Andy Bachetti Comes From 15th to Take Victory
Three-time defending Modified champion Andy Bachetti drove up through the field Saturday night and took the lead from John Virgilio with a little more than four laps to go. From there, he pulled away to take his 61st career Lebanon Valley Modified win.
“[The season is] a work in progress right now,” Bachetti said in victory lane. “Can’t say enough about [my] team right there. They work their guts off for me. Coming from 15th is awesome.”
Ryan Darcy started from the pole and had a strong car early on. Tires were an issue as a number of yellows were caused by them. Olden Dwyer cut his left rear early after contact with Dave McFeeters. Brett Haas cut two left rear tires, while Kyle Armstrong had a cut as well.
Once the drivers had some time to leg things out, Darcy was able to pull away to a two-second lead over Virgilio. Meanwhile, Bachetti started 15th and made his way up to seventh by lap 6. By lap 11, he had broken into the top five.
Virgilio and Kenny Tremont Jr. were able to just barely keep pace with Darcy. Everyone else dropped back significantly. Virgilio was able to make some gains once Darcy got in lapped traffic.
Armstrong’s cut tire with six to go brought the pack back together. Bachetti is known for his banzai restarts and he used one to get past Tremont for third. Demarcation tires were scattered on that restart, which triggered another yellow.
At this point, Darcy’s car began to stutter. At first, it led to false starts. On the final restart, it meant that Virgilio was able to get past on the backstretch for the lead. Bachetti was right there and had a run on his own. Before the field got back to the line, Bachetti had the lead and drove off to victory.
Virgilio finished a career-best second, followed by Tremont. Darcy finished fourth on the road, but came up light on the scales. That resulted in L.J. Lombardo inheriting fourth, while Mike King was fifth.
The Small Block Modifieds held their season opener Saturday night with a heads-up start. That meant Lombardo started from pole by virtue of winning his heat with Bachetti alongside. When the green came out, Lombardo was able to beat Bachetti to the first turn and open up a small gap.
Lorne Browe’s night came to an end when he hit the inside wall entering turn 3 on lap 3. That brought out an early yellow.
Once the green came back out, Lombardo drove out to a 1.5 second lead while Bachetti and Ryan Larkin trailed. Only lapped traffic seemed to slow Lombardo.
Ryan Charland spun out on lap 17 to bring out the race’s second caution, bringing everyone back together. On the restart, Bachetti attempt to make a move to the inside of Lombardo, but Lombardo was able to fend it off. Meanwhile, Jeff Reis spun in turn 2 and collected Brian Sandstedt to bring out another yellow.
Once the green came back out, Lombardo was able to open up a small advantage and hold on to claim the season opening Small Block win for the second year in a row. Bachetti finished second, followed by Larkin. Jason Herrington and Jeff Watson rounded out the top five.
The Sportsman class saw Matt Burke start from the pole and run well early, but Kevin Ward was able to snatch the lead away on a lap 2 restart after Keith Johannessen’s spin. Whitey Slavin was up there early to do battle, while Tim Hartman Jr. slowly moved up from fifth.
A mechanical failure for Kevin Ames on lap 10 brought the pack back together for the second half of the race. Hartman was able to take second from Slavin on the restart with Rob Maxon following suit.
Hartman appeared to be a little faster than Ward, but Ward had a decent enough lead and that he was able to hold on to take the victory. Hartman finished second, while Slavin took third after Rob Maxon hit the wall coming to the white flag. Burke ended up fifth.
The Limited Sportsman 20-lap feature was a wild one. Mike Engwer started on pole and ran well early. Meanwhile, there was chaos behind him. On the initial start of the race, Craig Coons slid hard into the wall in turn 1 to bring out a yellow. While he was towed off, he would eventually return.
On the restart, Adam Schneider was forced into the wall in turn 1 due to contact between opening night winner Frank Twing Jr. and Marc Jordan. Twing was judged to be responsible for the crash and was sent to the rear by the officials.
On the restart, Alex Palmer-Sawyer was able to take the lead from Engwer. Unfortunately for Engwer, his night ended shortly afterwards as he was caught up in a crash with Twing, Harold Robitaille and Jordan.
The mess moved Anthony Maxon up to second. He appeared to have the fastest car out there and immediately went to work on Palmer-Sawyer for the lead. Contact was made on the backstretch, resulting in both drivers spinning out.
Maxon made hard contact with the outside wall, ending his night while Palmer-Saywer was able to continue. Anthony was able to walk away from his stricken car and plans to be back with a repaired car next week.
Brian Walsh was able to avoid the crash and take over the lead. Two more spins for Jordan resulted in six cautions in the first nine laps. At that point, track officials mandated single-file restarts for the remainder of the race.
Walsh, a graduate from the Street Stock class driving a car previously raced in the Sportsman class by Chris Lynch, drove a clean race to take his first career open-wheel victory. Palmer-Sawyer recovered from his spin to finish second. Wesley Sutliff was third, then John Santolin and Marc Burke.
The Pro Stock class saw Tom O’Connor start from the pole, but his time at the front was very brief. In turn 1 on the first lap, Dave Stickles was able to take the lead away.
A spin for Brian Keough and issues with the left front corner of Tom Dean’s car kept the field close. Once the field got significant time under green, Stickles was able to pull out to a decent advantage.
Behind Stickles, Steve Hankle moved up to second, while Chad Jeseo was third after starting ninth. A spin for Steven LaRochelle brought everyone back together for the final laps.
Jeseo took second from Hankle on lap 16 and ran down Stickles for the lead. Stickles jumped the cushion with two laps to go, allowing Jeseo past.
Normally, this would be curtains. It was not as Jeseo slipped on the final lap, allowing Stickles to retake the lead and hold on for the win. Jeseo was second, then Hankle, Zach Sorrentino and Rick Duzlak.
In Street Stock, Chris Stalker took the lead from pole sitter Milo Campbell and opened up a gap on the restart of the field. However, much like the Limited Sportsman feature, this race had a number of incidents.
Early on, Jeff Meltz Sr. was eliminated in a crash with Keri VanDenburg and Dave Streibel Jr. Later on, Streibel Jr. was sent to the rear for his role in an incident with Rocco Procopio.
Stalker and teammate Jim Dellea seemed to have the best cars, but Dellea cut his right rear tire and spun on lap 11 to bring out another yellow. This comprehensively ruined his night as additional problems ended any chance at a decent finish.
Stalker was able to hold on to take the victory over Dave Streibel and Procopio. Dave Streibel Jr. recovered from his penalty to finish fourth, while Bob Gibson was fifth.
In 4-Cylinder competition, Bradley Batho took the lead away from Jim Guertin on lap 2 and pulled out to a substantial lead over the rest of the field. The only thing that made the race close was Guertin hitting the wall on lap 11 in turn 1 to bring out the race’s only yellow.
Batho was able to hold on during a one-lap shootout to take the overall and Dual-Cam victories. This time, his car passed technical inspection as well, so the victory will stand. Jon Shepard was second, then Gary Malloy, Tim Meltz and Joe Wolfe. Tim Meltz won the Single-Cam class.
Contractor Sales Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Andy Bachetti, 2) John Virgilio, 3) Kenny Tremont Jr., 4) L.J. Lombardo, 5) Mike King, 6) Timothy Davis, 7) Kyle Sheldon, 8) J.R. Heffner, 9) Olden Dwyer, 10) Brian Berger, 11) Kyle Armstrong, 12) Keith Flach, 13) Eddie Marshall, 14) Wayne Jelley, 15) Matt Pupello, 16) Brett Haas, 17) Marc Johnson, 18) Paul Gilardi, 19) Josh Marcus, 20) Ryan Charland, 21) Brandon Lane, 22) Alex Bell, 23) Kenny Aanonsen Jr., 24) Dave McFeeters, 25) Ryan Darcy*
*-Darcy finished fourth on the track, but was moved to the rear of the field after failing the weight check.
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) L.J. Lombardo, 2) Andy Bachetti, 3) Ryan Larkin, 4) Jason Herrington, 5) Jeff Watson, 6) Joey Coppola, 7) Peter Carlotto, 8) Brian Peterson, 9) Olden Dwyer, 10) Ray Hall Jr., 11) Kim LaVoy, 12) Kevin Petrucci, 13) Ryan Charland, 14) Donny Travaglin, 15) Jeff Reis, 16) Brian Sandstedt, 17) Ryan Heath, 18) Lorne Browe, 19) Alan Houghtaling
Sportsman Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Kevin Ward, 2) Tim Hartman Jr., 3) Whitey Slavin, 4) Rob Maxon, 5) Matt Burke, 6) Bob Fachini, 7) Gary O’Brien, 8) Karl Barnes, 9) Keith Johannessen, 10) Jay Havland, 11) Kevin Ames, 12) Alan Houghtaling, 13) John Miller, 14) Tommy D’Angelo, 15) Jim VanZandt, 16) Chris Lynch
Limited Sportsman Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Brian Walsh, 2) Alex Palmer-Sawyer, 3) Wesley Sutliff, 4) John Santolin, 5) Marc Burke, 6) Brian Houghtaling, 7) Kent Clark, 8) Mike Engwer, 9) Matt Jordan, 10) Craig Coons, 11) Anthony Maxon, 12) Frank Twing Jr., 13) Harold Robitaille, 14) Adam Schneider
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Dave Stickles, 2) Chad Jeseo, 3) Steve Hankle, 4) Zach Sorrentino, 5) Rick Duzlak, 6) Shawn Perez, 7) Steven LaRochelle, 8) Fred Lee, 9) Tom O’Connor, 10) Mike Dianda, 11) Brian Keough, 12) Tom Dean
Street Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Chris Stalker, 2) David Streibel, 3) Rocco Procopio, 4) Dave Streibel Jr., 5) Bob Gibson, 6) Franklin Smith, 7) Lou Gancarz, 8) Keri VanDenburg, 9) Jim Dellea, 10) Jeff Meltz Sr., 11) Milo Campbell, 12) Mike Dianda, 13) Dylan Fachini
4-Cylinder Dual-Cam Feature Results (12 laps): 1) Bradley Batho, 2) Jon Shepard, 3) Gary Malloy, 4) Jason Peck, 5) James Guertin
4-Cylinder Single-Cam Feature Results (12 laps): 1) Tim Meltz, 2) Joe Wolfe, 3) Joey Batho