Rob Pitcher Wins Final Lebanon Valley Modified Race of 2020, Champions Crowned
Saturday night was the final night of points racing at Lebanon Valley Speedway for the 2020 season. There were plenty of points battles to be had on the high banks.
In the Modifieds, Andy Bachetti entered Saturday with a 28-point lead over Kenny Tremont Jr. Staying out of trouble was imperative. It found him
Denny Soltis started from the pole and ran well early. Rob Pitcher started on the inside of the front row and immediately put the pressure on the veteran racer. Soltis was able to use the outside line to hold off Pitcher’s charge. On Lap 7, Pitcher was able to get the lead from Soltis exiting Turn 4. Wayne Jelley and J.R. Heffner followed past into second and third.
Once out front, Pitcher began to pull away from Jelley. Meanwhile, Soltis was challenged for fourth by Brett Haas. Haas battled until an unusual right rear tire explosion resulted in a crash that also involved Marc Johnson and Kolby Schroder to bring out the first yellow. Schroder and Haas were done while Johnson was able to continued and finish eighth.
Bachetti ran into trouble on Lap 20 when he had contact with Eddie Marshall, cutting his left rear tire. With the benefit of a yellow, Bachetti was able to change his tire and get back out. He would finish 11th. With Kenny Tremont Jr. having issues, that was enough to claim the title.
Despite dealing with a glowing right rear brake rotor for the entire race and tires going away, Pitcher held on over the final 10 laps to take the victory.
“We had a really good car tonight,” Pitcher said afterwards. “We made a bunch of changes before the feature. I didn’t really know what was going to happen, but we ended up with a fast race car, so it all worked out.”
Mark Flach Jr. made a late charge to finish second, followed by Jelley. Keith Flach was fourth, while Marshall was fifth.
The Small Block Modified class had the closest championship battle of the night as five drivers were within 13 points. Brandon Lane started from the pole and had his best run of the season, holding off the field through the first half of the race.
The man on the move was Jason Herrington, the longest shot of the championship contenders. He started seventh and methodically made his way up the order, moving past Chris Curtis into second on Lap 10.
Meanwhile, Haas was leading the points by just one over Timothy Davis entering the race. He had a heck of a time moving up the order and spent much of the race in seventh or eighth. Davis was able to stay in front of Haas while the Pittsfield native did battle with Bachetti.
Harrington ran down Lane and took the lead on Lap 15. From there, Herrington pulled away to take the victory.
Lane held on for a career-best second. Olden Dwyer was third, while Davis crossed the line in fourth. That would have been good enough for the title, but he failed to make weight. The disqualification moved Curtis up to fourth and Haas fifth. That gave Haas the title by one point over Herrington.
The Sportsman class saw Angelo DiCarlo start on pole and lead early. A couple of laps into the race, Robbie Colburn spun in Turn 2 after slight contact from John Stowell. Colburn was able to continue with a little assistance and would eventually finish 18th.
DiCarlo led on the restart, but went too high in Turn 4. That allowed Nathan Johnson to slip past on the inside and take the lead. DiCarlo was able to hold off Gary O'Brien for second.
A quick spin for Karl Barnes brought out another yellow on Lap 5. Following that restart, Johnson began to pull away from the rest of the pack. DiCarlo had his hands full with O'Brien, while Pat Jones was right there as well.
DiCarlo ran well until he was eliminated in a multi-car crash in Turn 4 with Gary O’Brien. Nikki Ouellette, Jacob Perry, Matt Burke and Keith Johannessen were also collected. O'Brien and DiCarlo were out on the spot after that wreck.
Johannessen’s night only got worse from there as he crashed hard into the wall right after the restart. Johannessen's No. 4NY was heavily damaged and done for the night. Just getting the car onto the trailer at the end of the night ended up being quite the chore.
The big wreck that eliminated DiCarlo and O'Brien put Jones up to second. Over the final laps, Jones stalked Johnson, but he was unable to prevent the New Hampshire native and former pavement racer from taking his first Sportsman victory at Lebanon Valley.
"We've been struggling this year," Nathan Johnson said in victory lane. "I gotta thank Matt, Bob Hearn, my uncle and all my crew. They've been putting in a lot of hours and a lot of work to get this thing where it needs to be."
Jones just barely held off Joey Coppola for second, while Ryan Larkin and John Virgilio finished fourth and fifth respectively. Virgilio’s fifth-place finish was enough to give him his third Sportsman title.
Pro Stock saw Chad Jeseo clinch the title by signing in at the track. The feature itself had its moments.
By luck of the draw, Jason Casey started from the pole and managed to control the race. His father, Jay Casey, took second on the start. The plan was to pull away.
That went away when Tom Dean and Shawn Perez collided on Lap 4 and went into the inside wall to bring out the yellow. Dean ended up on top of the inside wall as a result.
On the restart, Scott Towslee was able to get past Jay Casey for second, but he could do nothing with Jason Casey’s No. 324. The younger Casey held on to take the victory over Towslee, Jay Casey, Ed Bishop and Doug Olds.
In Pure Stock, Brian Walsh, Dom Denue and Clifford Booth each claimed wins. John Devine finished fifth in Feature No. 2, which was enough to give him the title. In the 4-Cylinder class, James Street won overall and in Dual-Cam while second-place finisher Brandon Ely won the Dual-Cam championship. Gary Malloy Sr. finished a season sweep in Single-Cam.
Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Rob Pitcher, 2) Mark Flach Jr., 3) Wayne Jelley, 4) Keith Flach, 5) Eddie Marshall, 6) Peter Britten, 7) J.R. Heffner, 8) Marc Johnson, 9) Ronnie Johnson, 10) Olden Dwyer, 11) Andy Bachetti, 12) Mike King, 13) Denny Soltis, 14) Josh Marcus, 15) Kenny Tremont Jr, 16) Brett Haas, 17) Kolby Schroder, 18) Kyle Armstrong, 19) Karl Barnes, 20) Paul Gilardi, 21) Brian Berger
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Jason Herrington, 2) Brandon Lane, 3) Olden Dwyer, 4) Chris Curtis, 5) Brett Haas, 6) Andy Bachetti, 7) Ryan Charland, 8) Mark Pullen, 9) Brian Peterson, 10) Alissa Cody, 11) Angelo DiCarlo, 12) Kevin Petrucci, 13) Kim LaVoy, 14) Ryan McLean, 15) Ray Hall Jr. DQ: Timothy Davis
Sportsman Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Nathan Johnson, 2) Pat Jones, 3) Joey Coppola, 4) Ryan Larkin, 5) John Virgilio, 6) Rob Maxon, 7) Robbie Knipe, 8) John Stowell, 9) Matt Schulz, 10) Walter Hammond, 11) Peter Carlotto, 12) Kevin Chaffee, 13) Bobby Chalmers, 14) Nikki Ouellette, 15) Ted Teal, 16) Bob Fachini Jr., 17) Todd Buckwold, 18) Robbie Colburn, 19) Matt Burke, 20) Del Ligouri, 21) Steven Lary, 22) Shane Henion, 23) Karl Barnes, 24) Nick Plumstead, 25) Angelo DiCarlo, 26) Gary O’Brien, 27) Keith Johannessen, 28) Jacob Perry, 29) Walter Hammond Jr., 30) Rob Hallaback, 31) Austin Smith, 32) Harold Robitaille
Sportsman B-Main Results (12 laps): 1) Walter Hammond Jr., 2) Matt Schulz, 3) Rob Maxon, 4) Matt Burke, 5) Ted Teal, 6) Bob Fachini Jr., 7) Shane Henion, 8) Todd Buckwold, 9) Jacob Perry, 10) Del Ligouri, 11) Nick Plumstead, 12) Kevin Chaffee, 13) Steven Larry, 14) Rob Hallaback, 15) Austin Smith, 16) Harold Robitaille, 17) Walter Hammond Jr.
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Jason Casey, 2) Scott Towslee, 3) Jay Casey*, 4) Ed Bishop, 5) Doug Olds, 6) Steven LaRochelle, 7) Jason Meltz, 8) Nick Hilt, 9) Phil Arnold, 10) Zach Seyerlein, 11) Chad Jeseo, 12) Tony Markou, 13) Johnny Rivers, 14) Nick Arnold, 15) Dave Stickles, 16) Shawn Perez, 17) Tom O’Connor, 18) Brian Keough, 19) Tom Dean, 20) Dave Demorest, 21) Aidan Demorest, 22) John Lindblade, 23) Dan Therrien
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (8 laps): 1) Brian Walsh, 2) Ryan Brown, 3) Dave Streibel Jr., 4) Jethro Rossman, 5) Franklin Smith, 6) Peter Huntoon, 7) Kitty Foster, 8) Colby Kokosa, 9) Rocco Procopio
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (8 laps): 1) Dom Denue, 2) Chris Murphy, 3) Lou Gancarz, 4) Dave Fachini, 5) John Devine, 6) Christopher Brown, 7) Wayne Mahar, 8) Evan Denue, 9) Janai St. Pierre
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 Results (8 laps): 1) Clifford Booth, 2) Jeff Meltz Sr., 3) Keri VanDenburg, 4) Don Kennedy, 5) Dylan Fachini, 6) Scott Morris, 7) Wayne Taylor, 8) Rob Partridge, 9) Jay Casey*
4-Cylinder Single-Cam Feature Results (15 laps): 1) Gary Malloy Sr., 2) Chris White, 3) Bradley Batho, 4) Doug Howe, 5) Bob Ely, 6) Joe Wolfe, 7) Althea Roy, 8) Joey Batho, 9) Chris Bierce, 10) Matt Narzynski
4-Cylinder Dual-Cam Feature Results (15 laps): 1) James Street, 2) Brandon Ely, 3) Lucas Ballard, 4) Steve Burbank, 5) Garrett Biagiarelli, 6) Adam Petell, 7) Tyler White, 8) Mike Duncan, 9) Jon Twing, 10) Jim Guertin
*- There are two Jay Caseys. The Jay Casey in Pro Stock is from Connecticut while the Jay Casey in Pure Stock is from Massachusetts.