With only one more Modified race after Saturday night, it was time for everyone to put their best foot forward and Keith Flach and Kenny Tremont Jr. needed to put something together to prevent Brett Hearn from winning another title.
They were unsuccessful.
John Ruchel started on pole and ran very well early on to keep the lead. J.R. Heffner started fifth and moved up to second within a mere couple of laps.
Heffner quickly caught Ruchel and raced him hard for a couple of laps before snagging the lead on lap 9. Flach followed past into second. Further back, Hearn was quickly moving forward from the 14th starting spot. It did not take long for him to poke his nose into the top five.
The weekend before Mr. DIRT Track U.S.A. usually brings drivers to town to shake down their mounts. Saturday night was no exception as a couple of non-regulars pressed their luck.
Anthony Perrego had an excellent night, finishing sixth after starting 22nd.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East regular Tyler Dippel was also in the house to make his second start of the year. Unfortunately, Dippel and his brand-new Teo chassis were eliminated in a crash on lap 13 with Kyle Sheldon that brought out the first caution.
Flach was on the defensive immediately after the restart with Hearn hot on his tail. A small mistake in turn 4 resulted in Hearn taking the spot.
The next lap, Flach spun in turn 4, creating a stack-up. Flach would continue, but he would finish 13th.
The second half of the race saw Heffner and Hearn running nose-to-tail and battling hard for the lead. However, Hearn could never get all the way alongside Heffner’s No. 74 as Heffner held on to take the win.
Heffner was quite pleased afterward.
“[We] were solid,” Heffner said in the pits. “We had good horsepower, handled well. We had good traction. The car wanted to push the nose a little bit, but overall, it was everything it needed to be.”
Hearn finished second, which gives him a 71-point lead in the standings with one race remaining. As a result, Hearn has clinched another Modified track championship, his sixth in a row at Lebanon Valley. Kenny Tremont Jr. was third, followed by L.J. Lombardo and Rob Pitcher.
The Small Block Modified feature saw Bennington’s Timothy Davis get an excellent start from the pole and pull away from the 19-car field. With a number of the primary challengers stuck back in traffic, Davis’s No. 7T was able to simply run his own race.
Brian Sandstedt crashed on lap 12 to bring out the one and only caution of the race, bunching everyone up. That put Davis in a rather fierce battle with Arlington, Vermont’s Ricky Davis in the No. 43.
Further back, Heffner charged up from the 15th starting spot to run down Ricky Davis in the closing. While Heffner was able to get second with three laps to go, he could do nothing with Davis, who held on to claim the win.
Afterward, Davis was thankful for his help.
“The car was really fast tonight,” Davis said in the pits. “I want to thank all of our sponsors, my dad, my mom. Also Marcus and Jeff Reese. They gave me a good car tonight and we just took off from our great starting position.”
Behind Timothy Davis and Heffner was Ricky Davis in a career-best third. Frank Hoard III was fourth while Brett Haas was fifth.
The King of Dirt Pro Stock Series made its one and only stop of the year at Lebanon Valley on Saturday night. That meant 30 laps of action and some slightly different rules.
By way of the redraw, Nick Stone ended up on the pole. However, Jon Routhier made short work of Stone at the start to take the lead.
The early portions of the race were of the start-and-stop variety. Frank Twing lost his hood to bring out a yellow. Shortly after the restart, Rich Crane and Tom O’Connor collided on the frontstretch. O’Connor spun out to draw another yellow.
Jay Casey quickly moved up to second and put pressure on his own neighbor (Routhier) for the lead. On lap 7, Jay Casey was able to move to the front. As the race continued on, Steven LaRochelle, Twing and Rob Yetman pulled away from the rest of the pack to settle things among themselves.
Jason Casey’s blown tire brought out a yellow and set up a four-lap shootout. On the restart, LaRochelle did not get up to speed and dropped back to ninth. Routhier tried to get past Jay Casey, but could not do it as Casey claimed the win.
Casey acknowledged that the handling on his No. 322 was starting to go away towards the end of the race and complimented his longtime competitor and more-or-less neighbor Routhier.
“[The car] started getting tight towards the end,” Casey explained. “I had to take it in high. [Routhier] was coming in underneath. I knew I had problems if I couldn’t keep the car higher because he had more momentum. [Routhier] did a very good job.”
Routhier was second, followed by Twing. Jason Meltz moved up to fourth on the final restart ahead of Yetman.
In Pure Stock Feature No. 1, Tim Thompson started from the pole and led early in his No. 144. Likely the fastest driver in the race was Tom Murphy, who charged up from the sixth starting spot to challenge for the lead.
Joey Wilson, who was making his season debut Saturday night, assumed the lead and was able to hold off a resurgent Thompson to take the win on the track.
However, post-race inspection found unapproved pulleys under the hood of the No. 57W. As a result, Wilson was disqualified, giving Thompson the win. Nick Reilly was credited with second, followed by Denue, Scott Morris and Sorrentino.
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 saw Jordan Miller start from the pole and lead early in his Chevrolet Malibu. However, Mike Eichstedt was the man on the move. He quickly moved up from the ninth starting spot to bring the battle directly to Miller.
On the last lap, the two leaders fought hard, but Jesse Murphy was able to get his nose ahead. From there, he held on to take the checkers on-track.
Once again, technical inspection decided the race. In Jesse Murphy’s case, his No. 013 was found to have an unapproved distributor. As a result, he was disqualified and the win given to Eichstedt. Chris Murphy was credited with second, followed by Clifford Booth, Miller and Adam Schneider.
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 started off with points leader Ed Hatch being called to the pits for not having a hood. While the team was able to get the hood squared away, it put him behind the ball at the start.
Mike Arnold noted prior to the feature that he had finally figured out how to loosen up his No. 76 car, something that he felt was necessary in order to have a good run. While he did have some extra speed, his car may have been a little too loose.
An attempt to go to the inside of pole-sitter Brian Walsh did not work out all that well as Arnold slid up the track and lost a good amount of track position. While his 10th-place finish was not what he was hoping for (he was aiming for a top five), it did show that he is finding the speed to be more active in the competitive third Pure Stock Feature.
Jeff Meltz Sr. seemed to have the best car on the evening. Starting sixth, the Ghent-based veteran moved up towards the front and was able to get the jump on Walsh to take the lead on lap 4 and cruise to victory.
O’Brien ended up a close second in the race. Third went to Hatch despite having to come from the rear of the field.
Finally, the night ended with the Boomer’s Performance Purestock Classic, rescheduled from Aug. 12. Jeff Kreutziger drew the pole for the race and fought with Al Relyea early on for the lead.
A spin for Larry Perez in turn 4 brought out the second and final yellow of the race with seven laps to go. That allowed Jeff Meltz Jr. to pull up to Kreutziger’s rear bumper. However, no one could prevent Kreutziger from going flag-to-flag to claim the win and walk away with $950.
Jeff Meltz Jr. held on for second with Eichstedt third. Deak was fourth and Hatch fifth.