The final night of the racing season at Lebanon Valley Speedway saw some great racing action, but also an incredible amount of feistiness. Drivers wanted to get all they could before the curtain came down.
By virtue of the redraw, Demetrios Drellos scored the pole for the 35-lap King of Dirt Small Block Modified feature. Once the green came out, Drellos used short-run speed to open up a gap on Brett Haas. Within a few laps, Haas began to turn the tables.
When Drellos reached the rear of the field, he could not get past the slower car of Randy Shantel. That allowed Haas to sweep past on the outside to take the lead on lap 13.
Shortly afterwards, Shantel spun out and brought out the first yellow of the race. That allowed favorites Kenny Tremont Jr. and J.R. Heffner, who started in row No. 6, into the fray.
On the restart, Tremont took third from Jason Herrington and set out to run down Haas and Drellos. The veteran racer and the Queensbury upstart spent lap after lap side-by-side in a pleasing duel for those in attendance. Despite battling for lap after lap, Tremont’s speed was not enough to get past Drellos.
With seven laps to go, Haas ran up on Bryan McGuire and had trouble getting past. Haas attempted to pass on the inside, but McGuire wanted the inside line for himself. Contact was made and McGuire spun, bringing out a yellow. At the same time, Drellos cut a left front tire and was forced to pit, moving Tremont up to second. Drellos would resume and eventually finish 13th.
Tremont’s strength on Saturday night was his restarts. It took only turns 1 and 2 for Tremont to get past Haas and take the lead. Heffner followed into second.
With just a couple of laps to go, the yellow flew due to a crash in turn 2 involving Brandon Pitcher and Jessey Mueller. Pitcher was done for the night, but Mueller continued and finished 11th.
On the restart, contact entering turn 1 resulted in the cars of Brian Sandstedt, Chad Pierce, Brian Peterson and Jack Lehner crashing into the wall and drawing another caution. All four drivers were ok, but only Pierce was able to continue.
On the final restart, Heffner got a terrible start, allowing Tremont to pull away and take a clear victory. He also took the spoils as Lebanon Valley’s Small Block Modified champion for the third straight year. It is Tremont’s 17th overall championship on the high banks.
Afterwards, Tremont was very pleased.
“I’m not sure how things would have gone if we didn’t have [the lap 29] restart,” Tremont said. “Thankfully, [the caution] grouped everyone back up. We were able to get after it then. [The car] would take right off.”
On the restart, Herrington was able to move up to second, but Haas got past him on the final lap for to take the runner-up position. Heffner had to settle for fourth, while Allison Ricci finished in a strong fifth.
In Sportsman, Michael Sabia simply had to finish sixth or better to claim the championship. For much of the race, that looked like it was going to happen.
Lem Atkins started on pole, but quickly lost the advantage to Cody Ochs, who had dominated his heat race earlier in the evening.
Pro Stock veteran Jon Routhier made a rare Sportsman start in a car normally campaigned by Chris Curtis. However, Routhier’s appearance did not last long as he got wrapped up in a crash with Mike Gramolini, Carmon Carnibucci and Gerard LeClair.
On lap 12, the whole season got turned upside down. Rob Maxon was able to run down Ochs and take the lead. Ochs, trying to get the lead back, dove hard to Maxon’s inside in turn 3. Contact was made and Maxon spun in front of the field. Everyone scattered and one driver made contact with Maxon. That driver was Sabia, who was running fifth and was on the move. Sabia would finish a lap down in 14th.
Ochs was sent to the rear for causing the crash. As a result, John Virgilio assumed the lead with Atkins back up to second and Whitey Slavin, who entered the night 16 points behind Sabia, in third.
From here, Virgilio was able to pull away from the pack to take the win on-track. However, Virgilio’s No. 14 came up underweight at the scales. As a result, he was disqualified and Atkins claimed his first win in quite a few years.
Slavin finished and unofficially claimed the Sportsman title. However, his engine was protested. The title will not be official until the engine is independently inspected, which has not happened as of press time.
Nikki Ouellette finished third, followed by Frank Hoard Jr. Chris Lynch was fifth.
Part-time racer Chad Arsenault predicted ahead of time that Pure Stock Feature No. 1 would be a wild and woolly affair with lots of action and the Murphys on top. He was partially correct.
Karen Verhagen started from the pole, but immediately came under pressure from Adam Schneider. Schenider was able to get past entering turn 3, but contact resulted in Schneider spinning out and collecting Tom Murphy. The initial contact cut Verhagen's left front tire and allowed Jesse Murphy to take the lead.
The man on the move was Al Relyea in his orange and black No. 14. Starting 10th, Relyea avoided