Andy Bachetti Wins 3rd Straight Mr. DIRT Track U.S.A.
2023 Lebanon Valley Modified champion Andy Bachetti led flag-to-flag Saturday night and held off the best of the Super DIRTcar Series regulars to win the Mr. DIRT Track U.S.A. It is his third straight victory in the race, sixth Mr. DIRT Track U.S.A. win and seventh Super DIRTcar Series win at Lebanon Valley.
“[The redraw] absolutely was the key,” Bachetti said after the race. “It was everything tonight. Had we started back further, I don’t know if we would have been that good tonight.”
Super DIRTcar Series points leader Matt Sheppard was second, then J.R. Heffner, Adam Pierson and Eddie Marshall. L.J. Lombardo was the hard charger of the evening, coming up from the HYTORC New York Last Chance Showdown and finishing ninth after starting 23rd.
In a program that was sped up due to the threat of rain, Bachetti ended up drawing the pole for the race with Kyle Armstrong alongside. When the green came out, Bachetti was able to get the jump and go out into the lead. It did not take long for Bachetti to open up a decent advantage. Further back, Sheppard drew the fifth starting spot and slowly moved forwards.
Brian Berger started in the sixth spot and was able to maintain his position. However, trouble struck on lap 22 when his No. 60 slowed suddenly on the frontstretch, bringing out the first yellow of the race. Berger was done for the evening.
Billy Decker was able to get up to second early on, but Sheppard took the spot away shortly after the first restart. That set the tone for much of the rest of the race as Bachetti, Sheppard and Decker ran away from the rest of the pack.
Another yellow for Wayne Jelley spinning in turn 3 kept the field close together, but once the green came back out, it was back to a three-man race.
A spin for Kolby Schroder on lap 53 brought out the race’s final caution and set up a 43-lap dash to the finish. Unfortunately, that didn’t work well for Decker as he broke shortly after the restart and retired.
That meant that it was a two-man race at the front between Bachetti and Sheppard. Bachetti would pull out to a lead of about a second and a third, then he would catch lapped traffic. When that happened, Sheppard would make up ground. Once they cleared the traffic, Bachetti would pull back away. As a result, Sheppard never got close enough to make the move on Bachetti to prevent him from winning.
In Sportsman, Chris Lynch started from the pole and led comfortable early over Ricky Davis. Meanwhile, points leader Tim Hartman Jr. started back in 13th and slowly made his way forward.
An issue for Gerard Leclair brought out the yellow after five laps to bring the field back together. It was here that the Sportsman championship was decided.
Kevin Ward scraped the wall in turn 1 on lap 7, but continued. A lap later, something failed in the right front of Ward’s car, pitching him into the wall on the backstretch. Matt Burke was also involved. Ward was done for the night and any real chance at the championship ended.
This was just the beginning of a series of incidents. On the restart, Karl Barnes jumped the caution and spun, being hit by Mike Arnold. Then Rob Maxon and Brady Cordova got hooked together and spun in turn 4.
Through this, Hartman continued to move forward, snatching second on lap 12 from Davis. After Cody Cordova spun on lap 14 to bring out a yellow, Hartman took the lead from Lynch on the restart. Another spin for Brady Cordova brought out the seventh caution and confirmed Hartman's lead.
From there, Hartman was able to pull away to take his fifth win of the year. The win means that he has a 64-point lead over Rob Maxon with a week to go, meaning that he has clinched his second straight Sportsman championship.
Lynch was second, then Davis, Ray Hall Jr. and Gary O’Brien. However, there were airbox issues on Davis’ car post-race, resulting in a DQ. The results are still unofficial as of this writing.
In Limited Sportsman, Fred Pavia inherited the pole after Mike Engwer had issues in warmups. Pavia was able to lead early, but the man to beat was Anthony Maxon. Anthony drove up from eighth on the grid and took the lead on lap 6. From there, he drove off to nearly a five-second lead.
That five-second lead disappeared when Brian Walsh hit the wall in turn 4 and brought out the yellow with two laps to go. On the restart, Craig Coons took second from Pavia, but could nothing to prevent Anthony Maxon from taking his fifth win of the year and clinching the Limited Sportsman championship. Coons was second, then Pavia, Harold Robitaille and Owen Lewis.
Pro Stock teams raced in honor of the late Bubba Tanner Saturday night in the annual Bubba Tanner Classic. Fred Lee started from the pole in the class season finale and showed likely his best pace of the entire season.
Meanwhile, Dave Stickles’ season ended in turn 4, stalled with a mechanical issue. On the restart, a collision in turn 2 resulted in Chad Jeseo, Ryan Crellin and Frank Twing crashing. Twing was eliminated from the race, while Jeseo and Crellin continued.
A series of incidents kept the field bunched up behind Lee. Crellin had another incident with Lou Gancarz in turn 4. On the restart, Rick Duzlak spun in turn 3 and collected Tom O'Connor. A spin for Brian Keough on the next restart brought out another yellow and led officials to declare single-file restarts.
Eight laps in, Lee still led with Tom Dean and Jeseo pressuring. Dean went to Lee's outside while Jeseo attempted to make it three-wide. While Dean was able to snatch the lead away, Jeseo had to back off to avoid an incident. Jeseo was ultimately able to get second when Lee was forced to retire from the race due to a fluid leak that left him without brakes.
With eight laps to go, contact exiting turn 4 resulted in the hood flying up on Rocco Procopio's No. 62. He then spun on the frontstretch and was hit by Nick Hilt Jr. Hilt attempted repairs in the pits, but ultimately retired. Procopio ended up finishing a lap down in 10th.
The rest of the race saw Dean and Jeseo duel for the lead. With two laps to go, Jeseo all but had Dean cleared, but couldn’t make it stick as Dean held on to win the Bubba Tanner Classic. Jeseo’s second-place finish won him his fourth straight Pro Stock title and sixth overall. Rick Duzlak was third, then Zach Sorrentino and Shawn Perez.
Super DIRTcar Series Mr. DIRT Track U.S.A. presented by County Waste (100 laps): 1) Andy Bachetti, 2) Matt Sheppard, 3) J.R. Heffner, 4) Adam Pierson, 5) Eddie Marshall, 6) Keith Flach, 7) Tim Sears Jr., 8) John Virgilio, 9) L.J. Lombardo, 10) Kyle Armstrong, 11) Jack Lehner, 12) Mike Mahaney, 13) Kolby Schroder, 14) Alex Yankowski, 15) Max McLaughlin, 16) Mat Williamson, 17) Kenny Tremont Jr., 18) Marc Johnson, 19) Larry Wight, 20) Chris Hile, 21) Jimmy Phelps, 22) Darren Smith, 23) Felix Roy, 24) Brandon Lane, 25) Billy Decker, 26) Wayne Jelley, 27) Brian Berger, 28) Marcus Dinkins. DNQ: C.G. Morey, Justin Stone, Kenny Aanonsen Jr., Steve Bernand, Mike King, Brett Haas, Olden Dwyer
Unofficial Sportsman Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Tim Hartman Jr., 2) Chris Lynch, 3) Ray Hall Jr., 4) Gary O’Brien, 5) Bob Fachini, 6) Rob Maxon, 7) Brady Cordova, 8) Fred Pavia*, 9) John Miller, 10) Kevin Ames, 11) Harold Robitaille*, 12) Jacob Perry#, 13) Frank Frasco*, 14) Matt Burke, 15) Cody Cordova, 16) Karl Barnes, 17) Mike Arnold*, 18) Kevin Ward, 19) Whitey Slavin, 20) Gerard Leclair, 21) Ricky Davis%
%- Ricky Davis finished third on the road, but was provisionally disqualified due to an unapproved airbox. However, the airbox is still being reviewed as of this writing and the results may change.
*- Pavia, Robitaille, Frasco and Mike Arnold ran the Limited Sportsman feature and tacked onto the rear of the grid in order to earn additional money. They are not running for points.
#- Jacob Perry’s transponder appeared to malfunction during the feature and only listed him as having finished nine laps when he had actually ran all 20. His finishing position here is his true finishing position.
Limited Sportsman Feature Results (15 laps): 1) Anthony Maxon, 2) Craig Coons, 3) Fred Pavia, 4) Harold Robitaille, 5) Owen Lewis, 6) Mike Baker, 7) Frank Frasco, 8) Kent Clark, 9) Brian Walsh, 10) Sara Arnold, 11) Mike Arnold, 12) Mike Engwer
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Tom Dean, 2) Chad Jeseo, 3) Rick Duzlak, 4) Zach Sorrentino, 5) Shawn Perez, 6) Ryan Crellin*, 7) Tom O’Connor, 8) Brian Keough, 9) Katarina Foster, 10) Rocco Procopio, 11) Nick Hilt Jr., 12) Fred Lee, 13) Paul LaRochelle, 14) Lou Gancarz, 15) Frank Twing, 16) Mike Dianda, 17) Dave Stickles