By DINO OBERTO
(LEHIGHTON, PA. 5-18-19) Bobby Jones’ decision to bypass the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Jersey’s Wall Stadium, which was to be his first attempt on that series, paid off in a big way for the Palmerton ace as he roared to his second Modified win of the season at Mahoning Valley Speedway and in the process padded his top spot in the championship standings.
By virtual of a mid-race scuffle that shook up the lead pair of Ron Haring Jr., and Gene Bowers, Jones would inherit the lead and then steadily drove ahead of runner-up Kyle Strohl on his way to career win number 41.
“We were supposed to be at Wall today running the (NASCAR) Tour race and that was special for me and the only thing that was going to keep me from being here tonight. Honestly that is where we wanted to race and not that I didn’t want to be here at Mahoning but luckily for us it paid off and we’re grateful for that. I’ll get my shot at a Tour race yet,” said Jones.
Haring set the quick pace once underway with Bowers and Kevin Rex Jr., chasing closely. Then on lap 12 the decisive moment of the race unfolded when coming off turn two Haring, who was on the outside line, stood looking to hit his mark for the next corner and as he was turning down Bowers made slight contact that caused the leader to spin and send several others scattering into turn three.
When the scene was cleared and the field reset Jones, third at the time, was placed first over Rex and Strohl. Jones then raced to textbook style the rest of the way with a flawless effort.
“I was watching those guys ahead of me and just tried to stay square behind them and it was unfortunate that that got together,” said Jones. “This car has been so strong for us this year and we’ve hit on one of the best set-ups that I’ve had under me in some time.”
Strohl, who the prior week had beat Jones to the checkers, took second after a close battle with Rex who got third for the second week in a row. An impressive run was turned in by Nick Baer. He ran strong all race long and was fourth while Josh Scherer completed the top five.
The Late Models ran a pair of features, the first a make-up from the previous week and then the regular scheduled show and splitting the wins where the top two in class as point leader Frankie Althouse raced to his third consecutive win in the first feature and in the nightcap Mike Sweeney produced his first win of 2019.
In race number one Althouse used a lap eight restart to drive past Kenny Hein for the lead and once there made it a race for second having no problem in keeping everyone in his rear.
The run for second saw yet another fine performance turned in by young Samantha Osborn who held off veterans Matt Wentz, Jeremy Miller and Sweeney.
In the later feature Sweeney thrust from third to first on the opening lap for his first time at leading this season. Being upfront was one thing but staying there turned out to be another as for most of the race he was being heavily pressured by Althouse who stayed bonded with him be it to his side or on his rear bumper.
But Sweeney would prevail and win 16 years to the day from his career first victory. For Sweeney it marked his 57th Late Model verdict.
Johnny Bennett continues to follow in the footsteps of his legendary dad, John Bennett. It started in the Pro 4s when he, like his dad became a winner. Now as rookie in the Street Stocks, that same path is continuing as the second generation driver drove the popular “Woolley Bully” to his career first class win.
An outside pass over Cody Geist on lap 13 of 30 put Bennett at the front and afterwards withstood a very determined Jared Ahner for the score.
A multiple winner in Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks, Corey Edelman can now add a Dirt Mod triumph to his list of conquests.
Driving Lynn Peters’ No. 611, Edelman had the lead from the get-go but worked his tail off in securing the victory as he fought hard in the waning laps with division kingpin Mike Stofflet. Stofflet made numerous attempts to pass but Edelman stayed strong and protected his spot with each passing lap.
At the checkers it was a crowd pleasing oh-so-close exhausting win, the 24th overall for Edelman.
By winning his first Pro 4 race of the season, Cody Kohler was able to snap the hold by Bobby Kibler Sr., and Jake Kibler who had been taking the headlines up to now.
B. Kibler was leading with five laps to go when J. Kibler tried to squeeze inside of him which did not pan out for either driver as they both went spinning.
Sitting third at the time was Kohler and when the race resumed he was perfect to the checkers. Tucker Muffley notched a career best second while B. Kibler rebounded to third and retained his point lead.
John Petro had a night he won’t soon forget. Racing for only the fourth time ever, he became a first time winner with the Hobby Stocks.
Piloting a car that a few months ago was his daily driver, Petro decided he wanted to go racing and built the car for competition. After mediocre runs the first three times out, Petro started on the pole on this night and would do a veteran-like job of fending off Devin Schmidt and Peyton Arthofer en route to the memory making win.
Modified Feature Finish (35-laps): 1. Bobby Jones, 2. Kyle Strohl, 3. Kevin Rex Jr., 4. Nick Baer, 5. Josh Scherer, 6. Ron Haring Jr., 7. John Markovic, 8. Gene Bowers, 9. Devin Schmidt, 10. Lorin Arthofer II, 11. Jacob Kerstetter, 12. Lou Strohl, 13. Terry Markovic, 14. Earl Paules, 15. Heath Metzger
Make-up Late Model Feature Finish from 5/11 (25-laps): 1. Frankie Althouse, 2. Samantha Osborn, 3. Matt Wentz, 4. Jeremy Miller, 5. Mike Sweeney, 6. Brian Romig Jr., 7. Kenny Hein, 8. Avery Arthofer, 9. Jacob Kerstetter 10. Dylan Osborn DNS: Broc Brown
Regular Late Model Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Sweeney, 2. Althouse, 3. S. Osborn, 4. Wentz, 5. Miller, 6. Hein, 7. Romig Jr., 8. Steigerwalt, 9. Kerstetter, 10. A. Arthofer, 11. D. Osborn
Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1. Johnny Bennett, 2. Jared Ahner, 3. Cody Geist, 4. Jillian Long, 5. 5. Randy Schlenker, 6. Randy Ahner Jr., 7. Jon Moser, 8. Shayne Geist, 9. Mark Deysher, 10. Beau Drobot, 11. Josh Mooney, 12. Todd Ahner, 13. Eric Kocher, 14. Mark Deysher, 15. Stacey Brown, 16. Tucker Muffley, 17. Corey Edelman, 18. Aaron Kromer, 19. Ken Erney III, 20. Brennen Coulter, 21. Bill Hunara, 22. Jamie Smith DNQ: Bobby Kibler Jr. Austin Santee, Jeremy Scheckler
Dirt Modified Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Corey Edelman, 2. Mike Stofflet, 3. Ricky Yetter, 4. Colton Perry
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (20-laps): 1. John Petro, 2. Devin Schmidt, 3. Peyton Arthofer, 4. Rich Mutarelli, 5. Travis Solomon, 6. Shawn Kistler, 7. Al Arthofer, 8. Jacob Boehm, 9. Cody Boehm, 10. Kassidy Altemose, 11. Trisha Connolly, 12. Taylor Schmidt, 13. Lyndsay Buss, 14. Tyler Nemeth, 15. Austin Ahner, 16. Phil Sabatine, 17. Tad Snyder, 18. Peter Maier, 19. Hunter Iatalese, 20. Daryl Rex, 21. Colton Breiner DNQ: Mallory Kutz, Tyler Nemeth