By DINO OBERTO
(LEHIGHTON, PA. 9-9-17) Mahoning Valley is well known for its core of veteran Modified stars but a pair of young guns showed that the future is also in good hands as Gene Bowers and Jack Ely scored impressive wins on Saturday evening.
Bowers made a crowd thrilling pass over Bobby Jones with one lap to go to win the make-up feature from August 19 which netted him his first win with a Modified.
In the regular feature Ely was settled in behind Brian Labar and seemed content to ride home second but as the laps clicked off he had the power to drive to the lead and go on to win for the first time this season.
In the make-up race Lou Strohl and Ron Haring Jr., brought the field to the green with Strohl jumping into the early lead. Fifth starting Bowers made haste as he picked his way to second in just six laps.
The race was fast-paced as only one caution would slow the action and that didn’t occur until lap 30. That in turn made for some very high stakes action as the front runners ran tightly grouped.
Jones and Bowers at most times where two-wide while hanging closely with Strohl. On lap 17 Jones used the outside line to work by Strohl for the lead.
Bowers was then chomping at the bit as he pressured Jones but had to also contend with Strohl. Lap after lap Jones was fending off the pair as they each made relentless attempts at his lead.
A break in the action finally came with five lap to go but unfortunately it would involve Strohl who spun under the tight conditions.
Despite the single file restart, Bowers wasted no time in going the outside of Jones. Momentum was on his side as he used the clear lane to be scored the lead as the white flag was waved. Over the final circuit it was side-by-side with Bowers nipping Jones for his memorable victory.
“It feels awesome. To win in a Modified is something I always dreamed about as far as racing goes and to finally get it and in such a dramatic fashion was amazing,” said Bowers.
“Honestly I had this feeling the past week that something good was going to come soon but to pull this off with this group of guys who have been racing Modifieds almost as long as I’ve been alive, that says a lot for this team.”
In the regular scheduled show Troy Bollinger slipped by Terry Markovic on lap two and controlled the lead while holding back Nick Baer. Labar was showing great strength as well and began dueling with Baer for second.
A skirmish on lap 15 put a halt to the action. The incident involved Markovic, Haring and Eric Beers who saw his night end there.
At the resumption Labar was able to overtake Bollinger for the lead. Ely in the meantime had worked up to third and was sizing up his chance to take second spot which he succeeded to do in by lap 21.
Labar was now in Ely’s his sights although the leader looked significant to stay the course. With the help of no cautions the rest of the way, Ely used that to his advantage.
“When we got into second I was able to chase down Brain (Labar) and he was running well. But our car was working so good and I started to get solid runs going into the corners and I felt I had a shot at this so I was up on the wheel,” said Ely. “He raced me clean for the lead and I can’t thank him enough.
“I think it was a great show tonight for the fans and it looks like the youth is taking over here at Mahoning Valley.”
In the previous Late Model race, Frankie Althouse was within reach of victory but he unfortunately got tangled and crashed with a few laps to go. The typical resilient Althouse rallied as he always does in those situations and the result was a fourth win of the year.
Althouse motored by Kenny Hien after five laps and from there cruised to the checkers. Point leader Mike Sweeney was second but Althouse was too far gone by the end for him to make a challenge.
Jake Kibler scored big in the special 40-lap/$400 to win Pro 4 feature. Kibler zipped into the lead after eight laps and would then leave everyone to battle for second and beyond as the veteran roared to his fourth win of the season and 30th career victory.
Corey Edelman notched his first Street Stock win of the year but not in the car he started out the day in. Edelman was at the track early on to work out some bugs but soon found out that additional problems had compounded things.
He then loaded up and headed back home to make a swap. The back-up car, despite not being run at all this year, was quickly gone over and ready by race time.
When the feature began Edelman was settled in behind then leader Alan Schlenker and before long they began a fierce battle. With eight laps to go Edelman got the upper hand and went on to gain the verdict.
In the Dirt Mods it only took Mike Stofflet one week to get back into the winning groove. After losing for the first time the race prior, Stofflet wasted no time in this week’s event as he took the lead from the get-go and sailed on to his 11th triumph in 12 starts.
Todd Geist is a wily veteran who has deep roots among the local asphalt racing community. He has not raced much in the past few years instead opting to help out his sons, Shayne and Cody Geist build on their budding careers.
His boys, however, wanted to show their appreciation and built dad a Hobby Stock. In turn the elder Geist rewarded their efforts with a well-run race and his first win in eight years.
Make-up 8/19 Modified Feature Finish (35 Laps) 1. Gene Bowers, 2. Bobby Jones, 3. Brian DeFebo, 4. Kyle Strohl, 5. Eric Beers, 6. Zane Zeiner, 7. Jack Ely, 8. Kris Graver, 9. John Markovic, 10. Don Wagner, 11. Roger Heffelfinger, 12. Joey Jarowicz, 13. Terry Markovic, 14. Ron Haring Jr., 15. Lou Strohl, 16. Nick Baer, 17. Josh Oswald, 18. Troy Bollinger, 19, Brian Labar, 20. Robert Wagner DNS: James Pritchard Jr.
Modified Feature Finish (35 Laps): 1. Ely, 2. Kyle Strohl, 3. Zeiner, 4. Labar, 5. Jones, 6. DeFebo, 7. Jarowicz, 8. John Markovic, 9. Kris Graver, 10. Nick Baer, 11. Haydt, 12. Lou Strohl, 13. Bowers, 14. Todd Baer, 15. Wagner, 16. Bollinger, 17. Terry Markovic, 18. Haring Jr., 19. Beers, 20. Heffelfinger Jr. DNQ: Josh Oswald, Kevin Graver Jr., Scott Miller, Jacob Kerstetter
Late Model Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Frankie Althouse, 2. Mike Sweeney, 3. Lorin Arthofer, 4. Jeremy Miller, 5. Dylan Osborn, 6. Kenny Hein, 7. George Ramos, 8. Geno Steigerwalt, 9. Mike Snyder, 10. Austin Santee
Street Stock Feature Finish (30 Laps): 1. Corey Edelman, 2. Alan Schlenker, 3. Rick Reichenbach, 4. Steven Steigerwalt, 5. Mark Deysher, 6. Cody Geist, 7. Todd Ahner, 8. Stacey Brown, 9. Jon Moser, 10. Josh Scherer, 11. BJ Wambold, 12. Jared Ahner, 13. Jill Long, 14. Jamie Smith, 15. Shayne Geist, 16. Ken Erney III, 17. Dennis Buss, 18. Devin Schmidt, 19. Steven Hoffman
Dirt Mod Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Mike Stofflet, 2. Jeff Parker, 3. Billy Lowden Jr., 4. Corey Edelman, 5. Brian Fuclli DNS: Denise Devine
Pro 4 Feature Finish (40 Laps): 1. Jake Kibler, 2.Kevin Stein, 3. John Bennett, 4. Bobby Kibler Jr., 5. Jason Finken, 6. Kailyn Beers, 7. Cody Kohler, 8. Josh Scherer, 9. Ken Reeder, 10. Josh Kuronya, 11. Tucker Muffley, 12. Randy Schaffer
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Todd Geist, 2. Devin Schmidt, 3. Rich Mutarelli, 4. Austin Beers, 5. Trisha Connolly 6. Al Arthofer 7. Michael Wambold, 8. Travis Solomon, 9. Justin Merkel, 10. Samantha Osborn, 11. Avery Arthofer, 12. Ryan Berger, 13. Beau Drobot, 14. Nicholas Kerstetter, 15. Taylor Schmidt, 16. Paul Effrig, 17. Lyndsay Buss, 18. Kevin Behler, 19. Peyton Arthofer