LEHIGHTON, Pa. — For the third time in as many weeks, Northampton’s Eric Beers has taken the checkered flag in the Modified feature at Mahoning Valley Speedway.
In the first two events Beers was both lucky and good as his wins where produced after front row starts. This time however, he had to drive his way to the front, having to come from 13th on the grid. But thanks to a few cautions and sharp driving, Beers was able to get in behind leader Earl Paules by lap 13. He then hounded the defending champion over the next four circuits before dropping low off turn four and executing his race winning pass as they crossed the start/finish line to begin lap 17.
Paules did try his best to regain the lead, including a last ditch effort on a restart with three laps to go, but the No. 45 of Beers was hitting his marks perfectly as he went on to take a third consecutive victory.
“What really helped us is that we were in the right lane at the start of the race. We were on the outside lane and it went forward so we got some positions,” said Beers.
“On a restart we were on the inside and that lane went forward and from there I just followed Kris Graver and before I knew we were up to third. I could have easily been in the wrong lane and went the other way.”
Paules, who started second, out-ran Nick Baer for the opening lap lead. Afterwards Jack Ely would pull even with Baer and the two rookies did a fine job of keeping up with the wily veteran.
While passing cars under green, Beers was also able to take advantage of restarts to pick his way forward and one moment came during a lap 11 incident which was a bit breathtaking.
Lou Strohl had spun between turns three and four. As cars began to find a way by, John Markovic wasn’t as lucky as he veered into the wall and then rode up along the concrete until coming to a grinding halt at the end of the fourth corner. Markovic was unhurt but his car through for the night.
On the restart Paules had Jimmy Zacharias next to him. As the green waved Zacharias was making a charge at Paules but his throttle suddenly stuck and he skidded into the turn one wall.
That afforded Kris Graver to now challenge Paules but it would be Beers instead on the restart who took control of second and then set his sights on Paules, eventually making the pass for the lead on lap 17.
“We had that restart with Kris (Graver) on the outside of Earl (Paules). He (Paules) ended up going off turn two just a little high every lap and I was just testing the waters to see if I could go there without actually showing him the nose,” said Beers.
“Once we had a few laps in that run I got a good run off turn two and set him up pretty well. I got the car where I needed it to be and without touching him I drove right on by.”
While Beers may be taking the headlines, it’s not to say that his opposition is not measuring up. That can’t be further from the truth by considering the facts.
Paules, in typical fashion, was very strong and made Beers work hard for his win. Third place finisher Austin Kochenash was able to shake off two weeks of tough luck and was nipping away at the lead duel most of the closing laps. Likewise Kyle Strohl, who was fourth, showed plenty of muscle. Then there is Graver who has been on a run of 10 top-5s over the past 11 starts dating back to last season and is a key factor each week. Other likely contenders such as Don Wagner, Bobby Jones, Markovic and others make up what can be considered one of the toughest weekly asphalt Modified fields anywhere. But for now those aforementioned must contend that Beers is the early season man to beat.
“We’ve been lucky,” admitted Beers. “You look around the pits here and there’s no one easy to get by. There are all good race cars and lots of experience. To come out on top three weeks in a row is a testament to our team who gives me a good enough car.”
Jeremy Miller held off hard charging Mike Sweeney for the Late Model win. Miller had led from the initial green but was under pressure immediate, having Lorin Arthofer and Sweeney all over him.
Miller was strong and solid until a caution on lap 14. With the field bunched Sweeney was able snag second spot from Arthofer. He would then try every way possible to execute a way by for the lead by Miller would not give in as he held on for a well-earned victory.
Sweeney, who holds the point lead, had to settle for second for a third time in as many weeks and in each of those finishes it was by a second or less. Arthofer stayed close to take third.
2013 Street Stock champion Chip Wanamaker kept made a pass for the lead over Jamie Smith on lap four and then held tight the rest of the distance in notching his first win of the season.
The race went caution free as Wanamaker set a torrid pace and made his counterparts work hard to catch him but with each passing lap it was obvious that this was his night as he pulled to a nearly two-second margin of victory of Smith. Greg Long remained on the rear bumper of the runner up for a respectable third.
In the Dirt Mod feature an opening lap crash took out the top two cars of Paul Effrig and Ricky Yetter as well as collecting point leader Mike Stofflet.
When all was sorted out Ray Deemer was at the point and he would stay perfect the entire race to score the verdict over a fast closing Aleia Geisler.
Defending Hobby Stock champion Cody Geist scored his first win of the season, even though he was the second car to cross the finish line.
Reason being was that Michael Wambold, who had taken the lead from Geist with __ to go, was cited for passing in the No Zone area and subsequently was placed back two spots after taking the checkers in first place.
Rookie Colton Perry drove a great race in notching second place.
Bobby Kibler Jr., has stayed perfect in the Pro 4s, winning for a second time. Kibler inherited the lad after Jake Kibler, who led the opening lap, made contact with defending champ Cody Kohler on lap two. Kohler had to pit while J. Kibler was sent to he rear.
That left B. Kibler in charge and there would be no looking back as he held off Shawn Hoffman en route to winning.
A Small Car Enduro closed out the night of racing and Bob Snyder scored another win in the timed run.
-Mahoning Valley Speedway Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com