Saturday night saw Lebanon Valley Speedway open up the year with some exciting on-track action in chilly temperatures. For Brett Hearn, the task was simply to pick up from where he left off in 2017.
By virtue of winning his heat race, Andy Bachetti started from the pole while Hearn was fourth. In a matter of a couple of laps, Hearn was already up to second and pressing for the lead.
Further back, Kenny Tremont Jr. was moving forward from the ninth starting spot, but the going was tough.
Cautions for Kolby Schroder stalling on the backstretch and Chad Jeseo nosing into the inside wall on the frontstretch closed the pack up.
A multi-car incident in turn 3 involving Mike King, Kyle Sheldon and Wayne Jelley gave Hearn one more chance to plan his attack.
On the restart, Hearn made his move. It did not take long for the 12-time track champion to snatch the advantage away.
Tremont followed Hearn past Bachetti into second. From there, Tremont did everything he could to keep pace with Hearn.
A late caution for a crash in turn 2 for Jeseo closed the pack up for a six-lap shootout. However, Hearn got an excellent start and pulled away to take the win.
For Hearn, the familiar is a big benefit.
“[We raced] the same car we’ve used for the last couple of years,” Hearn said after the race. “We know what we’re dealing with and how we want it to feel. We were real fast in hot laps, so it was appropriate that we won tonight.”
Hearn has indicated that the car he raced Saturday night will be exclusively used at Lebanon Valley this season. Additional Teo chassis will be used for Hearn’s racing at Albany-Saratoga Speedway and in Super DIRTcar Series races.
Tremont was second and stated afterward that he just needed that little bit more to win. Bachetti was third, followed by Eddie Marshall and J.R. Heffner.
In the Sportsman feature, the primary move for the lead was made on the very first lap.
Todd Buckwold started on pole and charged into the first turn. Unfortunately, Buckwold lost control and spun to bring out a caution.
Chris Curtis was able to sweep past into the lead. In the chain reaction that followed, Chris Lynch was hit and broke a shock that ultimately forced him to retire.
Curtis was just about the class of the field all night. Behind him, Whitey Slavin moved his PMC chassis up to second after fighting with Kevin Ward.
The scariest incident of the night occurred on a lap 15 restart.
Michael Sabia had a part in the front end of his No. 7 fail early on, forcing him to manhandle his car. Despite that, he was able to keep himself in fourth.
On a lap 15 restart, it completely broke. The failure pitched him directly into the wall, then into a series of pirouettes in front of most of the field.
Buckwold, Alan Houghtaling, Nikki Ouellette and Paolo Pascarella were all involved in the crash. Everyone was OK, but Houghtaling and Sabia were out.
Curtis was able to hold on over the final five laps to take a convincing victory over Slavin and Ward. Peter Carlotto finished fourth, followed by Adam Gage.
In Pro Stock, Ed Bishop’s switch to No. 11 from No. 144 paid some dividends.
A heat race victory gave him the pole, but Rob Yetman was alongside. Yetman wasted no time in snagging the lead, claiming it on the very first lap.
The event was clean until Jason Casey broke his rear end on lap 12 to bring out a yellow.
Shortly after the restart, a multi-car crash in turn 3 involved Scott Kilmer, Tom O’Connor, Tom Dean and Pro Stock debutant Dave Stickles. O’Connor dropped out as a result, but the others continued.
Over the final few laps, a swell duel for second broke out between Canaan, Conn.’s Jay Casey, Bishop and Jason Meltz. On the final lap, Meltz made a move to the inside in turns 3 and 4 that allowed him to go from fourth to second.
Meanwhile, Yetman could not be denied as he extended his record with his 52nd career Lebanon Valley Pro Stock win. It is also the 100th Pro Stock victory of his career.
Meltz was able to snag second, followed by Jay Casey and Bishop. Nick Hilt rounded out the top five.
In Pure Stock, John Devine, Chad Arsenault and Gary O’Brien each claimed opening night victories.
L&M Motors/Sayer’s Auto Wrecking Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) Brett Hearn, 2) Kenny Tremont Jr., 3) Andy Bachetti, 4) Eddie Marshall, 5) J.R. Heffner, 6) Ronnie Johnson, 7) Brian Berger, 8) Rob Pitcher, 9) Kyle Armstrong, 10) Paul Gilardi, 11) Wayne Jelley, 12) Kyle Sheldon, 13) Steve Hough. 14) Mike Keeler, 15) Kolby Schroder, 16) Chad Jeseo, 17) Elmo Reckner, 18) Mike King, 19) Keith Flach, 20) Josh Marcus, 21) L.J. Lombardo, 22) Denny Soltis
Sportsman Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Chris Curtis, 2) Whitey Slavin, 3) Kevin Ward, 4) Peter Carlotto, 5) Adam Gage, 6) Vinnie Visconti, 7) Rob Maxon, 8) Ted Teal, 9) Todd Buckwold, 10) Nikki Ouellette, 11) Harold Robitaille, 12) Paulo Pascarella, 13) Scott McCoy, 14) Zach Lauster, 15) Michael Sabia, 16) Alan Houghtaling, 17) Scott Flanders, 18) John Virgilio, 19) Cody Ochs, 20) Chris Lynch, 21) Bobby DeLeon
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Rob Yetman, 2) Jason Meltz, 3) Jay Casey, 4) Ed Bishop, 5) Nick Hilt, 6) Rick Dempsey, 7) Jon Routhier, 8) Jay Casey, 9) Joe LaFlamme, 10) Rich Crane, 11) Don Collins, 12) Nick Arnold, 13) Steven LaRochelle, 14) Scott Govertsen, 15) Tom Dean, 16) Scott Kilmer, 17) Brian Keough, 18) Dave Stickles, 19) Rick Duzlak, 20) Tom O’Connor, 21) Jason Casey
Note: There are in fact two separate drivers named Jay Casey in the Pro Stock class.
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 (8 laps): 1) John Devine, 2) Jeff Meltz Jr., 3) Jeff Kreutziger, 4) Ed Hatch, 5) Jordan Miller, 6) Mike Arnold, 7) Tom Murphy Sr., 8) Karen Verhagen, 9) Tim Meltz, 10) Bradley Batho
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 (8 laps): 1) Chad Arsenault, 2) Ray Hall Sr., 3) Jesse Murphy, 4) Chris Murphy, 5) Dom Denue, 6) Al Relyea, 7) Clifford Booth, 8) Shawn Perez, 9) Kevin Paul
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 (8 laps): 1) Gary O’Brien, 2) Jeff Meltz Sr., 3) Zach Seyerlein, 4) Brian Walsh, 5) Adam Schneider, 6) Zach Sorrentino, 7) Scott Morris, 8) Keri VanDenburg, 9) Rocco Procopio