By DINO OBERTO
(LEHIGHTON, PA. 6-24-17) Kris Graver has been riding a wave of good fortune of late and he reached the crest with yet another stirring performance. Fresh off his second Modified win of the season, the 24-year old star claimed two more wins on Saturday night which included his third Mod victory and for the first time in his career took the checkers in the accompanying ATQMRA feature.
“It’s always a great feeling to be able to win two (features) in one night plus this makes it two in a row with the Modified,” an exuberant Graver said.
“Eric Beers was in this same position last year, winning a lot of races but as you know your luck can change in an instant. We’ll continue to take it race by race. Eric (Beers), Brian DeFebo and so many others can be in the shoes we are right now so we have to keep working hard and make the car better.”
Graver’s Modified win began from the 10th starting spot. At the outset Jack Ely would be in command of the going but a strong running Nick Baer was making matters tough.
Thanks to a restart on lap six, Baer was able to blast past Ely while Graver had managed to work to third by then. It soon became a two-wide battle for the lead and with a clear outside lane to do his bidding from, Graver moved to the front as the 17th circuit got underway.
Baer, who has been noticeably improved in this his sophomore season, remained in line with Graver and made several attempts to regain the helm.
“He (Baer) ran a really great race, very clean and I thank him for that and that goes for everyone else,” said Graver. “I just was able to hit the lines again and get to the front. I like to go to the top because it seems more guys have been using the bottom lane so that’s what has been working for us.”
While Graver was able to pull ahead during the closing laps, Bear was facing fierce opposition from DeFebo, who came into the night as the point leader. He was alongside Baer with seven laps to go but they suddenly touched wheels. That forced DeFebo to back off and cost him the spot.
Baer went on to equal his career best finish in second while Bobby Jones, Beers and DeFebo completed the top five.
In the TQ main Graver was behind the wheel of the Matt Janisch owned No. 48. When the race got under way it would Janisch, who was driving the Alan Mollet’s No. 51, jumping out the early lead with Buddy Sload a close second.
Known for their lighting quick speed around the Mahoning bullring, Janisch and Sload began zipping in and out of traffic in short order. Sload took advantage of the traffic and would maneuver past Janisch after six laps. Still in their path remained Graver and two laps after Sload took the lead he had advanced to second.
On lap 10 a caution was out for a spinning Cole Mullen. Graver then put his years of home track advantage to good use as he outgunned Sload on the restart and set sail to his first every TQ victory.
“I cannot begin to explain how crazy it is to drive one of these cars as this track,” offered Graver. “We’re turning 9 (seconds) flat and going a second and a half faster than the Modified. There is virtually no time to react. I have an amazing amount of respect for the guys in the TQ’s.”
By winning with the TQ Graver has moved into a very exclusive club, becoming only the third driver to win in five different divisions at Mahoning Valley, which included his uncle, Kevin Graver Jr., and Mike Quinn.
“I can’t thank Matt Janisch and my crew enough for giving me a pair of great cars tonight. You’re only as good as the people you’re surrounded by. I also have to give a nod to American Racer Tire for continuing to give us a great tire. I feel that is has really equaled out the playing field here this season.”
In Late Model action Frankie Althouse was in the right place at the right time.
Sitting fourth, Althouse had been watching the lead battle between Jeremy Miller and Broc Brown while at the same time racing hard with Jacob Kerstetter.
The lead pair had been putting in torrid duel. Miller was showing the way but Brown had been coming on quickly from the outside line. Pulling even with Miller by lap 15, Brown then surged to the front at the start of the 18th tour.
However, Miller became a bit over-aggressive and made contact off turn two that caused Brown to spin. For his part officials parked Miller while Brown had to restart from the rear.
The lead was now in the hands of Kerstetter but as the event resumed Althouse wasted no time in thrusting ahead and over the remaining laps cruised to his second win of the season.
When your name is Wambold and you race at Mahoning Valley Speedway it’s only natural that you win races. From the patriarch George, his sons Brian and Michael and granddaughter Tiffany. There was, however, one missing from that list, that was until Saturday evening when BJ Wambold earned his first ever victory, coming in the 30-lap Street Stock main.
Wambold would jump to the early lead and was holding off Lonnie Behler Sr. Then after a lap 13 restart Behler was able to overpower his way into the front spot. Wambold far from giving up though as he kept a solid hold of the bottom lane and by lap 18 was back in front.
Then rest of the way he kept busy fending off Behler and then a very hot running Rick Reichenbach. But Wambold turned perfect laps on his way to the elusive win number one and add his name to the family winning heritage.
In the Dirt Mods Mike Stofflet celebrated his 30th birthday by notching an all-time track record eighth consecutive feature win.
Stofflet had the lead from the outset and never looked back, solidly taking an 8.3–second margin of victory.
The Pro 4 feature was quite the barnburner as Jake Kibler nipped Kevin Stein at the line for the verdict.
The pair were engaged in a scorching side-by-side battle as they swapped the lead back and forth. On the final lap Stein had the slightest edge but Kibler never backed down. Coming off the final turn on the final lap Kibler hustled inside of Stein, making contact that upset the leader’s car. It was just enough for Kibler to eke by for the checkers.
Kevin Behler raced to his career first feature win which came after hard fought run in the 25-lap Hobby Stock show.
Behler worked by Travis Solomon on lap 12 and then labored untiringly against Rich Mutarelli and Devon Schmidt en route to securing the win.
Modified Feature Finish (35 Laps): 1. Chris Graver, 2. Nick Bear, 3. Bobby Jones, 4. Eric Beers, 5. Brian DeFebo, 6. Jack Ely, 7. Kyle Strohl, 8. Don Wagner, 9. Brian Romig, 10. Ron Haring Jr., 11. Brian Romig Jr., 12. Lou Strohl
Late Model Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Frankie Althouse, 2. Jacob Kerstetter, 3. Kenny Hein, 4. Mike Sweeney, 5. Jacob Nemeth, 6. Broc Brown, 7. George Ramos, 8. Dylan Osborn, 9. Chris Anderson, 10. Lorin Arthofer, 11. Jeremy Miller
Street Stock Feature Finish (30 Laps): 1. BJ Wambold, 2. Rick Reichenbach, 3. Jared Ahner, 4. Corey Edelman, 5. Jon Moser, 6. Alan Schlenker, 7. Jamie Smith, 8. Lonnie Behler, 9. Steven Steigerwalt, 10. Todd Ahner, 11. Shayne Geist, 12. Stacey Brown, 13. Mark Deysher, 14. Jill Long, 15. Josh Huber, 16. Bobby Kibler Jr.
Dirt Mod Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Mike Stofflet, 2. Bill Sittler, 3. Frankie Parastino, 4. Larry Beers, 5. Denise Devine
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Jake Kibler, 2. Kevin Stein, 3. John Bennett, 4. Ken Reeder, 5. Tanner Laybourn, 6. Jason Finken, 7. Tucker Muffley, 8. Jeremy Guerra, 9. Kailyn Beers
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Kevin Behler 2. Rich Mutarelli, 3. Devon Schmidt, 4. Brayden Spencer, 5. Austin Beers, 6. Michael Wambold, 7. Tiffany Wambold, 8. Travis Solomon, 9. Todd Geist, 10. Colton Perry, 11. Al Arthofer, 12. Jeff Biegley, 13. Ryan Berger, 14. Cody Geist, 15. Avery Arthofer, 16. Trisha Connolly, 17. Paul Effrig, 18. Justin Merkel, 19. Joey Visnosky, 20. Seth VanFossen, 21. Alton Snyder Jr., 22. Lyndsay Buss DNQ: Nicholas Kerstetter, Colton Breiner, Taylor Schmidt
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