By DINO OBERTO
(LEHIGHTON 9-12-20) It was a very busy and productive evening of racing at Mahoning Valley Speedway with all seven divisions in action as part of Championship Night and each class title fight did not disappoint as the respective point battles all came down to the wire.
Earl Paules capped off his night with a pair of titles, taking top honors in both the Modifieds Sportsman Modifieds, Geno Steigerwalt emerged number one in the Late Models, Jon Moser took his second straight and record fourth Street Stock championship, Cody Kohler annexed his second crown in the Pro 4s, Al Arthofer repeated in the Hobby Stocks while Paul French Jr., became the inaugural Rookie Hobby Stock titlist.
The Modified feature was also a milestone event, marking the 800th race on pavement beginning in 1970 with Austin Beers scoring his second straight victory in a wild affair.
Beers once again came from the 15th starting spot, was caught up in a pair of skirmishes, made three pits stops and still powered his way to the front. He passed Bobby Jones on a lap 26 restart and then cruised the rest of the way for what was nothing short of an exhausting race.
Beers was first involved in a lap three dust-up and another on lap 11. All total he had to make three spots but after his third time out of the pits on the 11th lap he then put on a thrilling drive as he began picking off cars lap by lap, moving up to third with 19 complete.
With Jones leading at that point Beers was going toe-to-toe with Jesse Strohl for second. These two future stars waged a sizzling battle, Beers finally snagged the spot with 12 laps to go while Jones was maintaining a decent lead.
However, when the caution waved 10 laps from the finish, Beers utilized that restart to seize the lead and go on to win the landmark 800th feature race and congratulated in Victory Lane by the first winner asphalt winner Bob McCullough.
“I can honestly tell you that being in Victory Lane is the last place I thought I’d be after the kind of race we had tonight. We got beat up out there and then to get here is amazing,” said Beers.
“The car was a little tight towards the end and I think the damage just turned out to be cosmetic so we were good to go. There was a great point battle tonight and I gave those guys room and respect and then passing Bobby (Jones) for the lead, he’s one of the very best here and he gave me room and I can’t thank him enough for the clean driving.”
With his third place tally Paules earned the championship, his third such with the class and record tying seventh at Mahoning Valley. Strohl had another great run settling for fourth while top rookie Sean Verwys rounded out the top five.
Earlier in the night Paules not only won the Sportsman Modified contest but the championship as well. He picked up the lead on lap 11 after Lorin Arthofer II dropped from contention from a when his car broke. Afterwards a Peyton Arthofer tried persistently to overtake Paules but it wasn’t to be.
Paules’ win was his second in a row and it extended his track leading overall victories to 64. It was also the second time that he won two titles in the same season, accomplishing the feat in 2013 with the Modifieds and Late Models.
In the Late Model main Avery Arthofer captured her career first win with the division. Arthofer worked tirelessly to take the lead from impressive rookie James Yons, conclusively do so on a lap 12 restart.
From there to the finish she drove flawlessly in picking up the popular victory, beating Brian Romig Jr., and she becomes only the third female to win a Late Model race at Mahoning as well.
Classy veteran Geno Steigerwalt was third and with that collected up his first ever driving championship in 18 years of racing.
Matt VanSyckle made a triumph return to winning in the Street Stocks, achieving his first victory since 2004.
VanSyckle traded the lead back and forth early on with Rick Reichenbach but by lap 10 he was there for good. Despite the fact that TJ Gursky and Brandon Christman where putting on loads of pressure, VanSyckle never flinched and drove his Mark Deysher owned car under the checkers ahead of all.
Jon Moser was fourth at the line which was just enough to put him number one in final standings for the second straight year and a record fourth with the Street Stocks.
The Pro 4 feature again saw Jake Kibler drive to victory. His 39th class win came after taking the lead on a lap 15 restart over Randy Schaffer and once in front he would not be headed.
Despite a setback for Cody Kohler who was parked for aggressive driving on lap 14 and credited with a seventh place finish, he brought enough points into the night to secure his second class title.
The Hobby Stock feature was a very stirring duel between winner Travis Solomon and runner-up Taylor Schmidt as they raced tooth and nail from lap nine and right up to the checkers. Solomon would eke out his second win in the process while Schmidt equaled his best finish to date.
The championship fight was just as exciting as Al Arthofer and Trisha Connolly ran closely together, each needing to be ahead of the other in order to claim the title. In the waning laps Arthofer was just fast enough to pass Connolly, taking third as she was fourth.
Hallie Muffley proved no match in winning her second Rookie Hobby Stock race. Muffley led every lap and bested Jaden Brown en route to the checkers. Muffley also swept the night by winning her heat and during that prelim she set a new class record, going 12.155-seconds for the new speed mark.
The championship was won by Paul French Jr., who will go into the record books as the inaugural winner of the well participated first year division.
Modified Feature Finish (35-laps): 1. Austin Beers, 2. Bobby Jones, 3. Earl Paules, 4. Jessie Strohl, 5. Sean Verwys, 6. Kyle Strohl, 7. Jack Ely, 8. Josh Scherer, 9 Frankie Althouse, 10. Jacob Kerstetter, 11. Wes Gilbert, 12. Heath Metzger, 13. Terry Markovic, 14. Rod Snyder Jr, 15 Nick Bear, 16 John Markovic, 17 Brian DeFebo, 18 Lou Strohl, 19 Jared Ahner, 20 Don Wagner, DNS BJ Wambold
Sportsman Modified Feature (25-laps) 1. Earl Paules, 2. Payton Arthofer, 3. Stacey Brown, 4. Kassidy Altemose, 5. Randy Ahner Jr., 6. Brennen Coulter, 7. Lorin Arthofer, 8. Gunner Zeiner, 9. Brian Rygielski, 10. Carl Altemose
Late Model Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Avery Arthofer, 2. Brian Romig Jr., 3. Geno Steigerwalt, 4. James Yons, 5. Rich Cooper, 6. Roger Maynor, 7. Gary Wentz, 8. Seth VanFossen, 9. Mike Stein, 10. Brooks Smith DNS: Mike VanFossen
Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1. Matt VanSyckle, 2. TJ Gursky, 3. Brandon Christman, 4. Jon Moser, 5. Eric Kocher, 6. Randy Schlenker, 7. Todd Ahner, 8. Mark Deysher. 9. Mark Martini, 10. Josh Mooney, 11. Shayne Geist, 12. Cody Geist, 13. John Bennett, 14. Jill Long, 15. Randy Ahner, 16. Tucker Muffley, 17. Dennis Buss, 18. Rick Reichenbach, 19. Thomas Flanagan, 20. Logan Boyer DNQ: Rich Moser, Jamie Smith, Kadie Pursell, Jeremy Scheckler
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20-laps): 1. Jake Kibler, 2. Tyler Stangle, 3. Randy Schaffer, 4. Kadie Purcell, 5. Josh Kuronya, 6. Terry Peters, 7. Cody Kohler
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25-laps): 1.Travis Solomon, 2. Taylor Schmidt, 3. Al Arthofer, 4. Trisha Connolly, 5. Jake Oswald, 6. Tad Snyder, 7. Jesse Bollinger, 8. Justin Merkel, 9. James Tout, 10. Tucker Muffley, 11. Ralph Borger Jr., 12. Josh Oswald, 13. Jacob Boehm, 14. Corey Edelman, 15. Lyndsay Buss, 16. Cody Boehm, 17. Nick Schaffer, 18. Corey Gulich, 19. Mallory Kutz DNS: Nicholas Kerstetter
Rookie Hobby Stock Feature Finish (15-laps): 1. Haley Muffley, 2. Jaden Brown, 3. Paul French Jr., 4. Toby Behler, 5. Makayla Koehler, 6. Mia Guy, 7. Greyson Ahner, 8. Corey Gulich, 9. Maggie Yeakel, 10. Andraya Flanagan, 11. Ryan Kresge, 12. Zoe Kuchera DNS: Elia Tito