Wild Action was Scary, Exciting, and Emotional All Wrapped Up in One Night at the Valley
To sum up what went down at the Valley of Speed this past Saturday, the phrase Roller Coaster could easily be applied. A roller coaster of emotions from victory, for Tremont as he doubled down in the Small Block Modifieds and Daniel Sanchez scoring a thriller at the line for the win in the King of Dirt Pro Stocks. And the emotions of fear, as hard crashes were the theme of the night, including a frightening moment for Kyle Hoffman in the Big Block Modifieds.
The end of the year always spikes everyone’s emotions. As the racing season winds down, each driver digs and scratches for each and every point available toward their season total to crown the point championships just right around the corner.
The 30 lap modified feature had a couple of bizarre and scary moments at the beginning. At the drop of the green, John Ruchel brought the field to speed, but by the time they go to the backstretch, the #74 of J.R. Heffner lost control and spun by himself to bring out the first caution. On the next restart, the #17 of Rob Pitcher dove under Ruchel for the lead making slight contact with Ruchel, causing the #7 to spin in front of the field.
What looked like the ‘Big One’ at Talladega or Daytona, multiple cars wrecked clogging the speedway. Kyle Hoffman’s #16 took the worst of it as he flipped multiple times down the backstretch coming to rest just past the old back gate entrance. The Red flag flew so safety workers could attend to Hoffman and others invlolved. Thankfully, Hoffman did emerge from his ride under his own power, but later went to a local hospital for further evaluation.
When the cleanup was completed, several contenders suffered damage, including Ken Tremont Jr, Eddie Marshall , Kyle Armstrong among others but were able to continue. Ruchel, Hoffman, Wayne Jelley and Steve Hough all retired from the event.
Once the green flew again, those up front who made it through started to pull away. Pitcher was in control, but Andy Bachetti charged to the front to much as much room as possible between him and the #20 of Brett Hearn. However, caution flew again a few laps later as the Reckner had stopped on the backstretch.
Under the caution, Hearn took his car down pit road as apparent contact with the #1 of Tyler Dippel cause significant suspension issues under the #20, causing him to retire form the event as well. And in the point race, this was huge for the rest of the field, including the #115 of Tremont.
Hearn’s 43 point lead was slashed down to single digits by the end as Tremont charged his damaged ride to a runner up position in the closing laps, but was not going to get anywhere close to Bachetti.
At the checkers, Andy Bachetti scored his 4th win of the season. Tremont was 2nd, followed by a great run for the #60 of Brian Berger. J.R. Heffner battled back from his early incident to finish 4th, and early leader Pitcher held on to round out the top 5. With just 1 week left in the Modifieds Points Chase, September 3rd’s race should be a showdown like we have yet to see between Hear, Tremont and Keith Flach!
In the Small Block Modifieds, a special night of double features due to the rain out from August 13th had a full field of racers ready to take on current point leader Ken Tremont Jr. But for Tremont, it was a chance to solidify his point totals for the season to lock up the title. And as the first 24 lap feature went green to checkers, Tremont did just that by charging from deep in the field and scoring the win going away.
In the second feature, it was much of the same, as the #12 of Brian Sandstedt and the #111 of Demetrios Drellos battled up front, Tremont sat in 3rd waiting for an opportunity. That came with about 10 to go as the leaders made contact with each causing both Sandstedt and Drellos to suffer flat rear tires, giving Tremont the opportunity he was looking for. At the checkers, Tremont scores the double to extend his points lead with just 2 weeks left.
In the Pro Stocks, a special King of Dirt Season Finally promoted by Rob Hazer, was on tap with double billing as the Jimmy Langenback Memorial. And for this division, that was a combined $1,000 on the line for the win between the KOD Series and money donated by friends and team sponsors of the late Jimmy Langenback! 27 cars took the green, but with that kind of money on the line, everyone was antsy to get to the front.
As patience’s worn thin, cautions flew early and often. Minor incidents early caused 9 cautions in 7 laps. Race officials went to a single file restart to try and spread the field to success. Out front was Paul LaRochelle with Daniel Sanchez, Jon Routhier, and Jay Corbin in tow all battling bumper to bumper and door to door for the entire 30 lap event.
The excitement was ramping up as Corbin got by Sanchez for 2nd and began dogging the #78 of LaRochelle for the lead. With 3 to go, Corbin tried a slide job in turn 3 under the LaRochelle, nearly clearing him, but made slight contact causing both meet the boiler plate in turn 4. Corbin was able to continue, but the #78 retired from the event.
Sanchez benefitted from the contact as he slipped by both to take over the lead before the caution came out. At the restart, Corbin restarted 2, and charged to get to the #463 under the green-white-checkers showdown.
Rounding 4th, the two battled hard for the win, with contact between them slowing the #8’s momentum, but the #463 rubbing the outside wall, it came down to the wire with Sanchez squeezing out the win by inches, in fine Langenback fashion!
Corbin had to settle for 2nd followed by Jon Routhier, Jason Casey, and Steven LaRochelle to round out the top 5 running order.