Andy Bachetti Charges From 12th To Claim Victory
For the time being, fans are unable to attend races at Lebanon Valley Speedway due to state restrictions. However, fans paying to view on DirtTrackDigest.tv or SpeedSport.tv got to see some decent action on a very warm Saturday night.
Ronnie Johnson, who was out early on opening night due to a fuel switch issue, started from pole and opened up a gap quickly. Further back, some of the top drivers from opening night were having varied success. Andy Bachetti started 12th and quickly moved up the order. Opening night winner Kenny Tremont Jr. started 15th and found it difficult to make passes early on.
While Johnson continued to open his lead, there were problems further back. Both John Virgilio and Paul Gilardi pulled out with issues on Lap 5, while J.R. Heffner had issues and had to bring his No. 74 to pit road during the race’s sole caution on Lap 7.
When the green came back out, Bachetti quickly moved up to third and started pressuring Olden Dwyer for second. Dwyer was able to hold off Bachetti for a few laps, but Bachetti got past on the inside.
Bachetti then ran down Johnson. A battle erupted, but Bachetti was able to get past on Lap 17. Once out front, Bachetti was able to pull away from the rest of the field to take his first win of 2020.
“It was really good tonight,” Bachetti said after the race. “We had a really good race car. We’re pretty excited to finally get going.”
Johnson held on for second, while Eddie Marshall got past Dwyer on the final lap for third. Keith Flach ended up fifth.
In Sportsman competition, 30 cars signed in, but only 25 took the green for their first feature of the year. Robby Knipe won his heat race and started from pole. Early on, it was Knipe and Kevin Ward that pulled away from the pack and tried to fight it out among themselves. Behind the leaders, Virgilio was coming from the third row to challenge.
With the fairly equal crate engines, it took a few laps for Virgilio to get to the leaders. Once there, he quickly dispatched of Ward for second, then ran down Knipe. After a couple of laps, he was able to get the lead from Knipe on Lap 12. Once in the lead, Virgilio quickly opened up a gap on the pack.
The complexion of the race changed when Colin Clow blew his right rear tire to bring out the yellow on Lap 14. That closed the field back up for a double-file restart. On said restart, Knipe tried to go for the lead and lost control of his No. 57. The result was a multi-car pileup in Turn 2 involving Knipe, Gary O’Brien, Rob Maxon, John Stowell, Joey Coppola, Peter Carlotto, and Jeff Watson. Everyone was ok, but the red flag was briefly displayed.
With a slightly smaller field, Virgilio took the green for the final six-lap sprint and ran away to take the victory. Ward was second, followed by Nikki Ouellette, Whitey Slavin and Angelo DiCarlo.
The Pro Stock feature started off with Ed Bishop on pole after he overcame opening night issues to win his heat race. However, the event struggled to get underway as the yellow flew five times in quick succession. The start was marred by a pileup in Turn 2 that involved Zach Seyerlein, Scott Towslee, Steven LaRochelle, Tom O’Connor and others. Seyerlein and O’Connor were effectively out on the spot here.
Rob Yetman started third after his own issues on opening night and seemed to have a fast car. Then, he spun out in Turn 2 and hit the wall. Both Jay Casey and Jason Casey made contact with Yetman’s No. 7 prior to the wall contact. While the Caseys continued after pit stops, Yetman was done for the night.
LaRochelle's troubles continued as he spun and hit the wall in Turn 3 to bring out another caution in Lap 4. The Dalton, Mass.-native brought his car to pit road for more repairs before returning to the race. He would finish 11th. A debris caution kept everyone bunched up.
Through all the chaos, Chad Jeseo established himself as the man to beat. Starting 12th, Jeseo quickly moved up the order, snatching second from Jason Meltz just before the debris caution flew.
On the restart from the yellow, Bishop crashed with Towslee exiting Turn 2. Both cars ended up in the outside wall to bring out another caution. Towslee and Bishop were both out of the race after the crash.
As a result of the incident, Jeseo was able to take over the lead with Meltz in second. Once the green came back out, Jeseo opened up the gap in a hurry.
Meanwhile, Saturday also marked the return of Daniel Sanchez to Lebanon Valley. Sanchez was a regular at the Valley in the Pure Stock and Pro Stock classes before heading off to the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) in Lima, Oh., While at UNOH, Sanchez earned a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Marketing, along with an Associate's Degree in High Performance Motorsports Technology.
On Saturday night, Sanchez drove the No. 14 Chevrolet for Repossessed Motorsports that Johnny Rivers normally drivers (Rivers drove the team's second car that Shawn Perez raced on opening night). Despite being away for a couple of years, it was like he never left. Despite getting a piece of the crash on the opening lap, Sanchez was able to drive up to the front quickly. Just after the restart following the Bishop-Towslee crash, Sanchez was able to get past Meltz for second.
Sanchez's time in second was relatively short-lived as Jason Casey recovered from earlier contact in the Yetman crash to take over second. However, Jason couldn't much with Jeseo.
Once out front, Jeseo was completely unchallenged. By the time the checkered flag flew, Jeseo was more than seven seconds ahead of Jason Casey. Sanchez was third, followed by Meltz and Jay Casey.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Chris Stalker started from pole in his Chevrolet Nova, but Ed Hatch charged up from the fifth starting spot to claim the lead on the first lap. Further back, Dom Denue hit the wall exiting Turn 4 and slowed to a stop near the start-finish line to bring out the yellow. Denue was ok, but was done for the night.
On the restart, John Devine went after Hatch for the lead almost immediately. Entering Turn 1, Devine dove to the inside of Hatch and was able to make his move stick. Once out front, Devine was able to pull away to take the victory.
Hatch held on for second, while Mike Middleton was third. Shawn Perez was fourth, while Rocco Procopio slowed on the final lap, but recovered to finish fifth.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 saw Evan Denue start on the pole in his Chevrolet Camaro. He led early on until he jumped the cushion and hit the outside wall in Turn 2. This significantly damaged the No. 245.
Jim Dellea was able to get past in his Oldsmobile Cutlass to briefly assume the lead, but didn't even lead a lap before Jeff Meltz Sr. overtook Dellea. Evan Denue ended up having to retire from the race due to his damage.
Jeff Meltz Sr. continued to lead, but the pack wasn't far behind thanks to a couple of yellows. The first flew on Lap 5 when Keri VanDenburg slowed in Turn 1. On the restart, Dellea and Brian Walsh made contact in Turn 2. The contact got Walsh loose. While he was trying to regain control, Craig Coons ran in the back of Walsh, spinning the No. 43 into the wall.
From there, Jeff Meltz Sr. held on to take the win. Rob Partridge was second, followed by Clifford Booth, Janai St. Pierre and Scott Morris.
Saturday night also saw the Pure Stock contenders compete in the Boomer's Performance Pure Stock Clash, a 20-lap event with upwards of $500 to the winner. By virtue of winning his regular feature, Devine started on pole.
From there, Devine controlled the race, leading from flag-to-flag to claim the victory and the pot. Jeff Meltz Sr. was second, then Hatch, Coons and Dellea.
Finally, the 4-Cylinder class started their season Saturday night. Steve Burbank drew the pole, but failed to come up to speed on the start in his Honda Civic Si. That allowed the Nissan Sentra of JRS Racing's James Street to blast into the lead and run away from the field.
Street appeared like he was headed to an easy victory before his fuel pump started malfunctioning. On Lap 8, the Sentra died on the frontstretch. While the engine started back up in the pits, Street was done for the night.
Street's mechanical issue gave the lead to Brandon Ely in his Honda Civic. Ely was able to pull away and take the overall and Dual-Cam victories.
Single-cam was once again dominated by JRS Racing. Luke Williams started on the Single-Cam pole, but defending Single-cam champion Jon Sheppard got past him on Lap 2 to take the lead.
Sheppard got as high as second overall before teammate Gary Malloy Sr. ran him down and passed him on Lap 10. From there, Malloy held on to take the Single-cam win, the first for someone other than Sheppard since 2018.
Malloy ended up second overall, followed by Sheppard. Lucas Ballard, who finished second in Dual-Cam, was fourth overall, while Williams was fifth (third in Single-cam).
Anderson Equipment Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Andy Bachetti, 2) Ronnie Johnson, 3) Eddie Marshall, 4) Olden Dwyer, 5) Keith Flach, 6) Kolby Schroder, 7) Kenny Tremont Jr., 8) Brian Berger, 9) L.J. Lombardo, 10) Wayne Jelley, 11) Marc Johnson, 12) Peter Britten, 13) Kyle Armstrong, 14) J.R. Heffner, 15) Steve Hough, 16) Kyle Sheldon, 17) Rob Pitcher, 18) Mike King, 19) Bobby Hackel IV, 20) Paul Gilardi, 21) John Virgilio, 22) Brett Haas, 23) Josh Marcus, 24) Ken McGuire.
Sportsman Feature Results (20 Laps): 1) John Virgilio, 2) Kevin Ward, 3) Nikki Ouellette, 4) Whitey Slavin, 5) Angelo DiCarlo, 6) Ryan Larkin, 7) Pete Carlotto, 8) Nathan Johnson, 9) Bobby Chalmers, 10) Robbie Knipe, 11) Ted Teal, 12) John Stowell, 13) Gary O'Brien, 14) Keith Johannessen, 15) Jeff Watson, 16) Karl Barnes, 17) Peter Lorenzo, 18) Joey Coppola, 19) Chris Lynch, 20) Rob Maxon, 21) Colin Clow, 22) Robbie Colburn, 23) Gerard Leclair, 24) Pat Jones, 25) Matt Burke, 26) Shane Henion, 27) Matt Wescott, 28) Keith Patnode, 29) Jacob Perry, 30) Rob Hallaback.
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 Laps): 1) Chad Jeseo, 2) Jason Casey, 3) Daniel Sanchez, 4) Jason Meltz, 5) Jay Casey, 6) Gary Silkey, 7) Phil Arnold, 8) Tony Markou, 9) Doug Olds, 10) Tom Dean, 11) Steven LaRochelle, 12) Nick Hilt, 13) Dave Stickles, 14) Johnny Rivers, 15) Ed Bishop, 16) Scott Towslee, 17) Rob Yetman, 18) Bob Fachini, 19) Zach Seyerlein, 20) Tom O'Connor
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (8 Laps): 1) John Devine, 2) Ed Hatch, 3) Mike Middleton, 4) Shawn Perez, 5) Rocco Procopio, 6) Chris Stalker, 7) Chris Brown, 8) Dave Fachini, 9) Dennis O'Connor, 10) Mitch Bombard, 11) Dom Denue, 12) Jethro Rossman
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (8 Laps): 1) Jeff Meltz Sr., 2) Rob Partridge, 3) Clifford Booth, 4) Janai St. Pierre, 5) Scott Morris, 6) Craig Coons, 7) Jim Dellea, 8) Keri Vandenburg, 9) Wayne Mahar, 10) Brian Walsh, 11) Franklin Smith, 12) Evan Denue
Boomer's Pure Stock Clash Results (20 Laps): 1) John Devine, 2) Jeff Meltz Sr. 3) Ed Hatch, 4) Craig Coons, 5) Jim Dellea, 6) Janai St. Pierre, 7) Mitch Bombard 8) Chris Stalker, 9) Chris Brown, 10) Dave Fachini, 11) Rocco Procopio, 12) Rob Partridge, 13) Brian Walsh 14) Mike Middleton
4 Cylinder Dual Cam Results (15 Laps): 1) Brandon Ely, 2) Lucas Ballard, 3) John Wright, 4) Rob Miner, 5) Mike Duncan, 6) James Street, 7) Steve Burbank
4 Cylinder Single Cam Results (15 Laps): 1) Gary Malloy Sr., 2) Jon Sheppard, 3) Luke Williams, 4) Bradley Batho, 5) Joey Batho, 6) Doug Howe, 7) Nick McClendon, 8) Chris Bierce, 9) Victor Duncan Jr.