Saturday night saw the Modifieds run double features in order to make up the race postponed due to lighting issues on May 6. Trouble here affected the rest of the night.
Denny Soltis started on pole, but quickly lost the advantage to Kyle Hoffman. Meanwhile, Brett Hearn started in fourth and wasted no time pressuring Hoffman’s Cyclone for the lead. On lap 6, Hearn took the lead and began to open up the advantage. Hoffman was able to hold off Eddie Marshall for second.
Kolby Schroder suffered a right front suspension issue and stopped entering turn 1 to bring out the yellow on lap 10. That bunched the field back up.
After the restart, all heck broke loose. Marshall went wide exiting turn 4 and hit the wall at the crossover gate. The hit shot Marshall back out into most of the field. Mike King, Kyle Sheldon, Matt Pupello, Rob Pitcher, Kyle Armstrong, Chad Jeseo, Elmo Reckner, Wayne Jelley and Andy Bachetti were collected.
Naturally, with the frontstretch blocked, the red flag was thrown. Everyone was able to walk away from the crash, but the EMT’s checked over Pitcher in the ambulance as a precaution. The cars of Marshall and Pitcher were outright done for the night. The others attempted repairs with varying degrees of success.
Matt Pupello was able to get his damaged No. 42P back on track, but he hit the wall in turn 3 shortly after the restart to bring out another yellow. After a debris caution, Brian Berger suffered a mechanical issue that ended his night all together. At the same time, Kyle Sheldon slowed on track and Bachetti blew a right rear tire to bring out another yellow.
After the restart, the three leaders (Hearn, J.R. Heffner and Kenny Tremont Jr.) pulled away from the pack and attempted to settle the race among themselves. Further back, Hoffman remained in fourth. Late in the race, Keith Flach caught Hoffman and battled for a couple of laps.
With three laps, Hoffman and Flach encountered the slower No. 6 of Ken McGuire. Hoffman ended up getting stuck behind the slower car for a bit, then tried to go to the inside. Unfortunately, Flach was there. Hoffman spun exiting turn 2 and hit the inside wall to bring out the sixth and final caution of the night. Hoffman was ok, but he was done for the night.
Hoffman’s crash resulted in a Green-White-Checker restart, but Hearn would not be denied his first Lebanon Valley win of the year and the 896th career feature victory of his long career.
For Hearn, this win was necessary.
“We had to get involved with a DNF in the first event to get the [fourth] starting spot, so it was a [must-win] situation for us,” Hearn said after the race.
J.R. Heffner was second, followed by Kenny Tremont Jr., Keith Flach and L.J. Lombardo.
The second feature saw Soltis start on pole and led handily early on. Unlike the first feature, the primary stars of the class were further back. Tremont started ninth and quickly made his way towards the front. Heffner and Hearn were 14th and 15th at the start and took longer to get in the hunt.
On lap 11, Tremont took second from Paul Gilardi and ultimately made quick work of Soltis to take the lead a couple of laps later. The race’s sole caution flew just after halfway when Matt Pupello slowed on course.
Once the race went back to green, Tremont pulled out to a big lead as the battles continued further back. Elmo Reckner continued his great recent form with a run up to second in the closing laps, but no one could do anything with the Sand Lake Slingshot. Tremont pulled away to take his 128th career Big Block win at Lebanon Valley.
Afterwards, Tremont was very pleased with his equipment.
“In the second race, the car was perfect,” Tremont said. “It was as good as I’ve had a car here in years. What I really hope is that we can repeat this.”
Reckner was second, followed by Keith Flach. Hearn and Heffner rounded out the top five.
In the Small Block Modifieds, Chad Pierce started from the pole and led early. Tremont had speed in his Small Block, but he made a crucial error when he got in the car prior to the feature.
All Modifieds have a fuel release lever in the cockpit that the driver can adjust. Tremont nicked the fuel release lever in the car so that the car wasn’t getting enough fuel to the engine. After the race, he described the situation as being similar to being out of gas. Tremont would eventually stop on track and draw a yellow on lap 3.
Once the green came back out, Tremont (with the fuel lever in the proper position) charged through the field in a hurry. However, with no more cautions, he could only get so close to the front. At the front, Pierce spent part of the race battling with second-place starter Timothy Davis. However, Pierce was able to hold off Davis and eventually pulled away to take the win.
Davis held on for second, followed by Heffner. Pittsfield’s Brett Haas was fourth, while Tremont was able to get to fifth.
The Pro Stock feature was arguably the most exciting race of the evening. Rick Duzlak took the lead from pole sitter Tom Dean and pulled away from the pack. By the halfway point, Duzlak had more than a straightaway on the pack when Dean spun out of third to bring out the yellow.
Shortly before the spin, Jay Corbin had passed Dean for second with Rob Yetman right on his tail. On the restart, Duzlak was able to get a good start and managed to open a small gap on the past champions. Yetman was able to snag second on lap 12, but Corbin wasn’t exactly willing to give it up without a fight. Corbin went into turn 3 on the inside of Yetman to try to take second back. Unfortunately for Corbin, he lost control and spun to bring out the caution.
Corbin had some issues resuming right away and did eventually return to the race. However, he was a couple of laps down when he did finally resume.
Corbin’s demise gave Yetman a chance to go after Duzlak. The result was an exciting back-and-forth battle. There was casual contact at times. The two drivers spent multiple laps side-by-side for the lead, but Duzlak held him off.
On the final lap, Duzlak and Yetman ran up on the lapped cars of Corbin and Jon Routhier. Both Duzlak and Yetman were held up, allowing Chuck Towslee to enter the fray. Exiting tunr 4, the leaders ended up splitting Corbin and Routhier. Duzlak just barely beat Yetman to the line to take the win. However, there was some contact after the checkers that resulted in Duzlak spinning and backing into the wall in turn 1.
Regardless, Duzlak was overjoyed with the win.
“The car was a rocket ship all night,” Duzlak said in the pits afterwards. “I figured that if I held the outside line, [Yetman] wasn’t going to be able to come by me. We got into it a little bit on the frontstretch; no big deal. With my father being sick, no one was going by me no matter what it took.”
Chuck Towslee was third, followed by Steven LaRochelle and Jason Meltz.
In Sportsman, Lem Atkins took the lead away from Bobby DeLeon on the first lap and held on strong early on. It was not a great night for the top contenders as John Virgilio spun early and Jeff Watson hit the wall in turn 3. Both would finish, but further back than normal.
Chris Lynch was able to move up from the tenth starting spot and pass Atkins for the lead on lap 6. From there, Lynch held off a charging Michael Sabia to take his second career Sportsman win at Lebanon Valley. Sabia was second, followed by Robby Knipe, Kevin Arnold and DeLeon.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Jay Casey was on a mission. He started ninth in the first feature and moved forward in a hurry. By the end of the second lap, he had already snatched the lead away from Mike Arnold. From there, Casey drove away to take the victory over Scott Morris and Larry Perez.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 2, there was a little trouble getting things underway. First, Rich Roger, who made his season debut on Saturday night, spun in turn 1 to bring out a yellow. On the restart, another crash broke out that swept up Dave Stickles, Jeff Kreutziger and the VanDenburg teammates (Keri and Brian). Brian VanDenburg was unable to continue, but the other three teams were able to make repairs and resume.
On the second restart, Tom Murphy was able to get by pole sitter Brian Walsh and take the lead in his No. 06. The No. 06 brought plenty of speed to the table and opened up a gap on the field.
The advantage was short-lived as Adam Schneider dumped a bunch of fluid on track in turn 1 on lap 4, bringing out the third yellow of the race. Shortly after the restart, Chris Murphy cut a right front tire and was forced to pit.
For Tom Murphy, his first race of 2017 was a great one as he ended the night in Victory Lane. Doug Olds was second, followed by Stickles, Tim Thompson and Kreutziger.
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 saw Zach Seyerlein start on the pole, but veteran Al Relyea wasted no time in taking that advantage away. Ed Hatch, who started fifth, followed Relyea to the front of the field and challenged for the lead in his No. 50 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
However, Relyea would not be denied in his old trusty mount. The veteran racer held off Hatch to take the win. Behind Relyea and Hatch was Dom Denue in the No. 145. Bill Deak Jr. was fourth and Gary O’Brien rounded out the top five.
Finally, Pure Stock teams made up the 20-lap Boomer’s Performance Purestock Clash that was originally scheduled to run on May 6 before the lighting issues forced an early end to the night. Denue drew the pole for the race and held on strong early in the feature.
Unfortunately, it seemed like Denue was trying a little too hard. The No. 145 Chevrolet Camaro got a little wide in turn 4 on lap 9. That was all O’Brien needed to stick his No. 57 out in front. From there, the Lee, Mass. native pulled away to take the Clash victory and the spoils therein.
Hatch earned his second second-place finish of the night in his No. 50, while Ray Hall Sr. was third. Denue held on for fourth, while Deak was fifth.
Contractor Sales/Boomer’s Performance Modified Feature Results (30 laps, held over from May 6): 1) Brett Hearn, 2) J.R. Heffner, 3) Kenny Tremont Jr., 4) Keith Flach, 5) L.J. Lombardo, 6) Wayne Jelley, 7) Steve Hough, 8) Andy Bachetti, 9) Kolby Schroder, 10) Denny Soltis, 11) Kyle Armstrong, 12) Kyle Hoffman, 13) Elmo Reckner, 14) Olden Dwyer, 15) Ken McGuire, 16) Mike Keeler, 17) Brian Berger, 18) Kyle Sheldon, 19) Eddie Marshall, 20) Paul Gilardi, 21) Matt Pupello, 22) Mike King, 23) Rob Pitcher, 24) Chad Jeseo. DNS: Stewart Friesen, Kenny Aanonsen Jr.
Madsen Overhead Doors/Mark’s News & Variety Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Kenny Tremont Jr., 2) Elmo Reckner, 3) Keith Flach, 4) Brett Hearn, 5) J.R. Heffner, 6) Paul Gilardi, 7) Wayne Jelley, 8) Andy Bachetti, 9) Chad Jeseo, 10) Steve Hough, 11) Kyle Armstrong, 12) L.J. Lombardo, 13) Matt Pupello, 14) Kolby Schroder, 15) Ken McGuire, 16) Denny Soltis, 17) Kyle Sheldon, 18) Olden Dwyer, 19) Mike Keeler, 20) Mike King, 21) Brian Berger, 22) Rob Pitcher, 23) Eddie Marshall, 24) Kyle Hoffman, 25) Dave McFeeters
-Lebanon Valley Speedway Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com