After two consecutive rainouts, the action finally returned to Lebanon Valley Speedway on Saturday night. Teams had to deal with a racing surface that promoted track position.
In the Modified feature, Kyle Sheldon drew the pole and led from the start. However, the first lap saw issues in turn 3. Kyle Hoffman went hard into the wall in turn 3 to bring out a yellow. Kenny Tremont Jr. slowed to avoid the wreck and was hit from behind by Mike Keeler. Kyle Hoffman, Tremont and Keeler all ultimately dropped out.
Once the green came back out, Sheldon and Kolby Schroder opened up a big gap on the field and proceeded to fight it out amongst themselves. Brian Berger was also quite quick in third. Further back, it was a slow slog up through the field for points leader Brett Hearn and J.R. Heffner. Progress was difficult.
Keith Flach started in 10th and quickly moved up the order. By lap 7, he was fourth and trying to put pressure on Berger. Berger was able to hold off the Ravena native into the second half of the feature before Flach was able to take third.
The second and final yellow flew with 10 laps to go when Matt Pupello stopped on the inside of turn 1. On the shootout, Sheldon was able to open up a small gap and that was enough for the Nassau native to take his first win of 2017.
Afterwards, Sheldon was very happy.
“Going into the feature...we had mixed emotions," Sheldon said “We weren't really sure what we had, but we did everything we could to make [the car] the best we could, and we came out on top.”
Flach was able to get past Schroder with a lap and a half to go to take second. Hearn ended up fourth while Berger was fifth.
The Small Block Modified feature was nothing short of a duel between Peter Carlotto and Alan Houghtaling. Once the green fell, the two front-row starters ran away from the field.
Further back, Kenny Tremont Jr., Brett Haas and J.R. Heffner struggled to move forward. Once they were able to get into a general flow, the gains came. Haas led the way through the field, moving up into sixth by halfway. Tremont was close behind Haas, but Heffner had even more trouble advancing.
With a clean race, Carlotto and Houghtaling went back and forth. Houghtaling would try to get to Carlotto’s inside, but he could never quite get alongside. Housatonic, Mass.’ Carlotto was able to hold on for the victory, his first in quite a while.
Carlotto was overjoyed with his win.
"I wanted to win one [of these races] so bad. I didn't think we were going to be able to get here," Carlotto said in Victory Lane. "I just wanted to get a top five. Gotta hand it to Greg Bachetti. He keeps us motivated when we're down."
Houghtaling was a close second, followed by Frank Harper. Haas was able to get up to fourth and gain a little on Tremont in fifth.
The King of Dirt Sportsman Series made their first visit of the year to Lebanon Valley Saturday night. Chris Lynch led a 32-car field to the green and was able to hold off John Virgilio.
Early on, the large field traversed the high banks without any issues. However, the middle section of the race saw some trouble. First, Kevin Ward spun exiting turn 4 in front of a chunk of the field. David Schilling could not avoid Ward’s No. 98 and plowed into Ward. Nikki Ouellette and Chris Kokosa were also involved.
Shortly after the restart, Milton Mann spun on the frontstretch and hit the wall, collecting Ouellette and Mike Barrett. Later on, Matt Burke hit the wall in turn 4 to bring out another yellow.
Defending Lebanon Valley Sportsman champion Jeff Watson came to play. Starting sixth, Watson slowly progressed up the pack. After the Mann crash, Watson was able to get past Virgilio for second. At the same time, Lynch’s carburetor was starting to act up. That gave all the extra oomph that Watson needed to take the lead.
From the final restart, Watson was able to pull away from the pack and hold off a hard-charging Michael Sabia to take the win.
Afterwards, Watson explained that starting position was paramount.
"The key tonight was to start ahead of Sabia," Watson said. "Sabia was very, very fast. Luckily, we started in front of him and got to the lead before he could.
"Whoever gets to the lead in [these races] first usually wins. We were able to get Virgilio on a restart. We got the outside line and got the restart of the century to tuck in behind Chris Lynch."
Sabia was happy after the race, but disappointed with second as he was so close to paydirt. Lynch ended up in a strong third for the small operation. Afterwards, Lynch put his run into context.
"You're racing against two guys [Watson and Sabia] with brand new stuff," Lynch explained. We're racing a car that's six years old. After 15 years of racing there, tonight was our second or third pole that we've ever had. I'm happy for the team, but you want to win those ones."
Virgilio finished fourth, while Rob Maxon was fifth. Rocky Warner was sixth, followed by Whitey Slavin, Scott Duell, Chris Curtis and Frank Hoard Jr. King of Dirt Sportsman points leader Chad Edwards finished 16th and lost the points lead to Warner.
In Pro Stock, there were a number of incidents. The first lap saw Jay Corbin, Chuck Towslee and Steven
LaRochelle crash in turn 3. After a spin by Don Collins brought out a second yellow, a big pile-up broke out in turn 2 as pole sitter Tom Dean lost control and spun in front of the field. Nearly a dozen cars were damaged as there was simply nowhere to go.
Jon Routhier was able to snatch the lead from Dean just before the wreck occurred. Jason Meltz inherited second and tried to run down the Connecticut-based veteran. He could only just keep pace with the No. 315 as Routhier pulled away to claim victory.
Behind Routhier and Meltz was Ed Bishop in a season-best third. Rob Yetman finished fourth despite damage in the Big One. Rick Dempsey was fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Karen Verhagen started from the pole, but ran into trouble early. Brian Walsh took the lead away on the first lap, then Verhagen spun in turn 4. A wheel detached from the No. 9s and bounced down the track. Both Brian VanDenburg and debutant Luke Van Allen ran over the wheel. The incident ended the races of all three drivers.