Bobby Hackel, IV Claims 1st Lebanon Valley Big Block Win
Wet weather that moved in right before warmups resulted in a 90-minute delay and a revised schedule. With heat races (for the most part) removed from the schedule, Bobby Hackel, IV took the lead early and held on for his first career Big Block win at Lebanon Valley.
“[This win] was all thanks to Lance & Jill [Sharpe] and Pete from PMC,” Hackel said afterwards. “Without them, I just wouldn’t be here at Lebanon Valley. I wanted to be back here for years, but I didn’t want to come back until I could do it right.”
Olden Dwyer started the Modified feature from the pole and led early. Hackel started fourth and quickly moved himself up to second in the first few laps of the feature.
Hackel then ran down Dwyer. A battle broke out, but Hackel took the lead on lap 7 exiting turn 4. Once out front, Hackel quickly pulled away from the field.
Further back, Andy Bachetti made some progress in moving up from the ninth starting spot, but it was slow going. He was still ahead of his closest challengers in points, Marc Johnson and Brett Haas, though.
Hackel expanded his lead over Dwyer up to over four seconds before John Ruchel had mechanical issues and stalled on the frontstretch to bring out the race’s sole caution on lap 21. During this yellow, Dwyer retired with mechanical issues, the second week in a row that trouble ended his night in a top five position.
Kyle Sheldon inherited second, but Kyle Armstrong was able to get past on the restart. L.J. Lombardo was able to swoop past both drivers to take second with four laps to go, but no one could keep Hackel from taking the win.
Lombardo was 1.295 seconds back in second at the finish, followed by Armstrong, Bachetti and Haas. With his fourth-place finish, Bachetti merely needs to show up for Mr. Dirt Track U.S.A to claim the Modified championship.
The Small Block Modified feature ended up being a race of attrition. Frank Harper started from the pole and led early. However, trouble was the name of the game. A chain reaction in turn 4 resulted in Sean Mandel spinning to bring out an early. On the restart, Dwyer spun his No. 88JR in turn 1, collecting Jason Herrington, John Lutes Jr. and Brian Sandstedt. Lutes and Sandstedt were out on the spot, while Herrington ended up retiring later on.
The main threat to Harper in this race was Ryan Charland, who took second from Alan Houghtaling on lap 7. However, Charland suffered a tire failure on lap 16, which brought out the final yellow. He would continue, but finished two laps down.
Harper held on over the final third of the race to take the win. Bachetti was second, then Houghtaling, Joey Coppola and Brian Peterson. Only seven cars finished.
The Sportsman feature was quite simply, a wreckfest. Kevin Ames started from the pole and led in his best race of 2021. However, the trouble came quickly. Ryan Heath spun early after contact with Hunter Ordway to bring out the yellow.
A couple of laps after the restart, Robbie Colburn spun in turn 4. His car appeared to dig into the track and entered a barrel roll. Nikki Ouellette, Peter Carlotto, Walter J. Hammond and others were collected. Everyone was ok, but the race was briefly red-flagged.
Following another quick yellow, two separate spins for Ordway and Keith Patnode brought out the fourth yellow. The restart brought a fifth yellow for a crash in turn 2 involving Carlotto, Joey Scarborough and others. After this, track officials instituted single-file restarts.
Through all of this craziness, Tim Hartman Jr. drove up from the 17th starting spot into the top three. On lap 8, he was able to drive past Ames to take the lead. A couple of more yellows resulted in the race being shortened, but Hartman held on to take the win over Rob Maxon, John Virgilio, Whitey Slavin and Walter Hammond Jr.
Pro Stock saw Shawn Perez start from the pole in his No. 09 and run very well at the front. However, the man on the move was Steven LaRochelle. LaRochelle started seventh and quickly moved to the front. It took a mere four laps for LaRochelle to move into second and get to Perez’s bumper.
It did not take long for LaRochelle to take the lead and begin to pull away from the field. It looked like it was going to be an easy win, but shortly after halfway, some metal fell off of LaRochelle's car. He explained what happened afterwards.
"It's an aluminum exhaust shield that bolts to my headers," LaRochelle explained. "It gets very hot near the distributor, so we built this [shield] so that we could keep the distributor cool and not lose spark. We lost that around lap 10 and [it] took part of the exhaust with it. If you've got a leaky exhaust, that's just horsepower going out the window."
Sure enough, the leaky exhaust did take some power away and brought him back to the field. Chad Jeseo took second with five laps to go and nearly got to LaRochelle. However, Jeseo ran out of time as LaRochelle took his third win of the year. Jeseo was second, then Perez, Nick Hilt Jr. and Tom Dean.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Clifford Booth inherited the pole position when Mike Dianda and Christopher Brown dropped to the rear of the field. Meanwhile, John Devine make a pit stop before the race started.
Devine's team was able to make the necessary fixes to his No. 24, but he was unable to get back on track before the green flag flew. As a result, he was black-flagged and forced off of the track. Devine didn't like this much and stopped on the frontstretch to draw an early caution.
Once the race resumed, Booth had to deal with Rocco Procopio in the No. 62. While Procopio showed a lot of speed, Booth held on to give his Silverado-bodied Pure Stock its' first victory of the year. Procopio was second, then Jeff Meltz Jr., Colby Kokosa and Scott Morris.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 saw Jeff Meltz Sr. take the lead from pole sitter Shawn Perez Jr. on the first lap in turn 2. From there, the No. 5x was the class of the field. Incidents did keep the pack close together, though.
First, Dave Streibel Jr. and Jim Dellea collided and spun to bring out the yellow on lap 2. Both drivers were able to continue with limited damage. Later on, Shawn Perez Jr. and Peter Huntoon collided in turn 4 and spun to set up a one-lap shootout.
On the one-lap shootout, Jeff Meltz Sr. was able to drive away from the field to take his fifth win of the year and pad his points lead. Dave Streibel Jr. was second, then Dellea, Huntoon and Katarina Foster.
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 saw Chris Calabro take the lead away on the first lap from Janai St. Pierre, who debuted a new chassis Saturday night after crashing hard on Aug. 21. Calabro's lead was short-lived as Dave Streibel moved up from eighth on the grid and took the lead on lap 3.
The race quickly turned into a two-man race between Dave Streibel and Chris Stalker. However, "Big Dave" had a headstart that allowed him to stay in front. That buffer was taken away late when Rob Partridge spun and hit the wall in turn 4 after contact with Calabro. This set up another one-lap shootout.
On the final lap, Dave Streibel bobbled badly in turns 1 and 2. That allowed Stalker to snatch the lead away in turn 2. From there, he held on take his class-leading sixth win of the year. Brian Walsh followed Stalker past to finish second, while Dave Streibel had to settle for third. Keri VanDenburg was fourth and Calabro fifth.
The Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modifieds had two features as well. The first 12-lap feature was for Mystique and Antique cars. Here, Mike Brown took the lead from Scott Gauthier on lap 2 and held on to take the overall victory and in the Mystique class. Chuck Scofield, driving a Tremont Racing car from the 1960s, won the Antique class.
The second 12-lap race was for Modifieds and Sportsman. Here, Danny Wood started on pole with his early 1990s Tremont Racing No. 115, but was quickly overhauled by Darryl Hulbert.
1988 and 1989 Lebanon Valley Modified champion John Flach was able to get past Hulbert on lap 7 for the lead. From there, Flach pulled away to take the overall and Modified win over Hulbert. In the Sportsman division, Merv Blackwell took the victory.
Snap-On Tools via Scott Hamlin/Lebanon Springs Excavating & Friends Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Bobby Hackel, IV, 2) L.J. Lombardo, 3) Kyle Armstrong, 4) Andy Bachetti, 5) Brett Haas, 6) Kyle Sheldon, 7) Marc Johnson, 8) J.R. Heffner, 9) Ryan Darcy, 10) Brian Berger, 11) Eddie Marshall, 12) Chris Curtis, 13) Kolby Schroder, 14) Paul Gilardi, 15) Kenny Tremont Jr., 16) Chase Dowling, 17) Olden Dwyer, 18) Wayne Jelley, 19) Mike King, 20) John Ruchel, 21) Josh Marcus, 22) Kenny Aanonsen, III, 23) Brandon Lane
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Frank Harper, 2) Andy Bachetti, 3) Alan Houghtaling, 4) Joey Coppola, 5) Brian Peterson, 6) Ryan Larkin, 7) Montgomery Tremont, 8) Ryan Charland, 9) Michael Sabia, 10) Jason Herrington, 11) Ray Hall Jr., 12) Olden Dwyer, 13) John Lutes Jr., 14) Brian Sandstedt, 15) Sean Mandel, 16) Chris Curtis
Sportsman Feature Results (20 laps*): 1) Tim Hartman Jr., 2) Rob Maxon, 3) John Virgilio, 4) Whitey Slavin, 5) Walter Hammond Jr., 6) Shane Powell, 7) Michael Sabia, 8) Kevin Ames, 9) Michael Sabia, 10) Jeff Reis, 11) Matt Burke, 12) Jimmy VanZandt, 13) Peter Carlotto, 14) Jon Mennitte, 15) Keith Patnode, 16) Dave Fachini, 17) Chris Lynch**, 18) Brady Cordova, 19) John Miller, 20) Bob Fachini, 21) Harold Robitaille, 22) Peter Lorenzo, 23) Nikki Ouellette, 24) Dylan Gibson, 25) Joey Scarborough, 26) Bill August, 27) Walter J. Hammond, 28) Hunter Ordway, 29) Ryan Heath, 30) Robbie Colburn, 31) Rob Hallaback, 32) Frank Twing Jr., 33) Jeff Gallup
*- The Sportsman feature was shortened from 20 laps to 15 due to a series of crashes making the race take more than 45 minutes to complete.
**- Robbie Knipe drove the No. 74 in substitution of Chris Lynch. Lynch will earn the points for Knipe's 17th-place finish.
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Steven LaRochelle, 2) Chad Jeseo, 3) Shawn Perez, 4) Nick Hilt Jr., 5) Tom Dean, 6) Jason Meltz, 7) Dave Stickles, 8) Zach Sorrentino, 9) Doug Olds, 10) Zach Seyerlein, 11) Tom O’Connor, 12) Don Collins, 13) Dominique Hilt, 14) Brian Keough, 15) Johnny Rivers
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (8 laps): 1) Clifford Booth, 2) Rocco Procopio, 3) Jeff Meltz Jr., 4) Colby Kokosa, 5) Scott Morris, 6) Christopher Brown, 7) Mike Dianda, 8) John Devine, 9) Jeremy Dodge
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (8 laps): 1) Jeff Meltz Sr., 2) Dave Streibel Jr., 3) Jim Dellea, 4) Peter Huntoon, 5) Katarina Foster, 6) Shawn Perez Jr., 7) Craig Coons, 8) Dylan Fachini
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 Results (8 laps): 1) Chris Stalker, 2) Brian Walsh, 3) Dave Streibel, 4) Keri VanDenburg, 5) Chris Calabro, 6) Janai St. Pierre, 7) Rob Partridge, 8) Franklin Smith
Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series Vintage Modified Division Feature (12 laps): 1) John Flach, 2) Darrell Hulbert, 3) Jack Miller. DNS: Malcum Warner
Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series Vintage Sportsman Division Feature Results (12 laps): 1) Merv Blackwell, 2) Dan Wood, 3) Jon Trudeau. DNS: Fred Workman
Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series Vintage Mystique Division Feature Results (12 laps): 1) Mike Brown, 2) Carl Cram, 3) Scott Gauthier, 4) John Marks, 5) Mark Anatriello
Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series Vintage Antique Division Feature Results (12 laps): 1) Chuck Scofield, 2) Jason Tompkins, 3) Don Briggs, 4) Frank Blanchard. DNS: Bryan Scofield, George Berberich, Kevin Winton, Tex Gorden