- Phil Allaway
Peter Britten Earns 1st Career Lebanon Valley Big Block Modified Victory
With a lack of humidity and some time for the grounds to dry out, Saturday night saw drivers encounter a somewhat slippery track. Only those who are the most careful with the accelerator will succeed.
After winning his heat race, Niverville’s John Ruchel started from the pole and opened up a small gap on the field. However, it didn’t take long for Eddie Marshall to start making moves. Starting sixth, the veteran racer methodically made his way towards the front.
Marshall was able to run down Ruchel and take the lead on Lap 7. Further back, Peter Britten was also making his way up towards the front with a somewhat unconventional style. L.J. Lombardo was also making waves.
Britten was able to take second from Ruchel and began to run down Marshall. After a couple of laps in Marshall’s wake, Britten took the lead away from on Lap 18. Once out front, Britten pulled away to take a big victory in a caution-free race.
“It was as good to drive from the inside of the car as I’m sure it looked from the outside,” Britten said in the pits. “It was just locked down and awesome.”
Marshall held on for second, while Lombardo came from 11th to finish third. Ruchel tied his career-best finish in fourth, while Andy Bachetti was fifth.
In the Small Block Modifieds, Alan Houghtaling had the pole and took off while Olden Dwyer dispatched of Kim LaVoy and gave chase. Further back, Bachetti started 14th and fully intended on taking a fourth straight Small Block victory.
Bachetti had every bit of the speed that he showed the first three weeks of the season, but couldn’t make much use of it. He was able to make some moves early on in the feature, but he ended up getting trapped behind slower traffic.
Dwyer was able to quickly run down Houghtaling and take the lead on Lap 5. Once out front, he was able to open an advantage over the field.
On Lap 7, Brian Peterson slowed on the frontstretch and coasted around to the backside of the circuit. While he was coasting, Bachetti’s car suffered a mechanical failure as well. This ended any chance of Bachetti taking a fourth win a row while Peterson failing to get into the pits brought out a yellow. Both drivers were done on the spot.
Right after the restart, Ricky Davis and Dillon Steuer swept past into second and third, while Brett Haas, who started 13th, was on the move as well.
Haas ran down and dispatched of Davis and Steuer before running down Dwyer with a few laps to go. The battle did not last long as Haas passed Dwyer with five laps to go. From there, he pulled away to take the victory. Dwyer was second, followed by Steuer, J.R. Heffner and Steve Hough.
32 Sportsman cars were on-site for the $2000 to win Andrew Sherman Memorial Saturday night. With that money on the line, things got a little rough.
On the first lap, Lem Atkins hit the wall in Turn 1. Harold Robitaille had contact with Nikki Ouellette and also crashed in a separate incident to bring out the yellow. Both Atkins and Robitaille were done for the night without nothing to show for excellent starting spots (fourth and fifth, respectively).
Just after the first yellow, Joey Coppola was able to get past pole sitter Cody Ochs for the lead. It was an advantage that he would not give up.
The hardest hit of the night came when Bobby Hackel, IV clipped the apron in Turn 4 and shot up the track into Chris Lynch. That contact put Lynch hard into the outside wall. While Lynch was done for the night, he was ultimately ok.
Additional cautions kept the field close to Coppola. Colin Clow was running into the top 10 when he spun in Turn 1 and went nose first into the wall to bring out a yellow on Lap 8. Shortly afterwards, Pat Jones spun on his own in Turn 1, creating a stack-up that collected Ouellette, Peter Carlotto, Cody Hunt and Ryan McCartney.
These incidents allowed John Virgilio to move up into contention. The 2015 champion took second from Ochs on Lap 12 and attempted to run down Coppola.
Virgilio got close to Coppola but could not keep Coppola from taking his first career Sportsman victory (a previous victory was stripped due to a post-race technical inspection failure). Virgilio was second, followed by Ochs, Whitey Slavin and Rob Maxon.
In Pro Stock, the past couple of weeks have been taxing for the class. A pre-race meeting was designed to cut down on unnecessary on-track actions. The result was a cleaner feature.
Tom Dean started on the pole, but quickly lost the advantage to Nassau’s Rick Dempsey. Dempsey was able to open up a small gap on the field.
For last week’s winner Jason Casey, this was a night to forget. On Lap 2, Jason spun his No. 324 in Turn 2 to bring out a caution. Later on, he spun a second time in Turn 1. This incident collected Mike Baker and Gary Silkey. Despite the incidents, Jason was able to come back to finish ninth.
Chad Jeseo moved himself up to second early, but could not prevent Dempsey from taking his first win since 2016. Behind Dempsey and Jeseo was Jason Meltz in third. Rob Yetman was fourth, while Jay Casey was fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Craig Coons was scheduled to start on pole, but issues struck his car early. That gave the pole to Mike Eichstedt, but his advantage was short-lived. Shawn Perez was able to take his No. 09 to the lead in Turn 2.
Zach Seyerlein’s night did not get off to a good start as he cut a tire on the first lap, forcing him to pit. A spin for Keri Vandenburg exiting Turn 4 brought out a yellow, but it was not enough to keep Seyerlein from dropping off the lead lap.
On the restart, Chris Murphy got too good of a run on Perez. He had jumped the restart, resulting in a two-spot penalty. With that run, Murphy was able to get around Perez and take the lead.
Slowly but surely, Jeff Kreutziger was able to run down Murphy for the lead. Once there, it was not that much of a fight as Kreutziger quickly dispatched of Murphy on Lap 7. Kreutziger then pulled away to take the victory.
Jeff Meltz Sr. finished second, followed by Eichstedt. Ray Hall Sr. was fourth and Murphy fifth. Murphy had actually crossed the line in third, but the aforementioned penalty put him back.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 saw Rob Partridge take the lead on the first lap from pole sitter Brian Walsh. However, in this race, Ed Hatch had the fastest car. Starting seventh, Hatch was quickly able to run down Partridge and take the lead on Lap 4.
Right at halfway, Walsh spun out his yellow No. 43 in Turn 2 to draw the race’s only caution. Once back under green, Hatch was able to open up a comfortable gap and looked to be on his way to his second win of the year.
Trouble struck on the final lap. Hatch’s car suddenly veered up the track and hit the outside wall in Turn 4 due to some kind of a mechanical failure. That allowed Partridge to retake the lead and hold on for his second win of the year.
John Devine finished in second, followed by Don Kennedy. Hatch limped back to fourth, while Clifford Booth was fifth.
Mark’s News & Variety/Madsen Overhead Doors Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Peter Britten, 2) Eddie Marshall, 3) L.J. Lombardo, 4) John Ruchel, 5) Andy Bachetti, 6) Brian Berger, 7) Marc Johnson, 8) Kenny Tremont Jr., 9) Ricky Davis, 10) Kyle Sheldon, 11) Keith Flach 12) Ronnie Johnson, 13) J.R. Heffner, 14) Mike King, 15) Wayne Jelley, 16) Kolby Schroder, 17) Rob Pitcher, 18) Olden Dwyer, 19) Kyle Armstrong, 20) Paul Gilardi, 21) Steve Hough, 22) Matt Pupello, 23) Denny Soltis, 24) Chad Jeseo, 25) Josh Marcus
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Brett Haas, 2) Olden Dwyer, 3) Dillon Steuer, 4) J.R. Heffner, 5) Steve Hough, 6) Ricky Davis, 7) Frank Harper, 8) Brandon Pitcher, 9) Chris Curtis, 10) Timothy Davis, 11) Ray Hall Jr., 12) Brandon Lane, 13) Brian Sandstedt, 14) Guy Sheldon, 15) Alan Houghtaling, 16) Kim LaVoy, 17) Andy Bachetti, 18) Brian Peterson, 19) Kenny Aanonsen Jr.
Sportsman Andrew Sherman Memorial Results (20 laps): 1) Joey Coppola, 2) John Virgilio, 3) Cody Ochs, 4) Whitey Slavin, 5) Rob Maxon, 6) Jeff Watson, 7) Robbie Colburn, 8) Kevin Arnold, 9) Bobby Knipe, 10) John Aumick, 11) Robby Knipe, 12) Karl Barnes, 13) Ted Teal, 14) Matt Burke, 15) Pat Jones, 16) Shane Henion, 17) Gary O’Brien, 18) Jimmy Devitt, 19) Scott Zehnacker, 20) Peter Schwartzott, 21) John Santolin, 22) John Stowell, 23) Nikki Ouellette, 24) Peter Carlotto, 25) Ryan McCartney, 26) Cody Hunt, 27) Colin Clow, 28) Bobby Hackel, IV, 29) Chris Lynch, 30) Lem Atkins, 31) Harold Robitaille, 32) John St. Germain Jr.
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Rick Dempsey, 2) Chad Jeseo, 3) Jason Meltz, 4) Rob Yetman, 5) Jay Casey, 6) Rich Crane, 7) Rick Duzlak, 8) Nick Hilt, 9) Jason Casey, 10) Nick Arnold, 11) Steven LaRochelle, 12) Tom Dean, 13) Johnny Rivers Jr., 14) Adam Schneider, 15) Mike Baker, 16) Phil Arnold, 17) Gary Silkey
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (10 laps): 1) Jeff Kreutziger, 2) Jeff Meltz Sr., 3) Mike Eichstedt, 4) Ray Hall Sr., 5) Chris Murphy, 6) Shawn Perez, 7) Keri Vandenburg, 8) Jack Dekker, 9) Zach Seyerlein, 10) Craig Coons
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (10 laps): 1) Rob Partridge, 2) John Devine, 3) Don Kennedy, 4) Ed Hatch, 5) Clifford Booth, 6) Rocco Procopio, 7) Brian Walsh, 8) Janai St. Pierre, 9) Tomm Gomm