LEHIGHTON, Pa. — The youth movement was quite evident during Saturday night’s Modified feature at Mahoning Valley Speedway as teenagers Nick Baer, Jack Ely and Kyle Strohl all came close to winning but when it was all said and done the highly experienced Eric Beers showed the young talents that he is still the man to beat, winning for a fifth time.
And, not only was Beers celebrating the night’s accomplishment, he was likewise basking in a milestone victory as he reached his 50th career Modified feature win at the Lehighton paved ¼-mile oval.
“It’s really awesome. I have to thank the race track for having Modifieds here and staying with a great program and for the fans coming out every Saturday and watching us. If it wasn’t for the fans in those stands we drivers wouldn’t have anything to do,” said Beers.
There was no doubt that the young guns are rising in the Modified division. Baer was the early leader through the first seven laps until Ely used a restart to work his way by. At that point he was holding off another veteran, classy John Markovic.
In their shadows rode last week’s winner Strohl who would bide his time to get by Markovic. Once that took place Ely and Strohl began to duel closely for the lead. Ely was running the low lane and at times able to race ahead to a few car lengths advantage although Strohl was always within reach.
A caution with 25 laps completed enabled Strohl to line up alongside the leader and when the race resumed he had great forward bite that allowed him to slip by Ely. At the same time another of the already proven young drivers, Austin Kochenash, was racing in third.
Beers, who had started eighth, was in fifth behind Kris Graver but on the same restart he thrust by to grab third and was locked behind teammate Ely. One lap later he took over second.
There would be a final caution with 8 laps remaining and it would also be Beer’s race winning move on that restart as he shot by Strohl and onto his fifth win in ten starts this season.
“The future of Modified racing is very strong here. Kyle (Strohl) ran a heck of race. Just battling there with him, Jack (Ely) and Austin (Kochenash), we were side-by-side and it was amazing,” said Beers.
“If Kyle wouldn’t have gave the room on the outside I wouldn’t have completed the pass. Hats off to him and of course my crew guys for once again putting a great car under me and my car owners for letting me have some fun.”
Strohl settled for second spot and his fourth straight top-5.
“He’s (Beers) is one of the best out here and is tough to beat. When you’re behind him you can only hope for the best. I was a little tight entering the corners and I tried to run him clean as best I could. When that caution came out and Eric was next to me I kind of knew my luck ran out,” said Strohl.
Kochenash, who has been fast every week and continuing to knock on the door of victory, was third. Don Wagner and Markovic rounded out the top five.
Mike Sweeney has won a lot of races in his career but none of which came in the fashion on Saturday. Sweeney pulled off a “spin and win” en route to his third Late Model win of the year.
On the opening lap he did a 360-degree spin in turn two and was relegated to the tail end of the field for the restart. Afterwards he put on a remarkable drive to the front, eventually passing Frankie Althouse with five laps to go and going on to his 31st class win.
“This is all about our team. We all work tirelessly night after night in the shop and when we get to the track this is the result. We want to win as much and as many races as we can,” said Sweeney.
At the rate he is going that should be no problem too. Taking into consideration the final five races of 2015 and every race thus far in 2016, Sweeney has been either first or second throughout that string.
Althouse held on for a season best second and although he has yet to get a win, he too has been steady in placing each week this year in the top five.
In the special 50 lap Dirt Mod event, Ricky Yetter scored big, winning for third consecutive time. Yetter took home $1200 for his effort and moved to the top of the point standings.
He took the lead only after the unfortunate demise of early leader Mike Stofflet dropped out with mechanical issues on lap 11.
Now in charge of the field, Yetter afterwards showed no backing down. Others did make some valiant attempts to challenge him, Billy Lasko, Scott Adams and Ray Deemer, but there was no denying who had the best car.
His win also tied him for most Dirt Mod victories at Mahoning at 19, sharing the mark with Randy Thomas.
Frank Parastino had a career high second while Adams, Lasko and Deemer completed the top five.
So far in 2016 Aaron Kromer has just two top five finishes but they both are as good of results as they get, winning. Kromer for a second time was able to lead all 30 laps of the Street Stock main. He had no problem holding off runner-up Jason Frey. Zach Graver had a great run through the pack and took third place as well as the points lead.
Jake Kibler took his first Pro 4 win of the season thanks to a restart pass on Kailyn Beers with five laps to go. He then held off fast approaching Josh Scherer and notched his 20th career class win.
For the eighth time in as many weeks a different winner emerged in the Hobby Stocks, this time with Michael Wambold.
Wambold started second and had to withstand a rash of early cautions and then a very hard charging Rich Mutarelli on his way to the checkers.
In July of 1987, Lorin Arthofer Sr., won for the very first time at Mahoning Valley and began a legacy by his family of winning. That heritage has carried on as his granddaughter, Avery Arthofer, won the very first Jr. Enduro event and the 94th time her family name has been in Victory Lane at the track.
Her first ever stock car win was run over a 30-minute distance, completing 116 laps. Avery had just come off a top-5 run in the Hobby Stock feature were she is a rookie driver.
Modified Feature Finish (35 Laps): 1. Eric Beers, 2. Kyle Strohl, 3. Austin Kochenash, 4. Don Wagner, 5. John Markovic, 6. Gene Bowers, 7. Earl Paules, 8. Kris Graver, 9. Nick Baer, 10. Brian DeFebo, 11. Jack Ely, 12. Terry Markovic, 13. Lou Strohl, 14. Brian Labar, 15. Lee Sharpsteen, 16. Todd Bear, 17. Bobby Jones
-Mahoning Valley Speedway Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com