LEHIGHTON, Pa. — Taking a look back at Mahoning Valley Speedway’s 2015 top-10 in Modified points, each driver has garnered quite a fair amount of success in both wins and championships at the paved ¼-mile oval. From Earl Paules to Eric Kocher and in between, they all have etched their names into the record books with accomplishment.
And, not only are most expected to be back this year, but they will have an added addition to contend with that will undoubtedly make this even tougher on them as the all-time leading winner in eastern Pennsylvania pavement stock car racing, Berwick’s Brian DeFebo, has announced that he will call Mahoning Valley home in 2016.
“We’re looking to have fun close to home. We are going to concentrate for the year at Mahoning Valley and maybe even take in a couple of Race of Champions events,” said DeFebo, who with 88 career wins sits second to none among all drivers who competed at the paved tracks of Dorney Park, Evergreen and Mahoning Valley Speedway’s.
Although the majority of his victories have come at Evergreen Raceway where he owns a track record 83 wins plus six championships, DeFebo is no stranger when it comes to racing and winning at Mahoning Valley either, however, it has been 10 years since he last tasted victory there.
“I’m at the point where I need to win a race down there again,” admitted DeFebo.
“We were close last year, especially towards the end of the season and I feel we will be able to take that momentum into 2016,” he continued.
“Last year we had a fast car and the only way we see it winning races is to stick it out for the year and you have to play the starting spot thing with the weekly handicapping.”
Unlike season’s past, DeFebo knows that in order to get back to the Winner’s Circle at Mahoning, it’s going to take an every week effort but he noted that he is more than ready at this point.
“You can’t just think you’re going to come down for one or two races and win. Yes, it can happen in a perfect scenario. I’ve seen others guys do it but you have to be fast from the get-go and have luck fall your way. We just never had the luck,” he explained.
“We’re usually not ready 100% a month ahead of time but our Mahoning car is currently ready to go right now. We’re setting sail on the first race and then rock-n-roll from there.”
The last time DeFebo won a feature at Mahoning was May 6, 2006, which was also marked the end of three straight wins to start out that season. At that point, though, he had to make a decision as to stay at Mahoning or remain at Evergreen where he was leading in points as well.
“The problem I’ve always had is that I never really concentrated on the track (Mahoning) to start with. For me it was always a place just to go race. I have won races there but we always focused hard on Evergreen because it was so close to home,” said DeFebo.
“We ran into that situation about ten years ago but only this time we will be sticking it out. We came in that year and won the first three races and where leading the points but we decided not to stick it out because we were leading the points at Evergreen at the same time and choose to stay there instead.
“We’ve be planning now for this and you have to give yourself the best opportunity all the time and when that happens then you’re going to win races.”
DeFebo, like so many others, is excited to be start out the year with a Race of Champions Asphalt Tour race too. The season opener takes place April 9 with a 75-lap, $2800 to win feature.
“I want to really win a RoC race. That’s one thing that we are driving at and to know that I can start off the season with one of their shows at Mahoning Valley and a chance to win it, that’s a big ticket item for us,” he admitted.
DeFebo and all others will get the opportunity to get on track when the first of three Test and Tune days will be held on Saturday, March 26 and again on April 2-3, from noon to 4:00 pm.
Then it’s on to the start of 2016 with the Race of Champions Modifieds plus Late Models, Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks. Opening Day race time is 4:00 pm.
“If I had to go racing tomorrow the car is ready to go. I’m excited and I’m expecting great things this year. We’re going there with our guns loaded and there’s only one thing we’re thinking about and that’s winning.”
-Mahoning Valley Speedway Press Release / Dino Oberto Photo