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  • Phil Allaway

Matt Pupello Takes First Ever Victory for Experimental Engine

Saturday night saw Lebanon Valley Speedway celebrate the 75th birthday of track owner/promoter Howard Commander. Rifenburg Construction put up a $7500 check for the winner in celebration. The night ended up being a celebration for something new that Commander is championing.

Matt Pupello started from the pole in his No. 42p, carrying an experimental 500 cubic inch spec motor designed to cut costs. Saturday was the first night back for the Mike Petrucci-built engine after an issue forced it to be taken out for repairs.

In the feature, Pupello was able to open up a substantial gap over fellow front row starter Olden Dwyer. Andy Bachetti was on the move early on, quickly moving up to fourth from the seventh starting spot. However, once Bachetti caught Mike King, he could not get past the veteran out of Nassau, N.Y.

Pupello continued to expand his advantage to over five seconds as the race reached the halfway point. Shortly afterwards, trouble struck Dwyer’s No. 88JR. The car suddenly slowed in turn 4 with what appeared to be engine issues. This brought out the race’s one and only caution period.

Just prior to the caution flying, Bachetti was able to take the position away from King. With Dwyer’s mechanical failure, that pass bumped Bachetti up to second.

When the green came back out, Pupello was able to fend off Bachetti’s restart charge. Once the onslaught was over, Pupello had a slight gap over the Sheffield, Mass. driver and was able to maintain that.

Further back, a battle erupted for third between King and Kyle Armstrong. On lap 21, Armstrong was able to get past for third. King fought back and re-took the sport. The battling allowed Keith Flach and Kenny Tremont Jr. to enter the picture. King was able to build a small gap, then lost it over the final couple of laps to a charging Tremont. Meanwhile, at the front, Pupello was able to hold on to take the victory with a car built to race at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.

“It was really good,” Pupello said. “When [the spec motor] got fixed, we weren’t planning on putting it in this car, but I think I was on the way to winning with this car. I’d be crazy not to run this car.”

Bachetti ended up second, followed by Tremont. King had his best finish of the year in fourth, while Flach was fifth.

The Pro Stock feature ended up being a family affair. Tony Markou started from the pole and ran very well early on. The race ended up being a rather rough affair due to a series of incidents.

On the first lap, trouble broke out in turns 3 and 4 involving Rick Dempsey, Steven LaRochelle, Gary Silkey, Adam Schneider and Nick Reilly. Dempsey was forced to retire due to damage and he was not happy about it.

Saturday night turned out to be a race that Rob Yetman would rather forget. First, he hit the wall exiting turn 2 on lap 2. Then, he cut his left front tire and had to make a stop. Later on, Yetman ran up the left rear of Nick Arnold in turn 4, resulting in a crash in which both drivers hit the wall. This crash cut both front tires on Yetman’s car and forced another stop. Despite changing three tires in the race, Yetman still managed to finish 10th.

Markou led until Rich Crane ran him down just after the halfway point. Markou put up a fight, but he could not hold off the Connecticut racer on lap 12. Crane’s lead turned out to be short-lived. A lap later, Crane jumped the cushion and hit the wall in turn 4. That allowed Jay Casey to take the lead. Shortly afterwards, Markou hit the wall in turn 3 to bring out a yellow, ending his run for the evening.

The issues put Jason Casey right behind his father for the restart. The two drivers battled for the lead for three laps until Jay slipped in turn 2. That allowed Jason to get past. From there, Jason held on to take the win.

Jay had to settle for second, followed by Jason Meltz and LaRochelle. Chad Jeseo was fifth.

The Sportsman feature saw Robbie Colburn lead early from the pole. Rob Maxon, who has typically been one of the drivers to beat, barely got underway before issues ended his night.

A couple of cautions kept the field bunched up early on. One was due to John Santolin stopping on course, while another was due to a crash involving Nikki Ouellette and Gary O’Brien. Through these issues, Colburn continued to lead until Chris Lynch ran him down.

Lynch was able to take the lead on lap 10, but he had to contend with a charging Peter Carlotto. Carlotto ran Lynch down and made short work of him with two laps to go. From there, Carlotto pulled away for the victory. Lynch was second, followed by Joey Coppola, Whitey Slavin and Kevin Arnold.

In Pure Stock, John Devine and Zach Seyerlein each won features. James Street won the 4-Cylinder feature overall in his Dual-Cam Nissan Sentra. Jon Sheppard finished second and won Single-Cam.

Rifenburg Construction Modified King of the Track Results (30 Laps): 1) Matt Pupello, 2) Andy Bachetti, 3) Kenny Tremont Jr, 4) Mike King, 5) Keith Flach, 6) Eddie Marshall, 7) Kyle Armstrong, 8) Ronnie Johnson, 9) Kolby Schroder, 10) L.J Lombardo, 11) Brian Berger, 12) Peter Britten, 13) J.R. Heffner, 14) Marc Johnson, 15) Denny Soltis, 16) John Ruchel, 17) Ricky Davis, 18) Josh Marcus, 19) Paul Gilardi, 20) Olden Dwyer, 21) Steve Hough, 22) Chad Jeseo, 23) Kyle Sheldon

Sportsman Feature Results (20 Laps): 1) Pete Carlotto, 2) Chris Lynch, 3) Joseph Coppola, 4) Whitey Slavin, 5) Kevin Arnold, 6) John Virgilio, 7) Cody Ochs, 8) Pat Jones, 9) Bobby Knipe, 10) Robbie Colburn, 11) Ted Teal, 12) John Stowell, 13) Gary O'Brien, 14) Robbie Knipe, 15) Karl Barnes, 16) Nikki Ouellette, 17) Shane Henion, 18) Andy Lindeman, 19) Peter Schwartzott, 20) John Santolin, 21) Ryan McCartney, 22) Rob Maxon, 23) Jim Cronk

Pro Stock Feature Results (20 Laps): 1) Jason Casey, 2) Jay Casey, 3) Jason Meltz, 4) Steven LaRochelle, 5) Chad Jeseo, 6) Nick Hilt, 7) Rick Duzlak, 8) Rich Crane, 9) Gary Silkey, 10) Rob Yetman, 11) Don Collins, 12) Mike Baker, 13) Phil Arnold, 14) Brian Keough, 15) Tom Dean, 16) Rick Spencer, 17) Tony Markou, 18) Nick Arnold, 19) Nick Reilly, 20) Adam Schneider, 21) Rick Dempsey

Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (10 Laps): 1) John Devine, 2) Clifford Booth, 3) Shawn Perez, 4) Janai St. Pierre, 5) Fred Hoffman, 6) Ryan Brown, 7) Jim Dellea, 8) Dave Stickles

Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (10 Laps): 1) Zach Seyerlein, 2) Ed Hatch, 3) Rob Partridge, 4) Ray Hall Sr., 5) Jeff Meltz Sr., 6) Scott Morris, 7) Jeff Kreutziger, 8) Brian Walsh, 9) Rocco Procopio, 10) Keri Vandenburg, 11) Don Kennedy

4-Cylinder Single-Cam Feature Results (15 Laps): 1) Jon Sheppard, 2) Victor Duncan Jr., 3) Gary Malloy Sr., 4) Luke Williams, 5) Brian Brennan, 6) Bradley Batho, 7) Chris Bierce, 8) Nick McClendon, 9) Joey Batho

4-Cylinder Dual-Cam Feature Results (15 Laps): 1) James Street, 2) Brandon Ely, 3) Steve Burbank, 4) Marcus Hillard, 5) Lauren Suriner, 6) Rob Miner, 7) Jim Guertin, 8) Mike Duncan, 9) John Wright

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