By DINO OBERTO
(LEHIGHTON, PA. 5-11-19) Over the first few weeks of the 2019 season Kyle Strohl had a presence among the leaders but knew he was just a tad off in hammering the right set-up to where he wanted to be. Continuing to tweak his Paul’s Towing No. 44, the 19-year old from Palmerton finally nailed it right and the effort paid off in the form of his first Modified win of the year.
“It felt pretty good out there tonight and the car was working perfectly. We had been struggling for the first few weeks but we hit on the right adjustments tonight and it finally paid off,” said Strohl.
With only two cautions that slowed the action, both on lap 23, Strohl, who started sixth, had to race flat out to the front and he would battle a pair of venerable veterans in doing so, first taking on Terry Markovic and then contending down to the wire against point leader Bobby Jones.
Markovic jumped to the opening lap lead and then set sail. Within four laps Strohl had advanced to third and was in close formation with Kevin Rex Jr.
As Markovic showed notable speed at the helm, Rex and Strohl began a two-wide duel. Directly behind them was Jones. It would take Strohl 10 laps to annex second spot. He then continued his frontward charge and went immediately after Markovic. After a few looks from the outside, Strohl got a shot to go underneath the leader by the completion of lap 17.
“Terry is a classy guy and we had to work hard to pass him but it was clean and after that away we went. The track was really good tonight and there was a lot of grip on both the outside and inside grooves.” said Strohl.
By lap 20 Jones had motored up to second and was able to quickly pull alongside Strohl. On lap 23 a pair of cautions paused the action and on the second restart Jones fired past Strohl for the lead, however, the favored was returned the next time by.
Try as he may from there to finish Jones looked for every opportunity to get by but Strohl had this one in hand and would record his 12th Modified win and 36th overall. Earlier this season he had scored a Sportsman Modified victory.
“Bobby (Jones) was tough and that’s what you come to expect from him. He’s been the guy who’s been up front each week but tonight we hit on the right set-up and got the job done,” proclaimed Strohl.
“It’s been real tight, clean hard racing and it seems everyone has figured it out all around with the Modifieds this year.”
Rex stayed steady in garnering third while Earl Paules and Gene Bowers rounded out the top five.
Jon Moser claimed his first Street Stock win of the year, taking the lead from rookie Brennen Coulter on a restart with two laps to go.
Prior to that caution Coulter, who was making just this third stock car start, was showing the way in an exciting nonstop affair. While he maintained the front spot there was a bevy of two-by-two action going on throughout the pack.
As the laps wound down several drivers began making haste including the likes of Jillian Long and Mark Deysher who fought closely for second while each looked to make the pass on Coulter. It was an intense fight and just short of getting the white flag they connected and spun together, also collecting Randy Schlenker.
After clearing the scene the field was reset with Moser lined up behind Coulter. When the race resumed the experienced Moser was able to shoot around Coulter for the lead and win. Unfortunately the impressive run by the rookie was refuted after post-race inspection found a violation and he was disqualified giving Josh Mooney, who drove from 14th, the runner-up spot.
The Sportsman Modifieds had their second outing of the season and although the race was called just after halfway due to rain, history was made in the process.
After taking the lead from the outset, Lorin Arthofer II then fended off Kyle Strohl who was tucked in behind him. Arthofer, who started the night with a heat win, was able to keep up that same pace during the feature with a foothold on Strohl until the rain put a stoppage to the event. Despite a yeoman’s effort to dry the track, the rain persisted and the race was called official.
The outcome for Arthofer put him a category all his own as he becomes the first driver at Mahoning Valley to win in six different classes.
Lorin wasn’t the only Arthofer enjoying victory as his daughter Peyton took top honors in the special 40-lap Hobby Stock feature.
Despite a solid full field, Peyton Arthofer was incontestably the car to beat. Taking the lead on 17 from early leader Tyler Nemeth, she then made it a race for second pulling away to a decent enough lead that kept her on top the rest of the way and on to a three car length margin of victory over Shawn Kistler. It was her second win in the past three weeks.
In the Pro 4s Jake Kibler snapped the three race win streak of Bobby Kibler Sr. for his second win of 2019. J. Kibler was able to lead all 20 laps and when he crossed the finish line his triumph put him into a tie for most wins in class with Kevin Graver Jr., at 33.
The Late Model race never got on track due to rain and will be made up at a later date.
Modified Feature Finish (35-laps): 1. Kyle Strohl, 2. Bobby Jones, 3. Kevin Rex Jr., 4. Earl Paules, 5. Gene Bowers, 6. Josh Scherer, 7. Brian DeFebo, 8. Lou Strohl, 9. Don Wagner, 10. Austin Beers, 11. Nick Baer, 12. John Markovic, 13. Terry Markovic, 14. Gary Wentz, 15. Jacob Kerstetter
Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1. Jon Moser, 2. Josh Mooney, 3. Randy Ahner Jr., 4. Todd Ahner, 5. Ken Erney III, 6. Corey Edelman, 7. Jared Ahner, 8. Shayne Geist, 9. Eric Kocher, 10. Johnny Bennett, 11. Mark Martini, 12. Rick Reichenbach, 13. Jamie Smith, 14. Stacey Brown, 15. Randy Schlenker, 16. Mark Deysher, 17. Jillian Long, 18. Bobby Kibler Jr., 19. Bill Hunara, 20. Cody Geist DQ: Brennen Coulter DNQ: Beau Drobot, Anthony Tabasco, Austin Santee, BJ Wambold
Sportsman Modified Feature Finish (13-laps): 1. Lorin Arthofer II, 2. Kyle Strohl, 3. Jonathan Laureigh, 4. Joe King Jr., 5. BJ Wambold, 6. Kassidy Altemose, 7. Danielle Paules
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (40-laps): 1. Payton Arthofer, 2. Shawn Kistler, 3. Jacob Boehm, 4. Cody Boehm, 5. Rich Mutarelli, 6. Trisha Connolly, 7. Travis Solomon, 8. Cody Kohler, 9. Tyler Nemeth, 10. Kassidy Altemose, 11. Justin Merkel, 12. Al Arthofer, 13. Phil Sabatine, 14. Devin Schmidt, 15. Lyndsay Buss, 16. Daryl Rex, 17. Tad Snyder, 18. Peter Maier, 19. Colton Breiner, 20. Austin Ahner DNQ: Mackenzie Adams, Mallory Kutz, John Petro, Ralph Boger Jr.
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20-laps): 1. Jake Kibler, 2. Bobby Kibler Sr., 3. Tucker Muffley, 4. Jeremy Guerra, 5. Tyler Stangle. 6. Randy Schaffer, 7. Cody Kohler DNS: Colton Breiner
Walt Smith Photos