The heat wave finally broke on Thursday afternoon. Despite that, there was plenty of hot action to be had Saturday night at Lebanon Valley.
Rob Pitcher debuted a new chassis on Saturday night, paired with an older engine. The combination seemed potent in his heat and continued to be potent from pole in the feature. Mike Keeler, back in his own equipment, was alongside and gave chase.
Pitcher was able to open up a small gap on Keeler while the two drivers drove away from the rest of the pack. Meanwhile, Kenny Tremont Jr. and Brett Hearn fought their way up through the pack.
Eddie Marshall, who started sixth, was very quick once again. The Connecticut native quickly moved up a couple of spots, then ran down Keeler for second on lap 11. From there, Marshall slowly ran down Pitcher for the lead while opening a huge gap on Keeler.
On lap 21, Marshall put the moves on Pitcher to take the lead. At the same time Marshall took the lead, Hearn suddenly slowed with a mechanical issue on the frontstretch, bringing a number of fans to their feet. Hearn would drop out of the race and be credited with a 19th-place finish.
Marshall pulled away from there to take his second win of the year. The win was Marshall’s 30th career Valley Big Block win, putting him 10th all-time. That said, it wasn’t exactly a perfect night for Marshall.
“I did think I missed [the setup] a little bit at first,” Marshall said. “It took…a half a dozen laps to get going. Once we got settled in, the car was really good and handled well. We had a fast horse, but Rob [Pitcher] was really running good. Wasn’t sure I was going to get there, but we’re quite pleased with the win.”
Pitcher was second, followed by Kyle Sheldon. Ronnie Johnson passed Keeler for fourth on the final lap and created a chain reaction. Keeler and Tremont had contact and spun across the line. No one was hurt and Tremont described the incident afterwards as a “racing deal.” In the incident, Johnson claimed fourth while Keith Flach was fifth. Keeler and Tremont were sixth and seventh.
In the Small Block Modifieds, Kim LaVoy started from the pole and led early in her No. 3. A couple of cautions, first for Steve Hough blowing a tire, then Jason Herrington stalling in turn 2, kept her lead in check.
Andy Bachetti quickly moved himself into second and made his presence known to LaVoy. Despite strict pressure from the “Wild Child,” LaVoy was able to hold off the charge.
Then, Tremont entered the scene. Starting 16th, Tremont methodically made his way up the order, moving into third by lap 9. He chased down LaVoy and Bachetti with good form. Once there, he battled his way past Bachetti. Just a couple of laps later, Tremont was able to get past LaVoy for the lead.
Once out front, Tremont was gone. The Sand Lake Slingshot pulled away to take his third win of the year. Bachetti was second, followed by Brett Haas. LaVoy held on for fourth, while J.R. Heffner was fifth.
In Sportsman, Scott McCoy started from the pole and had the best feature of his career at Lebanon Valley. McCoy kept his No. 187 Bicknell up front for the first 12 laps of the feature.
At that point, East Greenbush’s Cody Ochs entered the picture. The veteran was able to put the moves on McCoy and take away the lead. A late caution for a crash involving Peter Carlotto, Joseph Coppola and Mike Gramolini put the strongest Sportsman teams right on Ochs’ bumper bar, but he held on to take his first career victory in any type of car.
For Ochs, the victory capped off six years of Sportsman racing on the high banks. He could not have been more pleased.
"[The win] feels great. It's been a long time coming," Ochs said in the pits. "I started racing Slingshots...probably almost 10 years ago and never had a win there. Started racing [Sportsman] six years ago and this is my first win."
John Virgilio finished second, followed by Michael Sabia. McCoy held on for fourth, while Chris Curtis was fifth.
Pro Stock saw Frank Twing start from the pole and lead early. However, the event was roughly early on. First, Mark Dupuis spun in turn 4 to bring out the yellow. On the restart, heck broke loose in turn 2. Nine cars piled into a crash that blocked the track and brought out the red flag. Notables involved in the crash included points leader Jon Routhier and Rob Yetman.
Things calmed down after the big wreck. With a number of drivers eliminated, Jason Meltz rose to the front. Just before halfway, Meltz was able to run down Twing and take the lead.
From there, Meltz was able to hold onto a small advantage and take his first win of the season. The win also allowed him to regain the points lead.
Twing was second, followed by Ed Bishop. Steven LaRochelle was fourth and Nick Hilt fifth.
In Pure Stock feature No. 1, Brian Walsh started from the pole in his No. 43. However, before the action could seriously get underway, there was plenty of trouble to be had. First, Craig Coons hit the wall in turn 1. Then Dennis O'Connor Jr. spun in turn 2. Rocco Procopio spun in turn 3 as well. Kevin Paul cut a tire as well.
Following another yellow, Walsh was finally able to get into a groove. Unfortunately for Walsh, so was Gary O'Brien. O'Brien quickly ran down Walsh and took the lead on lap 4.
The pace was slowed two more times due to incidents. The first was due to a spin for Scott Morris in turn 2. The other was for a crash exiting turn 4 involving Procopio and Keri VanDenburg.
The last caution resulted in a Green-White-Checker. On the restart, O'Brien was able to scoot away to take the victory. Walsh held on for second, followed by Adam Schneider. Paul came back from his flat tire to finish fourth, while Jesse Murphy (driving Tom Murphy Sr.'s No. 012) recovered from a forced pit stop for bodywork repairs to finish fifth.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 saw Jeff Meltz Sr. start from the pole and maintain the advantage early on. Further back, the action was fast and furious as drivers tussled for position.
Jeff Meltz Jr. had a less than desirable night as he spun in turn 1 on lap 2 to bring out a caution. Dom Denue also spun out to bring out another yellow.
Behind Jeff Meltz Sr., the battle was for second between points leader Zach Seyerlein and Chad Arsenault. Contact was made, dropping Arsenault back. Additional contact with John Devine dropped Arsenault to fifth.
A late spin for Ed Hatch resulted in a one-lap shootout. On that restart, Jeff Meltz Sr. was able to hold off the pack to claim the victory. Devine was second after starting at the rear. Jeff Kreutziger was third, followed by Arsenault and Al Relyea. Seyerlein was shuffled back late and ultimately finished eighth.
Expect the close, hard racing to continue since the top 10 drivers in the Pure Stock class are separated by a mere 14 points. Seyerlein's advantage is only two points over Arsenault.
Anderson Equipment/Sysco Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Eddie Marshall, 2) Rob Pitcher, 3) Kyle Sheldon, 4) Ronnie Johnson, 5) Keith Flach, 6) Mike Keeler, 7) Kenny Tremont Jr., 8) Kolby Schroder, 9) Wayne Jelley, 10) J.R. Heffner, 11) Andy Bachetti, 12) L.J. Lombardo, 13) Elmo Reckner, 14) Chad Jeseo, 15) Mike King, 16) Kyle Armstrong, 17) Brian Berger, 18) Steve Hough, 19) Brett Hearn, 20) Dillon Steuer, 21) John Ruchel, 22) Olden Dwyer, 23) Josh Marcus
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Kenny Tremont Jr., 2) Andy Bachetti, 3) Brett Haas, 4) Kim LaVoy, 5) J.R. Heffner, 6) Brian Sandstedt, 7) Dillon Steuer, 8) Ricky Davis, 9) Brandon Pitcher, 10) Frank Harper, 11) Timothy Davis, 12) Frank Hoard, III, 13) Steve Hough, 14) Jason Herrington, 15) Chad Pierce, 16) Nathan Johnson, 17) Olden Dwyer, 18) Ray Hall Jr., 19) Alan Houghtaling, 20) Brian Peterson, 21) Harold Robitaille
Sportsman Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Cody Ochs, 2) John Virgilio, 3) Michael Sabia, 4) Scott McCoy, 5) Chris Curtis, 6) Vinnie Visconti, 7) Whitey Slavin, 8) Nikki Ouellette, 9) Rob Maxon, 10) Ted Teal, 11) Chris Lynch, 12) Harold Robitaille, 13) Zach Lauster, 14) Ryan McCarthy, 15) Peter Carlotto, 16) Joseph Coppola, 17) Karl Barnes, 18) Mike Gramolini, 19) Gary Van Alstyne, 20) Alan Houghtaling, 21) Ray Hall Jr., 22) Joe Carnibucci
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Jason Meltz, 2) Frank Twing, 3) Ed Bishop, 4) Steven LaRochelle, 5) Nick Hilt, 6) Tom Dean, 7) Jay Casey, 8) Jason Casey, 9) Rick Dempsey, 10) Victor Hopkins, 11) Rick Duzlak, 12) Jon Routhier, 13) Nick Arnold, 14) Chuck Towslee, 15) Brian Keough, 16) Don Collins, 17) Rob Yetman, 18) Scott Kilmer, 19) Doug Olds, 20) Dave Stickles, 21) Rich Crane, 22) Joe LaFlamme, 23) Nick Reilly, 24) Mark Dupuis
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (12 laps): 1) Gary O’Brien, 2) Brian Walsh, 3) Adam Schneider, 4) Kevin Paul, 5) Jesse Murphy, 6) Clifford Booth, 7) Scott Morris, 8) Keri VanDenburg, 9) Rocco Procopio, 10) Jordan Miller, 11) Wuggie Burdick, 12) Dennis O’Connor Jr., 13) Shawn Perez, 14) Craig Coons, 15) Rob Partridge
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (12 laps): 1) Jeff Meltz Sr., 2) John Devine, 3) Jeff Kreutziger, 4) Chad Arsenault, 5) Al Relyea, 6) Zach Sorrentino, 7) Jeff Meltz Jr., 8) Zach Seyerlein, 9) Chris Murphy, 10) Ed Hatch, 11) Ray Hall Sr., 12) Dom Denue