By DINO OBERTO
(LEHIGHTON, Pa. 6-4-16) You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night of racing at Lehighton’s Mahoning Valley Speedway, coming on Baltimore Life Insurance Fan Appreciation Night as a packed house was treated to a thrilling night of stock car action. All seven classes provided excellent racing with extremely close finishes.
In the Modifieds it was as a good as could be. Leading from the outset Wharton, New Jersey’s Don Wagner was under enormous pressure from the get-go en route to posting a thrilling victory over Eric Beers, who started 17th and last.
Kyle Strohl went after Wagner and showed great potential at first before Earl Paules stepped in to challenge. Both Strohl and Paules leaned heavy on the leader but he stayed solid.
“It was a hard fought one and I just put it on the bottom and protected for 35 laps and man they were all over me. I hate to say that I protected the lead but that’s what I did. You have to do that here” said Wagner.
“Kyle (Strohl) is a good young racer and I enjoy running with him and Earl (Paules) is as good as it gets. It’s just a tough field of cars this year,”
While the racing was close at the front, Beers was in his own battle as he was quickly picking his way through the pack and within 15 laps had entered the top five. Paules and Strohl were still hounding Wagner while Beers just kept digging.
Then three laps from the finish Beers had the energetic crowd on its feet after his amazing drive through the field as he was now bearing down on Wagner.
The two stars then began a side-by-side duel over the final three circuits. Heading towards the checkers Beers was flat-footing on the outside but Wagner, who lost to him just the week prior, wheeled his way across the finish for his first win of the season by a mere .049-second margin of victory.
“I had no idea he (Beers) was the car alongside me. The man is smart and he never showed his hand and I never knew he was there until I saw him to the outside on the last lap,” said Wagner.
“There can’t be any margin for error at Mahoning. You got to be on the wheel every lap that you’re out there.”
Strohl bounced back over Paules to get a season best third while John Markovic completed the top five. For Wagner it was his 18th Mahoning win and fulfilling a comeback from a grinding crash on May 7.
“We’ve done our homework and we put the car back together and it’s good and we’re still going to run for a championship here this year,” he added.
Mike Sweeney of Nesquehoning drove to his second straight Late Model win in what has thus far been a near perfect season. He reeled off four straight runner-ups and then got on the winning track over the past two weeks.
Sweeney, driving the only Ford car in the class, went by early leader Loring Arthofer II at the completion of lap 10 and then made perfect turns the rest of the way, taking the victory over Jeremy Miller and Frankie Althouse.
In the Street Stocks Lehighton’s Dan Freundt qualified for his first feature of the season and having the benefit of starting from the pole, went on to lead every lap and notch his first win with the class.
Josh Mooney and Zach Graver offered up plenty of opposition, especially from Graver who was making a serious bid for the lead and was on the cusp of working his way past when a caution flag waved and negated his effort. Then while under yellow his car lost power and he his night was done.
When the action resumed Freundt still had Mooney on him and soon came Greg Long. Long was able to get around Mooney within the final 10 laps but Freundt was determined and held his ground for the well-earned verdict.
Defending Dirt Mod champ Ricky Yetter of Easton was back in the Winner’s Circle for the first time this year and he made it perfect from the start by leading every lap throughout the night.
Yetter got things underway by scoring his heat win and then from the pole in the feature he quickly make it a race for second as the powered out front for all 25 caution free laps and his 17th career Mahoning victory.
The much improved Billy Lasko finished second with Mike Stofflet third.
After a slow start to the season, Schnecksville’s Cody Kohler, the defending Pro 4 champ, is starting to hit his stride as he wheeled to his second consecutive win.
Shawn Kistler had led the early laps before Josh Scherer unseated him. Kohler was in line with the then leader and under a lap10 caution Scherer dropped out. Kohler assumed the lead the rest of the way for the score over Tyler Stangle.
The Hobby Stock feature was a real nail bitter as Devon Schmidt of Lehighton eked out his career first and by a whisker.
With a few laps to go Shayne Geist was lead with Schmidt riding his tail. Lapped traffic with a few laps to go allowed Schmidt to pull along Geist and over the final lap, after clearing all the back markers, they went two-wide heading to the finish. Schmidt, on the inside edged ahead as they reached the line and claimed the win by .008-second.
In the Micro Stock main Bobby Wagner of Roxbury, New Jersey squeaked out a close win over Alex Greenzweig.
Modified Feature Finish (35 Laps): 1. Don Wagner, 2. Eric Beers, 3. Kyle Strohl, 4. Earl Paules, 5. John Markovic, 6. Austin Kochenash, 7. Kristopher Graver, 8. Nick Baer, 9. Jack Ely, 10. Bobby Jones, 11. Jimmy Zacharias, 12. Gene Bowers, 13. Terry Markovic, 14. Todd Baer, 15. Brian Labar, 16. Broc Brown, 17. Lou Strohl
Late Model Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Mike Sweeny, 2. Jeremy Miller, 3. Frankie Althouse, 4. Paul Skodacek, 5. Lorin Arthofer, 6. Kenny Hein, 7. Paul Koehler Jr., 8. Josh Oswald, 9. Chris Anderson, 10. Jacob Kerstetter, 11. Jacob Nemeth
Street Stock Feature Finish (30 Laps): 1. Dan Freundt, 2. Greg Long, 3. Josh Mooney, 4. Jon Moser, 5. Corey Edelman, 6. Kristy Arthofer, 7. Jared Ahner, 8. Todd Ahner, 9. Stacey Brown, 10. Justin Mooney, 11. Randy Ahner Jr., 12. Jason Kuhn, 13.Mark Martini, 14.Chip Wanamaker, 15. Jon Tracy, 16. Aaron Kromer, 17. Jamie Smith, 18. Logan Boyer, 19. Zach Graver, 20. Jason Frey, 21. George Ramos DNQ: Eric Kocher, Dennis Buss, Kevin Weierbach, Mike Piechota, Rick Reichenbach, Jacob Kerstetter, Jeremy Scheckler
Dirt Mod Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Ricky Yetter, 2. Billy Lasko, 3. Mike Stofflet, 4. Scott Adams, 5. Aleia Geisler, 6. Paul Effrig, 7. Scott Hyland, 8. Ray Deemer
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Cody Kohler, 2. Tyler Stangle, 3. Shawn Kistler, 4. Kevin Graver Jr., 5. Jake Kibler, 6. Bobby Kibler Jr., 7. John Bennett, 8. Shawn Hoffman, 9. Kailyn Beers, 10. Josh Scherer, 11. Latonia Barlow
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Devon Schmidt, 2. Shayne Geist, 3. Cody Geist, 4. Jesse Strohl, 5. Rich Mutarelli, 6. Randy Sicher, 7. Austin Beers, 8. Avery Arthofer, 9. Tiffany Wambold, 10. Nicholas Kerstetter, 11. Phillip Sabatine, 12. Taylor Santee, 13. Dean Strohl Jr., 14. Travis Nothstein, 15. Ryan Berger, 16. Michael Wambold, 17. Travis Solomon, 18. Colton Perry, 19. Ken Reeder DNS: Dean Strohl Sr. DNQ: Elmer Kennedy