Fireworks Night at Lebanon Valley is traditionally one of the more exciting nights on the calendar. Lots of great on-track action and a nice light show to boot.
Andy Bachetti had other plans. To spoil the party.
Bachetti clearly had the fastest car on Saturday night, but he had to get to the lead first. He wasted no time in getting to second from fifth, then the incidents started. First, a pile-up involving J.R. Heffner, Wayne Jelley, Denny Soltis, the visiting Matt Janiak and more brought out a yellow. Then, another stack-up in turn 2 collected Steve Hough, Kyle Sheldon and Kyle Armstrong.
Both times, Bachetti was able to snatch the lead from pole sitter John Ruchel, but was forced to give it back. Once the race restarted for good, Bachetti made short work of Ruchel and drove off into the distance.
With the pace Bachetti was setting, he got into competitive lapped traffic before the halfway point of the feature. Brian Berger had moved up into second early on, but could only watch as Bachetti walked away from the field.
Point contenders Kenny Tremont, Jr. and Brett Hearn were progressing up the order, but the field was spread out enough that they couldn’t make gains. With four laps to go, Hearn cut a right rear tire. This brought out a caution and bunched together the nine remaining drivers on the lead lap. Once the green flew again, Bachetti drove away to take his third win of the year.
After the race, Bachetti seemed confident that his team had really found something.
“I think we’ve got our stuff on the right track,” Bachetti said. “Things are going good and we’ve got things in a rhythm. Can’t say enough about my team. They work real hard for me and that’s what this is about.”
Berger held on for second while Keith Flach was a quiet third. Tremont was fourth and Elmo Reckner edged Hearn for fifth.
In the Small Block Modifieds, Olden Dwyer was back in his car and started from the pole. He was able to outdrive Frank Harper on the start, but a complete restart was called for after Kenny Aanonsen, Jr. spun in turn 1, collecting Buddy Hencke and Brian Peterson.
On the second start, Dwyer pulled out a gap again over Harper. Meanwhile, Tremont was once again on the move. Tremont quickly moved up from the 15th starting spot to move into the top 10 in the first couple of laps. Then, Peter Carlotto hit the wall and broke his steering to bring out a yellow on lap 4.
Once the green came back out, it took six laps for Tremont to get up to second. It was another four laps for Tremont to take over the lead from Dwyer. From there, Tremont pulled away to take his sixth Small Block Modified win of the year in eight races. Dwyer finished in a season-best second, but was well off of Tremont’s pace. Harper was third, followed by Alan Houghtaling and Steve Hough.
In the Pro Stock division, a field of 25 took the green with Frank Twing and Steven LaRochelle on the front row. It did not take long for chaos to break out. Just after the completion of the first lap, Paul LaRochelle spun in turn 1 directly in front of Chad Arsenault. The Hudson native had nowhere to go but directly into the No. 78. While both drivers continued, the incident ruined both their nights. On the restart, a stack-up resulted in Paul LaRochelle destroying the front end of his car after running into another driver. This ended the night for the No. 78.
Later on, Matt Cross brought out a yellow when he spun in turn 4. On the restart from that yellow, a huge pile-up broke out in turn 1 that involved at least seven cars. The red flag was thrown as a result, but everyone was ok.
Once the dust cleared, the race came down to a four-car duel between Twing, Jon Routhier, Rob Yetman and Jay Corbin. Yetman slowly made his way to the front and took the lead from Twing with less than three laps to go. However, Corbin followed him through and a great battle resulted. On the final lap, Corbin was able to get past the winningest Pro Stock driver at Lebanon Valley and take an exciting victory.
Yetman settled for second, while Twing was third. Routhier was fourth and Steven LaRochelle was fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Phil Sherman charged to the front in his No. 99 Chevrolet and claimed his second straight victory in a caution-free feature. Given his recent form, he's perfectly fine with starting the 2016 season late in the game. Bob Palmer, another driver who started his season late, was second in the No. 29. Keri VanDenburg was third, followed by Dan Cote and Dennis O'Connor, Jr.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 got off to an inauspicious start when Scott Morris rolled his F-Body in turn 1. Morris was ok, but his blue and orange No. 84 was done for the night.
Karen Verhagen started from the pole and held off all challengers early in the going, even opening up a small gap over the pack. That small gap was eliminated when Brian Walsh crashed in turn 1 to bring out another yellow.
Shortly after the restart, Verhagen got out of shape exiting turn 4. She was able to recover the slide, but not before Zach Sorrentino was able to charge past into the lead. Veteran John Devine was close in tow and pressured the young Marine. However, Devine could do nothing with the second year racer as Springfield's Sorrentino held on to take his first career victory. Devine was second, followed by Brock Couch in Dom Denue's regular ride. Verhagen was fourth and Gary Malloy fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 3, Al Relyea was able to get past pole sitter Jeff Kreutziger for the lead on lap 2 and managed to pull out a gap over the field. The Meltz crew was close in tow as well with Jeff Meltz, Sr. leading the charge. Eventually, Gary O'Brien charged into contention after starting ninth. He took over second with a few laps to go and slowly reeled in Relyea. On the last lap, he caught the No. 14 and went side-by-side with Relyea into turns 3 and 4.
Significant contact was made in turn 4, which allowed O'Brien to win the race on the track.
However, the officials looked down the tactics used by O'Brien to reach the checkered flag first. As a result, O'Brien was penalized for rough driving. Relyea inherited the win, his third of the season. Jeff Meltz, Sr. was credited with second, followed by Jason Meltz. O'Brien was forced to settle for fourth.
In the 4-Cylinder Single-Cam Feature, James Street quickly charged up from the fourth starting spot to take the lead from pole-sitter Victor Duncan. Tim Meltz and Brandon Ely gave chase. Shortly before halfway, Tim Meltz was able to get by in his Honda Prelude and pulled away to take the win. Ely technically crossed the line in second, but was penalized to the rear. As a result, Street finished second, followed by Jethro Rossman, Jim Williams and Chris White.
The 4-Cylinder Dual-Cam race started with Kelly Duncan on the pole in her Dodge Stratus. However, Kelly appeared to have an issue and slid into the wall in turn 2 on the first lap. In the scramble that resulted, P.J. Bleau was able to get into the lead before the caution came out.
Once the green flag came back out, Bleau had a very tough task on his hands. That was holding off Kenny Stager. Stager stalked Bleau for the rest of the race, but simply could not make the move as Bleau held on to win. Behind Bleau and Stager was Chris Vandeputte and Shawny Hazel. Todd Goldstein, driving a Nissan Sentra SE-R that was repaired after a big wreck in the Eve of Destruction, finished fifth.
Berkshire Bank/Armory Garage Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Andy Bachetti, 2) Brian Berger, 3) Keith Flach, 4) Kenny Tremont, Jr., 5) Elmo Reckner, 6) Brett Hearn, 7) Rob Pitcher, 8) Matt Pupello, 9) John Ruchel, 10) Steve Hough, 11) Kolby Schroder, 12) Kyle Armstrong, 13) Mike King, 14) Dave McFeeters, 15) Eddie Marshall, 16) Kyle Sheldon, 17) J.R. Heffner, 18) Matt Janiak, 19) Paul Gilardi, 20) Chad Jeseo, 21) Guy Sheldon, 22) Mike Keeler, 23) Denny Soltis, 24) Wayne Jelley, 25) Olden Dwyer. DNS: Jason Herrington
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Kenny Tremont, Jr., 2) Olden Dwyer, 3) Frank Harper, 4) Alan Houghtaling, 5) Steve Hough, 6) Demetrios Drellos, 7) Jason Herrington, 8) Brett Haas, 9) Chad Pierce, 10) Ray Hall, Jr., 11) Brian Sandstedt, 12) Chad Jeseo, 13) Frank Hoard, III, 14) Ricky Davis, 15) Buddy Hencke, 16) Brian Peterson, 17) J.R. Heffner, 18) Kenny Aanonsen, Jr., 19) Kim LaVoy, 20) Peter Carlotto, 21) Joey Scarborough
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Jay Corbin, 2) Rob Yetman, 3) Frank Twing, 4) Jon Routhier, 5) Steven LaRochelle, 6) Ray Hall, Jr., 7) Chuck Towslee, 8) Rick Dempsey, 9) Victor Hopkins, 10) Rich Crane, 11) Norm Loubier, 12) Sparky Reilly, 13) Brian Keough, 14) Nick Stone, 15) Matt Cross, 16) Nick Hilt, 17) Jeremy Cole, 18) Rick Duzlak, 19) Joe LaFlamme, 20) Don Kennedy, 21) Tom Dean, 22) Kyle Hosier, 23) Paul LaRochelle, 24) Chad Arsenault, 25) Mark Dupuis
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (8 laps): 1) Phil Sherman, 2) Bob Palmer, 3) Keri VanDenburg, 4) Dan Cote, 5) Dennis O’Connor, Jr., 6) Wuggie Burdick, 7) Gary VanDenburg, 8) Rich Smith, 9) Zach Seyerlein, 10) Tom Murphy, 11) Clifford Booth, 12) Mark Dwyer, 13) Joe Walcott
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (8 laps): 1) Zach Sorrentino, 2) John Devine, 3) Brock Couch, 4) Karen Verhagen, 5) Gary Malloy, 6) Rich Rogers, 7) Edwin Thomason, 8) Dave Fachini, 9) Nick Reilly, 10) Brian Walsh, 11) Scott Morris, 12) Mark Dwyer, 13) Joe Walcott
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 Results (12 laps): 1) Al Relyea, 2) Jeff Meltz, Sr., 3) Jason Meltz, 4) Gary O’Brien, 5) Larry Perez, 6) Jeff Kreutziger, 7) Dave Stickles, 8) Jeff Meltz, Jr., 9) Ray Hall, Sr., 10) Chris Murphy, 11) Harold Robitaille. DNS: Mike Arnold
4-Cylinder Single-Cam Feature Results (10 laps): 1) Tim Meltz, 2) James Street, 3) Jethro Rossman, 4) Jim Williams, 5) Chris White, 6) Bradley Batho, 7) Victor Duncan, 8) Stephen Cameron, Jr., 9) Brandon Ely
4-Cylinder Dual-Cam Feature Results (10 laps): 1) P.J. Bleau, 2) Kenny Stager, 3) Chris Vandeputte, 4) Shawny Hazel, 5) Todd Goldstein, 6) Jared Powell, 7) Ammo Wright, 8) William Sass, Jr., 9) Philipp Gomm, 10) Jim Guertin, 11) Jonathan Taylor, 12) Chris Callabro, 13) Kelly Duncan