. Duzlak drove back to pit road, but did not return to the race.
Immediately after the restart, Jason Casey went to work on Dean, moving to the inside. Dean was able to hold Casey off, but Hilt saw an opening on Lap 10. While Casey was on the inside, Hilt went to the outside in Turn 4 to pass both Casey and Dean to take the lead.
Shortly afterwards, Rick Dempsey got loose exiting Turn 2 and had to get off the throttle in order to collect him. He ended up getting collected by Nick Arnold and spun on the backstretch. Rich Crane and Gary Silkey were also involved.
Saturday night was the Lebanon Valley Pro Stock debut of Scott Towslee, son of past winner Chuck Towslee. The goal for Saturday night was to stay out of trouble, make some clean laps, learn and have fun. While he did complete every lap, he did have some trouble. Late in the feature, Scott had contact with Yetman in Turn 1, spinning both himself and Yetman out. Despite this incident, Scott was able to finish the feature in seventh, a decent debut.
The feature ultimately came down to a duel between Hilt and Jason Casey. On the final lap, Casey was able to get to Hilt’s inside and beat him in a drag race to take the win. Hilt was eight-hundredths of a second back, followed by Arnold, Johnny Rivers Jr. and Jason Meltz.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Mike Eichstedt started from the pole, but Clifford Booth was able to get a good run off of Turn 2 to take the lead away. Behind them, Ed Hatch was even quicker and moved up to second from the fifth starting spot by the end of the first lap.
At the first opportunity, Hatch was able to move to the inside and take the lead away from Booth. From there, Hatch was able to open up the advantage and take the first Pure Stock win of the evening. Jeff Meltz Sr. finished second, followed by Jeff Kreutziger and Eichstedt. Booth ended up having to settle for fifth.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 was definitely the more wreck-strewn of the Pure Stock races. Craig Coons started from the pole, but did not have the advantage for long as he spun in Turn 4 on the first lap.
Earlier in the lap, Ray Hall Sr. had spun in Turn 1 after contact from Karen Verhagen. Verhagen was unable to keep her No. 9s from hitting the outside wall. Don Kennedy was also collected in an incident that brought out the yellow.
As a result of Coons’ spin, Zach Seyerlein took the lead. From there, Seyerlein fought with Evan Denue for the remainder of the race, holding off the young racer to claim his first victory of the year. Ray Hall Sr. was able to come back to finish third, while Rob Partridge and Kennedy were fourth and fifth.
The 15-lap 4-Cylinder feature saw Marcus Hillard start from the pole in his Chevrolet Cavalier and led early. Unfortunately, on the second lap, Hillard hit the wall hard in Turn 3 and lost a wheel to bring out the first yellow of the race.
Hillard’s misfortune gave the lead to JRS Racing’s James Street in his Nissan Sentra. Once out front, no one really had anything for Street, who pulled away from the pack.
Further back, Street’s teammate Jon Sheppard was mowing the rest of the field down in his Single-Cam Honda Civic. It only took a few laps for Sheppard to get into the top five overall.
A couple of yellows, one for Joey Batho stalling on the backstretch and another for Jim Guertin spinning kept the field close together. Sheppard was able to get himself up to second overall, but could do nothing with Street, who took the win for the second time this season.
Or did he? Lebanon Valley 4-Cylinder rules state that tires used in the class must be summer tires and must have a height of 55 or more. This is the middle number represented in a tire code. Street’s Sentra was found to have tires with a height of 50 after the race. As a result, he was disqualified.
Sheppard, who finished second and won the Single-Cam class, inherited the overall victory. Jim Williams, driving the car that has won the past couple of Dual-Cam championships, inherited the Dual-Cam win in second overall. P.J. Bleau was third, then Brandon Ely and Luke Williams.
Bonded Concrete/Empire Chemical Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Keith Flach, 2) Kyle Sheldon, 3) Steve Hough, 4) Olden Dwyer, 5) Kyle Armstrong, 6) Ronnie Johnson, 7) Matt Pupello, 8) L.J. Lombardo, 9) Wayne Jelley, 10) Andy Bachetti, 11) Peter Britten, 12) Eddie Marshall, 13) Denny Soltis, 14) Marc Johnson, 15) Kenny Tremont Jr., 16) Mike King, 17) Brian Berger, 18) Ricky Davis, 19) John Ruchel, 20) Josh Marcus, 21) Chad Jeseo, 22) Rob Pitcher, 23) Paul Gilardi, 24) Kolby Schroder, 25) J.R. Heffner, 26) Ken McGuire
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Andy Bachetti, 2) Steve Hough, 3) Guy Sheldon, 4) Brett Haas, 5) Brandon Pitcher, 6) J.R. Heffner, 7) Timothy Davis, 8) Ricky Davis, 9) Ray Hall Jr., 10) Dan Humes, 11) Nathan Johnson, 12) Olden Dwyer, 13) Frank Harper, 14) Brian Sandstedt, 15) Jason Herrington, 16) Alan Houghtaling, 17) Chris Curtis, 18) Kim LaVoy
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Jason Casey, 2) Nick Hilt, 3) Nick Arnold, 4) Johnny Rivers Jr., 5) Jason Meltz, 6) Jay Casey, 7) Scott Towslee, 8) Phil Arnold, 9) Steven LaRochelle, 10) Adam Schneider, 11) Gary Silkey, 12) Tom Dean, 13) Brian Keough, 14) Rob Yetman, 15) Rick Dempsey, 16) Rich Crane, 17) Chad Jeseo, 18) Rick Duzlak, 19) Mike Baker, 20) Nick Reilly, 21) Gary Virgilio
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (10 laps): 1) Ed Hatch, 2) Jeff Meltz Sr., 3) Jeff Kreutziger, 4) Mike Eichstedt, 5) Clifford Booth, 6) Scott Morris, 7) Brian Walsh, 8) Keri Vandenburg, 9) Ryan Brown
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (10 laps): 1) Zach Seyerlein, 2) Evan Denue, 3) Ray Hall Sr., 4) Rob Partridge, 5) Don Kennedy, 6) Shawn Perez, 7) Rocco Procopio, 8) Craig Coons, 9) Karen Verhagen, 10) Jesse Murphy
4-Cylinder Single-Cam Results (15 laps): 1) Jon Sheppard, 2) Luke Williams, 3) Tim Meltz, 4) Bradley Batho, 5) Nick McClendon, 6) Chris Bierce, 7) Joey Batho, 8) Victor Duncan, 9) Gary Malloy Jr.
4-Cylinder Dual-Cam Results (15 laps): 1) Jim Williams, 2) P.J. Bleau, 3) Brandon Ely, 4) Steve Burbank, 5) Lauren Suriner, 6) John Wright, 7) Jim Guertin, 8) Mike Duncan, 9) Rob Miner, 10) Marcus Hillard. DQ: James Street