Despite being a busy 16-year old, Tyler Dippel still takes the time to have at it in a Big Block. Saturday night was the second in what Dippel says will be about five appearances at Lebanon Valley this year. He made the best of it.
Paul Gilardi started from pole and immediately came under attack from last week’s runner-up, Brian Berger. Berger tried to get underneath Gilardi, but could not do so before Mike Keeler hit the wall in turn 4, bringing out a yellow.
On the restart, Gilardi moved down low after the start-finish line to block Berger. However, that move allowed Andy Bachetti to blast past on the outside from third to take the lead and pull out into the distance.
Behind Bachetti, a number of drivers were on the charge. Dippel, who started 13th, quickly moved up to fifth by lap 3 with Kenny Tremont, Jr. close in tow. Brett Hearn’s charge was slower in nature, but still impressive.
Dippel took second position from Gilardi on lap 7 and took off after Bachetti. The two seemed to be evenly matched, but Bachetti’s advantage disappeared when an incident involving Kyle Sheldon, Mike King and Matt Pupello in turn 2 brought out another yellow.
On the restart, Bachetti and Dippel began to battle amongst themselves. Dippel initially tried the inside to get past, but was blocked. Dippel then used Bachetti’s lost momentum against him to sweep past on the outside of turn 2 to take the lead on lap 12.
From there, Dippel was able to expand his lead to nearly two seconds. However, the blistering pace meant lapped traffic. Dippel had a little trouble with lapped cars, allowing Bachetti and Tremont into the mix. However, Dippel was able to hold on to take his first career Big Block Modified win. At 16, he is the youngest driver ever to win a Big Block Modified feature at Lebanon Valley.
Afterwards, Dippel was elated. “Oh man, [the car] was just so good,” Dippel said in the pits. “Every little gap that opened, I just pounced right on it. I had to go. “[After] the restart, I was watching [Bachetti’s] line. I had a run on him and he thought I was running the bottom. I psyched him out so he blocked the bottom, then I went right by up top.”
Bachetti was right behind in second, but still believes that his team needs just a little bit more to be able to battle for wins on a weekly basis. Tremont was a half-second behind Bachetti in third. Hearn had some troubles moving up through the field during the race. After the lap 9 restart, he dropped back to eighth. However, as the race continued on, Hearn was able to get past J.R. Heffner for fifth, then ran down Berger to take fourth in the final laps of the race. Berger held on for fifth.
In the Small Block Modifieds, Kim LaVoy, driving the re-numbered No. 5 this season in memory of former racer and crewmember Russell Reckner, started from the pole in the heads-up start and seemed quite strong early. Heat No. 2 winner Demetrios Drellos gave hasty chase.
Just after lap 2 was completed, Jason Herrington spun in turn 1, creating a stack-up situation that wrapped up Ricky Davis, Frank Harper and others. Herrington was able to continue and eventually finished eighth. On the restart, LaVoy’s car seemed to hesitate. At the same time, Drellos got a heck of a restart and blasted past into the lead. J.R. Heffner, driving the No. 17 small block, followed past into second. From there, the Queensbury native pulled away from the field.
A caution on lap 15 due to Buddy Hencke stopping in turn 2 bunched up the field and gave Heffner another chance. However, when the green came back out, Drellos pulled away once again and took a very satisfying victory.
Afterwards, Drellos was still very impressed with his mount. “The car was an absolute rocket ship right from the drop of the green,” Drellos beamed in the pits. “We knew if we could get out in front, it was going to be nearly impossible for anyone to catch us because we have the best [Small Block Modified] equipment we can get and the best engine we could get. It’s going to be a terrific year and I’m so excited to run this car every week.” Heffner finished second, followed by Brett Haas in third. LaVoy finished a strong fourth while Elmo Reckner was fifth.
In Pro Stock, rookie Ryan Hosier started on pole, but quickly lost his advantage to the veteran Paul LaRochelle.
Despite losing the lead early, Hosier kept the pressure up on Paul through much of the race. Paul’s son, Steven LaRochelle, was right there as well.
The only yellow of the feature came out on lap 9 when Rick Duzlak had a mechanical failure and coasted to a stop in turn 1. On the restart, Hosier tried to get the lead back from Paul LaRochelle, but was unable to do so. Eventually, Hosier got loose and fell into Steven LaRochelle’s clutches. Steven LaRochelle tried to get past Hosier in the last couple of laps, but got out of shape and dropped back. Paul LaRochelle held off Hosier to take the victory. Hosier was second, followed by Jay Corbin in third. Rob Yetman finished fourth, while Steven LaRochelle settled for fifth.
In Pure Stock, the drivers were racing for places in the annual Boomer’s Performance Pure Stock Clash during the regular three features. Feature No. 1 saw Dave Stickles start on pole and lead handily early. Meanwhile, Jeff Meltz, Sr. had to charge up from eighth starting spot. With a faster car than Stickles, Meltz got to second in the last couple of laps and put the moves on Stickles for the lead as the white flag was going to come out.
However, Ed Hatch spun in turn 2 to bring out a caution. On the one-lap shootout, Meltz was able to complete the pass and take the win. Stickles was second, followed by Scott Morris and Bill Deak, Sr. Hatch was able to recover from his spin to finish fifth.
In Feature No. 2, Mark Dwyer started on pole, but quickly lost the advantage to Jeff Kreutziger. Kreutziger was able to pull a small gap on the field, but Brian Walsh made a charge from fourth. On the fourth lap, Walsh caught and passed Kreutziger for the lead. From there, Walsh held on to take his first win of the year. Kreutziger held on for second, followed by John Devine, Dan Cote and Dwyer.
Feature No. 3 saw Ray Hall, Sr. take the lead on the first lap from pole-sitter Tim Thompson. From there, Hall held off a hard-charging Jay Casey over the full 12-lap distance to take a satisfying victory. Casey was second, followed by Jeff Meltz, Jr., Al Relyea and Larry Perez.
The three regular features determined the field for the annual Boomer’s Performance Pure Stock Clash, a 20-lap race with a significant payout on the line. After the draw, Hall claimed the pole and immediately had Jeff Meltz, Sr. right on him at the start.
Hatch’s disappointing night continued with a spin in turn 2 that brought out the race’s only yellow. After another spin (that did not bring out a yellow), Hatch eventually finished in a disappointing 13th.
As the race continued on, Hall was clearly outnumbered as the entire Meltz team (Jeff Jr., Jeff Sr. and Jason) took aim at getting the lead away from Hall. Jeff Jr. took second from his father on lap 14 and began pressuring Hall.
Hall was able to hold off Jeff Jr. until lap 17, when the No. 15 slipped past into the lead. From there, Jeff Meltz, Jr. held on to win the Clash. Hall held on to finish second and claim a substantial percentage of the lap money. Jason Meltz was third, followed by Jeff Meltz, Sr. Al Relyea moved in on the front quartet in the final laps, but could do no better than fifth.
In the 4-Cylinder class, Victor Duncan started from the overall pole, but failed to come up to speed at the start. That resulted in Duncan’s Neon getting hit from behind, spinning the No. 37 into the wall and bringing out a quick yellow.
Duncan’s crash gave Bradley Batho the lead, but Batho’s advantage was short-lived. Shortly after the restart, Batho spun in turn 3 after contact from Luke Williams. Williams took over the lead as a result, but Jethro Rossman drove past shortly afterwards and opened up a good advantage.
After a yellow flew for an incident on the frontstretch, Brandon Ely was able to use the pace of his Honda Civic to his advantage. Ely got by Rossman on the restart and pulled away. In the Dual-Cam race, Kenny Stager started near the rear of the field, but quickly charged to the front of the class. Ammo Wright was right behind him with Chris Vandeputte charging as well.
Another yellow flew when Emily Deming and Kelly Duncan collided in turn 4 to bunch the field up on lap 9. On the restart from that yellow, Deming seemed to suffer some kind of failure on her car. As a result, Deming made a dive to try to get into the pits. That move resulted in contact with Shawny Hazel, causing another yellow.
After the final restart, Ely ran away from the rest of the Single-Cam class. However, Stager made the necessary moves to put himself in second overall with a couple of laps to go. In that time, Stager ran down Ely and made the move to the inside exiting turn 4 on the final lap.
Ultimately, the horsepower in Stager’s Prelude won out as Stager just edged Ely for the overall win. Despite finishing second overall, Ely still took the Single-cam win. Behind the two class winners was Vandeputte in third, second in Dual-Cam. Tim Meltz was fourth (second in Single-Cam), followed by Wright in fifth (third in Dual-Cam). Jim Williams finished sixth overall (third in Single-Cam).
-Lebanon Valley Speedway Press Release
-Photo Credit: Mike Petruicci