WEST LEBANON — On Sunday night, the Arctic Cat All-Star Circuit of Champions returned to Lebanon Valley Speedway for their second appearance on the high banks.
Drivers had a fast, but slippery track to deal with and Danny Dietrich rode his way to a checkered flag.
Dietrich earned the pole by virtue of winning the J&E Pistons Dash. However, he did not get a good start as Caleb Armstrong swept around him on the outside to take the lead.
Unfortunately for Armstrong, the pass did not stick. The caution came out before the first lap could be fully completed due to Joe Trenca having issues with a front wing mount. Officials ruled that it would be an original start, so Armstrong lost his advantage.
On the second attempt to start, Dietrich got a much better jump and held onto the advantage.
Most of the fans Sunday night were anxious to see Tony Stewart, making his second start at Lebanon Valley in a 410 Sprint car, have a great night.
Stewart had a very fast car, turning in the second fastest time in time trials. However, a bad position draw for the J&E Pistons Dash led to a seventh starting spot for the feature.
A couple of laps in, Stewart had slight contact with Anthony Fiore in turn 4, resulting in Fiore brushing the outside wall and bringing out a yellow. Fiore’s night ended in the work area as the two minute clock expired.
The man that was on the move was Sammy Swindell. Swindell had the fastest car all night, but got a bad draw for the J&E Pistons Dash. He was quickly able to move up from sixth to fourth.
A few laps later, Swindell passed points leader Chad Kemenah for third and began to pressure Armstrong for second.
Swindell all but had Armstrong for second when Hunter Mackinson spun to bring out another yellow. During this caution, a “working red” was thrown due to the number of laps run under yellow.
Refueling was allowed, in addition to anything else other than changing tires.
Once the green came back out, Dietrich was unchallenged on his way to the Arctic Cat All-Star Circuit of Champions feature win and $7,000.
Afterward, Dietrich was pleased.
“We had a really good car, but so do a lot of guys here,” Dietrich said. “Anytime we can start up front, we’re going to try to take advantage of it. Tonight, we were able to do it for 25 laps.”
Armstrong ended up second, followed by Swindell. Kemenah and Stewart rounded out the top five.
The first King of Dirt Small Block Modified race at Lebanon Valley served as the support feature on the evening. Like most small block modified features at Lebanon Valley, this one was quite interesting.
Frank Harper drew the pole and led early on. He was stalked by Brian Berger, who drove the No. 115 in place of Kenny Tremont Jr.
Berger was fastest in hot laps early on, but it still took him 13 laps to finally dispatch of Harper for the lead.
Behind the two leaders, J.R. Heffner charged up from the seventh spot to get to third with the help of lapped traffic. Getting there turned out to be quite important.
On lap 15, Sean Mandel was hit from behind and spun exiting turn 2 to bring out the first caution. Under that caution, the engine in Berger’s car broke after little warning. At the same time, the radiator cap blew off of Harper’s car.
Both drivers ended up retiring from the race.
As a result, Heffner ended up claiming the lead with Demetrios Drellos in second. While Heffner was surprised at the sequence of events, he was still determined to win.
Once the green flag came back out, Heffner attempted to open up a gap on the field, but a couple of incidents kept the pack bunched up.
First, Brian Sandstedt spun in turn 4 to bring out a yellow. On the restart, contact resulted in Ricky Davis hitting the wall in turn 2 to bring out another yellow.
After that caution, Ryan Charland spun out exiting turn 4 to bring out the fourth caution of the race. The start-and-stop nature of the feature kept Drellos close to Heffner.
Once the final green flag came out, Heffner was on a roll in clean air. He pulled away to take the King of Dirt Small Block Modified victory and the $1,500 winners’ share of the purse.
Heffner expressed shock when he claimed the lead.
“When the caution came out, I said, ‘Ok, let’s do this.’” Heffner said. “Once I got to third, I was preparing for those two battles, then it just fell in my lap. I kept looking around, going ‘what is going on?’”
Drellos ended up second, followed by Jason Herrington. Brian Peterson was fourth, while Brett Haas was fifth.
Arctic Cat All-Star Circuit of Champions Feature presented by Abele Tractor (25 laps): 1) Danny Dietrich, 2) Caleb Armstrong, 3) Sammy Swindell, 4) Chad Kemenah, 5) Tony Stewart, 6) Caleb Helms, 7) Paulie Colagiovanni, 8) Dan Stetler, 9) Max Stambough, 10) Coleman Gulick, 11) Brandon Spithauer, 12) Ryan Smith, 13) Justin Barger, 14) John Garvin, 15) Lee Jacobs, 16) Tyler Esh, 17) Jordan Mackinson, 18) T.J. Michaels, 19) Joe Kata, 20) Brett Matus, 21) Brandon Matus, 22) Hunter Mackinson, 23) Anthony Fiore, 24) Matt Tanner, 25) Joe Trenca
King of Dirt Small Block Modified Feature (35 laps): 1) J.R. Heffner, 2) Demetrios Drellos, 3) Jason Herrington, 4) Brian Peterson, 5) Brett Haas, 6) Peter Carlotto, 7) Neil Stratton, 8) Dillon Steuer, 9) Allison Ricci, 10) Jessey Mueller, 11) Jeremy Wilder, 12) Matt DeLorenzo, 13) Timothy Davis, 14) Tyler Boniface, 15) Brandon Pitcher, 16) Jack Lehner, 17) Shaun Pangman, 18) Michael Sabia, 19) Brian Gleason, 20) Ryan Charland, 21) C.G. Morey, 22) Sean Mandel, 23) Ray Hall Jr., 24) Chad Pierce, 25) Ricky Davis, 26) Brian Sandstedt, 27) Brian Berger, 28) Frank Harper, 29) Frank Hoard, III, 30) Alan Houghtaling, 31) Jason Tompkins. DNS: Elmo Reckner