By DINO OBERTO
(LEHIGHTON, Pa. 10-4-15) You couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish out the Modified point season at Mahoning Valley Speedway. There were five drivers that all had a shot at the title. They had 100 laps to play it out and over the final circuits there would be four of them gunning for the win.
In the end Austin Kochenash, who came into the day second in points, did all that he could by winning the main, his first at that distance, however, when the final tally of points where added, his title attempt fell just short to Earl Paules, thanks to his fifth place run.
In between them title hopefuls Kris Graver and Eric Beers tried as well for the victory as did Bobby Jones, but truth be told Kochenash showed that once he took the lead he was going to be tough to beat.
The race was the and 2nd Annual Bob “Heavy” Scherer Memorial, named in honor the former driver and later championship crew chief to Beers. He passed away last year after a courageous bout with cancer.
“It was a good run and we finished the year out strong. We didn’t win as many races as we’d have liked but this was great to win one of these 100-lappers. Heavy always made the time to come over and talk with me so to win this race in his name is very special,” said Kochenash after notching his third triumph of the season.
“The car was decent but not great. I was able to manage my tires early and when I got to the front it was good enough to win.”
Kochenash started 11th and would play a waiting game over the first half of the event. During that time Eric Kocher led and was steadfast while holding off Kevin Rex Jr., and Kyle Strohl.
Still bidding his, Kochenash made his way into the top five on lap 27 and was patiently waiting for the right moment to start picking off the next four cars ahead of him. He would get a little help in the form of cautions that allowed him to move ahead and the best of those situations came on lap 52 when second running Rex Jr., got spun after a dust-up with Strohl.
On the ensuing restart Kochenash was now second and with that the waiting was soon over. One lap back to green and he was out front. On his tail though was Jones and not long after came Beers.
“I let those guys play it out ahead of me early on and then once the outside opened up I was able to pass quite a few cars there,” said Kochenash.
Paules in the meantime was having his own issues and had made several pit stops before settling in past the lap sixty mark. He was, at one point, far enough behind that would have given the title away.
At the front Kochenash was in charge but by no means running away with from the pack. Jones and Beers battled for second while staying right with him.
The final 25 laps had all kinds of intensity as the race for the win and the title was up for grabs. Beers, who had no choice but to go for the win in order to stake his claim for the crown, picked up second on lap 70 and was going all out to pass Kochenash. Nothing doing as Kochenash wasn’t letting this one slip away.
Despite the blitz from Beers, then Jones and finally Graver with five laps to go, Kochenash held his ground and earned the $3500 paycheck, which was increased even more thanks to lap bonus money.
Paules finally got his car dialed in as the laps wound down and was fifth at the finish, good enough to earn his second Mahoning Modified championship.
“It was a clean race and up until about two (laps) to go just I ran fast enough to keep the car on the bottom. With them on the outside of me I knew where they were and with two to go I just stepped it up. The car ran well and I know it will be good for the (Octoberfast) 150,” said Kochenash.
In the Late Models Mike Sweeney for the second time in as many weeks and ninth on the season would win the battle but it would be Paul Koehler Jr., who would win the war and title.
Sweeney, who was the only driver that could surpass Koehler, had to go for broke by taking the victory and hope that the standings leader was far enough behind in the process.
On a lap 10 restart he grabbed take the lead over Jacob Kerstetter. Sweeney then had some close racing with Travis Fisher but wouldn’t stick around long enough to let that tussle or anything else get in his way.
The task at hand was to win and he did just that, taking a two-car length advantage at the checkers. Jeremy Miller and Fisher had a great duel for second.
Sweeney’s hope for a bad run by Koehler never happened as he was fourth and became the first driver to win four Late Model championships.
Outgoing Street Stock champ TJ Gursky ended weeks of frustration by picking up his second win of the season over Stacey Brown.
While Gursky was on his way to winning there was and concentrated fight being waged for the class title. Zach Graver, by just one spot over Randy Schlenker, was crowned the titlist.
JP Curry authored an impressive performance in claiming his second Dirt Mod win of the season. Curry led every lap and was never challenged at all.
The Pro 4 win went to Bobby Kibler Jr., for a fifth time but it wasn’t enough for his bid at the title as Cody Kohler’s fourth place effort garnered him the top ranking.
Rookie Kyle Krempasky capped off a super season by scoring his fifth feature win with the Hobby Stocks. Cody Geist, who was runner up, received the big prize, that of champion driver.
Modified Feature Finish (100 Laps): 1. Austin Kochenash, 2. Kris Graver, 3. Bobby Jones, 4. Eric Beers, 5. Earl Paules, 6. Kyle Strohl, 7. Roger Coss, 8. Terry Markovic,9. Lou Strohl, 10. Eric Kocher, 11. Todd Bear, 12. Chip Santee, 13. JP Curry, 14. John Markovic, 15. Mike Quinn, 16. Calvin Carroll, 17. Kevin Rex Jr., 18. Don Wagner
Late Model Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Mike Sweeney, 2. Jeremy Fisher, 3. Travis Fisher, 4. Paul Kohler Jr., 5. George Ramos, 6. Troy Bollinger, 7. Barry Kutz, 8. Don Wagner, 9. Kenny Hein, 10. Troy Hilliard, 11. Broc Brown, 12. Jacob Kerstetter
Street Stock Feature Finish (30 Laps): 1. TJ Gursky, 2. Stacey Brown, 3. Jason Kuhn, 4. Aaron Kromer, 5. Kristy Arthofer, 6. Jon Tracey, 7. Zach Graver, 8. Randy Schlenker, 9. Randy Ahner Jr, 10. Jared Ahner, 11. Jamie Smith, 12. Jason Frey, 13. John Bennett, 14. Todd Ahner, 15. Gene Bowers, 16. Corey Edelman, 17. Jillian Long, 18. Kevin Kromer, 19. Chris Steigerwalt, 20. Joe Mooney
Dirt Mod Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. JP Curry, 2. Jack Ely, 3. Aleia Geisler, 4. Lorin Arthofer II, 5. Ricky Yetter, 6. Mike Stofflet, 7. Billy Lasko, 8. Dave Gorbatuk, 9. Scott Adams
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Bobby Kibler Sr., 2. Jake Kibler, 3. JD Light, 4. Cody Kohler, 5. Kailyn Beers, 6. Johnny Bennett, 7. Josh Scherer DQ: Bobby Kibler Jr.
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (15 Laps): 1. Kyle Krempasky, 2. Cody Geist, 3. Rich Mutarelli, 4. Seth VanFossen, 5. Ken Reeder, 6. Shayne Geist, 7. Ron Heeter, 8. Lyndsay Buss, 9. Waylon Speer, 10. Bob Azarowitz, 11. Nicole Quinter, 12. Michael Wambold, 13. Austin Beers