Brian Berger Claims J.C. Flach Memorial Victory, First Win Since 2016
Brian Berger was able to get past Olden Dwyer early on in the feature Saturday night at Lebanon Valley Speedway. From there, Berger was able to pull away in the caution-free race to win the 10th Annual J.C. Flach Memorial and the $5000 that comes with it. It is Berger’s first Modified win at Lebanon Valley since 2016 and comes after seven second-place finishes, including five since the beginning of last season.
“You can’t imagine how special this is,” Berger told Dan Martin in victory lane. “If there’s one race you want to win, it’s this one. To do this for J.C., that’s fantastic.”
Olden Dwyer, recovered from a recent bout with COVID-19, was back Saturday night and started from the pole. Brian Berger started fourth, but immediately was able to use the bottom lane in turns 1 and 2 to move up to second on the first lap.
Berger then tried to gain on Dwyer, who got a flyer and pulled out a decent advantage on the start. It took a couple of laps for the catch to be made. Once there, the two drivers fought hard for the lead. The two were side-by-side for multiple laps before Berger finally cleared Dwyer in turn 1 on lap 14.
Further back, drivers such as Andy Bachetti and Brett Haas were having some trouble moving forward. Without the aid of a yellow, they were too far behind early on in order to contend.
Behind Berger, Keith Flach was able to charge up to second. In the closing laps, he fought off Bobby Hackel, IV to keep the spot, but could do nothing to prevent Berger from winning.
Berger ended up 1.574 seconds ahead of Flach at the finish. Hackel was third, then Marc Johnson and Bachetti.
The Small Block Modified feature was one of attrition. Teammates Dwyer and Dylan Gibson started on the front row, but Gibson was swamped at the start.
Frank Harper, who debuted a new car Saturday night, moved up to second and immediately pressure Dwyer for the lead. However, he was unable to get past at first.
Then, the trouble started. First, Jason Herrington hit the wall in turn 3 and ground to a stop shortly afterwards to bring out the yellow. On the restart, contact between Alan Houghtaling and Ryan Larkin on the backstretch resulted in Houghtaling going hard into the outside wall. The crash collected Gibson, Kevin Petrucci, Montgomery Tremont, Joey Coppola and Brian Peterson with Houghtaling getting up on his side after contact with Coppola. Everyone walked away, but the field was cut down significantly.
Larkin’s trouble continued after the restart as he spun in turn 2 and hit the wall to bring out another yellow. Later on, a stack-up in turn 4 resulted in Larkin running over the left rear of L.J. Lombardo and spinning in turn 4. This broke Larkin’s right front corner and ended his night.
On the restart after Larkin’s turn 2 accident, Harper was able to take the lead from Dwyer. However, Andy Bachetti followed him into second. On the next restart, Bachetti wasted no time in pouncing on Harper to take the lead in turn 3.
Once out front, Bachetti pulled away from the pack while Harper maintained second. A caution for Ryan Charland cutting his right rear tire set up a four-lap shootout. Bachetti was able to blast away to take the win.
Bachetti ended up 2.769 seconds ahead of Harper at the finish. L.J. Lombardo was third, then Peter Carlotto and Tremont in a career-best fifth.
The Pro Stock race was also quite rough. Tom Dean started from the pole and ran very well early on, successfully holding off Nick Hilt Jr. Meanwhile, points leader Chad Jeseo moved up the order quickly.
A spin for Zach Seyerlein brought out a yellow on lap 5, setting up a restart. Exiting turn 4 a lap after the restart, Jeseo got in the back of Dean, spinning him into Rick Duzlak. Zach Sorrentino and Chris Stalker were also involved. Stalker went hard into the inside wall and nearly got on his side. He ended up being helped from his No. 177 and taken away on a stretcher after the roof was removed from the car.
Hilt took the lead just as the crash started, but the crash depleted the field down to just six cars. Immediately after the restart, the race became a three-car duel between Hilt, Jeseo and Steven LaRochelle. Hilt was able to hold on before he suffered a drivetrain failure on lap 11.
Hilt’s failure gave the lead to LaRochelle, but Jeseo wanted it bad. The two fought hard, lap after lap. Jeseo was able to clear LaRochelle with two laps to go and hold on for his fourth win of the year.
LaRochelle was .806 seconds behind Jeseo, then Seyerlein, Brian Keough and Paul Rogers. These were the only finishers.
In Budget Sportsman, Brady Cordova took his third win of the year. Dom Denue won the 15-lap Street Stock feature.
Modified A-Verdi presents the 10th Annual J.C. Flach Memorial Results (30 laps): 1) Brian Berger, 2) Keith Flach, 3) Bobby Hackel, IV, 4) Marc Johnson, 5) Andy Bachetti, 6) Wayne Jelley, 7) Brett Haas, 8) Kyle Sheldon, 9) Eddie Marshall, 10) L.J. Lombardo, 11) Ryan Charland, 12) Brandon Lane, 13) Josh Marcus, 14) Olden Dwyer, 15) Timothy Davis, 16) Kyle Armstrong, 17) Kolby Schroder, 18) J.R. Heffner, 19) Mike King, 20) Kenny Tremont Jr.
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Andy Bachetti, 2) Frank Harper, 3) L.J. Lombardo, 4) Peter Carlotto, 5) Montgomery Tremont, 6) Brian Sandstedt, 7) Dylan Gibson, 8) Ryan Charland, 9) Kim LaVoy, 10) Olden Dwyer, 11) Ryan Larkin, 12) Alan Houghtaling, 13) Lorne Browe, 14) Brian Peterson, 15) Joey Coppola, 16) Kevin Petrucci, 17) Jason Herrington
Limited Sportsman Feature Results (10 laps): 1) Brady Cordova, 2) Kevin Ames, 3) Karl Barnes, 4) Jim VanZandt, 5) Matt Jordan, 6) Shaeden Mosso, 7) Alex Palmer-Sawyer, 8) Frank Twing Jr.
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Chad Jeseo, 2) Steven LaRochelle, 3) Zach Seyerlein, 4) Brian Keough, 5) Nick Rogers, 6) Nick Hilt Jr., 7) Rick Duzlak, 8) Tom Dean, 9) Zach Sorrentino, 10) Chris Stalker, 11) Johnny Rivers, 12) Shawn Perez, 13) Dan Burl, 14) Tom O’Connor
Street Stock Feature Results (15 laps): 1) Dom Denue, 2) Chris Stalker, 3) Jeff Meltz Sr., 4) Rob Partridge, 5) Brian Walsh, 6) Scott Kilmer, 7) Evan Denue, 8) Christopher Brown, 9) Scott Morris, 10) Katarina Foster, 11) Jim Dellea, 12) Dave Streibel Jr., 13) Shawn Perez Jr., 14) Franklin Smith, 15) Dylan Fachini, 16) Jennah Perez, 17) Craig Coons, 18) Nick Reilly