By DINO OBERTO
(LEHIGHTON, PA 7-25-20) It was “Pack the Track Night” at Mahoning Valley Speedway and for just $8 fans were treated to a great seven division show of stock car and TQ Midget racing which also included an hour long Meet and Greet during intermission and all was completed in a timely fashion as the final checkered flag waved by 9:30.
The classes of Sportsman Modifieds, Late Models, Street Stocks, Pro 4s, Hobby Stocks, Rookie Hobby Stocks and the ATQMRA all put on very competitive features.
For Lorin Arthofer II, his win in the Sportsman Modified main came down to a thrilling showdown between he and Earl Paules.
Arthofer had led from the outset but a restart with six laps to go saw Paules move out front, just barely though.
Arthofer stayed planted to the bottom lane and ran side-by-side with Paules. With three laps to go Paules went into Turn 4 a bit high and Arthofer kept his focus inside enabling him to complete the lap as the leader. From there he would preserve the spot and score the win, his fifth with the class and the 40th overall at Mahoning Valley.
Even though he’s raced to so many wins, this Victory Lane had special value as it was the anniversary of his famous father, Lorin Sr., winning his first race at the speedway in 1987. The Arthofer’s are the winningest family at Mahoning with close to 120 combined victories.
Nevin George was back racing for the first time in five years and drove home third with Jared Ahner and Randy Ahner Jr., rounding out the top five.
Mike Sweeney has won plenty of times in a Late Model but none may have been more fulfilling then his victory on Saturday night.
Sweeney used a lap nine restart to take the lead from a very strong running Avery Arthofer and would then cruise to his second straight win and 69th of his career.
However, it was the events leading up the race that made this significant. During hot laps Sweeney was in an altercation that saw his No. D11 slam hard into the back straight wall that left him with heavy front end damage.
For some it would have been the end of the night but a resilient Sweeney team and support from others converged at his pit and proceeded to restore the car to be race worthy. By the time his heat rolled around there he was on the grid and at the end of the preliminary run he was taking the checkers. A few more adjustments prior to the feature and the results spoke volumes for the overall team effort.
A. Arthofer held off Geno Steigerwalt in attaining a solid second and clearly showing that her first class win is in near at hand.
The ATQMRA raced for the first time this season and the time-honored club paid homage to one of the all-time best with the organization with the running of the Jack Bertling Memorial. The late “Black Jack” is a three-time champ and many time TQ winner.
When the race commenced with the green flag been waved by Bertling’s daughter, Tiffany Hoffman, wife of Mahoning promoter Keith Hoffman, pole sitter Jeff Kot quickly showed that he was the force, leading all 25 laps from there in a nonstop race that was completed in a blistering four minutes flat.
Kot, who turned the fastest lap of the day during the feature at 9.237-seconds, took the checkers over fast closing Buddy Sload by half a second. It was Kot’s first win at Mahoning Valley.
In the Street Stocks Mark Martini led just one lap, the final, and by just a few inches, as he nipped very impressive rookie Thomas Flanagan.
In just his fifth ever stock car race at Mahoning Flanagan took the lead from Jamie Smith on a lap two restart and then began to gradually pull away from the pack. He had built a substantial lead while the rest of the group was conjoined in a fan pleasing double-wide battle.
However, Flanagan’s large lead was wiped away when a caution flew on lap 14 and when the action resumed he was facing off against seasoned veterans Martini and Randy Ahner Jr.
Then on the final tour the race reached fever pitch as Martini drove inside of Flanagan in Turn 3. It was now a drag race to the finish and as they came upon Frank Mertz’s waving checkers Martini had him beat by mere inches.
For the third time in as many 2020 starts Cody Kohler took top honors with the Pro 4s. Kohler needed only four laps to check into the top spot, which he did with and outside pass on Tyler Stangle. From there on it was another rousing run for Kohler who notched his 30th overall win.
Jake Kibler was second with Stangle third.
Defending Hobby Stock champion Al Arthofer finally got his luck turned around after some very rough outings over the first few weeks that saw him have to completely rebuild his car due to hard crashes, none of his doing.
This time out Arthofer had everything go his way. After taking the lead from Tucker Muffley on lap 10 Arthofer never looked back, hitting his marks on each passing lap and going on to a two car length margin of victory over Cody Boehm and Devin Schmidt.
The Rookie Hobby Stock class continues to be notable with up and coming talent as for the fifth time in as many races a first time winner has emerged.
Brody George, son of Modified star Nevin George, pulled off a great inside pass on Corey Gulich with three laps to go and took his first ever win in a full-bodied car.
Sportsman Modified Feature Finish (35-laps): 1. Lorin Arthofer II, 2. Earl Paules, 3. Nevin George, 4. Jarred Ahner, 5. Randy Ahner Jr., 6. Stacey Brown, 7. Peyton Arthofer, 8. Brian Rygielski, 9. Gunnar Zeiner
ATQMRA Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Jeff Kot, 2. Buddy Sload, 3. Geoffrey Sutton, 4. Joey Bailey, 5. Ryan Tidman, 6. Kyle Taraska, 7. Brianna Page, 8. Michael Murray, 9. Mark Yoder
Late Model Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Mike Sweeney, 2. Avery Arthofer, 3. Geno Steigerwalt, 4. James Yons, 5. Brian Romig Jr., 6. Rich Cooper, 7. Mike Stein, 8. Todd Cooper, 9. Brooks Smith, 10. Seth VanFossen
Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1. Mark Martini, 2. Thomas Flanagan, 3. Randy Ahner Jr., 4. Jon Moser 5. Johnny Bennett, 6. Eric Kocher, 7. Mark Deysher, 8. Randy Schlenker, 9. Todd Ahner, 10. Jamie Smith, 11. TJ Gursky, 12. Bobby Kibler Jr., 13. Greg Long, 14. Brandon Christman, 15. Rick Reichenbach, 16. Shayne Geist 17. Matt Vansykle, 18. Frank Del Nero Jr., 19. Cody Geist, 20. Bobby Kibler Sr. DNQ: Rich Moser, Tucker Muffley, Kadie Pursell
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20-laps): 1. Cody Kohler, 2. Jake Kibler, 3. Tyler Stangle, 4. Randy Schaffer, 5. Jeremy Guerra, 6. Josh Kuronya, 7. Kadie Pursell
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Al Arthofer, 2. Cody Boehm, 3. Devin Schmidt, 4. Corey Edelman, 5. Taylor Schmidt, 6 .Trisha Connolly, 7. James Tout, 8. Jacob Oswald, 9. Jesse Bollinger, 10. Hunter Iatalese, 11. Kevin Behler, 12. Tucker Muffley, 13. Tad Snyder, 14. Lyndsay Buss, 15. Nick Schaeffer, 16. Justin Merkel, 17. Mallory Kutz, 18. Nicholas Kerstetter, 19. Travis Solomon, 20. Jacob Boehm DNQ: Terry Peters, Robert Miller, Kyle Troch, Brandon Covert, Mackenzie Adams, Ralph Borger Jr.,
Rookie Hobby Stock Feature Finish (15-laps): 1. Brody George, 2. Corey Gulich, 3. Paul French Jr., 4. Jaden Brown, 5. Tobie Behler, 6. Hallie Muffley, 7. Makayla Kohler, 8. Elia Tito, 9. Mia Guy, 10. Zoe Kuchera, 11. Maggie Yeakel, 12. Savannah Romig, 13. Micah Adams DNS: Jayden Owens-Bader