Andy Bachetti Claims 2 Lebanon Valley Victories, While Lombardo Also Scores
Saturday night was a very busy night as not only were both the Modified and Pro Stock classes running double features, but Lebanon Valley Speedway was also memorializing three greats of the past, Mark Fleury, Peanut Pierce and Russ Blake.
The first Modified feature, a makeup from July 3, proved to be an expensive one. On the first lap, Bobby Hackel, IV smacked the wall in turn 3, which created a chain reaction that involved John Ruchel, Josh Marcus, Paul Gilardi and Chase Dowling. Another incident saw Mike King and Eddie Marshall go into the wall in turn 1.
However, it was the third restart that really caused problems. Dan Humes and Olden Dwyer had contact exiting turn 2, causing Dwyer to spin. The wreck happened near the front of the field and the sun being in the driver’s eyes worked together to create a 13-car crash on the backstretch. That resulted in a long red flag. Thankfully, no one was injured. Tire issues caused two additional cautions later on.
Prior to the big wreck, Kyle Armstrong had snatched the lead from pole-sitter Humes. Once the race finally got a long run under green, Armstrong was able to open up a decent advantage.
However, in the closing laps, L.J. Lombardo ran Armstrong down. The two drivers battled for a few laps before Lombardo took the lead with a lap and a half to go. From there, Lombardo pulled away to take his third win of the year. Armstrong was second, then Kolby Schroder, Kenny Tremont Jr. and Marc Johnson.
The regular feature was the Mark Fleury Memorial, 30 laps in honor of the 19-time race winner. Here, Mike King started from the pole and lead nearly the entire first half of the race. Brian Berger and Eddie Marshall were right on his tail.
On lap 13, Lombardo and Schroder collided in turn 1 and spun to bring out the yellow, closing up the field. On the restart, Berger was able to move past King to take the lead entering turn 3. Meanwhile, Andy Bachetti started in 15th and was quickly making his way up the order. A slip on lap 19 allowed Bachetti to move into third.
The race came down to a three-lap shootout. Bachetti was able to sweep around Marshall for second on the restart, then went to the outside of Berger and took the lead in turn 4. From there, Bachetti held on for his fourth win of the year. Berger was second, then Brett Haas, Marshall and Sheldon.
The Small Block Modifieds had a special 30-lap feature in memory of Peanut Pierce. Through a draw, Bachetti claimed the pole for the first heat, won that and claimed the pole for the feature.
Behind Bachetti, there was some trouble early on. On lap 3, a crash broke out when Ryan Larkin spun entering turn 1. Ryan Charland, Sean Mandel, Michael Sabia and Montgomery Tremont ended up being collected. Larkin ended up having to retire for the night.
During this yellow, Kim LaVoy stalled on the frontstretch, apparently unable to find a gear. She was eventually able to resume, but retired later on with more issues.
Later on, Joey Coppola suffered an engine failure that ended his night. That left Coppola scrambling to find an engine to rent for future races while the team completes their backup motor.
The feature ultimately came down to a duel between Bachetti and Jason Herrington. Herrington had the faster car, but Bachetti was blocking him from making the move to the inside. Herrington would get right up on his rear end, but could not make the pass as Bachetti took the victory over Herrington, Frank Harper, Ryan Charland and Chris Curtis.
Sportsman teams had the Russ Blake Memorial Saturday night. Here, Karl Barnes started on the pole and led early in his new chassis. Meanwhile, Jeff Watson spun in turn 4 to create a chain reaction incident. Rob Maxon, Robbie Knipe, Bob Fachini, Dave Fachini, Greg DeCamp and Jacob Perry were all involved. Maxon's night ended up coming to an end here.
Things weren't much better once the race restarted. Peter Carlotto spun in turn 3 to bring out another yellow. Shortly after the restart, another wreck broke out that saw Carlotto hit the blunt end of the pit wall at the crossover. Dave Fachini and Jeff Reis were also involved. Carlotto was ok after the crash, but his night was over.
The man on the move early on was Kent, Conn.'s Chris Lynch. Lynch, who started eighth, quickly moved up the order. He took second from Walter Hammond Jr. on lap 6 and immediately went after Barnes. It only took two laps for Lynch to take the lead away. Kevin Ward followed Lynch past Barnes into second.
From there, Lynch was able to open up a gap between himself and Kevin Ward and was able to hold it steady. A late caution due to Robbie Colburn stalling on the backstretch bunched everyone back up for a four-lap run to the finish, but Lynch was able to hold on in his Elliott Air-sponsored No. 74 to take his third win of the year.
"The [car's] been fantastic," Lynch said afterwards in the Clubhouse. "For what we've got involved in our program compared to some others is quite impressive. Even for us, it's mind-blowing to see a car that is older than some of the competitors that we race against. We're going up against the big budget teams and coming out on top.
Ward was second, then Walter Hammond Jr., John Virgilio and Walter Hammond Jr. Lynch's victory moves him up to second in Sportsman points, 52 behind Virgilio.
Pro Stock teams also had double features to contend with. In the first race, Dave Stickles started from pole and had Tom Dean to contend with for much of the race. Rick Spencer ran into the trouble on the very first lap, smacking the wall with his Pontiac Grand Prix in turn 1 to bring out the race's only yellow. Spencer's No. 32 was damaged bad enough that it not only ended his race, but eliminated him from competing in the second feature as well.
Stickles spent much of the early part of the feature doing battle with Tom Dean. Steven LaRochelle was not far behind. Further back, points leader Chad Jeseo started ninth and slowly but surely moved up the order.
As the race continued on, Stickles was able to open up a small but comfortable gap on the rest of the pack.
Jeseo took second from Dean on lap 13 and slowly but surely, closed in on Stickles. In the final laps, Jeseo got to Stickles, but could not prevent the Valatie, N.Y. racer from taking his first Pro Stock win.
"It was great," Stickles explained afterwards. "The car handled the best it's ever handled. I really was not expecting to get a feature win. We've really been struggling. We've already totaled one car and for some reason, this one came to life tonight."
Jeseo was second, then Steven LaRochelle, Dean and Nick Hilt Jr.
Feature No. 2 saw Shawn Perez lead from the pole early on with Dean pressuring and LaRochelle right behind. Johnny Rivers was running decently early on until his spun in turn 4 after contact from Doug Olds on lap 6.
Rivers intended to continue, but his car briefly burst into flames while Rivers was trying to get back to pit road so that his crew could look at it. Ultimately, Rivers was forced to exit his No. 14J and walk back, ending his night.
On lap 8, Perez slipped in turn 4. This allowed Dean and LaRochelle to get alongside. Dean was able to lead lap 8 at the line, but LaRochelle was able to get past entering turn 1 to take the lead.
From there, both Jason Meltz and Jeseo attempted to get past LaRochelle, but LaRochelle held on to earn his first win in his new Camaro. Jeseo was second, then Jason Meltz, Dean and Hilt.
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 saw pole sitter Mike Dianda voluntarily drop to the rear. That gave Franklin Smith the pole. In turn 1, Don Kennedy blasted past to take the lead, then spun on his own. Kennedy was then hit by Scott Morris to bring out the first caution. Clifford Booth was able to get through the issues to take the lead for the restart. Morris was done for the night.
Behind Booth was Scott Kilmer and Jeff Meltz Sr. The two drivers fought hard for second, even colliding in turn 2 on lap 3. That allowed Kennedy back up into second, but neither driver was out of the hunt yet.
Kennedy got up to Booth's rear end just after halfway and contact was made entering turn 1. Kennedy spun again and collected Jeff Meltz Sr. and Smith. All were able to continue, but another caution came out.
On the restart, Kilmer was able to move his No. 007 past Booth to take the lead. From there, Kilmer held on to take the win. Booth was second, then Smith, Dianda and Jeff Meltz Sr.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 saw Shawn Perez Jr. start from the pole and immediately fall into a battle with Rob Partridge. Partridge ended up spinning out in turn 2 while going for the lead to bring out a yellow. In the scramble, Jim Dellea was able to get the lead away from Perez Jr.
The restart saw John Devine and Dave Streibel collide entering turn 1. This put both drivers into the outside wall, collecting Brian Walsh in the process and bringing out another caution. Walsh was done for the night.
Jeff Meltz Jr., who normally races at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, made his Lebanon Valley season debut in this feature. It did not take for him to re-acclimate himself to the high banks as he snatched the lead on the restart from Dellea. From there, Jeff Meltz Jr. pulled away to take the win. Partridge recovered from his first-lap spin to finish second, followed by Devine, Dellea and Streibel.
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 saw Ryan Brown start from the pole and lead early. Meanwhile, Keri VanDenburg slid into the wall in turn 2 after contact from Chris Stalker to bring out the yellow early.
Colby Kokosa, who is in his first full season in the Pure Stock class, has struggled at times. Recently, Steve LaRochelle took his No. 00K out during a warmup session to see how the car was handling. LaRochelle stated that Kokosa's car had all the speed necessary to win.
On this night, Kokosa was able to fully harness that speed for the first time. On lap 2, Kokosa was able to get past Brown to take the lead. Once there, he was able to open a gap on the field.
A spin for Dave Streibel Jr. closed the pack up for a Green-White-Checker restart, but Kokosa was able to pull away on the restart to take his first career victory at Lebanon Valley. Dylan Fachini made a late charge to finish second, followed by Stalker and Janai St. Pierre. Brown was fifth.
Modified Berkshire Bank Feature Results (30 laps, from July 3): 1) L.J. Lombardo, 2) Kyle Armstrong, 3) Kolby Schroder, 4) Kenny Tremont Jr., 5) Marc Johnson, 6) Brett Haas, 7) Andy Bachetti, 8) Wayne Jelley, 9) Kyle Sheldon, 10) Ricky Davis, 11) Brian Berger, 12) Dan Humes, 13) Chase Dowling, 14) Paul Gilardi, 15) Mike King, 16) Chris Curtis, 17) Olden Dwyer, 18) Bobby Hackel, IV, 19) Josh Marcus, 20) J.R. Heffner, 21) Eddie Marshall, 22) Timothy Davis, 23) Ryan Darcy, 24) Kenny Aanonsen, III, 25) John Ruchel, 26) Karl Barnes
Modified Gillespie Automotive Mark Fleury Memorial (30 laps): 1) Andy Bachetti, 2) Brian Berger, 3) Brett Haas, 4) Eddie Marshall, 5) Kyle Sheldon, 6) Marc Johnson, 7) Kyle Armstrong, 8) Wayne Jelley, 9) Ryan Darcy, 10) Kenny Tremont Jr., 11) J.R. Heffner, 12) L.J. Lombardo, 13) Mike King, 14) Ricky Davis, 15) Kolby Schroder, 16) Paul Gilardi, 17) John Ruchel, 18) Chase Dowling, 19) Timothy Davis, 20) Dan Humes, 21) Chris Curtis, 22) Josh Marcus, 23) Olden Dwyer, 24) Bobby Hackel, IV, 25) Kenny Aanonsen Jr., 26) Karl Barnes
Small Block Modified Peanut Pierce Memorial (30 laps): 1) Andy Bachetti, 2) Jason Herrington, 3) Frank Harper, 4) Ryan Charland, 5) Chris Curtis, 6) Brandon Lane, 7) John Lutes Jr., 8) Brian Peterson, 9) Montgomery Tremont, 10) Brian Sandstedt, 11) Sean Mandel, 12) Mark Pullen, 13) Alan Houghtaling, 14) Kim LaVoy, 15) Joey Coppola, 16) Ryan Larkin, 17) Michael Sabia, 18) Ray Hall Jr., 19) Kevin Petrucci
Sportsman Russ Blake Memorial Results (20 laps): 1) Chris Lynch, 2) Kevin Ward, 3) Walter Hammond Jr., 4) John Virgilio, 5) Walter J. Hammond, 6) Jeff Watson, 7) Michael Sabia, 8) Karl Barnes, 9) Matt Burke, 10) Jacob Perry, 11) John Stowell, 12) Jared Powell, 13) Robbie Knipe, 14) Kevin Ames, 15) Ryan Heath, 16) Shane Powell, 17) Jeff Reis, 18) Dylan Gibson, 19) Bill August, 20) Bob Fachini, 21) Greg DeCamp, 22) John Santolin, 23) Dave Fachini, 24) Peter Carlotto, 25) Walter Cook, 26) Robbie Colburn, 27) Rob Hallaback, 28) Rob Maxon, 29) Alan Houghtaling, 30) Whitey Slavin
Pro Stock Feature No. 1 Results (20 laps, from July 3): 1) Dave Stickles, 2) Chad Jeseo, 3) Steven LaRochelle, 4) Tom Dean, 5) Nick Hilt Jr., 6) Johnny Rivers, 7) Doug Olds, 8) Jason Meltz, 9) Jay Fitzgerald, 10) Zach Seyerlein, 11) Tom O’Connor, 12) Brian Keough, 13) Luke Hull, 14) Will Gates, 15) Shawn Perez, 16) Rick Spencer
Pro Stock Feature No. 2 Results (20 laps): 1) Steven LaRochelle, 2) Chad Jeseo, 3) Jason Meltz, 4) Tom Dean, 5) Nick Hilt Jr., 6) Zach Seyerlein, 7) Doug Olds, 8) Jay Fitzgerald, 9) Shawn Perez, 10) Dave Stickles, 11) Tom O’Connor, 12) Brian Keough, 13) Will Gates, 14) Luke Hull, 15) Johnny Rivers, 16) Rick Spencer
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (8 laps): 1) Scott Kilmer, 2) Clifford Booth, 3) Franklin Smith, 4) Mike Dianda, 5) Jeff Meltz Sr., 6) Dennis O’Connor Sr., 7) Don Kennedy, 8) Peter Huntoon, 9) Scott Morris
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (8 laps): 1) Jeff Meltz Jr., 2) Rob Partridge, 3) John Devine, 4) Jim Dellea, 5) Dave Streibel, 6) Shawn Perez Jr., 7) Katarina Foster, 8) Christopher Brown, 9) Brian Walsh
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 Results (8 laps): 1) Colby Kokosa, 2) Dylan Fachini, 3) Chris Stalker, 4) Janai St. Pierre, 5) Ryan Brown, 6) Keri VanDenburg, 7) Ray Royals, 8) Jethro Rossman, 9) Dave Streibel Jr.