Once again, weather played a huge role at Lebanon Valley Saturday night. Unlike many other tracks, the weather held out long enough to allow racing to start. However, severe weather cut the night short three races short of completion. The Small Block Modified and 4-Cylinder Dual-Cam features, along with the Boomer’s Performance Purestock Clash will be made up at a later date.
Before the rains came, we had a Modified race to run. Olden Dwyer led the field to green with John Ruchel giving chase. Further back, the points contenders had to work their way forward. Kenny Tremont, Jr. failed to qualify for handicapping in his heat race and started 21st on the evening. Brett Hearn, coming off some back issues, started 12th and quickly moved towards the front.
Elmo Reckner had a tough night with braking issues and an engine skip. Catching the wall in turn 1 on lap 3 didn’t help his case either. He would recover and eventually finish 12th. J.R. Heffner, on the other hand, slowed with mechanical issues on lap 8 and was credited with 21st.
Hearn continued to charge towards the front. By lap 5, he was sixth. Just a couple of laps later, he was fourth. On lap 10, he took third away from Kyle Armstrong.
A couple of laps later, Hearn caught the lead duo of Dwyer and Matt Pupello. It did not take long for Hearn to find a way around Pupello, but Dwyer made him fight for the lead. Finally, Hearn took the lead on lap 15.
A couple of laps later, Rob Pitcher blew a right rear tire and brought out a yellow, bunching the field back up. Dwyer was forced to retire here due to a mechanical issue. That brought Pupello back to second, but he was quickly passed on the restart by Eddie Marshall.
Marshall could hang with Hearn for a couple of laps, but would drop back afterwards. He was still fast enough to pull away from the rest of the pack, though.
Pupello was running fifth when he hit the wall on the final lap to bring out one more caution. On the one lap dash, Hearn held on to take his fifth win of the year. He now has a 31-point lead with three features remaining.
Marshall was a season-best second, while Andy Bachetti moved up to third on the final lap. Armstrong was fourth, followed by Keith Flach.
In Pro Stock, 26 cars took the green with a surprising Jeff Kelmel on the pole. However, Kelmel and his lack of downforce was overwhelmed on the start by Rich Crane, running an entry with a crate motor as a teammate to Jon Routhier. Crane led confidently in what was his best run to date in the second Routhier car.
Victor Hopkins quickly moved up to second from the fifth starting spot and stalked Crane for much of the race. However, he could not do much with the blue Chevrolet. Meanwhile, points leaders Jay Corbin and Rob Yetman were moving up the order from their ninth and 12th-place starting spots respectively.
The caution flew on lap 14 when Joe LaFlamme and Steven LaRochelle collided and crashed in turn 1. Both drivers were ok and were able to continue, but by this point, the thunder and lightning was beginning to make its presence known off in the distance.
On the restart, Corbin was able to get past Hopkins for second. It did not take long for Corbin to put the pressure on Crane for the lead. Coming to two laps to go, Corbin got a run exiting turn 2 and got past for the lead.
Crane was still in position for a good finish when contact was made between himself and Chuck Towslee in turn 2. Crane spun out while Towslee hit the wall and brought out another caution. Emotions were very high after this crash, but cooler heads soon prevailed. Crane would eventually finish a disappointing 13th, while Towslee was 16th.
On the restart, Corbin was able to pull away from the pack to take the win. However, with the weather moving in, he couldn’t enjoy it much. Hopkins was second, followed by Yetman. Nick Hilt, Jr. was fourth, followed by Routhier.
In Pure Stock, feature No. 1 saw a stack-up on the start behind pole sitter Wuggie Burdick. Shawn Perez, in an attempt to escape the backup, got out of line and made a couple of illegal passes. This was penalized later on.
Phil Sherman, who started sixth, saw a hole and went for it on the first lap, moving up all the way to the lead by turn 3. From there, he drove away from the pack to pick up his third win of the season. Bob Palmer was second, followed by Shawn Perez. However, since Shawn Perez jumped the start, he was penalized two positions. That gave third to Scott Morris, followed by Chris Streeter and Shawn Perez.
Feature No. 2 saw Karen Verhagen start from the pole in her No. 9s. Howevewr, Verhagen was overtaken for the lead on the first lap by Tim Thompson. Thompson's lead was short-lived as he spun exiting turn 4. No yellow was thrown, but that allowed John Devine to take over the advantage.
Ed Hatch, who won last week in his first race back with a Monte Carlo, followed Devine past into second. It did not take long for the veteran racer to put the moves on Devine and take the lead. Shortly afterwards, Ray Royals stopped in turn 2 to bring out a yellow.
On the restart, chaos broke out on the frontstretch. Contact led to Verhagen and Bill Deak, Sr. spinning. Thompson and Kevin Paul had nowhere to go but into the crash. Verhagen and Paul were finished for the day, while Thompson and Deak were able to contintue.
Once the green came back out, Hatch was able to maintain a small gap and took his second win in a row. Devine was second, followed by Clifford Booth, Nick Reilly and Deak.
Feature No. 3 saw Dan Cote start on the pole and hold off Mike Arnold at the start. For Arnold, his chances at a good finish ended early when he collided with Dom Denue in turn 2. Arnold would end up finishing 12th, but Denue was done for the day.
Jay Casey was able to get past Cote for the lead on lap 2 and brought Jeff Meltz, Sr. with him. Casey was running well until he spun in turn 4 on the next lap on his own. That allowed Jeff Meltz, Sr. to take the lead. Casey recovered quickly enough that no caution was thrown. He would eventually finish eighth.
In the closing laps, Al Relyea ran down Jeff Meltz, Sr. and clearly had the faster car. However, Jeff Meltz, Sr. proceeded to pin Relyea to the inside, which kept him from being able to get a good run. That was good enough to allow Jeff Meltz, Sr. to hold on for his third win of the year.
Behind Jeff Meltz, Sr. and Relyea was Gary O'Brien in third. Jason Meltz was fourth, while Larry Perez was fifth.
The 4-Cylinder Single-Cam feature saw Bradley Batho start from the pole, but he was quickly overtaken for the lead by points leader Tim Meltz. Shortly afterward, Luke Williams spun and hit the wall in turn 4 after contact from John Sheppard. Luke Williams was ok, but done for the night.
Tim Meltz led after the restart until his Honda Prelude suddenly slowed, allowing Jethro Rossman to take the lead on lap 4. Jim Williams (Luke's father) followed past into second while Tim Me