By DINO OBERTO
(NORTHAMPTON, PA. 12-16-17) Mahoning Valley Speedway officially honored the 2017 division champions as well as others in various categories during the track’s Annual Awards Banquet held Saturday evening at the Northampton Community Center in Northampton.
Heading the list of titlists was Brian DeFebo who staked claim to his first Mahoning Modified title and seventh overall driving championship.
DeFebo got his season off the a great start by winning on Opening Day and added four more victories after all was said and done, including crucial back-to-back wins in the final two point races which ultimately sealed the deal. All total DeFebo had a division best seven heat wins, 18-top 5 and 24 out of 25-top 10 feature finishes, all tops in class and tied for most wins with five.
Kyle Strohl, Kris Graver, Bobby Jones and Lou Strohl filled out the top-5 in the standings while Nick Baer, who was the Most Improved Driver awardee, Joey Jarowicz, Eric Beers, John Markovic and Rookie of the Year Ron Haring Jr., rounded out the top-10.
Mike Sweeney defended his Late Model crown with a season filled with great runs and finishes. His Ford powered No. D11 was the best in class for both heat (13) and feature (8) wins. That number of main event victories aided in him for a second year in a row in being the Northeast’s overall top asphalt Late Model feature winner and boosting his career total to 54. This was Sweeney’s fourth career title, with a pair coming at Evergreen.
Runner-up Frankie Althouse and third in points Lorin Arthofer II gave Sweeney all he could handle this year. Jeremy Miller and George Ramos scored fourth and fifth respectively.
Completing the top 10 where Kenny Hein, Jacob Kerstetter, Dylan Osborne who was Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Driver Broc Brown and Jacob Nemeth.
Veteran racer Stacey Brown has been wheeling around Mahoning Valley for years but it wasn’t until this season that he finally picked up hard-fought and well-deserving title as 2017 Street Stock champion.
Brown bested Jared Ahner by less than 20 points. Although he only scored one verdict, it was instead his proficiency to be consistent each week that was the key to finishing at the top of the point’s ladder. 11 top-5 and a best in class 19 out of 21 top-10’s was how he did it.
Todd Ahner was third, Mark Deysher fourth and Corey Edelman fifth. Sixth through tenth went to Alan Schlenker, Rick Reichenbach, Jillian Long, 2018 Rookie of the Year Shayne Geist and Jamie Smith. BJ Wambold was selected as the Most Improved Driver award recipient.
Clarence Ruppert is an icon at Mahoning Valley as a past champion and many time winner. His grandson, Mike Stofflet, grew up watching and learning from the master and it paid off for the personable driver as he dominated his way to the Dirt Mod crown.
Stofflet rewrote the record books by becoming the division’s career wins leader now standing at 31, reeling off the most consecutive victories with 9 and scoring the most single season heats at 12.
Bill Stiller Jr. had a career second place finish and likewise Frank Parastino who was third.
Kevin Stein came back to racing this year and ran for the first time with the Pro 4s and the result was the champion’s trophy emblazed with his name.
On the strength of five wins and 20 out of 20 top-10s, Stein remained smooth, steady and fast once securing the point lead just past the midway juncture of the season. He was also awarded Rookie of the Year.
Top winner Jake Kibler, who despite a string of either first or second place tallies in the final weeks, settled for a respectable second. Early season point leader and Johnny Bennet, who was named Most Improved Driver, was third. Rookie of the Year Ken Reeder and Jeremy Guerra rounded out the top-5.
In just his second season of stock car racing second generation driver Austin Beers, son of multi-time champion Eric Beers, won the Hobby Stock championship. It was as hard fought as can be too as all year long Beers and Devin Schmidt as well Rich Mutarelli battled tooth and nail. And it wasn’t until the final lap of the final race that Beers was able to just nip Schmidt for the right to be named champion.
Beers also earned Most Improved Driver.
Michael Wambold was a respectable second followed by Mutarelli, Schmidt and Avery Arthofer in the final five. Trisha Connolly, a three time winner, was Rookie of the year and sixth in points with Travis Solomon, Ryan Berger, Al Arthofer and Paul Effrig completing the top-10.
Gary Woodring and Trisha Connelly were bestowed the Big Car and Small Car demo derby champs respectively.
Floyd Santee was recognized for his years as promoter with a special plaque presented to him on behalf of the entire staff.
Mike Warden was presented the Checkered Flag Fan Club Service Appreciation Award by club president and Mahoning chief starter Bob Stull.
To close out the evening webmaster David Kerper read a prepared statement from incoming promoter Jack Carlino who was unable to attend. Carlino congratulated all of the champions and competitors and noted how he is excited and looking forward to next season. He then went on to announce in his letter that Steve Fox has been named as Race Director and Dino Oberto will now serve as General Manager.