- Phil Allaway
L.J. Lombardo Snags Victory At The Last Second
Saturday appeared to be a good night for racing, if a little cool. Then, the rains came and forced a delay of over an hour. The result was a very racy track surface and a near surprise winner.
John Ruchel started from the pole and led early in his No. 7 Bicknell. Brian Berger was able to quickly move up to second and brought the pressure to Ruchel’s bumper bar.
What followed was about 10 laps of Berger trying to get past Ruchel. He would dive to the inside multiple times, but was unable to get past. Further back, L.J. Lombardo was methodically making his way forward, moving up to third by lap 10.
By lap 20, Ruchel was able to finally shake Berger and open up a small gap. That allowed Lombardo to put the pressure on Berger. With six laps to go, Lombardo took second and set out to catch Ruchel.
Lombardo would not have caught Ruchel had Kolby Schroder not cut his right rear tire with two laps to go to set up a Green-White-Checker. On the restart, Ruchel got a good start and seemed like he had enough for the win. The final lap saw Lombardo make a last-ditch banzai move to the inside in turns 3 and 4. He was able to stick the move. That was all Lombardo needed to take the victory.
“[That finish] was pretty cool,” Lombardo said in the pits after the race. “I knew if I could get a good enough run, a banzai move into turn 3 could help. I don’t know, it seemed like [Ruchel] lifted on the backstretch earlier than I would have. I knew that I had one shot.”
Ruchel, after leading the whole race, finished second. He stated afterwards that this race will sting for a while. Keith Flach was third, while Kenny Tremont Jr. was fourth. J.R. Heffner was fifth.
With only one race for regular points remaining, Tremont has a 30-point lead over Peter Britten with Keith Flach in third.
In the Small Block Modifieds, Alan Houghtaling started from the pole, but lost that advantage to Olden Dwyer on lap 2. Points-wise, a big swing occurred on lap 3 when Andy Bachetti had contact with Timothy Davis and hit the wall hard in turn 4 to bring out the yellow.
Bachetti’s team was able to make repairs and get the No. 17b back on track, but he was off the pace for the rest of the race. He would finish 12th. As for Davis, his car was significantly damaged and even though he was able to drive away, he was ultimately done for the night.
Just before the crash, Brian Peterson was able to wrestle the lead away from Dwyer. Once the race restarted, Peterson was able to move out to a decent advantage and hold it.
The top four drivers (Peterson, Frank Harper, Heffner and Brett Haas) ultimately pulled way from the pack to settle things themselves. Peterson was able to run his Cyclone chassis hard to keep Harper back and pick up his first Small Block Modified victory.
Harper was second, followed by Heffner and Haas. Haas’ fourth-place finish cuts his points deficit to just eight points. Dwyer ended up fifth.
In the Pro Stocks, there were some missing faces on Saturday night as both Chad Jeseo and Rick Duzlak sat out the evening following last weekend’s shenanigans. There was still plenty of action to go around, though.
Tony Markou led early in his No. 10 Chevrolet, but Nick Hilt spun on the first lap in turn 3 after contact from Gary Silkey. Jay Casey and Rob Yetman, driving one of Duzlak’s cars, were also collected.
It was another tough night for Yetman as he was part of another incident with Silkey and Phil Arnold shortly afterwards. Yetman would eventually retire from the race and finish 17th.
During the second caution, Markou pulled off the track with brake issues. That gave the lead to Steven LaRochelle. LaRochelle’s No. 178 suffered significant damage in his heat race, forcing the team to spend significant time making repairs.
Shortly after the restart, Mike Baker hit the wall exiting turn 2 and ended up getting hooked to Don Collins. Eventually, Collins’ No. 149 spun and rolled up and over on the backstretch. He would be ok, but his night was over.
Eventually, Rich Crane rose up to second and attempted to challenge LaRochelle late in the race. Despite somewhat dodgy alignment, LaRochelle was able to hold on for his second win of the year.
Crane was second, followed by Nick Arnold. Jay Casey finished fourth and retook the points lead from his son Jason. Hilt recovered from his spin to finish fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Dave Stickles started from the pole and led early. Meanwhile, second-place starter Craig Coons spun in turn 2 to bring out the yellow. Coming to said yellow, another incident broke out that involved Mitch Lombard and Jeff Meltz Jr. Jeff Jr. and Coons were able to continue, but Lombard was done for the night.
On the restart, Jesse Murphy was able to snag the advantage away from Stickles and opened up a small gap. Teammate Chris Murphy and John Devine gave chase.
Chris Murphy’s run came to an early end on lap 6 when he cut his left front tire on the frontstretch. That resulted in the purple and silver No. 011 sliding into the wall in turn 1. No caution was thrown and Chris was forced to stop.
Jesse Murphy was able to hold off Devine to take the victory. Al Relyea was third, followed by Scott Morris and Jeff Meltz Jr.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 saw Brian Walsh start from the pole in an eventful race. On the first lap, Jeff Kreutziger jumped the cushion and spun in turn 2 to bring out a yellow.
Shortly after the restart, Walsh spun in turn 2 after receiving a tap from Rob Partridge. The resulting incident collected Ed Hatch and Keri Vandenburg. In the scramble that resulted, Zach Seyerlein was able to move into the lead.
Then, things got tumbly once again for Shawn Perez. On the restart, Perez was hit from behind by Paul Harding and hit the inside wall on the frontstretch. The No. 09 then rolled over. This is the second time in three weeks that Perez has rolled his car. He was ok after the roll, but done for the night.
Once the race got back underway, Seyerlein was able to open up a decent gap and held on to take the victory, his fourth of the year. Ray Hall Sr. was second, followed by Jeff Meltz Sr., Kreutziger and Hatch.
The regular features created the starting grid for the Boomer’s Performance Pure Stock Classic, a 20-lap feature with $500 on the line for the winner, plus lap money. By virtue of winning the first feature, Jesse Murphy started from the pole and led convincingly.
That said, the event was slowed multiple times. A couple of the yellows were for debris, but others for were incidents.
Kreutziger spun early on in turn 4 to bring out the first caution on lap 2. He was able to continue with minimal damage and eventually finished sixth.
After two debris cautions, Walsh and Rocco Procopio collided in turn 4 and spun on lap 8. Janai St. Pierre spun to avoid to bring out another yellow. All three drivers were able to continue.
The biggest incident of the race occurred on lap 11 when Hatch and Relyea collided on the frontstretch. The result of the contact was that Hatch spun and hit the outside wall. Hatch was not pleased with this and hit Relyea under yellow. Eventually, both drivers were done for the night.
Through all that, Feature No. 2 winner Seyerlein kept pace with Jesse Murphy. Over the final nine laps, he was able to stay with the No. 013, but was unable to do anything with him. Jesse Murphy ultimately led flag-to-flag to win the Boomer’s Performance Pure Stock Classic and take home a total of $900. Jesse indicated after the race that he plans to use some of that money to buy a good set of tires.
Seyerlein was second, followed by Devine and Jeff Meltz Sr. Jeff Meltz Jr. was fifth.
In the 4-Cylinder Feature, points leader James Street was not present, choosing to spend the weekend in Myrtle Beach and take in some asphalt racing while there. That meant that the race was wide open.
Jim Guertin took the lead from pole sitter Rob Miner on lap 2 and led the first half of a relatively clean race. However, not having Street in the field with his Nissan Sentra doesn’t mean that Jon Sheppard was not still a threat.
Despite starting at the rear of the field, Sheppard charged to the front and snatched away the lead from Guertin on lap 8. From there, he pulled away from the pack.
The race’s sole caution flew on lap 13 for a spin involving Joey Batho in turn 2. That set up a shootout. Sheppard won the Single-Cam class and the overall victory easily.
In Dual-Cam, Guertin and Brandon Ely fought hard entering turn 1 on the restart. Contact was made and Ely got extremely loose. The front-wheel drive not only saved Ely from a spin, but allowed him to power off of turn 2. From there, Ely was able to hold on and finish third, good enough for the Dual-cam victory.
United Way Back to School Night Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) L.J. Lombardo, 2) John Ruchel, 3) Keith Flach, 4) Kenny Tremont Jr., 5) J.R. Heffner, 6) Kyle Armstrong, 7) Peter Britten, 8) Brian Berger, 9) Wayne Jelley, 10) Mike King, 11) Paul Gilardi, 12) Marc Johnson, 13) Andy Bachetti, 14) Matt Pupello, 15) Eddie Marshall, 16) Ronnie Johnson, 17) Josh Marcus, 18) Kolby Schroder, 19) Kyle Sheldon, 20) Olden Dwyer, 21) Ricky Davis, 22) Gary Virgilio
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Brian Peterson, 2) Frank Harper, 3) J.R. Heffner, 4) Brett Haas, 5) Olden Dwyer, 6) Jason Herrington, 7) Brian Sandstedt, 8) Chris Curtis, 9) Ray Hall Jr., 10) Nathan Johnson, 11) Bryan McGuire, 12) Andy Bachetti, 13) Alan Houghtaling, 14) Kim LaVoy, 15) Guy Sheldon, 16) Timothy Davis, 17) Ricky Davis, 18) Peter Britten
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Steven LaRochelle, 2) Rich Crane, 3) Nick Arnold, 4) Jay Casey, 5) Nick Hilt, 6) Rick Dempsey, 7) Tom O’Connor, 8) Tom Dean, 9) Jason Meltz, 10) Jason Casey, 11) Gary Silkey, 12) Rick Spencer, 13) Brian Keough, 14) Mike Baker, 15) Fred Hoffman, 16) Phil Arnold, 17) Rob Yetman, 18) Don Collins, 19) Tony Markou, 20) Adam Schneider, 21) Nick Reilly
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (8 laps): 1) Jesse Murphy, 2) John Devine, 3) Al Relyea, 4) Scott Morris, 5) Jeff Meltz Jr., 6) Dave Stickles, 7) Janai St. Pierre, 8) Ryan Brown, 9) Jethro Rossman, 10) Dennis O’Connor, 11) Matt Guadagno, 12) Chris Murphy, 13) Craig Coons, 14) Jim Dellea, 15) Mitch Bombard
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (8 laps): 1) Zach Seyerlein, 2) Ray Hall Sr., 3) Jeff Meltz Sr., 4) Jeff Kreutziger, 5) Ed Hatch, 6) Clifford Booth, 7) Rocco Procopio, 8) Keri Vandenburg, 9) Brian Walsh, 10) Rob Partridge, 11) Paul Harding, 12) Shawn Perez
Boomer’s Performance Pure Stock Classic (20 laps): 1) Jesse Murphy, 2) Zach Seyerlein, 3) John Devine, 4) Jeff Meltz Sr., 5) Jeff Meltz Jr., 6) Jeff Kreutziger, 7) Rob Partridge, 8) Clifford Booth, 9) Dave Stickles, 10) Brian Walsh, 11) Janai St. Pierre, 12) Ray Hall Sr., 13) Rocco Procopio, 14) Jethro Rossman, 15) Ed Hatch, 16) Al Relyea, 17) Scott Morris, 18) Ryan Brown, 19) Keri Vandenburg, 20) Dennis O’Connor
4-Cylinder Single-Cam Feature Results (15 laps): 1) Jon Sheppard, 2) Tim Meltz, 3) Victor Duncan Jr., 4) Luke Williams, 5) Chris Bierce, 6) Joey Batho, 7) Demetrie Thompson, 8) Nick McClendon, 9) Bradley Batho
4-Cylinder Dual-Cam Feature Results (15 laps): 1) Brandon Ely, 2) Mike Fachini, 3) Jim Guertin, 4) Steve Burbank, 5) Mike Duncan, 6) Jim Williams, 7) Lauren Suriner, 8) John Wright, 9) Rob Miner, 10) Marcus Hillard