Rob Pitcher Claims JC Flach Memorial, First Win Since 2012

June 3, 2017

 

 

On Saturday night, Lebanon Valley Speedway hosted the fifth annual J.C. Flach Memorial, run in honor of J.C. Flach, a former full-time Modified racer who died in an unfortunate accident at his house in 2012.  Flach was remembered with a proper celebration capped off by the release of balloons.

 

Rob Pitcher started from the pole and staked out to a small lead.  Kyle Sheldon was able to get past Denny Soltis for second and began to stalk Pitcher.

 

Unfortunately for Soltis, his night ended early.  On lap 5, Soltis collided with Matt Pupello entering turn 1.  Both cars spun and hit the wall.  Chad Jeseo was also collected.  All three drivers were done for the night.

Once the race restarted, Pitcher opened up a decent advantage on the pack.  Meanwhile, Olden Dwyer and Kyle Armstrong were fighting for third.  J.R. Heffner and Kenny Tremont Jr. were mired back in traffic and could not make much in the way of inroads.

 

Despite damage from the lap 5 crash, Hearn continued moving forward.  By lap 11, he was ninth after starting 15th.  Seven laps later, he was seventh, making steady progress.

 

At the front, Sheldon began to track down Pitcher in the final few laps.  It appeared that Sheldon was faster, but he couldn’t quite reach Pitcher.  The Chatham-based racer held on to take his first win in five years.

Pitcher was pleased with his night, but would have preferred that J.C. Flach were still out there racing with him.

 

“Tonight’s win has been a long time coming,” Pitcher said in Victory Lane.  “We think about J.C. all the time when we’re out here.  He’s really missed.”

 

Sheldon was second, followed by Kolby Schroder.  Hearn ended up in fourth, followed by Brian Berger.

In Small Block Modifieds, Alan Houghtaling took the lead from pole sitter Sean Mandel on the first lap.  Once in the lead, Houghtaling was able to open up a gap over the rest of the pack.

 

 

Meanwhile, Tremont was coming up through the field quickly.  He was already up to fourth from 13th on lap 6.  Aside from Tremont, the man on the move was Brett Haas.  Haas cut a tire on the last lap of his heat race and was forced to start 18th as a result.  Once the green dropped, Haas quickly moved up the order as well. 

 

A couple of cautions due to spins by Brandon Pitcher helped keep the field close by.

The race was red flagged on lap 9 due to a big crash on the backstretch involving pole sitter Sean Mandel, Bryan McGuire and J.R. Heffner.  McGuire's No. 6 ended up getting upside down.  Everyone was ok, but only J.R. Heffner was able to continue was repairs in the pits

Ray Hall Jr. was very strong on Saturday night, but the cautions did not fall right for him.  He was in position to make moves on Houghtaling for the lead twice only to have cautions come out and wipe it away. 

 

On lap 11, Hall finally took the lead from Houghtaling.  Unfortunately for Hall, Tremont was hot on his heels by that point.  It did not take for Tremont to take the lead.

Houghtaling’s great night ended with a crash in turn 2 on lap 19, setting up a five-lap sprint for the checkers.  Tremont simply pulled away on the restart to take the win.

 

Hall finished second while Brett Haas was third.  Afterwards, Haas noted that the slick track played to his advantage.  Heffner recovered from his spin to finish fourth, while Frank Harper was fifth.

The Pro Stock feature was marred by a first-lap crash.  Contact was made exiting turn 4 that sent Nick Hilt into the wall.  Hilt then spun across the track and created a melee.  At least a dozen cars were collected, including such notables as Rob Yetman, Jay Corbin and Jon Routhier.  Rick Duzlak explained after the race that he couldn’t see anything and had nowhere to go.

 

Following a long red flag, Rich Crane was able to get past pole sitter Dan Cote for the lead.  Steven

 

LaRochelle was able to follow past.  The younger of the Dalton, Mass.-based father-son duo spent much of the race pressuring Crane.

 

Rick Dempsey also made it through the crash, but later spun out and hit the wall in turn 3 to bring out another caution.  While Dempsey was ok, the crash ended his night.

 

Behind the two leaders, Yetman was making his move back towards the front despite his car looking decidedly secondhand after the big crash.  By halfway, he was back up to seventh and still charging.  A caution due to a minor spin by Dan Cote brought the field back up together.

LaRochelle thought that he was a little stronger than Crane in places, but could not get by. Steven described the duel after the race as a back-and-forth battle.  Despite being able to stick his nose to the inside on a couple of times, LaRochelle was never able to make anything stick as Crane won his first feature of the year.

 

Afterwards, Crane was quite pleased with his evening and his duel with LaRochelle.

"I knew Steven [LaRochelle] was fast tonight.  Saw his times in the heat race, so I knew he was knocking on my door.  The tires came in halfway through the race, but then the brakes started fading about that time as well.  It was still really