At Lebanon Valley Saturday, there was no rain in the forecast. That was great news as a number of invading teams were on-site at the track to take part in the Battle on the Banks. Fans at the track were treated to five classes of excellent racing.
In the Modifieds, Brian Berger earned the pole by virtue of winning his heat race. On the start, he was able to outdistance Guy Sheldon to turn 1 and opened up a small gap. Matt Pupello was able to follow past into second.
With his recent troubles, Brett Hearn started in sixth. On the start, Hearn was able to get up to fourth but could not get past Rob Pitcher, much like on Jul. 23.
Pupello was able to maintain second until he got into the wall in turn 2 on lap 11. That brought out the race’s only caution and closed the field back up. Pupello was able to continue and finished 16th.
On the restart, Berger pulled out to a decent lead while Hearn was able to get past Pitcher for second. Unfortunately, Pitcher was unable to take advantage of his good car as he slowed on lap 19 and had to settle for a 21st-place finish.
Hearn was able to run down Berger in the final laps and seemed to be faster on the outside of turns 1 and 2. The two drivers were side-by-side for the lead at the white flag, but Berger was able to get a better run off the corner and hold off the points leader to take his first win of the year.
Berger was quite surprised afterwards. “I have to admit, with [Hearn] starting so close, I didn’t think I was going to be able to hold him off,” Berger said. “With five to go, I started to believe I could do it. With two to go, [Hearn] hit me, so I knew he was there. I did everything I could to keep him behind me and we did it.”
Behind Berger and Hearn was Keith Flach in third. Tyler Dippel, fresh from a seventh-place finish at Watkins Glen in the Bully Hill Vineyards 100 Friday, finished fourth, while Andy Bachetti was fifth.
In the Small Block Modifieds, Brett Hearn started from the pole in the third and final week of his evaluation of Scott Hamlin’s small block modified. On this night, Hearn liked what he felt.
On the start, Hearn literally drove off into the sunset. Ricky Davis, who showed improved pace thanks to a new fuel pump, was able to get past Chad Pierce on the start to take second and ran his own race.
Further back, Kenny Tremont, Jr. slowly moved up the order from the seventh starting spot. By lap 16, Tremont was fourth and running down Pierce and Davis.
By the end of the race, Tremont had the fastest car on track. He was able to get past Davis for second with a little more than two laps to go, but he could do nothing with Hearn as he took the win.
Behind Hearn and Tremont was Davis in third.
After the race, Davis stated that he was faster than Hearn for a couple of laps, then Hearn would pull away. Regardless, he was very happy with his run.
Pierce finished fourth, while Tyler Dippel was fifth. J.R. Heffner had engine problems during the evening and was unable to race in the feature.
For the King of Dirt Sportsman Series, a 30-lap race at Lebanon Valley can be arduous. This arduous race had trouble getting started. Nick Anatriello, who started 13th, smacked the wall in turn 2 on the first lap to bring out a yellow.
Shortly after the restart, Rob Maxon spun in turn 3 to bring out another yellow. Then, Nikki Ouellette hit the wall on the frontstretch and got on her side to bring out a third caution.
Through these incidents, pole sitter Kevin Ward kept himself ensconced in the lead. Jeff Watson rose from the third row to be his primary challenger, while Whitey Slavin tagged along in third. These three drivers broke away from the rest of the pack to decide things among themselves.
Watson tried multiple times to get to the inside on the final 24 lap green-flag run to the finish. Ward was able
to take advantage of the preferred outside line to hold off Watson’s charges to take his first Sportsman win of the year.
Behind Ward and Watson was Whitey Slavin in third. John Virgilio finished fourth, while Adam Pierson was the best non-Lebanon Valley regular in fifth.
King of Dirt Sportsman points leader Connor Cleveland struggled at times on Saturday, finishing eighth in his heat race and starting the feature in 23rd. In the race, Cleveland took advantage of trouble for some of those ahead of him to finished 14th.
Pro Stock saw Joe LaFlamme start from the pole and hold off Ray Hall, Jr. early. On the second lap, Rich Colasanti and Steven LaRochelle each spun to bring out the yellow.
On the restart, Rick Dempsey, who started third, was able to get by LaFlamme for the lead. Shortly after Dempsey converted the past, Rob Yetman spun on the frontstretch to bring out another yellow.
After another yellow for a spin by Bob Camilli, Dempsey opened up a huge gap on the pack. Ray Hall, Jr. was second and holding the pack back. A late caution for a Chuck Towslee brought the pack back together, but no one could do anything with Dempsey as he picked up his first win of the year.
For Dempsey, the win was quite the relief. “[The car] was good, but you always worry,” Dempsey said in the pits. “You’re out there leading, don’t know who’s around you. You think a tire’s going to go down or the ignition’s going to pop. Everything kept going and going. I was able to keep my foot right in it.”
Ray Hall, Jr. held on for second, followed by Rick Duzlak in third. Jon Routhier and Jay Corbin were fourth and fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Karen Verhagen started from the pole, but it did not take long for the returning Ed Hatch to grab the lead away. Hatch executed a trade in order to get back into a Monte Carlo after starting the season in a Camaro.
Shawn Perez spun out in turn 4 to bring out an early yellow to keep the field bunched up. Despite that, Hatch was able to pull away once again. In the closing laps, Hatch had to deal with Dave Stickles, but he held off the “Double Nickels” to take the win.
Behind Hatch and Stickles was Clifford Booth in third with his yellow and purple Monte Carlo. Ray Royals was fourth, while Joe Walcott was fifth.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 saw Dan Cote start from the pole and immediately have to fight off Tim Thompson for the lead early on. Kevin Paul was quick early on, but he pounded the wall in turn 2 on lap 2. The contact did not bring out a caution, but did damage Paul’s No. 94.
Throughout the race, Chris Streeter was charging up the order from the tenth starting spot. It took all the way to the final lap for him to run down Cote. There, Street