Despite a forecast of thunderstorms, there was no rain Saturday night at Lebanon Valley. However, there were fireworks. Both in the sky and on the track.
Matt Pupello started from the pole (driving a borrowed car) and ran well early on. Further back, Andy Bachetti and L.J. Lombardo were racing hard for position. Bachetti was able to force the issue on Lombardo in turns 3 and 4. Shortly afterwards, contact was made, resulting in both drivers spinning and hitting the wall in turn 1. Olden Dwyer was also collected.
While Lombardo was able to continue after repairs and finish ninth, both Bachetti and Dwyer were done for the night. Bachetti was none too pleased with the situation.
On the restart, Mike King took a run on Pupello for the lead. The two ended up having contact that spun Pupello out. Yes, it gave King the lead, but it was a pyrrhic victory. The impact busted a radius rod, resulting in him immediately dropping off the pace.
Brian Berger inherited the advantage, but he was no match for the charging Kenny Tremont Jr. Tremont started in 12th and quickly made his way up the order. He was already on Berger’s tail just a few laps into the race. On lap 5, Tremont swept past in turn 4.
From there, that was all she wrote. Tremont ran away from the rest of the field at a pace that he even was surprised about en route to his third win of 2019.
“It was really good. The car was really locked down,” Tremont said. “I was really impressed with it. I’m just hoping that we can keep it together and finish off the year on a good note.”
Berger finished in a distant second, followed by J.R. Heffner, Kolby Schroder and Eddie Marshall. Only nine cars finished on the lead lap.
The Small Block Modified feature was a happier time for Bachetti. Chris Curtis, back in his regular ride that Bachetti drove last week, started from the pole and led early.
Dillon Steuer returned to Lebanon Valley for the first time in a few weeks. Unfortunately, his night did not last all that long. Steuer understeered into the wall on lap 4 to bring out a yellow. Steuer was ok, but he was done for the night.
Starting 13th, Bachetti methodically made his way up through the pack. On lap 11, he was able to take third. Shortly afterwards, Guy Sheldon spun to bring out the second and final yellow of the race.
On the restart, Steve Hough attempted to get past Curtis exiting turn 2 for the lead. Bachetti saw this and used his power to get alongside both of them on the backstretch. By turn 3, the lead was in Bachetti’s possession. From there, Bachetti pulled away to take his sixth Small Block victory of the year.
Curtis held on to finish a career-best second, but more than six seconds behind at the finish. Hough was quite pleased with his third-place finish. Timothy Davis was fourth, while Brett Haas was fifth.
The Sportsman feature had a bumper crop of 30 cars on the grid. Sounds like more of a good thing. Not necessarily. The race ended up being the longest feature of the night due to 10 cautions. Eight of them were due to incidents.
The incidents started early when Scott Zehnacker and Andy Lindeman collided in turn 3 and crashed. Both would continue and figured into the rest of the race.
On lap 5, John Stowell and Karl Barnes collided to bring out a yellow in turn 2. Shortly afterwards, John Virgilio spun exiting turn 4. That dropped him to the rear of the field and forced him to charge.
Virgilio benefited from a crash shortly after the restart involving Zehnacker, Jeff Watson, Cody Ochs and John St. Germain Jr. in turn 4 that brought out another yellow. For Watson and Ochs, whose cars ended up stuck together, it was the end of the night for both.
With all these incidents, pole sitter Ryan McCartney held on to the advantage. This was the young racer’s best race to date at Lebanon Valley.
In and around the yellows, the man on the move was Rob Maxon. Starting 15th, Maxon quickly moved up the order, avoiding incidents and showing great pace. On lap 10, Maxon made it to second and immediately put the pressure on McCartney. Unfortunately, Maxon ran into turns 1 and 2 a little too hard and spun out to bring out the sixth yellow. That dropped Maxon to the rear and he was only able to get back to seventh.
Maxon’s spin put Michael Sabia up to second. On the restart, he made short work of McCartney to take the lead. That said, the field had plenty of chances to get at Sabia over the final nine laps.
A difficult night for Whitey Slavin started when he slowed exiting turn 2 on lap 12 to bring out another yellow. Two laps after the restart, Slavin and Zehnacker collided in turn 3 and spun to bring out another yellow.
With three laps to go, an excellent run for Gary O’Brien was sullied by a spin in turn 4 to bring out the 10th and final yellow. Sabia was able to pull away on the final restart to take his first win of the year.
McCartney crossed the line in second, but was discovered to have an unapproved engine balancer. That resulted in a disqualification. The DQ moved Peter Carlotto up to second, followed by Virgilio in a big recovery from his early spin. Pat Jones was fourth and Robby Knipe fifth.
Pro Stock saw Tom Dean start his No. 413 on the pole and spend a substantial amount of the feature fighting off Nick Arnold. Chad Jeseo had a miserable night that really hurt him in the points. On the final lap of his heat race, he broke the driveshaft in his car. As a result, he borrowed Don Collins’ No. 149 for the race.
In the race itself, Jeseo had gained a couple of spots in the early laps, then spun exiting turn 2. That was the end of his night.
A spin for Doug Olds in turn 2 on lap 12 brought out the second yellow and bunched everyone back up. That brought Rick Duzlak into the picture.
While Dean continued to lead, Duzlak began to pressure Arnold for second. He attempted to pass for second on lap 14, but made contact with Arnold, spinning both cars out. A number of other drivers spun to avoid the incident as well.
The incident put Rich Crane up to second. Over the final six laps, Crane tried, but could not keep Dean from taking his first career Pro Stock victory. Crane was second, followed by Steven LaRochelle, Jay Casey and Rob Yetman.
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 saw a lot of action happen on the first lap. First, Fred Hoffman spun in turn 2 and was hit by Dave Stickles to bring out the caution. Then, pole sitter Janai St. Pierre spun and hit the inside wall exiting turn 4 along with Hoffman. In all that mess, Rocco Procopio was able to get the lead from St. Pierre before the chaos went down.
Evan Denue returned to Lebanon Valley after missing the past few weeks and ran well early on. His night ended early when he collided with Ray Tarantino and spun in turn 4. In the process, Denue lost his left rear wheel.
Chris Murphy had the car to beat on this night. He was able to move up from the fifth starting spot and dispatched of Procopio on lap 5. Shortly afterwards, Procopio spun out of second to bring out the caution.
Chris Murphy was able to hold on through the Green-White-Checker restart to take his second win of the year. Clifford Booth was second, followed by Matt Bush, Tarantino and Jim Dellea.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 saw a four-way fight at the front between Jeff Meltz Sr., Jesse Murphy and co-points leaders Ed Hatch and Jeff Kreutziger. At the end of the eight-lap race, it was Meltz taking the win, followed by Kreutziger, Jesse Murphy and Hatch.
The night ended with the Meltz Lumber Pure Stock Race, a 20-lap feature. Jeff Meltz Sr. started from the pole in his own race and led early.
This race ultimately had a little trouble getting going. On the first lap, a caution came out due to a collision between Dellea and Procopio. After the restart, Chris Murphy spun after getting hit by Denue to bring out another yellow.
Once the race got into a groove, there was some fierce racing to be had. Meltz led early, but Jesse Murphy and Hatch ran him down. Jesse was running extremely hard and that came back to bite him. On lap 10, Jesse got too loose in turn 3 and spun out while side-by-side with Meltz.
The spin actually allowed Hatch to get past the both of them and take over the advantage. However, the caution allowed Kreutziger to get in position to challenge. Hatch and Kreutziger raced hard for the lead for many laps.
With two laps to go, Hatch ran a little too hard into turn 3 and spun out, causing a yellow. Kreutziger claimed the lead as a result and led the final two laps en route to victory. Jesse Murphy recovered from his lap 10 spin to finish second, followed by Hatch, Zach Seyerlein and Meltz.
Berkshire Bank Fireworks Night Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Kenny Tremont Jr., 2) Brian Berger, 3) J.R. Heffner, 4) Kolby Schroder, 5) Eddie Marshall, 6) Kyle Armstrong, 7) Peter Britten, 8) Keith Flach, 9) L.J. Lombardo, 10) Marc Johnson, 11) Kyle Sheldon, 12) Paul Gilardi, 13) Ronnie Johnson, 14) Mike King, 15) Denny Soltis, 16) Ricky Davis, 17) Matt Pupello, 18) John Ruchel, 19) Andy Bachetti, 20) Olden Dwyer, 21) Steve Hough, 22) Chad Jeseo
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Andy Bachetti, 2) Chris Curtis, 3) Steve Hough, 4) Timothy Davis, 5) Brett Haas, 6) J.R. Heffner, 7) Frank Harper, 8) Jason Herrington, 9) Ray Hall Jr., 10) Brandon Pitcher, 11) Guy Sheldon, 12) Ricky Davis, 13) Brian Sandstedt, 14) Brandon Lane, 15) Ryan Charland, 16) Sean Mandel, 17) Joe Bonetti, 18) Alan Houghtaling, 19) Frank Hoard, III, 20) Olden Dwyer, 21) Kim LaVoy, 22) Dillon Steuer
Sportsman Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Michael Sabia, 2) Peter Carlotto, 3) John Virgilio, 4) Pat Jones, 5) Robby Knipe, 6) Chris Lynch, 7) Rob Maxon, 8) Kevin Arnold, 9) Ted Teal, 10) Jeff Higham, 11) John St. Germain Jr., 12) Joe Bonetti, 13) Nikki Ouellette, 14) Shane Henion, 15) Joey Coppola, 16) Whitey Slavin, 17) Karl Barnes, 18) John Stowell, 19) Robbie Colburn, 20) Jim Cronk, 21) Gary O’Brien, 22) John Santolin, 23) Scott Zehnacker, 24) Mike Bradley, 25) Andy Lindeman, 26) Justin Gozzi, 27) Aaron Mulready, 28) Jeff Watson, 29) Cody Ochs. DQ: Ryan McCartney
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Tom Dean, 2) Rich Crane, 3) Steven LaRochelle, 4) Jay Casey, 5) Rob Yetman, 6) Jason Casey, 7) Nick Hilt, 8) Rick Dempsey, 9) Mike Baker, 10) Gary Silkey, 11) Doug Olds, 12) Adam Schneider, 13) Nick Reilly, 14) Rick Duzlak, 15) Nick Arnold, 16) Jason Meltz, 17) Phil Arnold, 18) Tony Markou, 19) Chad Jeseo, 20) Don Collins
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (8 laps): 1) Chris Murphy, 2) Clifford Booth, 3) Matt Bush, 4) Ray Tarantino, 5) Jim Dellea, 6) Rocco Procopio, 7) Ryan Brown, 8) Fred Hoffman, 9) Craig Coons, 10) Evan Denue, 11) Janai St. Pierre, 12) Dave Stickles
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (8 laps): 1) Jeff Meltz Sr., 2) Jeff Kreutziger, 3) Jesse Murphy, 4) Ed Hatch, 5) Zach Seyerlein, 6) Ray Hall Sr., 7) Rob Partridge, 8) Brian Walsh, 9) Don Kennedy, 10) Keri Vandenburg
Meltz Lumber Pure Stock Race Results (20 laps): 1) Jeff Kreutziger, 2) Jesse Murphy, 3) Ed Hatch, 4) Zach Seyerlein, 5) Jeff Meltz Sr., 6) Jim Dellea, 7) Fred Hoffman, 8) Matt Bush, 9) Evan Denue, 10) Rocco Procopio, 11) Rob Partridge, 12) Chris Murphy, 13) Ryan Brown, 14) Brian Walsh, 15) Ray Tarantino. DNS: Clifford Booth, Craig Coons, Don Kennedy, Ray Hall Sr., Dave Stickles, Janai St. Pierre, Keri Vandenburg