Brian DeFebo holds off Bobby Jones for first win of ’19; Mike Sweeney nips Frankie Althouse again in Late Models.earns 50th class victory

By DINO OBERTO

            (LEHIGHTON, PA. 6-22-19) As the season is reaching the mid-way juncture, it has become commonplace to see Brian DeFebo to have already won at least once if not several times, which has been his calling card to the past two Modified championships at Mahoning Valley Speedway. DeFebo is a 10-time winner in the prior two seasons here.

But a for a number of issues, those winning ways had been sidetracked, his best showing being no better than third, that is until Saturday night when he cracked the win column for the first time in 2019 which was a down-to-the-wire finish over Bobby Jones. 

Brian DeFebo in victory lane at Mahoning Valley Speedway June 22nd 2019 Walt Smith Photo

            “It’s been a while it seems,” said DeFebo after taking his 102nd career win and 72nd with a Modified.

“We’ve been struggling here since the final two races from last year when we wrecked the car. We’ve been trying something new every week to try and get back on our hot streak and tonight it worked. I’ve always been confident and I know once we start winning one race we’ll begin to click off more and that’s fun.”

DeFebo, who started fifth, showed early on that his car was worthy, jumping right into second behind leader Ron Haring Jr., in just two laps. Four circuits later he was in front and pulling away.

            As DeFebo was holding his own, Haring maintained second over John Markovic. By lap 16 point leader Jones had powered to runner-up, gaining the spot after a restart on that tour. That in turn set up what would become a hard fought duel the rest of the way between he and DeFebo.

            Trying inside and outside Jones made every attempt possible to get past. There was even one moment where he almost lost control due to speedy dry that had been spread from a previous incident.

            But after Jones regained his footing he then put heavy pressure on DeFebo and would try one last time when the final lap was underway, looking to the bottom in turns three and four but DeFebo throttled down and was able to eke out the victory.

            “I knew he (Jones) was there and it’s always tough when you’re in the lead and you have to go to defense because you don’t know what line to be in and you wind up backing yourself up. I saw him on the outside and then heard him on the inside but we stood our ground,” said DeFebo.

“Bobby (Jones) is a great guy to race with. We seem to think alike and that’s why we get along both on and off the track. Where both here to win races.”

            Josh Scherer turned in another solid performance with third while Lorin Arthofer II had a notable fourth place tally. Markovic rounded out the top five.

            For the third consecutive week Mike Sweeney won the Late Model feature and for the third time it was under tense conditions with Frankie Althouse.

            Sweeney wrangled the lead from one very impressive Avery Arthofer who had led from the outset. The rookie was in front for the first time and showed remarkable skill in leading a group of accomplished veterans in Sweeney, Althouse and Jeremy Miller.

            Sweeney, though, began to apply pressure and made his winning pass by squeezing to the low side of Arthofer with just eight laps to go.

            Althouse was soon to follow and over the waning circuits there was plenty of nip and tuck between the pair. Sweeney would hold tough – again, in what was hard-nose racing between he and Althouse.

            “I’m going to have to invest in some new rear bumpers,” said Sweeney as he received a wave of cheers and jeers in Victory Lane. “Listen to this place, this is what Mahoning Valley is all about, the all-out excitement.”

            This was Sweeney’s 50th career Late Model win at Mahoning and he’s quickly approaching the all-time mark held by Paul Koehler Jr.

            Sweeney made note to the great run by Arthofer who settled for fifth, her second such in as many races.

            “She (Arthofer) ran a great race and has been doing very well. She just gave up the bottom there a little which was enough that I was able to sneak it in for the lead,” offered Sweeney.

            Althouse’s second place, his ninth top-2 in in 10 starts, keeps him ahead in the standings just slightly over Sweeney.

            Randy Ahner Jr., erased a three year dry spell, winning his first Street Stock feature at Mahoning for the first time since 2016.

            Ahner kept a close chase on Jamie Smith for a number of laps, just biding his time and patiently waiting for the right moment to strike. With eight laps to go he got that opportunity when he moved inside of Smith and was able to deliver the race winning pass. He then went on to his 20th career class victory over a fast approaching Todd Ahner and Shayne Geist.

            For the second time in as many weeks and third on the season, Cody Kohler was the winner of the 20-lap affair.

            Kohler passed Bobby Kibler Sr., on lap seven and was seamless the rest of the way in garnering his 23rd career win. Jake Kibler took second.

            The Hobby Stock feature was one that will be talked about for some time as Kassidy Altemose not only won for the first time but it was in a crowd rousing battle between her and Travis Solomon.

            In the final few laps each driver swapped lead not only at the start/finish line but several times around the track.

            Rubbing and banging their way and at times looking as though a wreck was about to happen, they focused themselves on the checkers with Altemose nipping Solomon by inches for the thrilling outcome.

            The Dirt Mod feature, under a cloud of controversy, was won by Mike Stofflet over Ricky Yetter.

            However, after further review of issues that developed throughout the night, Yetter was disqualified for unsportsmanlike actions by his team.

            Also, the class is being suspended and will not run until further notice.

Modified Feature Finish (35-laps): 1. Brian DeFebo, 2. Bobby Jones, 3. Josh Scherer, 4. Lorin Arthofer II, 5. John Markovic, 6. Lou Strohl, 7. Terry Markovic, 8. Nick Baer, 9. Kyle Strohl 10. Eric Kocher, 11. Ron haring Jr., 12. BJ Wambold, 13. Heath Metzger, 14. Don Wagner, 15. Ear Paules 16. Gene Bowers, 17. Jacob Kerstetter

Late Model Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Mike Sweeney, 2. Frankie Althouse, 3. Samantha Osborn, 4. Geno Steigerwalt, 5. Avery Arthofer, 6. Rick Smith, 7. Jeremy Miller, 8. Kenny Hien

Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1. Randy Ahner Jr., 2. Todd Ahner, 3. Shayne Geist, 4. Jon Moser, 5. Randy Schlenker, 6. Jamie Smith, 7. Mark Martini, 8. Mark Deysher, 9. Cody Geist, 10. Eric Kocher, 11. Jared Ahner, 12. Steven Steigerwalt, 13. Rick Reichenbach, 14. Josh Mooney, 15. Tucker Muffley, 16. Dennis Buss, 17. Brennen Coulter, 18. Bobby Kibler Jr., 19. Austin Santee

Dirt Mod Feature Finish (25-laps) 1. Mike Stofflet, 2. Louie Horvath, 3. Devin Schmidt, 4. Corey Edelman, 5. Colton Perry, 6. Frank Parastino DQ. Ricky Yetter

Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Kassidy Altemose, 2. Travis Solomon, 3. Rich Mutarelli, 4. John Petro, 5. Ken Reeder, 6. Shawn Kistler, 7. Cody Kohler, 8. Al Arthofer, 9. Cody Boehm, 10. Tad Snyder, 11. Peyton Arthofer, 12. Jacob Boehm. 13. Peter Maier, 14. Eddie Jones, 15. Shane Troutman, 16. Ralph Boger Jr., 17. Todd Geist, 18. Daryl Rex DQ: Devin Schmidt, Trisha Connolly DNQ: Mallory Kutz, Austin Ahner

Pro 4 Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Cody Kohler, 2. Jake Kibler, 3. Tyler Stangle, 4. Bobby Kibler Sr., 5. Tucker Muffley, 6. Jeremy Guerra, 7. Randy Schaffer, 8. Matt Clark, 9. Kadie Pursell, 10. Gary Schloch

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