Saturday night saw the kids have fun riding in the back of cars. A good number of drivers from all of the classes brought their cars out onto the frontstretch for the rides. However, once the rides were complete, the action began in earnest.
Steve Hough started from the pole and held off Olden Dwyer early. J.R. Heffner had a very fast car (second fastest in warm-ups), but never really got to show it. On the second lap, Heffner stalled in turn 3 and got hit by Rob Pitcher to bring out an early yellow. While slowing for said yellow, a crash broke out in turn 1 involving Mike King, Brian Berger, Wayne Jelley and Denny Soltis. Everyone managed to continue after pit stops.
The biggest incident of the night saw Chad Jeseo spin out in turn 3 on lap 3. Jeseo was then hit hard by Pitcher and Mike Keeler, who was knocked onto his side before coming to rest right-side up. Everyone was ok, but done after that incident.
As the race continued on, Brett Hearn charged towards the front from his 15th starting spot, along with Kenny Tremont, Jr. However, their charges weren’t quite as quick as in past weeks. In addition, Dwyer was still continuing to pressure Hough for the lead in his car with a more cost-effective engine package.
Tremont was up to third by lap 13, but couldn’t run down Dwyer. Hearn only entered the top 5 with about six laps to go. Hough was able to hold off the field to take his first win in a number of years. Dwyer was still looking good for second, but ran out of fuel on the last lap and would be credited with ninth. Afterwards, Hough was very happy to get back to Victory Lane.
“The car was perfect,” Hough said. “Good to be back in Victory Lane. It’s been a couple of years.”
Tremont inherited second-place after Dwyer fell back. Kolby Schroder was third, followed by Hearn and Keith Flach.
In the Small Block Modifieds, the big story of the night involved Brett Haas. Haas was second fastest in warm-ups and was quite confident of a good night ahead. However, during his heat race, his car broke a rear axle. It appeared that Haas, who entered the night third in points, would be done for the night.
Olden Dwyer stepped forward and offered Haas the use of his No. 88JR Small Block Modified for the feature, which Haas graciously accepted. Starting at the back, Haas moved up through the field and finished ninth, earning 40 points on a night where he very well could have come away empty-handed.
Joey Scarborough started from the pole and led early, despite wisps of smoke coming from the back of his No. 11. Frank Harper started fifth and ran well early, but fell victim to getting too high once again. Harper hit the wall in turn 3 to bring out a yellow on the second lap. At the same time, Kim LaVoy’s night came to an end when her car slowed to a stop on the frontstretch.
Early on, Jeseo was Scarborough’s primary competitor for the lead. The Scott Hamlin Racing driver moved up to second from the eighth starting spot and pressured the Vermont native. However, Jeseo could not get by.
All of the yellows allowed Tremont to move up into contention. Having started 15th, Tremont was already up to seventh by lap 5. He continued to gain positions and moved into the top 4 as a result of the Carlotto-Hough crash. Tremont was able to get past Demetrios Drello and Jeseo to move up to second shortly after the lap 9 restart. From there, it was only a matter of time before the defending class champion got past Scarborough for the lead on lap 12.
Drellos followed Tremont past Jeseo and Scarborough and took off in chase of the the defending champion. However, Tremont pulled away from the field and would not be caught on his way to Small Block victory No. 5. Drellos finished a somewhat distant second, but was rather disappointed after the race that he couldn’t give Tremont more of a race. Jeseo got by Scarborough on lap 16 and held on to finish third. Scarborough finished a career-best fourth, while Jason Herrington rounded out the top 5.
The Sportsman race was unusually clean. Former Pro Stock Champion Kevin Arnold started his Catlin21 Racing entry on pole and quickly opened up a gap on Frank Hoard, Jr. Meanwhile, the main point contenders were more or less buried in the midfield. Jeff Watson seemed to be the only points contender that could make much progress during the race, moving up from tenth to sixth.
At the front, Arnold was able to maintain a comfortable lead over Hoard and took his first-ever Sportsman win in a race that went green flag-to-flag. Hoard finished second, followed by Jack Speshock, Timothy Davis and Chris Lynch.
Pro Stock saw Steven LaRochelle start on pole and beat out Frank Twing to turn 1. While the younger LaRochelle was at the front of the field, his father Paul started fifth and spun on the second lap of the race in turn 4, which brought out the first yellow.
On the restart, Rick Duzlak, who started third, was able to get past Steven LaRochelle for the lead and was able to open up a small gap. On lap 5, Rick Dempsey spun in turn 2 after contact from Chuck Towslee to bring out another yellow.
After the restart, a four-car lead pack developed. Duzlak, Rob Yetman, Nick Stone and Jay Corbin pulled away from the field to try to settle things amongst themselves. Yetman tried multiple times to get to the inside, but Duzlak was able to use the momentum of the higher line to hold off Yetman. Duzlak was able to hold off the pack on a four-lap shootout to take his first win of the year. Yetman finished second, while Stone was third across the line. Stone was disqualified for being underweight. As a result, Corbin was credited was third, followed by Chad Arsenault and Nick Hilt.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Zach Seyerlein started from the pole and easily outdistanced Wuggie Burdick to turn 1. On the first lap, Jesse Murphy spun out on the backstretch after contact from Dom Denue. Denue was sent to the rear for causing the caution.
On the restart, John Devine was able to get past Seyerlein for the lead. Bill Deak, Jr. followed past and put the pressure on Devine for the lead. Deak got to the inside, but could not get the nose of his black Monte Carlo ahead. Devine was able to hold on to take his first win of the year. Deak was second, followed by Jesse Murphy, Bob Palmer and Denue.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 2, Karen Verhagen started from the pole and mentioned after the race that she was "...driving like an angry woman." Verhagen's improved pace allowed her to hold off the field until contact on lap 2 got her loose in turn 2. That contact allowed Zach Sorrentino to slip past and take the lead as Verhagen dropped back.
Shortly afterwards, Brian VanDenburg spun in turn 3 to bring out the caution. The story of this race was Phil Sherman, who made his season debut in the "Sherman Tank." It did not take long for Sherman to move up from the seventh starting spot and take the lead away from Sorrentino. From there, Sherman pulled away to take the win. Sorrentino held on for second, followed by Mike Arnold and Chris Streeter. Dan Cote was fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 3, Jeff Kreutziger led early from the pole with the rest of the field storming from behind. Dave Stickles lost power at the end of the first lap and ground to a halt on the frontstretch to bring out the yellow. While he was out of this race, it was not the end of the night for the Double Nickels.
Gary O’Brien, who was coming off of a win on Tuesday night during the Eve of Destruction, once again had a very fast car. Given the fifth starting spot, O'Brien stalked Kreutziger for much of the race. With five laps to go, O'Brien pounced and took the lead with Jason Meltz following past.
However, Kreutziger was able to get back by Jason Meltz and put the pressure back on O'Brien. Despite this pressure, O'Brien held on to take his third win of the year. Kreutziger was second, followed by Jason Meltz. Jeff Meltz, Sr. was fourth and Ray Hall, Sr. was fifth.
Saturday also the inaugural Meltz Lumber Pure Stock Feature, a 20-lap feature with an assorted group of Pure Stock racers taking each other on. Given that Lebanon Valley is like an engine dyno for Pure Stocks, it can be quite difficult.