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800th run Mahoning Valley Speedway Modified feature on asphalt to Austin Beers

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

Mahoning Valley to present 800th Modified feature this coming Saturday, September 12

1st feature winner Bob McCullough to be honored guest; Class champions to be crowned

(LEHIGHTON 9-7-20) This coming Saturday night, September 12, Mahoning Valley Speedway will celebrate not only the 2020 division champions as it will be the final evening for points but likewise a milestone race for the Modifieds takes place with the 800th feature being run since the track first went to asphalt in 1970.

It was July 24, 1970 and then track co-promoters Fred Tedesco and David Stoddard re-opened the shuttered ¼-mile oval, which originally began life as a dirt track that ran from the early 1950s to mid-1960s.

The sparkling new facility opened its gates on a Friday night to an estimated crowd of 3000 fans who saw a two division program of Sportsman Modifieds and Late Models.

In the Modified 30-lap main Bob McCullough of Mount Holly, NJ grabbed the lead from Norm Behler on lap 10, opened up a quarter lap lead and then stayed there the rest of the way to put his name into the record books as the very first class winner.

Pete Lovell of Kutztown beat Paul Bauscher for top honors in the 15-lap Late Model feature.

When 17-year old Austin Beers won last Saturday night’s Modified feature it marked his first time winning with the class and he became the 130th different winner since McCullough’s inaugural victory. That was race number 799 and ironically his dad, Eric Beers, holds the record for career wins with 55.

McCullough, who at 78-years young and is still active in the sport as a tech official with URC and USAC, has been invited to be a special honoree this Saturday night to commemorate the significant race.      

“It’s very exciting for me. When you’re in this as long as I’ve been and then you step away it seems that no one remembers you so this is very nice for me to know that someone remembers what you did and I really appreciate it,” said McCullough.

At the time McCullough was 30 years old and a noted hot-shoe who raced on both dirt and asphalt, most notably in his home state of New Jersey where was a regular at tracks such as Wall Stadium Speedway, Atlantic City Speedway, Bridgeport Speedway and New Egypt Speedway. He also ventured into Pennsylvania to race at Nazareth and Grandview Speedways.

When he found out about Mahoning opening up his interest was piqued.

 “At the time we were pretty competitive in New Jersey with are Sportsman car and we decided we wanted to travel a little bit and it was one of the first tracks we went to besides Grandview, Nazareth and Atlantic City on the weekends,” recalled McCullough.

            “I can recall it being extremely smooth and there was a lot of people in the stands. I raced there for three straight years and the competition was very good,” he continued.

           “I didn’t get a lot of good feedback from people who attended there when we first started going. I got the impression they didn’t want me there the times I ran because I was pretty consistent and they use to call me the ‘New Jersey Mosquito.’ If memory serves me right I had a few beer cans thrown at me.”

            According to McCullough the racing then was much the same as today with two and three wide action thanks to the unique circular layout.

“It was like that then too and I preferred the outside and I feel that’s why I did so well there. I was used to running against the wall on dirt and pushing the limits and that worked out for me. Because it was a big circle I would stick on the high side and just get there,” he noted.

“We got going fairly decent too but no were near what they’re doing these days.”

            When McCullough raced Mahoning it was the first of a weekly three nights of action for him.

“We raced constantly. We would come to Mahoning Valley and we’d eat at the 443 Diner and stay at the motel that was there. We’d go to Grandview the next night and then Sunday afternoon at Nazareth and if we had time we’d head down to Atlantic City that night.”

            McCullough’s career spanned from 1960 to 1979. His last race was at Bridgeport.

            The action will get underway starting at 5:00 pm with a full slate of stock car racing that includes Modified feature race 800, Late Models, Street Stocks, Sportsman Modifieds, Street Stocks, Pro 4s, Hobby Stocks and Rookie Hobby Stocks.

Austin Beers from 15th to 1st at Mahoning Valley and wins for first time in DeLange 45 Modified

By DINO OBERTO

(LEHIGHTON 9-5-20) When Austin Beers was presented the opportunity to take over the ride of his legendary father, Eric Beers, in the infamous No. 45 for car owners Dave and Laura DeLange, there was no indecision for the 17-year old. In just five races since first getting into the mount on June 27 for a RoC event at Lake Erie Speedway, the second generation racer scored a fan pleasing victory Saturday night at Mahoning Valley Speedway over seasoned veteran Rod Snyder Jr.

Beers made an impressive drive to the front too, coming from 15th to first and in the process pulled off his race winning move by getting by renowned track star Snyder Jr., on lap 20. From there on it was as if watching his father as he did time and again, simply pulling away with each passing lap and leaving the field far enough behind en route to the checkers.

           “This feels amazing winning with Dave and Laura DeLange who believed in me and I’m so glad to drive their race car and win at my home track. To get this win with the 45 car is a huge confidence booster,” an elated Beers said afterwards.

“The track was awesome and the car was on rails. To come from 15th to first is a testament to the great team effort and no doubt winning a Modified feature here at Mahoning Valley – this is the biggest win of my career.”

            At the start of the 35 lap contest Kyle Strohl assumed the early lead and was gapping from the pack. Some distance back second place running Terry Markovic was holding off Snyder, Nick Baer and Brian DeFebo in what was a very tight battle.

            Then on lap 16 Strohl’s large lead was erased when the caution waved for point leader Lou Strohl who came to a halt. On the restart Snyder, who had just moved to second prior to the yellow, used his classic outside line style and shot to the front. A lap later saw Beers race his way into second.

            For fans of Mahoning Valley is was nothing new to see Snyder, a five time Modified track champion, waging battle with Eric Beers, as they have a combined 76 wins. Snyder, however, was now taking that fight with Austin and it was just like days of old.

            Snyder held steady to the outside while the younger Beers took his car low. Side-by-side they then went at it and on lap 19 while approaching Turn 3 Snyder bobbled just a tad. That was all Beers needed as he came out the leader at the conclusion of the circuit. From there to the finish he was on cruise control beating Snyder by nearly two seconds.

“He’s (Snyder) a heck of a racer and he gave me a lot of room and respect out there. Rod and all these guys here are great racers and champions and it’s definitely hard to get through the field but tonight it all came together,” noted Beers.

In Victory Lane the first to congratulate the happy winner where car owners the DeLange’s.

“Austin is a great young talent and I’ve had faith in him for the past two years as we watched him run these Modifieds and this year we made the change to put him in the seat and it’s paid off nicely,” said Dave DeLange. “We couldn’t be more proud and happy for him and his entire family.”

Josh Scherer netted a solid third and in the process assumed the point lead with one regular season race to go. Baer had a great run in taking fourth while rookie Jesse Strohl notch a career best fifth.  Eric Kocher was the Street Stock winner but his stop in Victory Lane wasn’t without debate.

Kocher had been chasing closing behind leader Brandon Christman who was attempting to win for the second straight time.

However, with 11 laps to go and the front pair running nose-to-tail, Kocher pinched Christman in Turn 3. The slight bump caused Christman to slide out of line and spin. Officials deemed the incident as non-aggressive and Kocher was placed as the new leader. For the rest of the way he would hold off Todd Ahner and garner his second win of 2020.

The Sportsman Modifieds where back in action and winning for the second time in three starts was point leader Earl Paules. Prior to Paules getting the lead for good on lap 10, it what was a very hard-driven fight for the top spot.

Gunner Zeiner from the pole led the first two laps before Paules took control. A scuffle on lap six for the lead then took out Paules and Randy Ahner Jr, handing the point to Lorin Arthofer II. That also would be short lived as two laps back under green he was bumped by Zeiner and spun.

Kassidy Altemose was now shown as the lead car with her owner Paules alongside for the restart. No sooner did the action resume Paules wasted no time in passing her and then journeyed unopposed the rest of the way.

Pro 4 veteran and past champion Jake Kibler won for the first time this season and doing so snapped the win streak of point leader Cody Kohler at four. Kibler took the lead at the halfway mark after being in a close battle with Kohler and Jeremy Guerra.

            Guerra had been out front from the start but on lap nine he and Kohler tangled and it sending both to the pits for repairs and landed Kibler in the lead where he would stay the rest of the way for his 43rd overall career win. Kohler rebounded to take second with Randy Schaffer third.

            Al Arthofer pulled off a thrilling restart pass over Corey Edelman with two laps to go and then held him off by a narrow margin for his second Hobby Stock victory of the season. And with only one point race to go he has taken over as the standings leader.

            In the Rookie Hobby Stocks Jaden Brown slipped inside of Corey Gulich on lap six and then pulled away to a rousing second victory of the season and becoming the first driver to repeat in nine previous features.

Modified Feature Finish (35-laps): 1. Austin Beers, 2. Rod Snyder Jr., 3. Josh Scherer, 4. Nick bear, 5. Jesse Strohl, 6. Eric Kocher, 7. Brian DeFebo, 8. Earl Paules, 9. Kyle Strohl, 10. John Markovic, 11. Jared Ahner, 12. Sean Verwys, 13. Terry Markovic, 14. Jacob Kerstetter, 15. Gene Bowers, 16. BJ Wambold, 17. Avery Arthofer, 18. Lou Strohl, 19. Bobby Jones

Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1. Eric Kocher, 2. Todd Ahner, 3. Mark Deysher, 4. Mark Martini, 5. Randy Ahner Jr. 6. TJ Gursky, 7. Randy Schlenker, 8. Rick Reichenbach, 9. Jon Moser, 10. Tucker Muffle, 11. Jill Long, 12. Matt VanSyckle, 13. Dennis Buss, 14. Rich Moser, 15. Kevin Weierbach, 16. Brandon Christman, 17. Logan Boyer, 18. Jamie Smith, 19. Kadie Pursell, Thomas Flanagan, DNQ: Randy Green

Sportsman Modified Feature (25-laps) 1. Earl Paules, 2. Kassidy Altemose, 3. Randy Ahner Jr., 4. Lorin Arthofer, 5. Brian Rygielski, 6. Gunner Zeiner, 7. Payton Arthofer, 8. Brenner Coulter, DNS: Stacey Brown

Pro 4 Feature Finish (20-laps): 1. Jake Kibler, 2. Cody Kohler, 3. Randy Schaffer, 4. Josh Kuronya, 5. Kadie Pursell, 6. Jeremy Guerra, 7. Robert Derfler, 8. Phil Sabatine, 9. Tyler Stangle

Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Al Arthofer, 2. Corey Edelman, 3. Tisha Connolly, 4. Jacob Boehm, 5. Nick Schaffer, 6. Cody Geist, 7. Cody Boehm, 8. James Tout, 9. Lyndsay Buss, 10. Tad Snyder, 11. Tucker Muffley, 12. Jake Oswald, 13. Terry Peters, 14. Mallory Kutz, 15, Taylor Schmidt, 16. Hunter Iatalese, 17. Jesse Bollinger, 18. Travis Solomon, 19.Nicholas Kerstetter

Rookie Hobby Stock Feature Finish (12-laps): 1. Jaden Brown, 2. Haley Muffley, 3. Paul French Jr., 4. Mckayla Kohler, 5. Toby Behler, 6. Corey Gulich, 7. Brody George, 8. Mia Guy, 9. Elia Tito, 10. Greyson Ahner, 11. Maggie Yeakel, 12. Zoe Kuchera