Lehighton, PA — There is a saying in racing, ‘Second place is the first loser’ and no one would know that better than Austin Beers who was a runner-up five times this season and most of those coming in close thrillers.
However, for the second generation talent from Northampton he was finally able to shake the runner-up finish with his victory on the 66-lap Roger Heffelfinger Sr., Tribute, which was race #3 in the Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series. And, as it had been for him during his spell of seconds it was a close battle to the wire with this time with Austin Kochenash en route.
“This means so much to me to win this tribute race for Roger (Heffelfinger). He ran for my grandfather (Dale Beers) back in the day so it’s an honor to win this and with Austin (Kochenash) coming in second and him being his grandson and all. It was a clean race and it was awesome,” expressed an elated Beers.
Beers started second and ran behind early leader Matt Hirschman and at the same time had to deal with strong running Zane Zeiner.
With Hirschman leading it was looking as though he would be in position to chalk up another win but that notion went away when he was pinched from behind by Zeiner on a lap 35 restart. Both drivers then pitted which elevated Kochenash to the lead over Bobby Jones, Nevin George and Nick Baer. The lap prior to that Beers had checked into the pits also with his crew swapping around tires on his DeLange Racing No. 45.
As the action was back underway there was a passionate feeling of excitement as Kochenash looked poised to see victory on a night honoring his legendary grandfather who was watching attentively from the sidelines.
Beers though began a charge and began picking his way to the front, eventually closing in behind Kochenash by lap 51. He then began to apply pressure on him and after several side-by-side laps was able to slip underneath Kochenash with seven laps to go.
“We changed a tire and put the right front to the right rear and this thing just came alive,” said Beers.
“He (Kochenash) gave me good room and ran me very clean but I knew I had to get it done because I was tired of finishing second. I very thankful too for Dave and Laura DeLange giving me the opportunity to give their car and my dad and the whole crew for the hard work they put in.”
For Kochenash, although a tough pill to swallow, it was a very respectable, solid run and his second straight runner-up finish. Jones was steady over the last half of the race in garnering third with George and John Markovic rounding out the top five.
Nick Ross made it three wins in five starts on the season with the Late Models.
Ross was quick to pull in behind early leader Lorin Arthofer II and soon after stepped to the outside of him and the pair began a torrid two-wide battle.
Arthofer was doing all he could to keep a foothold but Ross was able to ease gradually ahead and by lap 11 took check of the race. From there on he was in full control and cruised to the verdict. Arthofer remained second with James Yons coming home third.
In Street Stock action Mark Deysher was able to parley his pole starting spot into his first win of the year. All season the three-time class champ has been stout and continually in the mix for a conquest.
When the green waved for the start of the 30-lap event he quickly took charge but it was tough going as he was pacing in front of host of others.
Mark Martini, Jon Moser and Brand Christman where all in line. Christman, matter of fact, was the one car Deysher would have to contend with the most as he worked his way to second with 10 laps to go and then stayed glued to the leader’s rear bumper.
Coming into the final circuits the pair would remain nose-to-tail when they reached the checkers. For Deysher it was his 23rd career win and first since April 2019.
The Hobby Stock feature went to Justin Merkel for his second win of 2021. And, what has become the norm on a weekly basis with this division the action was close and intense from start to finish.
Merkel was the pole sitter and grabbed the lead at the get-go but was quickly bordered by BJ Wambold who at times tried to pull past him from the outside. Cody Boehm was also making serious stabs at those two and in his usual quick fashion point leader Devin Schmidt was asserting his prowess.
A caution with five laps remaining would set up a thrilling run to the checkers. Merkel did pull ahead enough to earn a car length victory but second would be a photo finish that went to Schmidt over Wambold. Boehm was under the same blanket and took fourth while Trisha Connolly rounded out the top five.
For Kadie Pursell the long overdue wait is over as she captured her career first feature win in the 20-lap Pro 4 main.
As it turned out Pursell was in the right place at the right time when front runners Josh Kuronya and Jake Kibler banged fenders and spun, bringing out the caution with seven laps to go.
For the restart Pursell was the new leader and from there on held off Kibler and Cody Kohler while hitting her marks perfectly en route to the unforgettable win.
Since the start of the season Dave Kerr has continued to show marked improvement and that steady going progress saw him collect his first ever win, notching the Rookie class feature. In the same race Brody George gained his sixth Futures victory of the season.
Modified feature finish (66-laps): 1. Austin Beers, 2. Austin Kochenash, 3. Bobby Jones, 4. Nevin George, 5. John Markovic, 6. Earl Paules, 7. Matt Hirschman, 8. Terry Markovic, 9. Brian DeFebo, 10. Kyle Strohl, 11. Carl Altemose, 12. Zane Zeiner, 13. Lou Strohl, 14. Nick Baer, 15. Jesse Strohl, 16. Johnny Bennett, 17. Tommy Flanagan, 18. Cody Kohler
Late Model feature finish (25-laps): 1. Nick Ross, 2. Lorin Arthofer II, 3. James Yons, 4. Geno Steigerwalt, 5. Seth VanFossen, 6. Brooks Smith
Street Stock feature finish (30-laps): 1. Mark Deysher, 2. Brandon Christman, 3. Mark Martini, 4. TJ Gursky, 5. Jon Moser, 6. Stacey Brown, 7. Cody Geist, 8. Rick Reichenbach, 9. Cody Boehm, 10. Jacob Christman, 11. Randy Ahner Jr., 12. Fran Del Nero Jr., 13. Jamie Smith, 14. Evan Rygielski, 15. Rich Moser, 16. Jillian Snyder, 17. Todd Ahner, 18. Tobie Behler, 19. Thomas Flanagan, 20. Logan Boyer, 21. Lonnie Behler Jr.
Hobby Stock feature finish (25-laps): 1. Justin Merkel, 2. Devin Schmidt, 3. BJ Wambold, 4. Cody Boehm, 5. Trisha Connolly, 6. James Tout, 7. Taylor Schmidt, 8. Jake Oswald, 9. Tad Snyder, 10. Corey Edelman, 11. Lyndsay Buss, 12. Mallory Kutz, 13. Nicholas Kerstetter, 14. Ralph Borger Jr., 15. Don Roger, 16. Shayne Geist, 17. Herman Nuff, 18. Dave Imler Jr., 19. Travis Solomon, 20. Nick Schaeffer, DNS: Ryan Berger
Pro 4 feature finish (20-laps) 1. Kadie Pursell, 2. Jake Kibler, 3. Cody Kohler, 4. Josh Kuronya, 5. Mark Fister DNS: Terry Peters, Randy Schaffer
Futures/Rookie Hobby Stock feature finish (12-laps): 1. Dave Kerr, 2. Adam Steigerwalt, 3. Greyson Ahner, 4. Brody George, 5. Makayla Kohler, 6.Gabi Steigerwalt, 7. Josh Dise, 8. Reid Levengood, 9. Maggie Yeakel, 10. Brad Walsh, 11. Lexus Kutz, 12. Zoey Moyer, 13. Zoe Kuchera
-Mahoning Valley Speedway Press Release
-Duane Canfield / MoJo Photos