LEHIGHTON, Pa. — He has been dubbed “The Master of Faster” and on Saturday night at Mahoning Valley Speedway Northampton’s Eric Beers showed everyone why he is just that after driving to a convincing win in the 100-lap Central States Modified Gamblers Series (CSMGS) feature.
After passing Don Wagner for the lead on a lap 41 restart, Beers drove off to a resounding victory in round two of the special high-paying six race series. It was his first win of the year and netted the celebrated veteran $3000.
Point leader Don Wagner, Kyle Strohl, Austin Kochenash and Lou Strohl rounded out the top five.
It’s actually hard to believe that five races into the season and Beers is just finding Victory Lane. But it hasn’t been for lack of anything on his or his team’s part. The 2015 playing field is equaled throughout, evident by five different winners in as many races thus far.
“A couple of years ago they (competition) where chasing us and the first few weeks of this year we were chasing them and it’s a testament to how hard those guys work to make their cars fast. I’m just glad we came out on top tonight, we needed it,” said Beers.
A redraw of the top 12 finishers from the three heats put Wagner and Kris Graver on the front row. Beers would start seventh.
At the outset Wagner would take early charge of the 20-car field while Graver and Mike Quinn tailed him. Lou Strohl held fourth and by lap two Beers was fifth.
Beers is one of the experts when it comes to extra distance races at Mahoning Valley, having already won a 10 of them and knows how patience pays off in these type of events.
Wagner, who won the opening round of the CSMGS on April 11, was looking strong while setting the pace. He did a fine job of holding off Graver and then a very determined Lou Strohl who tried several times to make a pass for the lead.
But, while Wagner and L. Strohl dueled, Beers had begun his assault to the front. He went to the outside of Graver on lap 13 and then set his sights on the front pair. Beers would need the next 8 laps to take care of business with L. Strohl and once he did it was game on between him and Wagner.
“I was watching Donny (Wagner) at the beginning of the race and I was trying to find a weakness but I couldn’t find one to pass him so I was riding him, hoping he would slow down because I didn’t think I would get him,” said Beers.
Wagner was indeed doing his best at keeping Beers at bay, running the bottom line and shielding himself from relinquishing the lead.
However, on lap 41 a caution waved when last week’s winner Todd Baer and Quinn got together on the front straight. Beers knew the opportunity was at hand and he seized the moment on the restart to vault into the top spot.
“We got lucky there on the restart. We got a good run and Donny gave me enough room, we cleared him and we just held on from there,” said Beers.
Beers would be on his own at the closing laps and even with a restart with one to go, it wasn’t enough for Wagner or anyone else to make a bid at him. His win was the 41st at Mahoning Valley in a Modified.
After being passed for the lead Wagner had a plan in mind to lay back and conserve his tires for a run near the end. However, what he didn’t expect was the hard charging 15-year old Kyle Strohl coming into play. K. Strohl had made several pits stops including one after a wild spin on lap 19 that forced his team to make a tire change.
It wasn’t until mid-race that he then got going. With 30 laps to remaining he was in the top five and for the final 15 was all over Wagner.
“I was trying to save something for the end. Eric (Beers) was running away with it and I thought, ‘Go ahead, wear your tires out.’ I just wanted to try and save mine,” said Wagner.
“I wasn’t feeling any pressure until this kid (Kyle Strohl) stuck his nose under me. Then I had to get up and go again and there just wasn’t enough in the tank at that end to get Eric.”
Mike Sweeney took advantage of his front row starting spot and went on to lead all 25 laps of the Late Model feature. In doing so he not only grabbed his first win of the year but also put a stop to the three-race win streak of Paul Koehler Jr.
Sweeney was at one point holding a commanding lead but after a restart on lap 17 he was encircled by Jeremy Miller, Frankie Althouse and Koehler. However, once the action resumed he went right back into his power mode and was able to pull away from his trackers.
Defending Street Stock champ TJ Gursky got his first win of 2015. Gursky, who started sixth, passed then runner-up Paul Morgan Jr., on lap 11 and immediately began to pressure leader Joe Stangle.
Stangle did not make it easy as he was fending off Gursky nicely while in pursuit of his career first win. Gursky then got a big break when Stangle dropped out while under caution on lap 19, his car smoking heavily. From then on there was no denying Gursky as he motored on to victory over fast closing Randy Schlenker.
Racing with a very heavy heart, Dirt Mod point leader Ricky Yetter won for the second time in four races. Earlier in the day Yetter had attended funeral services for his best friend and Car Chief Lewis Gruppo Jr., who passed away suddenly on Monday of that week.
With a mission in mind to settle for nothing less than a win, Yetter zipped by early leader Billy Lasko on lap 10 and would stay the course in front the rest of the way.
Jake Kibler picked up the win in the Pro 4 feature that was a real nail bitter between him and point leader Cody Kohler. With two laps to go the pair where in a torrid dogfight and as they raced to the checkers Kibler was able to nip Kohler by a slim. .036-second margin of victory.
After being oh-so-close on so many occasions, Tim Oswald finally got his first career Hobby Stock win. And even this time is was another heart stopper as Shayne Geist tried to use a last lap restart to overtake the leader but the determined Oswald stood his ground.
-Mahoning Valley Speedway Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com
Mahoning Valley Speedway Unofficial Results
Saturday, May 9
Modified Feature Finish (100 Laps): 1. Eric Beers, 2. Don Wagner, 3. Kyle Strohl, 4. Austin Kochenash, 5. Lou Strohl, 6. Nevin George, 7. Kris Graver, 8. John Markovic, 9. Kevin Rex Jr., 10. Earl Paules, 11. Todd Baer, 12. Terry Markovic, 13. Paul Frantz, 14. Bobby Jones, 15. Calvin Carroll, 16. Anthony Sesely, 17. Mike Quinn, 18. Jimmy Zacharias, 19. Chip Santee, 20. Eric Kocher
Late Model Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Mike Sweeney, 2. Frankie Althouse, 3. Paul Koehler Jr., 4. Jeremy Miller, 5. Jason Zatsko, 6. Jacob Kerstetter, 7. Kenny Hein, 8. Francis Gross III, 9. Jacob Nemeth
Street Stock Feature Finish (30 Laps): 1. TJ Gursky, 2. Randy Schlenker, 3. Zach Graver, 4. Corey Edelman, 5. Kristy Arthofer, 6. Justin Mooney, 7. Stacey Brown, 8. Jillian Long, 9. Todd Ahner, 10. Jason Kuhn, 11. Randy Ahner Jr., 12. Brian Labar, 13. Gene Bowers, 14. Jason Frey, 15. Rich Emel, 16. Jared Ahner, 17. Lonnie Behler Jr., 18. Paul Morgan Jr., 19. Aaron Kromer, 20. Joe Stangle, 21. Steven Steigerwalt, 22. Cody Roth DNQ: Jonathan Tracey, Bernie Uphold, George Ramos, Dave Chapman
Dirt Mod Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Ricky Yetter, 2. Lorin Arthofer II, 3. Jack Ely, 4. Aleia Geisler, 5. Dave Gorbatuk, 6. Ray Deemer, 7. Billy Lasko, 8. Josh Schaffer, 9. Mike Stofflet DNS: Bill Sittler
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Jake Kibler, 2. Cody Kohler, 3. Nick Baer, 4. JD Light, 5. Bobby Kibler Sr., 6. Tyler Stangle, 7. Chad Miller, 8. Bobby Kibler Sr., 9. Johnny Bennett, 10. TJ Kemmerer, 11. Kailyn Beers, 12. Alton Snyder DNS: Lou Gara
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (15 Laps): 1.Tim Oswald, 2. Shayne Geist, 3. Cody Geist, 4. Kyle Krempasky, 5. Rich Mutarelli, 6. Daniel Hargan, 7. Lyndsay Buss, 8. Devon Schmidt, 9. Ryan Green, 10. Colin Bollinger