LEHIGHTON, PA — In what was nothing short of one very thrilling race, Don Wagner eked out a grueling, hard fought win over Kris Graver and Eric Beers and recorded his third win of the season on Saturday night at Mahoning Valley Speedway.
The trio made it anyone’s race as they all wheeled under the tight quarter’s right down to the finish. Wagner and Graver went at it at in a two-by-two battle while Beers was persistently peeking to their inside.
Wagner, who started from the pole, took the early lead while third starting Graver and fifth starting Beers merged in line with him by completion of lap one. Graver then went to the outside and would have his bumper in front of the pack at the start of lap six.
From there he was able to pull to a slightly comfortable lead until the race went under a red flag situation on lap 19. Several cars had tangled on the back straight with the worst of them being Eric Kocher who had a grinding hit against the wall. He was unscathed but his car’s front end was badly mangled.
When the race resumed Graver had concerns. Running with an older set of Hoosier tires, he knew the restart would be make or break for him. Unfortunately it would be the latter. While he did hold off Wagner, it was a second restart on lap 22 that would be his demise. It was at that instant Wagner was able to recapture the top spot.
“I knew as soon as that red flag came out we were in trouble. We were on used tires so that put an extra heat cycle in them and I knew he (Wagner) was going to be better on the restart because of that and I’m way underpowered compared to him,” said Graver.
With a dozen laps to run, Graver, as well as Beers, stayed glued to Wagner. Graver for the most part was right alongside. Beers also had a shot at the lead when the front dual battled off the preferred line and opened up the inside lane. Beers made a brief attempt to pass them but used his better judgment to back off at the last second when room had run out.
“It shows that starting on the pole with this group of racers at this place is not easy. This is probably the worst place I can start on the pole. I’m a bad leader and a better follower,” said Wagner.
“We’ve been working on our car lately and we want to win races. You win them on the last lap and not the first one lap. We’re strong in the end now.”
While settling for second, Graver has jumped back into the point’s lead over Earl Paules with five races to go.
“I’ll take second, we’re in one piece and it was tough work out there. I don’t care about the points. I care about getting the good finishes and bringing it home. I come here to race and that’s what I do,” added Graver.
While Paules may have fell back in points in the Modifieds, he regained the standings lead with the Late Models thanks to his solid performance in winning for a seventh time this year.
Paules would start eighth and then methodically began picking cars off until reaching leader Jeremy Miller but lap six. Choosing to take his patented outside line, he then rushed by Miller two laps later and cruised the rest of the way.
Frankie Althouse, who had started out the night as the point leader, was second with Mike Sweeney coming in third. All three are now first, second and third respectively heading into the final few races for the championship.
The Annual Mike Krempasky Memorial Triple 19s for Street Stocks was a homerun event as 30 cars attempted to make the grid for the three 19 lap feature races that paid extra cash and awards in each.
And, while a stellar field was on hand that included a host of track heavy hitters, it was a recent newcomer that stole the headlines as Rich Emel surprisingly won two of the three races. In between Randy Ahner Jr., was also victorious.
Emil earned the pole for the first race and never relinquished it as he would go on to win his career first stock car feature race over point leader TJ Gursky.
In the second main Gursky passed early leader Jonathan Tracey on a lap 11 restart and then went on to his division leading third win of the season.
In the finale Emil showed that his early win was no fluke. It was a David vs. Goliath type setting as reining track champion Chip Wanamaker started at the front but Emil was able to pull in behind him by lap four. He didn’t settle very long there either as on lap seven of 19 Emil hustled to the inside of Wanamaker and after an exciting few laps of side-by-side action, he grabbed the lead with nine laps to go and held on for a second and very exhilarating win.
Ricky Yetter proved unstoppable in winning for the second time this year with the Dirt Mods. Yetter led from the drop of the green and was nowhere to be found among the rest of the pack as he simply dominated from start to finish.
In Pro 4’s it was Cody Kohler notching a second win of ’14. Kohler led every lap but it was no easy task as he held back the top two class contender Jake Kibler and Nick Baer enroute to the win.
Rich Mutarelli won for a fourth straight time in the Hobby Stocks and in doing so set a new division record for consecutive wins.
-Mahoning Valley Speedway Press Release
Modified Feature Finish (35 Laps): 1. Don Wagner, 2. Kris Graver, 3. Eric Beers, 4. Earl Paules, 5. Rick Reichenbach, 6. John Bennett, 7. Kyle Strohl, 8. John Markovic, 9. Nevin George, 10. Chip Santee, 11. Brian Romig, 12. Lou Strohl, 13. Scott Meckes, 14. Mike Quinn, 15. Joe Mooney, 16. Paul Frantz, 17. Bob Snyder, 18. Roger Coss, 19. Eric Kocher, 20. Terry Markovic DNQ: Alan Creveling, Francis Gross III, Joe Stamm
Late Model Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Earl Paules, 2. Frankie Althouse, 3. Mike Sweeney, 4. Jeremy Miller, 5. Lou Strohl, 6. Paul Koehler Jr., 7. Jacob Nemeth, 8. George Ramos, 9. Geno Steigerwalt, 10. Jacob Nemeth, 11. Danielle Paules
1st Street Stock Feature Finish (19 Laps): 1. Rich Emil, 2. TJ Gursky, 3. Jon Smith, 4. Jillian Long, 5. Jared Ahner, 6. Troy Bollinger, 7. Jamie Smith, 8. Todd Ahner, 9. Randy Ahner Jr., 10. Jason Kuhn, 11. Zach Graver, 12. Josh Mooney, 13. Dave Chapman, 14. Jonathan Tracey, 15. Randy Schlenker, 16. Aaron Kromer, 17. Dan Freundt, 18. Gene Bowers, 19. Stacey Brown, 20. Chip Wanamaker, 21. Matt Wentz, 22. Brian Labar
2nd Street Stock Feature Finish (19 Laps): 1. Randy Ahner Jr., 2. Tracey, 3. Kuhn, 4. Todd Ahner, 5. Gursky, 6. Long, 7. Josh Mooney, 8. Kromer, 9. Bowers, 10. Jamie Smith, 11. Jon Smith, 12. Schlenker, 13. Emil, 14. Brown, 15. Wanamaker, 16. Jared Ahner, 17. Chapman, 18. Zach Graver, 19. Freundt, 20. Wentz, 21. Bollinger, 22. Labar
3rd Street Stock Feature Finish (19 Laps): 1. Emil, 2. Schlenker, 3. Kromer, 4. Wanamaker, 5. Josh Mooney, 6. Gursky, 7. Randy Ahner Jr., 8. Wentz, 9. Kuhn, 10. Zach Graver, 11. Jared Ahner, 12. Tracey 13. Todd Ahner, 14. Bowers, 15. Brown, 16. Long, 17. Jamie Smith, 18. Jon Smith, 19. Dan Freundt, 20. Dave Chapman, 21. Labar, 22. Bollinger
DNQ: Joe Mooney, Lonnie Behler Jr., Mike Garris Jr., Steven Steigerwalt, Cody Roth, Logan Boyer, Tiffany Wambold, Dennis Buss
Dirt Modified Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Ricky Yetter, 2. Jeff Parker, 3. Mike Stofflet, 4. Kevin Graver, Jr., 5. Aleia Geisler, 6. JP Curry, 7. Billy Lowden Jr., 8. Mark Martini, 9. Jack Ely, 10. Billy Lasko, 11. Drew Reinbold, 12. Dave Thomas, 13. Ray Deemer
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Cody Kohler 2. Jake Kibler, 3. Nick Baer, 4. JD Light, 5. Bobby Kibler Jr., 6. Dave Chapman, 7. Kevin Hoffman, 8. Chad Miller, 9. Jesse Snyder, 10. Kailyn Beers, 11. Tyler Stangle
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Rich Mutarelli, 2. Jeff Biegley, 3. Corey Edelman, 4. Tim Oswald, 5. Ron Heeter, 6. Sam Ryan, 7. Cody Geist, 8. Bob Azarowitz, 9. Justin Martison, 10. Lyndsay Buss, 11. Steve Gehman, 12. Alton Snyder Jr., 13. Steve McDonough, 14. Jay Skupski