Nick Hilt Wins Bubba Tanner Classic, Rain Cuts Evening Short
Saturday night was supposed to be a jam-packed evening of action at Lebanon Valley Speedway, headlined by the Modified class. However, rains started pouring down during the national anthem, resulting in the night being scrubbed just before 9 p.m.
Before the rains came, the Pro Stock class had one of their biggest events of the year, the Bubba Tanner Classic, on the schedule. By virtue of a post-heat race redraw, Nick Hilt Jr. ended up with the overall pole.
From that pole position, Hilt was able to get the jump on Johnny Rivers and pull out to a decent advantage. The warm weather combined with cloudy skies resulted in the track being a little faster than normal. Hilt was the only driver able to turn in a lap under 24 seconds as well. Being faster also makes it a little harder to pass.
While Hilt pulled out of a comfortable lead, Rivers ended up in a big fight with Jason Meltz, fresh off his first win of 2021 last weekend. This battle persisted lap after lap after lap. Further back, points leader Chad Jeseo was unable to make much progress from the ninth starting spot. He quickly moved up one position, then was stuck in eighth until after the halfway point.
It was only in the final six laps that things started getting a little more interesting. Here, Jason Meltz was finally able to get a good run on Rivers. On lap 18, Jason Meltz was fully alongside Rivers for second when contact was made. Jason Meltz got the position, but trouble was ahead. Shortly afterwards, Jason Meltz’s right front tire went down, sending the No. 51 Chevrolet into the turn 1 wall and bringing out the yellow.
Steven LaRochelle was able to follow Jason Meltz past Rivers before the tire went down to take third. When Jason Meltz crashed, LaRochelle took second.
Once the race restarted, LaRochelle put the pressure on Hilt. Further back, Jeseo also began moving forward, moving up to fourth. Coming to the white flag, Zach Seyerlein and Tom Dean collided in turn 4 and crashed to bring out a yellow. Seyerlein was able to continue, but Dean was done for the night.
The yellow set up a one-lap shootout. Here, Hilt was able to eke out a small lead and held on to take his second consecutive victory. As a result, he walked out of Lebanon Valley with $1623 Saturday night. $1523 was the winner's share of the purse. He also won his heat race, which earned him an additional $100. Naturally, he was a happy camper after the race.
“It was great tonight. I had my buddy Chad [Jeseo, who Hilt was pitted next to] give me a hand scaling [the car],” Hilt said afterwards. “It turned great and was fast. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Jeseo was able to beat LaRochelle to the line for second. Jay Fitzgerald was fourth and Rivers fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Dave Streibel Jr. started from pole and led early until Katarina Foster spun in turn 2 to bring out an early yellow. On the restart, Streibel rubbed the wall in turn 2, allowing Don Kennedy to sneak by to take the lead.
Following another Foster spin, trouble broke out on the restart after Scott Kilmer was turned into the outside wall on the frontstretch following contact from John Devine. Devine was sent to the rear by track officials for causing the crash. However, Kilmer was none too pleased with Devine and attempted to retaliate. That attempted retaliation got Kilmer parked for the evening.
The rest of the feature saw Clifford Booth attempt to run down Kennedy in his car-based pickup truck (Booth’s conveyance is an early 1980s Chevrolet Monte Carlo with a Chevrolet Silverado truck body on it). However, Booth could not prevent Kennedy from taking his first win of the year. Booth was second, then Dave Streibel Jr., Devine and Christopher Brown.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 saw Shawn Perez Jr. start from the pole, but he quickly lost the advantage to Chris Stalker. Stalker attempted to pull away from the field with teammate Jim Dellea in tow before a yellow flew due to Franklin Smith slowing in turn 2 on lap 5.
On the restart, Dellea, Perez and Jeff Meltz Sr. all came together in turn 1 to bring out another yellow. Everyone managed to continue, despite their cars being a little worse for wear.
The race came down to a three-car duel between Stalker, Rocco Procopio and Jeff Meltz Sr. Procopio made a move to the inside on the final lap, but Stalker held on for his fourth win of the year over Procopio, Jeff Meltz Sr., Dylan Fachini and Scott Morris.
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 saw Jethro Rossman take the lead on the first lap from pole sitter Peter Huntoon, then spin in front of the entire field in turn 4. No one hit him and Keri VanDenburg took the lead for the restart.
Janai St. Pierre took the lead from VanDenburg on the restart and ran well. However, Brian Walsh ran her down and took the lead with less than two laps to go. Walsh was then able to hold St. Pierre off for the win. Rob Partridge was third, then Colby Kokosa and Dave Streibel.
Due to the rain ending Saturday night's action early, there will be double features for the Modified and Sportsman classes next Saturday night. They'll be joined by the regular Pro Stock and Pure Stock classes. There is also a Pro Stock Dash sponsored by Eastwood Detailing with $250 to the winner. Finally, the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modified Series will make a visit to the high banks as well. It's a jam-packed night of action.
DMC Racing Products Pro Stock Bubba Tanner Classic Results (23 laps): 1) Nick Hilt Jr., 2) Chad Jeseo, 3) Steven LaRochelle, 4) Jay Fitzgerald, 5) Johnny Rivers, 6) Doug Olds, 7) Shawn Perez, 8) Zach Seyerlein, 9) Brian Keough, 10) Tom Dean, 11) Jason Meltz, 12) Dave Stickles, 13) Rick Spencer
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (8 laps): 1) Don Kennedy, 2) Clifford Booth, 3) Dave Streibel Jr., 4) John Devine, 5) Christopher Brown, 6) Katarina Foster, 7) Nick Hilt, III, 8) Mike Dianda, 9) Scott Kilmer
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (8 laps): 1) Chris Stalker, 2) Rocco Procopio, 3) Jeff Meltz Sr., 4) Dylan Fachini, 5) Scott Morris, 6) Jim Dellea, 7) Ryan Brown, 8) Shawn Perez Jr., 9) Franklin Smith
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 Results (8 laps): 1) Brian Walsh, 2) Janai St. Pierre, 3) Rob Partridge, 4) Colby Kokosa, 5) Dave Streibel, 6) Craig Coons, 7) Keri VanDenburg, 8) Peter Huntoon, 9) Jethro Rossman