LEHIGHTON, PA – Brian DeFebo put on an exciting drive in coming from 15th to first and in doing so won for a second straight week and third time this season at Mahoning Valley Speedway.
DeFebo pulled off a thrilling outside pass on Kris Graver with two laps to go in taking the popular verdict which comes as important factor in his quest for a possible championship. He is currently in a tight battle at the top of the standings with Graver and Eric Beers and has made no bones about the importance of the numbers game being played out between the three titans.
“We’re definitely having fun right now and we take every race as it comes. The best way to overcome our point deficit that we’re at is be the leader at all times. So with that we’re not going to worry about what everyone else is doing. We’ll keep going out and try to win heat races and win features and the points will play out,” said DeFebo.
DeFebo had his work cut out for him for much of the 35 lap run. Starting so deep in the pack he had to bide his time but with the first 18 laps going nonstop it was a challenge in passing cars.
“When the races here run nonstop like it was going you just have to stay in line and play the chess game as best you can. You think you make the right move and then you don’t. In the beginning it was tough because everyone was stacked up. I had a faster car then I was able to run because everyone was side-to-side,” he said.
Lou Strohl and Kyle Strohl where setting the early pace. On lap seven K. Strohl squeezed to the inside for the lead. Jack Ely and Nick Baer were close at hand while John Markovic hovered in fifth.
The fast and close paced action got a breather on lap 18 for a minor incident. When racing resumed K. Strohl and L. Strohl where going two-wide for the lead. Likewise Ely and Baer were doing much of the same while Graver appeared behind that group.
Graver, who has been making excellent use of the top lane, wasn’t hesitating to yet again take that route towards the front and in short order made the race for the lead a rowdy three car battle. There was no room for error as all three run tightly huddled.
Then with eight laps to go DeFebo was there as well. He, however, had to deal with Ely and there was a touchy moment when they contacted with one another and DeFebo made a huge save to avoid the wall.
“The 54 (Ely) just ran me out a little bit and I almost got the car sideways and I thought I have to save it or else the season is done,” said DeFebo.
In the meantime there was still the intense action for the lead and with four laps to go L. Strohl tried to go underneath K. Strohl while Graver remained high. Clearly something had to give and unfortunately for K. Strohl he got spun. Officials relegated the L. Strohl to the rear for his part in initiating the episode.
For the restart Graver was in charge with DeFebo second. One would think that it would be a simple few laps that Graver had to turn but DeFebo had his mindset on victory and shot to the outside for the race winning pass.
“I’m not content to finish second and it goes back to points don’t matter but they do matter so I had no choice but to go to the outside,” said DeFebo.
“Morgantini Racing Engines turned this motor around and made it a really strong Mahoning Valley engine and I can’t thank the guys there enough and of course Gary Slusser and Jim Yamelski who work countless hours all week in the shop.”
Ely had a solid third with Beers and Baer rounding out the top five.
Mike Sweeney scored his sixth Late Model win in 11 starts this season and for the second time his top placing would come after a rough outing from the previous race that he wrecked out from. Sweeney, matter of fact, was thrashing just hours before the race as the team was still making repairs to the chassis that incurred the night prior at Evergreen Raceway.
“It’s a testament to my team. Last night at Evergreen we finished second but when we got home we ended up cutting half the chassis up because of a things we found broke. We worked on the car until after 4 o’clock this afternoon,” said Sweeney.
“Then after our heat race we found some bent parts in the front that we ended up changing and we really didn’t know how the feature would play out.”
There would be no worries for Sweeney as he found himself running second by lap five behind an impressive Jacob Nemeth. Once getting around him for the lead it was clear sailing for Sweeney as the race went nonstop and in the process he was able to pull to a three car length advantage at the checkers.
“Jake (Nemeth) is a great young driver and he races hard and clean. He gave me a good run tonight and it took a few laps to get around him and he held his own. His time is coming,” said Sweeney.
Alan Schlenker is racing full time at Mahoning for the first time in nearly 10 years but despite the hiatus he never lost his knack for getting around the tight bullring.
Schlenker had to work his tail off in trying to pass Jillian Long for the lead but once he accomplished that with nine laps to go he was perfect to the finish, winning for the first time since 2008.
In another strong effort, Cody Kohler reeled off his fifth Pro 4 win of the season in just six starts.
The Hobby Stocks ran a special 40 lap feature and Paul Effrig won the exhausting main that was all side-by-side for the lead from start to finish. Effrig dealt with a handful of others for the front spot and at the finish was only a half car length ahead of Austin Beers.
Modified Feature Finish (35 Laps): 1. Brian DeFebo, 2. Kris Graver, 3. Jack Ely, 4. Eric Beers, 5. Nick Baer, 6. John Markovic, 7. Roger Heffelfinger, 8. Gene Bowers, 9. Troy Bollinger, 10. Brian Romig, 11. Brian Labar, 12. Kyle Strohl, 13. Joey Jarowicz, 14. Lou Strohl, 15. Terry Markovic, 16. Paul Frantz, 17. Wes gilbert, 18. Kevin Graver, 19. Ron Haring Jr.
Late Model Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Mike Sweeney, 2. Lorin Arthofer, 3. Jacob Nemeth, 4. Frankie Althouse, 5. Jeremy Miller, 6. Geno Steigerwalt, 7. George Ramos, 8. Broc Brown, 9.Kenny Hein, 10. Eric Kocher, 11. Chris Anderson, 12. Jacob Kerstetter, 13. Paul Skodacek, 14. Dylan Osborn
Street Stock Feature Finish (30 Laps): 1. Alan Schlenker, 2. Jill Long, 3. Rick Reichenbach, 4. Stacey Brown, 5. Jared Ahner, 6. Shaye Geist, 7. Todd Ahner, 8. Steven Steigerwalt, 9. Jamie Smith, 10.Mark Deysher, 11. BJ Wambold, 12. Cody Geist, 13.Ken Erney, 14. Kevin Weierbach, 15. Josh Huber, 16. Eric Kocher, 17. Jon Moser, 18. Corey Edelman
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Cody Kohler, 2. Jake Kibler, 3. Ken Reeder, 4. Randy Schaffer, 5. Kevin Stein, 6. Tucker Muffley, 7. Jeremy Guerra, 8. Johnny Bennett DNS: Jason Finken
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (40 Laps): 1. Paul Effrig, 2. Austin Beers, 3. Shawn Kistler, 4. Rich Mutarelli, 5. Tiffany Wambold, 6. Cody Geist, 7. Al Arthofer, 8. Beau Drobot, 9. Trisha Connolly, 10. Travis Solomon, 11. Taylor Schmidt, 12. Justin Merkel, 13. Colton Perry, 14. Brayden Spencer, 15. Ryan Berger, 16. Steven McDonough, 17. Michael Wambold, 18. Colton Breiner, 19. Avery Arthofer, 20. Devin Schmidt, DNS: Todd Geist
-Mahoning Valley Speedway Press Release. Photo Credit: Speed51.com