By DINO OBERTO
(LEHIGHTON, PA. 9-23-17) With his class leading fifth win of the season, Kris Graver moved one step closer to a second Modified championship with a solid rout in Saturday night’s 35-lap feature at Mahoning Valley Speedway.
The victory also gave the 24-year old star his 50th overall Mahoning win and second in a row. Graver had won the ATQMRA TQ main the week prior.
“We have been struggling a little bit of late with this new right side tire compound but I feel we’re on to something right now and we’ll keep working on it,” said Graver.
“Being this young to get 50 career wins is incredible. You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with and I can’t thank my crew enough. Everyone has been working so hard and we’ll see how the rest of the season goes from here.”
Graver was sixth on the starting grid. The race began with Ron Haring Jr., and Roger Heffelfinger Jr. bringing the field around for the race commencing green with Haring jumping to the early lead.
Nick Baer was able to procure second place and was making Haring know that he wanted his spot as well. With the help of a restart on lap seven, Baer used that opportunity to take over the lead.
Two laps late Graver, running on the outside, went to second while Joey Jarowicz motored into third. The lead battle quickly became intense as Baer and Graver raced two-wide for the next several laps.
Graver persisted to give Baer a hard, clean run and finally got his way with the conclusion of lap 15.
“Normally if my car is good and I can get to the front I will be patient. But the lane was there alongside Nick (Baer) and I was in the front before long,” said Graver. “He didn’t make it easy that’s for sure but I appreciate that he ran me clean.”
Over the remaining laps Graver was on cruise control. There still remained the battle for second, however. Jarowicz had taken the runner-up position on a lap 20 and was holding his own until the late stages when John Markovic was on the charge. With five laps to go Markovic had picked up the spot but any chance at Graver would never happen as the laps ran out.
With four point paying races remaining Graver holds the edge over Brian DeFebo but admitted that he is never really looking further than the race at hand.
“I don’t think about the championship. I just come here to win every week and the points will take care of themselves,” said Graver.
Late Model winner Jeremey Miller missed the call to the green the week prior when his steering failed while in the staging area. Miller clearly made up for lost time as he grabbed the lead at the start and would never relinquish it over the 25-lap distance.
And, while the record will show that he led every lap, it was anything but that. Miller had Lorin Arthofer II and Frankie Althouse all over him with each passing lap. On any giving circuit either one was making bids at the lead, but each time Miller was able to hold his stance and go on to his second win of the year.
“I just tried to stay where I had to. My car was good in the lower to middle groove and that was how I was able to fight them off,” said Miller.
“I saw them on both sides of me and I just had to figure on how to beat them off the corners. Luckily I was able to hold my line and here we are with the win.”
Jared Ahner picked up his second win of the season that was an all-out barnburner.
Ahner worked feverishly to gain the lead over Jamie Smith which he did thanks to the aid of a restart on lap 18. Smith, though, would not tapper off and remained just a half car length of Ahner.
Not only was Ahner having to deal with Smith but Stacey Brown as well who was making things very intense as the race was coming to a close.
Steven Steigerwalt was also in the mix and made the final laps thrilling. On the concluding tour Ahner was still keeping a slight edge on Smith while Steigerwalt nosed by Brown. When the group reached the finish line it was under a blanket with Ahner just barely holding on for the exhilarating verdict.
Mike Stofflet’s 12th Dirt Mod victory of the season and 30th with the class not only continued his amazing drive but it sealed his name into the record books as the 2017 champion.
Johnny Bennett wasted no time in grabbing the lead in the Pro 4 main and then remaining there the rest of the way for his third win.
The Hobby Stocks ran a pair of features, the first a make-up from August 19 which was claimed by point leader Austin Beers and then regular run show that saw rookie Trisha Connolly score for her second win this year.
Modified Feature Finish (35 Laps): 1. Kris Graver, 2. John Markovic, 3. Joey Jarowicz, 4. Brian DeFebo, 5. Ron Haring Jr., 6. Gene Bowers, 7. Bobby Jones, 8. Kyle Strohl, 9. James Pritchard, 10. Nick Bear, 11. Lou Strohl, 12. Terry Markovic, 13. Roger Heffelfinger, 14. Jacob Kerstetter, 15. Josh Oswald
Late Model Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Jeremy Miller, 2. Frankie Althouse, 3. Lorin Arthofer, 4. Jacob Kerstetter, 5. Mike Sweeny, 6. Dylan Osborn, 7. George Ramos, 8. Austin Santee, 9. Kenny Hein
Street Stock Feature Finish (30 Laps): 1. Jared Ahner, 2. Jamie Smith, 3. Steven Steigerwalt, 4. Stacey Brown, 5. Alan Schlenker, 6. Cody Geist, 7. Jill Long, 8. Mark Deysher, 9. Corey Edelman, 10. Jon Moser, 11. Todd Ahner, 12. Eric Kocher, 13. Rick Reichenbach, 14. Ken Erney III, 15. BJ Wambold, 16. Shayne Geist, 17. Steve Hoffman, 18. Dennis Buss
Dirt Mod Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Mike Stofflet, 2. Bill Sittler, 3. Patrick Corrigan, 4. Vincent Fegley Jr., 5. Corey Edelman
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Johnny Bennett, 2. Kevin Stein, 3. Briggs Danner, 4. Bobby Kibler Jr., 5. Jake Kibler, 6. Ken Reeder, 7. Randy Schaffer
Make-up 8/19 Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1.Austin Beers, 2. Devin Schmidt, 3. Al Arthofer, 4. Michael Wambold, 5. Beau Drobot, 6. Ryan Berger, 7. Avery Arthofer, 8. Justin Merkel, 9. Jacob Boehm, 10. Travis Solomon, 11. Samantha Osborn, 12. Todd Geist, 13. Paul Effrig, 14. Nikolas Kerstetter, 15. Rich Mutarelli, 16. Keith Boehm, 17. Trisha Conley, DNS: Shawn Kistler, Colton Breiner
Regular Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Connelly, 2. Wambold, 3. Effrig, 4. Schmidt, 5. Beers, 6. Markel, 7. Al Arthofer, 8. Osborn, 9. Drobot, 10. Berger, 11. Peyton Arthofer, 12. Buss, 13. Jacob Boehm, 14. Nicholas Kerstetter, 15. Keith Boehm, 16. Jeff Biegley, 17. Solomon, 18. Altemose, 19. Avery Arthofer DNS: Mutarelli