Saturday night was the final night of racing at Lebanon Valley for 2016. A number of championships were still up for grabs as fans and drivers were greeted with unusually warm and humid weather for the second weekend of September.
The Small Block Modified championship had already been decided last week as Kenny Tremont, Jr. clinched it, but there were still positions up for grabs. Brett Haas was all but locked into second. However, his race ended as soon as it began when the transmission, failed in the No. 55.
Bryan McGuire parlayed a heat race win into the pole for the feature. Early on, McGuire appeared to be pretty quick, but the time to make hay was very early. On the complete restart, Jason Herrington was able to take second from Chad Pierce. He then immediately put the pressure on McGuire and took little more than a lap to take the lead away.
Pierce held onto third and was running well until his No. 83 quit in turn 4, bringing out another yellow. On the restart, Olden Dwyer was able to get past McGuire for second and set off in search of Herrington. However, Herrington was able to run off and hide.
Further back, a number of drivers had issues. J.R. Heffner pulled off shortly after the restart with mechanical issues. Last week’s winner Chad Jeseo had torsion bar issues and was forced to retire.
Behind Herrington and Dwyer, the man on the move was Demetrios Drellos. Starting tenth, Drellos quickly made his way up the order to third. By lap 8, he had already run Dwyer for second. The two drivers ran side-by-side for a number of laps, but Drellos ended up being a victim of slight overheating. This forced him to drop back a little bit.
For Herrington, it had been a year since he’d been in position to win. In that race, he held the lead for much of the feature before losing it late to J.R. Heffner. Afterwards, Herrington was dejected. "That was my chance,” Herrington said at the time.
After that race, there was still one race to go in the season. However, that event was rained out, leaving Herrington unable to build on his second-place finish.
Unlike that last time, he was able to hold on to take a well-deserved victory. Afterwards, Herrington was very happy with his evening and took time to note his mother’s presence.
“My car was awesome tonight,” Herrington said in the pits. “Last year, J.R. [Heffner] got me. I wasn’t going to let that happen tonight.
“My mom, who hasn’t been to the races in a couple of years since her health wasn’t doing too well, she was
here tonight,” Herrington continued. “To be honest, I think my mom said a prayer and helped me win this thing.”
Olden Dwyer held on to finish second, followed by Drellos. With his overheating issue, Drellos nearly fell into the clutches of Tremont by the finish. Tremont’s fourth-place finish after starting 15th padded his championship margin. The final margin over Haas was 119 points. Brian Sandstedt was fifth.
In Sportsman, Points leader Jeff Watson lost 24 points of his lead on Sep. 3 due to a busted rocker arm that forced him to race on seven cylinders. He entered the night with a 16-point advantage on John Virgilio and only needed to keep him in sight to win. He did that and more, moving up from the ninth starting spot and quickly putting himself into the top 5.
The night was rather physical before the feature even started as three drivers failed to take the start. Christopher Delfino rolled his No. 99jr in his heat race after crashing with Dan Lyle. Neither answered the bell for the start. Frank Hoard, Jr. also suffered significant damage in his heat race and could not start the feature.
Cody Ochs started from the pole and opened up a good-sized gap on the field. Rob Maxon, who was very confident coming into the race, moved up to second early on. Whitey Slavin was just behind in his rented (for now) Bicknell in third.
It was a slow process, but Maxon was able to run down Ochs with six laps to go and got to the inside of him on the frontstretch. In turn 1, Maxon was able to make the pass. However, said pass was negated when Robby Knipe hit the wall in turn 3 to bring out the only caution of the race with five laps to go
On the restart, Maxon was able to take the lead from Ochs again in turn 1. This time, he was able to make it stick and pulled away. Meanwhile, Timothy Davis was able to get by Slavin for third and ran off in search of Ochs. With a lap and change to go, Timothy Davis was able to get by Ochs for second. However, Davis could not catch Maxon, who took the win on the track.
However, that was not the end of the Sportsman story. In post-race technical inspection, it was determined that the camshaft in Maxon’s engine was illegal. As a result, the technical staff disqualified Maxon. It is the second disqualification in a regular Sportsman feature due to a camshaft and the fourth overall (the King of