L.J. Lombardo Earns Much-Needed Big Block Win at Lebanon Valley
Good weather greeted race teams and race fans Saturday night at Lebanon Valley. So far, no Modified driver has been able to assume control in the class. Saturday was no different.
Matt Pupello started from the pole with his experimental engine and led early over Marc Johnson. Further back, Kyle Armstrong spun out in turn 1 to bring out a quick caution. Armstrong was able to continue.
On the restart, Johnson ran into his own trouble, spinning out on the backstretch after some contact with Kolby Schroder. The pack had to dodge Johnson, but everyone was able to miss him. Johnson would eventually recover to finish a lap down in 13th.
The scramble on the backstretch allowed L.J. Lombardo to move up to second. Once the race restarted, Pupello and Lombardo were able to open up a gap on the rest of the field. On lap 8, Pupello suddenly slowed entering turn 3 with mechanical issues that ended his night. That allowed Lombardo to sweep into the lead.
Further back, Peter Britten started 12th and quickly moved up into the top five. By the one-third mark of the feature, he was already up to second, but a long way behind Lombardo. From there, Britten slowly but surely cut into Lombardo’s lead.
With a few laps to go, Britten caught Lombardo while he was dealing with lapped traffic. With a few laps to go, Britten got alongside for the lead, but could not get by. With the help of slower traffic, Lombardo was able to hold on take the win, the eighth different driver to win in the Modified class so far in 2019.
“[The car] was good. It was really good at the end of the race,” Lombardo said. “Solid night. We needed this.”
Britten was just under a quarter of a second back in second, while Keith Flach was third. Kenny Tremont Jr. was fourth, while Andy Bachetti was fifth.
In the Small Blocks, the biggest news of the night occurred in the heats when Bachetti crashed in turn 1. He was forced to borrow Chris Curtis’ car for the remainder of the evening.
Jason Herrington started from the pole and led early over Alan Houghtaling. Meanwhile, Bachetti had to spend the early part of the feature getting used to unfamiliar surroundings. He would eventually get going.
Saturday was a night to forget for Timothy Davis. He had issues in his heat race, then spun out early in the feature to bring out a yellow. On lap 9, Davis clipped the apron in turn 1, then came up the track into Ray Hall Jr., spinning both drivers out. Bachetti also got some damage as well. As this was the second incident of the night caused in this fashion, track officials parked Davis.
Brett Haas was on the move early on and appeared to have the pace to battle Herrington. At halfway, he had just taken second-place. Then, contact was made with Steve Hough, resulting in Haas spinning and bringing out a yellow. Hough was sent to the rear for causing the incident, while Haas continued after a check-up in the pits.
The incident gave second to Frank Harper, but Harper could not do anything with Herrington, who pulled away to take his first win of the year. Harper was second, followed by J.R. Heffner and Frank Hoard, III. Haas recovered from his incident to finish fifth.
In Pro Stock, Gary Silkey started from the pole and showed his best pace of the season to date. Meanwhile, Gary Baker had a good starting spot, but it did not translate to a good feature. Baker spun in turn 2 on lap 2 and created a situation in which Nick Reilly and Rob Yetman were collected. A later spin for Baker ultimately relegated him to a 15th-place finish. Yetman recovered, then cut a tire late and finished 14th.
Silkey’s main competition was Rick Duzlak in his Chevrolet. Duzlak made a move for the lead on lap 15, but was unable to get past. Shortly afterwards, Duzlak spun and hit the wall in turn 2 after contact from Nick Arnold to bring out a yellow.
That put the Caseys on Silkey’s tail. Silkey was able to hold off the Canaan, Conn. racers until the final lap when he got a little wide in turn 2 and jumped the cushion. That allowed Jason Casey to get past and lead the final three-quarters of a lap to win.
Jason Meltz was able to finish second, while Jay Casey in third took the points lead. Rick Dempsey was fourth, while Silkey settled for fifth.
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 saw Brian Walsh lead from the pole early on in his yellow Chevrolet. Meanwhile, Jesse Murphy, driving a bright green Chevrolet that was previously campaigned by Chad Arsenault, started 10th and quickly made his way to the front.
By lap 4, Jesse had caught Walsh. A short battle emerged before the No. 013 could take the advantage. He then proceeded to pull away from the pack.
With two laps to go, John Devine slowed from the third spot with a flat tire. This drew a caution and brought everyone back together for a Green-White-Checker. On the GWC, Jesse was able to pull away to take the victory.
Chris Murphy was able to get past Walsh on the restart and finished second in his silver and purple No. 011. Walsh was third, followed by Jim Dellea and John Denue.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 saw Shawn Perez start on the pole, but trouble erupted almost immediately. In turn 1, Perez spun and hit the outside wall and brought out a quick caution.
Ed Hatch quickly assumed the advantage after the restart and was able to pull away to take his third win of the season. Don Kennedy was second, followed by Partridge, Ray Hall Sr. and Zach Seyerlein.
The 4-Cylinder Feature was a rough and tumble affair. Marcus Hillard started on pole in his Chevrolet Cavalier, but quickly lost the lead to Jim Guertin. In turn 4 on the first lap, Rob Miner spun his Hyundai Accent and clipped the Honda Prelude of Jim Williams. Williams hit the inside Jersey barrier and climbed on top of it before rolling over.
Williams was able to exit the Prelude and walk away from the crash. He was done for the night, though.
On the restart, James Street swept past Guertin to take the lead in his Nissan Sentra. Behind Street, his JRS Racing teammate Jon Sheppard made a run from 18th on the grid to get up to second in only four laps.
Another yellow flew when Hillard spun his Cavalier in turn 4 on lap 5. That bunched up the pack and resulted in more chaos. A number of incidents kept the field bunched up.
The race was going to come down to a battle between Street, Sheppard and Brandon Ely. Then, the leaders approached slower traffic. Contact resulted in Lauren Suriner getting spun out exiting turn 4. Street ended up getting clipped and slid into the inside berm. He then rolled his Sentra to bring out the fifth and final caution of the race. Street was ok, but his car suffered significant damage in the crash that put him out.
Street crashing out put Sheppard in his Single-Cam Honda Civic in the overall lead. On the Green-White-Checker restart that followed, Sheppard was able to hold off Ely to take the overall win.
Ely finished second and won the Dual-Cam class. Tim Meltz in his Single-Cam Prelude was third, followed by Victor Duncan Jr. and Guertin.
Gillespie Automotive/Gendron, Inc. Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) L.J. Lombardo, 2) Peter Britten, 3) Keith Flach, 4) Kenny Tremont Jr., 5) Andy Bachetti, 6) Ronnie Johnson, 7) Kolby Schroder, 8) Eddie Marshall, 9) Kyle Sheldon, 10) Brian Berger, 11) J.R. Heffner, 12) Kyle Armstrong, 13) Marc Johnson, 14) Mike King, 15) Paul Gilardi, 16) Denny Soltis, 17) John Ruchel, 18) Steve Hough, 19) Ricky Davis, 20) Chad Jeseo, 21) Matt Pupello, 22) Olden Dwyer, 23) Wayne Jelley, 24) Kenny Aanonsen Jr.
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Jason Herrington, 2) Frank Harper, 3) J.R. Heffner, 4) Frank Hoard, III, 5) Brett Haas, 6) Andy Bachetti, 7) Ricky Davis, 8) Brandon Pitcher, 9) Guy Sheldon, 10) Olden Dwyer, 11) Ryan Charland, 12) Angelo DiCarlo, 13) Brian Sandstedt, 14) Ray Hall Jr., 15) Steve Hough, 16) Alan Houghtaling, 17) Timothy Davis, 18) Kim LaVoy, 19) Chris Curtis
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Jason Casey, 2) Jason Meltz, 3) Jay Casey, 4) Rick Dempsey, 5) Gary Silkey, 6) Chad Jeseo, 7) Steven LaRochelle, 8) Rich Crane, 9) Nick Reilly, 10) Nick Hilt, 11) Tony Markou, 12) Don Collins, 13) Johnny Rivers Jr., 14) Rob Yetman, 15) Mike Baker, 16) Rick Duzlak, 17) Nick Arnold, 18) Brian Keough, 19) Adam Schneider, 20) Tom Dean, 21) Phil Arnold
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (10 laps): 1) Jesse Murphy, 2) Chris Murphy, 3) Brian Walsh, 4) Jim Dellea, 5) John Denue, 6) Dave Stickles, 7) Fred Hoffman, 8) Ryan Brown, 9) John Devine, 10) Janai St. Pierre, 11) Jim Fachini, 12) Craig Coons
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (10 laps): 1) Ed Hatch, 2) Don Kennedy, 3) Rob Partridge, 4) Ray Hall Sr., 5) Zach Seyerlein, 6) Jeff Meltz Sr., 7) Jeff Kreutziger, 8) Rocco Procopio, 9) Shawn Perez, 10) Keri Vandenburg
4-Cylinder Single-Cam Feature Results (15 laps): 1) Jon Sheppard, 2) Tim Meltz, 3) Victor Duncan Jr., 4) Luke Williams, 5) Bradley Batho, 6) Nick McClendon, 7) Chris Bierce, 8) Gary Malloy Sr., 9) Brian Brennan, 10) Joey Batho
4-Cylinder Dual-Cam Feature Results (15 laps): 1) Brandon Ely, 2) Jim Guertin, 3) Mike Duncan, 4) Steve Burbank, 5) Lauren Suriner, 6) James Street, 7) John Wright, 8) Marcus Hillard, 9) Jim Williams, 10) Rob Mine