By DINO OBERTO
(LEHIGHTON, PA. 5-5-18) Mahoning Valley Speedway had an evening of racing that the late promoter Ward Crozier Sr., would have been proud of. On a night that paid homage to his legacy, the pits had nearly 100 race cars, the grandstands where buzzing with enthusiastic fans and the racing was action filled across all seven divisions.
It fit perfectly into the style of Crozier and his concept of how racing should be held at his beloved Mahoning Valley Speedway, the paved ¼-mile oval that he brought back to life in 1987. 31 years later and the same formula changed very little.
As part of the tribute all features where run as 26-lappers which was reflective of Crozier’s racing days and his signature car number.
Bobby Jones of Palmerton got his start in racing thanks to the kind outreaching of Crozier nearly 30 years ago. Fittingly Jones was humbled when he scored a wild Modified victory, his second in a row. Jones’ first ride in a race car was aided when Crozier offered up a driver’s suit.
“I said I had to win this tonight because of him (Crozier) I’m still doing this today,” offered Jones.
And, the outcome was just as much a surprise to Jones as was everyone in attendance.
DJ Wagner was leading and looking unstoppable en route to a career first Modified win. However, with six laps to go light droplets of rain moved in and prompted the caution. The field remained on the track in order to keep the surface in tack. While touring under the yellow, Wagner abruptly exited the track and yielded the lead over to John Markovic.
The driver’s where then asked to relay to officials if the pavement was good to go back green as the rain halted and the answer was all thumbs up. When the race resumed Markovic had Lou Strohl on his tail while Jones was third.
If the surprise of Wagner exiting wasn’t enough of a blow, no sooner did the first lap get underway the race took another wild turn. In corners three and four Markovic suddenly drifted high and made slight side contact with Strohl who was hustling for the lead. The lane opened up wide enough that Jones dove to the bottom and a thrilling three-wide pass for the lead ensued.
“It was a bit weird how everything just fell in place. Johnny (Markovic) went up and got into the 88 (Strohl) and the door opened up and I wasn’t even ready for it,” explained Jones.
For the remaining few laps point leader Brian DeFebo leaped into second and hounded Jones to the checkers.
“When they asked us to give a thumbs up or down I had mine up, I felt we really never lost the track. I didn’t realize he (Wagner) got off at first. No one ever told us to get off and to just keep rolling,” recalled Jones about the wet condition situation.
“I didn’t realize he did it at first. Honestly I think he would have won the race. The track was fine after we restarted.”
Earl Paules, Todd Baer and Markovic completed the top five.
Jones has been on a roll winning his fourth feature in the last six races dating to the prior season.
“Four of the last six races going back to last season. I’ll take that. Right now we got it going on and I’ll ride it out as long as we can,” Jones said after picking up his 39th career win.
Broc Brown blasted by Jacob Kerstetter on lap seven and then cruised dominantly to his first Late Model win of the season in a caution free race that was over in just under five minutes.
Seeing the name Beers as the winner of a Modified race is nothing new as Eric Beers has won time and again. Saturday night the Beers Modified was again gracing Victory Lane only this time it was Eric’s son Austin who was collecting the accolades.
The 15-year old Beers drove to his career first Sportsman Modified win and did so over longtime rival of his dad, Earl Paules. The two would run toe-to-toe for the lead until Beers solidified the top spot for good with 10 laps to go and drove flawlessly to the decisive verdict.
Defending Dirt Mod champ Mike Stofflet made it known from the get-go that he was going to be the man to beat. Taking the lead from the outset Stofflet was on a mission as he stayed well ahead of the pack over the distance and notched a solid victory, his first of the year.
The Street Stock main was the 600th such feature and Corey Edelman was able to hold off a very determined Jon Moser in claiming the thrilling win.
Edelman took control of the race on lap 13 but was in heavy company the rest of the way, having to withstand Mark Deysher and eventually Moser. The finish was a squeaker as he nipped Moser by a mere .038-second margin of victory.
Cody Kohler showed plenty of swiftness on his way to a second straight Pro 4 triumph. After going around Bobby Kibler Sr., on lap eight for the lead Kohler was not about to let up and held back Barry Christman Jr., and Jake Kibler for the resounding win.
The Hobby Stock feature was cut short due to an over expected amount of cautions and track cleanup but that didn’t seem deter Al Arthofer who won for the first time. It would be hard pressed to think otherwise that it was not to be his night as Arthofer was very strong in leading every lap.
Modified Feature Finish (26 Laps): 1. Bobby Jones, 2. Brian DeFebo, 3. Earl Paules, 4. Todd Baer, 5. John Markovic, 6. Lou Strohl, 7. Jack Ely, 8. Joey Jarowicz, 9. DJ Wagner, 10. Don Wagner, 11. Ron Haring Jr., 12. Nick Baer, 13. Kristy Arthofer, 14. Kyle Strohl, 15. Gene Bowers, 16. Terry Markovic
Late Model Feature Finish (26 Laps): 1. Broc Brown, 2. Jacob Kerstetter 3. Jeremy Miller, 4. Frankie Althouse, 5. Mike Sweeney, 6. Geno Steigerwalt, 7. Paul Koehler Jr., 8. Matt Wentz, 9. Kenny Hein, 10. Samantha Osborn, 11. Robbie Kutz, 12. Taylor Schmidt
Street Stock Feature Finish (26 Laps): 1. Corey Edelman, 2. Jon Moser, 3. Cody Geist, 4. Jaren Ahner, 5. Shayne Geist, 6. Jamie Smith, 7. Eric Kocher, 8. Jillian Long, 9. Stacey Brown, 10. Lonnie Behler, 11. Mark Deysher, 12. Jeremy Scheckler, 13. BJ Wambold, 14. Ken Erney III, 15, Todd Ahner, 16. Ken Reeder, 17. Joe Stangle
Dirt Modified Feature Finish (26 Laps): 1. Mike Stofflet, 2. Ricky Yetter, 3. Billy Lowden Jr., 4. Bill Sittler Jr., 5. Corey Edelman, 6. Mark Levy, 7. Colton Perry, 8. Vince Fegley Jr., 9. Brian Fuclli
Sportsman Modified Feature Finish (26 Laps): 1. Austin Beers, 2. Earl Paules, 3. Kassidy Altemose, 4. Blair Culhane, 5. Devin Schmidt, 6. Avery Arthofer, 7. BJ Wambold
Pro 4 Feature Finish (26 Laps): 1. Cody Kohler, 2. Barry Christman Jr., 3. Jake Kibler, 4. Bobby Kibler Jr., 5. Jeremy Guerra, 6. Steven McDonough, 7. Bryan Muth, 8. Randy Schaffer, 9. Johnny Bennett, 10. Tucker Muffley, 11. Josh Kuronya, 12. Tyler Stangle
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (16 Laps): 1. Al Arthofer, 2. Travis Solomon, 3. Trisha Connolly, 4. Devin Schmidt, 5. Ryan Berger, 6. Lyndsay Buss, 7. Peyton Arthofer, 8. Tad Snyder, 9. Adrian Dorwart, 10. Michael Wambold, 11. Arland Moyer Jr., 12. Justin Merkel, 13. Shawn Kistler, 14. Jacob Boehm, 15. Kassidy Altemose, 16. Kevin Behler, 17. Tiffany Wambold, 18. Hunter Iatalese, 19. Cody Boehm DNS: Taylor Schmidt, DNQ: Colton Breiner