By DINO OBERTO
(LEHIGHTON, PA. 4-27-19) In Saturday night’s 35-lap Modified feature at Mahoning Valley Speedway, Brian DeFebo, Gene Bowers and Austin Kochenash gave the fans plenty to cheer and sneer about with some highly intense action amongst them. Bobby Jones then appeared ready to take a second straight win but in the end Don Wagner’s game of patience would prove best. Wagner grabbed the lead back from Jones with four laps to go and would notch his first in two seasons.
“There was some attrition up front and that helped to get us up there but with perseverance and staying out of trouble we got the job done. I think it was a great show for the fans,” said Wagner, who now has 21 Modified wins at Mahoning.
“There was a lot of beating and banging ahead of us and I just tried to keep my wheels straight and not get involved in any of that stuff and that’s how we ended up in Victory Lane. I like to size up my competition and keep an eye on them.”
From the outset DeFebo and Bowers were locked in tightly for the race lead while Josh Scherer and Kochenash kept within reach. Then with 14 laps compete Kochenash was on the move and able to work by Bowers and DeFebo. DeFebo felt he was roughed up some in the process and on the ensuing lap bumped into the rear of Kochenash which caused several cars to suddenly scatter, including that of Bowers who got the worse of it and ended his night on the back of a tow truck.
Wagner was then elevated into the top spot with previous week winner Jones in pursuit and point leader Anthony Sesely third.
When Terry Markovic spun on lap 24 that brought out a caution and Jones would use that restart to get by for the lead. Wagner, though, wasn’t about to settle for second and had his car working good enough on the outside to retake control four laps from the finish and go on to register the victory.
“This is my old car and it was intended for my son but he couldn’t make it tonight so I figured let’s take it out and see what we can do with it and it was like putting on a nice comfortable pair of jeans. This car was just so good tonight,” noted Wagner.
“I had lost the lead on a restart to Bobby (Jones) because I didn’t have a lot of horsepower with this car and once that happened I wanted it right back and I used the outside to get it,” he continued.
“Bobby is a tough racer. His car was tight and he knew the only way to get me was on a restart and he hit it perfect and got the jump on me but I saw his weak spot on the track and that’s where I pounced on him.”
Jones’ second place has him as the new point leader over Sesely. DeFebo bounced back to take third and likewise with Kochenash who was next in line. Earl Paules rounded out the top five.
Although the year of racing is still fresh it already has a late season feel to it between Frankie Althouse and Mike Sweeney who raced to a close one-two finish in the Late Model feature and are fighting for supremacy.
Both are battling for the top spot in the standings and coming into the night, Althouse, the defending champion and Sweeney, the 2016-17 titlist, where tied in points. When Althouse took the lead from Jeremy Miller on lap five he then was able to build some breathing room as Miller, Sweeney and Kenny Hein ran under a blanket.
But when a caution bunched the field at mid-race, Sweeney was able to stay with Althouse and from there to the checkers it was as close as could be. Although Althouse won for the second time in three starts, Sweeney has the point lead by one.
“We’ve never done it this early before getting back-to-back wins. Overall we have been showing good speed but we have to keep up with it because I know they’re all going to get faster,” offered Althouse.
“We completely went in a different direction tonight as far as some of the things we normally do. As long as we can keep doing what we’re doing we’ll take and take it all the way.”
In Street Stock action Eric Kocher took the lead over Corey Edelman on a lap-10 restart. Subsequently thereafter it would be those two who would battle for the win the rest of the way in a closely knit duel.
Kocher did a superb job of protecting the inside lane as Edelman tried his best to make way from his only other option, the topside. Mark Deysher backed up his win from a week ago with a solid third while Mark Martini got his third straight top five and Jon Moser was a respectable fifth.
Louie Horvath is a new comer to the Dirt Mods and Mahoning Valley. The former 600cc Micro Sprint racer was making just his second start on the pavement and it was a memorable one as he left as the winner.
The win came, however, after a rule infraction from a protest on would be winner Mike Stofflet. Stofflet was the leader for all 25 laps and what would have been his 40th class win never came to be after the DQ in postrace tech. Second place finisher Horvath was then awarded the verdict for what looks to be the first of many more to come.
Elder statesman Bobby Kibler Sr., once again proved best in the Pro 4s, winning for the second straight week. He was the leader after lap one and then had to contend with Cody Kohler who gave him a torrid fight for track position.
Kohler saw a chance to seize the lead on lap 15 but it turned out that not enough room was accessible to complete the pass and he wound up spinning. Defending champ Jake Kibler picked up the chase from there but to no avail as B. Kibler was the better car.
Peyton Arthofer started out 2019 with great potential but unfortunately Lady Luck wasn’t seeing it that way. The third generation driver was good over the first two weeks but ran into circumstances beyond her control.
That all went by the wayside on this night as she jumped into the early race lead from the outset and then began to cruise nicely ahead of the pack. However, in the closing circuits she had to encounter lapped traffic which allowed fast closing Phil Sabatine to zero in on her, but staying focused Arthofer held on for a thrilling half-car length victory, her second such with the class.
Modified Feature Finish (35-laps): 1. Don Wagner, 2. Bobby Jones, 3. Brian DeFebo, 4. Austin Kochenash, 5. Earl Paules, 6. Anthony Sesely, 7. John Markovic, 9. Ron Haring Jr., 10. Terry Markovic, 11.Josh Scherer, 12, Heath Metzger, 13. Gene Bowers, 14. Nick Baer, 15. Kyle Strohl
Late Model Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Frankie Althouse, 2, Mike Sweeney, 3. Jeremy Miller, 4. Matt Wentz, 5. Roc Brown, 6. Kenny Hein, 7. Brian Romig Jr., 8. Samantha Osborn, 9. Rick Smith, 10. Avery Arthofer
Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1. Eric Kocher, 2, Corey Edelman, 3, Mark Deysher, 4, Mark Martini, 5. Jon Moser, 6. Todd Ahner, 7. Jamie Smith. 8. Cody Geist, 9. Stacey Brown, 10. Randy Schlenker, 11. Johnnie Bennett, 12. Josh Mooney, 13. TJ Gursky, 14. Rick Reichenbach, 15. Jared Ahner, 16. Jillian Long, 17. Shayne Geist, 18. Brennen Coulter, 19. Bobby Kibler Jr., 20. Tucker Muffley, 21. Bill Hunara DNQ: Jake Kibler, Ken Erney III, Jeremy Scheckler
Dirt Mod Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Louie Horvath, 2. Corey Edelman, 3. Ricky Yetter, 4. Colton Perry, 5. Jeff Parker, 6. Billy Sittler Jr. DQ: Mike Stofflet
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20-laps): 1. Bobby Kibler Sr., 2. Jake Kibler, 3. Randy Schaffer, 4. Tucker Muffley, 5. Jeremy Guerra, 6. Colton Breiner, 7. Cody Kohler, 8. Tyler Stangle
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (20-laps): 1. Peyton Arthofer, 2. Phil Sabatine, 3. Trisha Connolly, 4. Travis Solomon, 5. Jacob Boehm, 6. Rich Mutarelli, 7. Al Arthofer, 8. Cody Boehm, 9. Daryl Rex, 10. Hunter Iatalese, 11. Kassidy Altemose, 12. Taylor Schmidt, 13. Lyndsay Buss, 14. Tad Snyder, 15. Terry Peters, 16. John Petro, 17. Mallory Kutz, 18. Peter Maier, 19. Tyler Nemeth, 20. Josh Oswald, 21. Shawn Kistler, 22. Devin Schmidt DNQ: Ralph Boger Jr.