By DINO OBERTO
(LEHIGHTON, PA. 4-20-19) It seems that week two at Mahoning Valley Speedway has become a favorite for Bobby Jones as for the third straight season the classy veteran picked up a win in the Modified feature. The 35-lap main turned out to be a great showdown as well between him and Earl Paules as they battled down to the wire.
“For three years in a row we were terrible on opening night and I could never understand why. After this year’s opener we went back and did a lot of tweaking,” said Jones who won for the 23rd time at Mahoning in a Modified and recorded his 40thcareer overall victory.
Jones, who started second to pole sitter Ron Haring Jr., would place his No. 1J into the lead with a quick diving move off turn two on lap six. Two laps later after a restart Paules advanced to second and from there on it was a cat and mouse game between the two journeymen.
Paules tried numerous attempts to get by but as Jones would admit afterwards he was being very protective, especially on the inside lane where he choose to remain for most of the race.
“I slowed down to protect the bottom – I didn’t want to give that up because here once someone gets position on you on the bottom they got you,” said Jones.
For Jones, it wasn’t just about keeping his lane but restarts were a factor as well. Paules, who clocked faster times throughout the event, showed several times that if he could just get the run needed after restarting that the outcome would certainly have been in his favor.
“I told him (Paules) when he came alongside me on the restarts I had to be up on the wheel because he’s no slouch. He’s been at this game a long time and knows the tricks and the things to try and help yourself and I knew I had to be at my best in that situation against him,” bottom lined Jones.
Over the final laps the excitement was rousing, most notably on the last circuit. With the front pair locked tight they came upon a slower car in turns 3 and 4. Jones had to react quickly as to not get trapped as Paules had a clear line from the topside to make a pass. As fate would have it for Jones he wisely stepped out enough to safeguard his spot but just barely as he held off Paules by a mere half car length.
“I actually thought we were okay and we were just going to relax and stay there and I kind of relaxed too much and shouldn’t have,” explained Jones.
“At the last minute I was going to go out on the lapped car because Earl was coming. As soon as I started to step out I seen him and didn’t go out as high as I should to give him room. There was a lot of respect and it was fun and good racing for both of us.”
Josh Scherer and Anthony Sesely had great dogfight themselves and would finish third and fourth respectively. For Sesely, who is back racing at Mahoning for the first time in years, the placing elevated him into the point lead. Gene Bowers had a respectable run in rounding out the top five.
Matt Wentz would take the lead in the Late Model main on lap one and never look back en route to his first win of 2019.
It was however, no easy drive as Opening Night winner Frankie Althouse, Broc Brown and eventual runner-up Mike Sweeney all kept the leader on his toes.
In the end however, Wentz was not to be denied as he picked up where he had left off at the end of 2018 with a string of solid and winning runs to notch the verdict, his fourth win in his last five outings dating back to last season.
19-year old Kyle Strohl held off Roger Coss in a close finish, winning for the first time with a Sportsman Modified and the 35th time of his burgeoning career.
This was the first feature of the season for the second year class and it was with much anticipation too as a rule change to a slick tire, the same used as the Late Models, was now permitted and the difference was noticed immediately during the heat race when passing and two-wide action was established a then for the feature where much of the same occurred.
Newcomer Jonathan Laureigh led from the pole over Strohl for the first dozen laps. After that Roger Coss zeroed in on Strohl and the pair stayed close-knit to the end.
Defending Street Stock champion Mark Deysher moved to the lead after a lap one restart over Jeremy Scheckler and from there on was practically unapproachable in scoring his 22nd class win.
Although he showed all kinds of strength, Deysher did have a late race challenge from a car considered as equal to his as his teammate, Bill Hunara, was able to pull up to his rear bumper but trying to go any further was not in the cards. None the less it was a fitting triumph in a complete team effort.
Not to be undone a second pair of team cars would follow in third and fourth with Randy Ahner Jr., and Mark Martini.
Bobby Kibler Sr., first started winning in the Pro 4 class some 29 years ago and hasn’t stopped since. Kibler jumped into the lead at the outset and then handily cruised the rest of the way for his 21st feature win.
In the Hobby Stocks Cody Boehm gave early leader Daryl Rex a spirited run for his money and would see it pay off after grabbing the lead mid-way through he race and then go on to score his first win of the young season over Al Arthofer and Devin Schmidt who were right on his tail at the checkers.
Modified Feature Finish (35-laps): 1. Bobby Jones, 2. Earl Paules, 3. Josh Scherer, 4. Anthony Sesely, 5. Gene Bowers, 6. Kyle Strohl, 7. Todd Baer, 8. Brian DeFebo, 9. Austin Beers, 10. Kevin Rex Jr., 11. John Markovic, 12. Terry Markovic, 13. Jacob Kerstetter, 14. Ron Haring Jr., 15. Heath Metzger DNS: Scott Adams
Late Model Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Mike Wentz, 2. Mike Sweeney, 3. Broc Brown. 4. Frankie Althouse, 5. Jeremy Miller, 6. Samantha Osborn, 7. Kenny Hein, 8. Avery Arthofer, 9. Geno Steigerwalt
Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1.Mark Deysher, 2. Billy Hunara, 3. Randy Ahner Jr., 4. Mark Martini, 5. Jill Long, 6. Todd Ahner, 7. Randy Schlenker, 8. Stacey Brown, 9. Jared Ahner, 10. Jon Moser, 11. Jamie Smith, 12. Tucker Muffley, 13. Bobby Kibler Jr., 14. Brennen Coulter, 15. Jeremy Scheckler, 16. John Bennett, 17. Shayne Geist, 18. Corey Edelman, 19 Eric Kocher, 20. Aaron Kromer DNQ: Ronald Herman, Cody Geist
Sportsman Mod Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Kyle Strohl, 2. Roger Cross, 3. Johnathan Laureigh, 4. Joe King Jr., 5, Lorin Arthofer II, 6. BJ Wambold, 7. Mike Pollack, 8. Kassidy Altemose, 9. Danielle Paules
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20-laps): 1. Bobby Kibler Sr., 2. Randy Schaffer, 3. Tyler Stangle, 4. Tucker Muffley, 5. Jake Kibler, 6. Matt Clark, 7. Jeremy Guerra DNS: Colton Breiner
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Cody Boehm, 2. Al Arthofer, 3. Devin Schmidt, 4. Travis Solomon, 5. Trisha Connolly, 6. Shawn Kistler, 7. Jacob Boehm, 8. Taylor Schmidt, 9. Philip Sabatine, 10. Daryl Rex, 11. Terry Peters, 12. John Petro, 13. Tyler Nemeth, 14. Austin Ahner, 15. Mallory Kutz, 16. Tad Snyder, 17. Peyton Arthofer, 18. Lyndsay Buss