Near-perfect conditions for racing greeted competitors on Saturday night at Lebanon Valley. The result was a rather rough-and-tumble night on the high banks. However, that wasn’t necessarily so in every feature.
Kyle Armstrong has struggled with flat tires recently. The issues have plagued his season to the point that he ended up with the pole for the Modified feature. He took advantage of his good fortune.
Armstrong was able to open up a decent gap over the rest of the field. Andy Bachetti was able to quickly pass Rob Pitcher for second but could not keep pace with Armstrong. Further back, Brett Hearn was having some trouble moving forward from the 15th starting spot. While he eventually finished seventh, he would not be a factor on this evening.
As the race wound on, the brakes on Armstrong’s No. 11a began to fade. That allowed Bachetti to close the gap. Behind the two leaders, Pitcher and Brian Berger were fighting hard for third. The battle eventually went to Berger, but only because Pitcher was forced to retire due to a mechanical issue.
In the closing laps, Bachetti and Berger closed right up on Armstrong. Bachetti looked to the inside of the New Milford, Conn.-native multiple times, but simply could not get past as Armstrong held on for the win.
“Our car was really, really good tonight,” Armstrong said afterwards. “I was trying to take it easy [after the brakes started to fade], but then Andy [Bachetti] got to us. I knew it was time to pick the pace back up.”
Bachetti was second, followed by Berger. Kyle Sheldon finished fourth while Kolby Schroder was fifth.
In the Small Block Modifieds, Alan Houghtaling started from the pole and battled early on with Dillon Steuer. After fending off the teenager from Long Island, Houghtaling was able to extend his advantage. Meanwhile, Kenny Tremont Jr. and J.R. Heffner were making their moves further back in the pack.
A caution on lap 15 when Nathan Johnson spun brought everyone back together. Steuer ended up in a fierce battle for second with Frank Harper. The two battled side-by-side until Harper ended up hitting the wall in turn 3. Chad Pierce, who was fourth at the time, spun to avoid Harper. He was collected by Brett Haas.
On the restart, Tremont was able to get past Steuer for second and quickly ran down Houghtaling. With less than five laps to go, Tremont went for the lead on Houghtaling and made it stick. From there, Tremont pulled away to take his 30th career Small Block win at the Valley.
Heffner ended up second, followed by Steuer in a career-best third. Harper and Houghtaling rounded out the top five.
The Sportsman class saw Houghtaling lead once again from the pole, this time with Nikki Ouellette giving chase. The Poughkeepsie native was able to pull away until a caution flew on lap 4 when Harold Robtaille and Scott McCoy collided and spun exiting turn 4.
That allowed Chris Lynch to catch up to the leaders. That was bad news for the rest of the field
Lynch quickly dispatched of Ouellette for second, then took the lead away from Houghtaling on lap 6. From there, he was gone. Having only won twice before, Lynch explained that he didn’t want to take any chances, so he kept his foot planted.
Regardless, Lynch ran away from the field to take a very satisfying victory. Afterwards, he gave credit to his team.
"After the heat race, I wasn't too confident," Lynch said. "We threw the kitchen sink at it. Unlike a lot of times when you throw a bunch of things at [the car], this time, it stuck. It was arguably the best car I've ever had here."
Whitey Slavin finished second, followed by Ted Teal. John Virgilio was fourth, followed by Ouellette.
Pro Stock teams competed in the Bubba Tanner Classic Saturday. A special 23-lap distance (based on the number Tanner ran) was in place. The action lasted for far more than that.
Joe LaFlamme started from the pole and ran well early on. Behind him, the wrecking started. First, Rich Colasanti and Brian Keough spun in turn 3. Just after the restart, a crash broke out on the backstretch that eliminated Scott Kilmer while damaging the cars of Nick Hilt and Steven LaRochelle.
Another crash in turn 1 damaged LaRochelle’s No. 178 for a second time, along with Dave Stickles. While LaRochelle pitted and had his nose ripped off, Stickles was done for the evening.
Through that, LaFlamme held onto the lead. On the restart, Frank Twing was able to stick his nose to the inside and take it away. Not too far behind was Rob Yetman, who had started 15th and avoided all of the chaos.
After another yellow, Yetman was in second, right on Twing’s tail. It didn’t take long for Yetman to get to the inside and take the lead exiting turn 4 on lap 16. From there, Yetman pulled away to take the win.
Jason Casey finished second, followed by Nick Arnold. Jon Routhier was fourth, while Rick Dempsey recovered from an early spin to take fifth.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Karen Verhagen started from the pole, but chaos reigned behind her. In Turn 2 on the first lap, Adam Schneider was hit from behind and spun, collecting Shawn Perez and Greg DeCamp. DeCamp and Perez were ultimately done for the night.
On the restart, Keri VanDenburg took the advantage away from Verhagen just as Evan Denue and Craig Coons squeezed each other into the wall in Turn 4 to bring out another caution.
Following another spin, Mark Dwyer and Brian Walsh collided in turn 1 to bring out another yellow. This incident wrapped up Verhagen as well.
The "Reading Rocket" Scott Morris was able to avoid these incidents and put himself in position to pounce. On lap 3, he was able to get the lead away from VanDenburg. From there, Morris was able to hold on to take his first win of the year. Kevin Paul was second, followed by VanDenburg, Clifford Booth and Jake Gomm.
In contrast to Pure Stock Feature No. 1, the second Pure Stock Feature was much cleaner. Chris Murphy started his purple and silver No. 011 on the pole, but Dom Denue was able to put the moves on him to take the lead on the first lap.
Further back, there was the requisite bumping and banging and close racing. That led to Zach Sorrentino spinning in turn 4 to bring out the first yellow. Later on, Murphy spun in turn 4 and was hit by Jeff Kreutziger to bring out another yellow.
Through these incidents, Dom Denue continued to lead, but Zach Seyerlein hunted him down late in the race. In the closing laps, Seyerlein took his orange No. 33 to the inside, but he could not get fully alongside.
Dom Denue was able to hold on to take a strong victory. Seyerlein was second, followed by John Devine, Ed Hatch and Chad Arsenault.
Scott Morris and Dom Denue earned victories.
Alarms of Berkshire County/DMC Racing Products Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Kyle Armstrong, 2) Andy Bachetti, 3) Brian Berger, 4) Kyle Sheldon, 5) Kolby Schroder, 6) Keith Flach, 7) Brett Hearn, 8) Eddie Marshall, 9) Ronnie Johnson, 10) Kenny Tremont Jr., 11) Elmo Reckner, 12) Steve Hough, 13) J.R. Heffner, 14) Wayne Jelley, 15) Mike King, 16) Chad Jeseo, 17) Rob Pitcher, 18) L.J. Lombardo, 19) John Ruchel, 20) Denny Soltis, 21) Dave McFeeters, 22) Mike Keeler, 23) Olden Dwyer, 24) Josh Marcus, 25) Paul Gilardi
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Kenny Tremont Jr., 2) J.R. Heffner, 3) Dillon Steuer, 4) Frank Harper, 5) Alan Houghtaling, 6) Steve Hough, 7) Timothy Davis, 8) Andy Bachetti, 9) Brian Sandstedt, 10) Brandon Pitcher, 11) Jason Herrington, 12) Frank Hoard, III, 13) Nathan Johnson, 14) Chad Pierce, 15) Brett Haas, 16) Olden Dwyer, 17) Kim LaVoy
Sportsman Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Chris Lynch, 2) Whitey Slavin, 3) Ted Teal, 4) John Virgilio, 5) Nikki Ouellette, 6) Cody Ochs, 7) Rob Maxon, 8) Vinnie Visconti, 9) Peter Carlotto, 10) Chris Curtis, 11) Joseph Cappoloa, 12) Scott McCoy, 13) Harold Robitaille, 14) Karl Barnes, 15) Alan Houghtaling, 16) Zach Lauster, 17) Amanda Earl
Pro Stock Bubba Tanner Classic Results (23 laps): 1) Rob Yetman, 2) Jason Casey, 3) Nick Arnold, 4) Jon Routhier, 5) Rick Dempsey, 6) Jay Casey ,7) Jason Meltz, 8) Nick Hilt, 9) Rich Crane, 10) Tom O’Connor, 11) Frank Twing, 12) Joe LaFlamme, 13) Ed Bishop, 14) Victor Hopkins, 15) Steven LaRochelle, 16) Brian Keough, 17) Don Collins, 18) Rick Duzlak, 19) Rick Spencer, 20) Dave Stickles, 21) Tom Dean, 22) Scott Kilmer, 23) Jay Casey, 24) Rich Colasanti
Note: There are in fact two Jay Caseys in this race. The sixth-place finisher is Canaan, Ct. and is the father of Jason Casey. The 23rd-place finisher is from Massachusetts.
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (12 laps): 1) Scott Morris, 2) Kevin Paul, 3) Keri VanDenburg, 4) Clifford Booth, 5) Jake Gomm, 6) Karen Verhagen, 7) Adam Schneider, 8) Brian Walsh, 9) Jordan Miller, 10) Mark Dwyer, 11) Shawn Perez, 12) Greg DeCamp, 13) Evan Denue, 14) Craig Coons