Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – WEST LEBANON, NY – It was a night to remember in more ways than one Saturday night at the Lebanon Valley Speedway. It was a time to remember JC Flach and the Cyclone, Maynard Forrette, but more than that, people will remember just how good those races were, not just who won them.
For the record, Andy Bachetti and Steve Hough were the big winners on Saturday night.
In the early feature, the Maynard Forrette Memorial, Bachetti had to hold off an extremely hard-charging Keith Flach to take the win with an engine that had gone flat for almost half the event.
Hough’s win was significant because he took home $5,000 for winning the race in honor of the fallen member of the Flach family. However, if the race had been just one lap longer, the big payday may have been going home to Sussex, NJ in the hands of “invader” Brett Hearn.
Hough started on the front row and looked like he was trying to run away and hide from the rest of the field, but that wasn’t to be the case. JR Heffner, Kyle Sheldon and Kolby Schroder all stayed within striking distance of the #34 machine.
A caution on lap on lap 8 for Brian Berger who had spun in turns one and two was the only stoppage the race had and it was the only time the #20 of Hearn had the opportunity to catch his breath. From that point on, the former track champion made his march through the field, picking off cars lap after lap from his 15th starting spot.
With 10 laps remaining, Hearn had made his way to the top five and was a good distance behind the top four cars, but he made up the ground, and with two-to-go, had passed the second place machine of Heffner and was on the charge to catch Hough. However, he ran out of laps, as the Hough machine went the distance to take home the JC Flach Memorial.
“Man, it feels good to be here in victory lane, especially on JC’s night,” Hough said. “Have to thank the Flach family for doing this. I always liked racing with JC. I never had any problems with him so to win on this night is very special.”
In pre-race festivities, several balloons were released in memory of Flach. All drivers were given one as well and the one Hough had was stuck in his car, getting caught. Fittingly, it dislodged on the final lap.
“I let that balloon go with one lap to go,” he said. “I think that’s what did it for us.”
Hough’s car is a former Brett Hearn Teo Pro Car, so to beat the former champ with his own car is extra special for Hough.
“This thing was perfect all night for us,” he said. “This is one of Brett’s cars, so it feels good to beat him with his own stuff. He still helps me out a lot as does, all of my crew and our sponsors. This is a total effort.”
Hearn had to settle for second with Heffner getting third. Andy Bachetti charged late in the feature to get fourth with JC’s little brother, Keith Flach, bringing his #43 home in fifth.
It looked like Kyle Sheldon was going to be one to beat, getting as high as second in the feature by the midway point. However, the second-generation driver backslid a few and had to settle for a sixth place finish.
Bachetti used his fourth place to back up his win earlier in the night in the Maynard Flach Memorial. The Massachusetts racer was able to pass a very strong running Olden Dwyer just passed the halfway mark and looked like he was going to run away and hide. However, his engine had other ideas.
“Halfway through this thing, something happened to the motor,” Bachetti said. “It started skippin’ and coughin’ but we were able to get it done.”
The former track champ had to do everything he could to keep all comers at bay, including Keith Flach, who on the final lap really made a charge. Flach had the #4 all crossed up coming off turn two and was doing everything he could to get by, but Bachetti’s Bicknell machine was just wide enough to keep the Ravena Rocket behind him.
“I knew someone was there but didn’t know who it was,” he said. “I really had to go on the defense there, but we were able to get it done. This just feels really good.”
A fuel line issue appeared to be the problem for the Bachetti machine, but he was able to get the win and was thankful for the team’s hard work to get his first win in almost two years on the high banks.
“It feels really good to get this Big Block in victory lane,” he said. “I’m so happy for my guys and my team. Everyone’s been digging really hard to get this car back here and I can’t say enough for them.”
Flach narrowly missed getting his second victory of the season with a car that really seemed to like the slippery conditions of the track.
“This place is real slick but that’s a product of daytime racing,” Flach said. We had a pretty decent car and were tight there in the beginning, but around halfway it started coming to us. I tried everything I could to get by Andy and congrats to him but it was still a great run for us.”
Olden Dwyer came home a strong third place after leading a good portion of the event. Kyle Armstrong had a good run to place fourth and Ronnie Johnson, still chasing his first win at this Valley since his return, came home in the fifth spot.
In the regularly-scheduled 358-Modified feature, it appeared as if Timothy Davis was on his way to victory lane, but on the final lap, former Modified racer Guy Sheldon made the move to grab the lead and took home his first victory since his return to the driver’s seat.
“This feels really good to get back to victory lane,” Sheldon said. “I got pinched on the highside trying to go around a lap car, and the 7 got a good run and I couldn’t catch him. I got close to him in lap traffic and it looked like he was trying to protect the bottom on the last lap.”
That was when Sheldon made his move.
“I knew there was a slight chance I could get him,” he said. “It looked like Tim slowed down a big going down the back stretch, like something might have happened and we were able to make the move. Either way, we’ll take it.”
This was the first win for Sheldon driving for good friend Lorne Browe who decided to take himself out of the seat after the first week. Looks like it was a good decision on Saturday.
“I really have to thank Lorne for the opportunity,” he said. “He’s too busy with his business and asked me if I wanted to hop in the car, and the rest is history.”
Davis had to settle for second with Brandon Pitcher racing to a hard-fought third place finish. JR Heffner was fourth with Steve Hough coming home fifth. Andy Bachetti crossed the line in third but was penalized three positions at the finish. It is unclear at this time what the infraction was, as we weren’t given a ruling at press time. He was scored with a sixth place finish.
Bachetti did, however take home the victory in the heldover 358-Modified feature, taking the lead just before halfway and was unchallenged the rest of the distance to grab his fifth win of the season in the class.
“These guys just give me a great race car each time we go out,” Bachetti said. “Jimmy Winchell and this team really work as hard as they can for me and I can’t say enough about them.”
With the victory, Bachetti now ties Kenny Tremont for the most in the division, all-time. This is a record that has great significance to the “Wild Child.”
“Kenny’s the King of the Valley,” he said. “To do that right now is a pretty big honor for me.”
Sheldon had a good run early in the night to come home in the runner-up spot with Heffner finishing third. Frank Harper and Brett Haas rounded out the top five.
In the two Pro Stock features, Steven Larochelle and Chad Jeseo came away with the victories.
Larochelle had to hold off Rob Yetman for most of the first feature, until the defending champ fell back to fourth at the finish.
Jeseo muscled his way to the runner-up spot in the first race with Jason Casey coming home third. Yetman was fourth with Rick Dempsey completing the top five.
“Rob (Yetman) raced me good,” Larochelle said. “He raced me hard and he raced me clean. It’s always a pleasure running side-by-side with him and a lot of guys in this class.”
Larochelle had to pass the 413 of Tommy Dean to grab the top spot and from that point he was able to hold off all challengers to grab the win.
“Tommy had a good car and was hard to get by,” he said. “He held his line well and I hope to see him in the winner’s circle this year because it’ll be good to see.”
Jeseo ended the night with his first victory since he returned to the full-fendered cars this season had to fight with leader Johnny Rivers and Yetman for the victory.
Rivers led the first 13 circuits but missed the groove in turn three on that lap and Jeseo was there to pounce.
“This feels really good to get back to victory lane,” Jeseo said. “The class is a lot different than it was when I left seven years ago. It’s good tight racing and I absolutely love it and am glad to be back running this car.”
Battling with Yetman for second behind Rivers actually helped Jeseo when it was time to make his move.
“I saw what Rob was trying to do to be fast for a couple laps,” he said. “I lucked out when he and Johnny got together and was able to capitalize.”
Jay Casey, Nick Hilt and Jason Meltz completed the top five.
Scott Morris and Zach Seyerlein took home the two Pure Stock race wins with Jon Sheppard (Single) and James Street (Dual) taking home the two 4-Cylinder victories.
Modified Results (30 Laps) -1) Steve Hough, 2) Brett Hearn, 3) J.R. Heffner, 4) Andy Bachetti, 5) Keith Flach, 6) Kyle Sheldon, 7) Peter Britten, 8) Kenny Tremont Jr, 9) Ronnie Johnson, 10) Kyle Armstrong, 11) Demetrius Drellos, 12) Marc Johnson, 13) Eddie Marshall, 14) L.J Lombardo, 15) Ricky Davis, 16) Kolby Schroder, 17) Wayne Jelley, 18) Mike King, 19) John Ruchel, 20) Rob Pitcher, 21) Paul Gilardi, 22) Olden Dwyer, 23) C.G. Morey, 24) Denny Soltis, 25) Brian Berger, 26) Matt Pupello, 27) Josh Marcus,
Modified Results (30 Laps) -1) Andy Bachetti, 2) Keith Flach, 3) Olden Dwyer, 4) Kyle Armstrong, 5) Ronnie Johnson, 6) Peter Britten, 7) Kenny Tremont Jr, 8) Kyle Sheldon, 9) Eddie Marshall, 10) Brian Berger, 11) Rob Pitcher, 12) John Ruchel, 13) Mike King, 14) Josh Marcus, 15) Ricky Davis, 16) L.J Lombardo, 17) Matt Pupello, 18) Paul Gilardi, 19) J.R. Heffner, 20) Denny Soltis, 21) Marc Johnson, 22) Chad Jeseo, 23) Steve Hough, 24) Wayne Jelley,
Small Block Modified Results (24 Laps) -1) Guy Sheldon, 2) Timothy Davis, 3) Brandon Pitcher, 4) J.R. Heffner, 5) Steve Hough, 6) Andy Bachetti, 7) Brett Haas, 8) Olden Dwyer, 9) Ray Hall Jr, 10) Frank Hoard III, 11) Brandon Lane, 12) Sean Mandel, 13) Frank Harper, 14) Brian Sandstedt, 15) C.G. Morey, 16) Micheal Sabia, 17) Joeseph Coppola, 18) Alan Houghtaling, 19) Jason Herrington, 20) Ricky Davis, 21) Chris Curtis, 22) Kim LaVoy,
Small Block Modified Results (24 Laps) -1) Andy Bachetti, 2) Guy Sheldon, 3) J.R. Heffner, 4) Frank Harper, 5) Brett Haas, 6) Steve Hough, 7) Chris Curtis, 8) Timothy Davis, 9) Ray Hall Jr, 10) Brandon Lane, 11) Jason Herrington, 12) Brandon Pitcher, 13) Ricky Davis, 14) Brian Sandstedt, 15) Sean Mandel, 16) Micheal Sabia, 17) Alan Houghtaling, 18) C.G. Morey, 19) Kim LaVoy, 20) Olden Dwyer, 21) Frank Hoard III, 22) Joeseph Coppola,
Pro Stock Results (20 Laps) -1) Chad Jeseo, 2) Rob Yetman, 3) Jay Casey, 4) Nick Hilt, 5) Jason Meltz, 6) Rich Crane, 7) Rick Dempsey, 8) Tom Dean, 9) Mike Baker, 10) Gary Silkey, 11) Jay Casey, 12) Steven LaRochelle, 13) Adam Schneider, 14) Don Collins, 15) Brian Carter, 16) Jason Casey, 17) Rick Duzlak, 18) Jon Routhier, 19) Nick Arnold, 20) Phil Arnold, 21) Nick Reilly, 22) Paul LaRochelle, 23) Brian Keough, DQ) Johnny Rivers,
Pro Stock Results (20 Laps) -1) Steven LaRochelle, 2) Chad Jeseo, 3) Jason Casey, 4) Rob Yetman, 5) Rick Dempsey, 6) Jay Casey, 7) Rich Crane, 8) Jason Meltz, 9) Tom Dean, 10) Nick Arnold, 11) Phil Arnold, 12) Mike Baker, 13) Gary Silkey, 14) Brian Carter, 15) Adam Schneider, 16) Nick Hilt, 17) Rick Duzlak, 18) Johnny Rivers, 19) Don Collins, 20) Nick Reilly, 21) Jay Casey#, 22) Jon Routhier, 23) Brian Keough, 24) Paul LaRochelle,
Pure Stock #1 Results (10 Laps) -1) Scott Morris, 2) John Devine, 3) Clifford Booth, 4) Jim Dellea, 5) Chris Murphy, 6) Rocco Procopio, 7) Mike Eichstedt, 8) Dominick Calabro, 9) Janai St. Pierre, 10) Ryan Brown, 11) Jethro Rossman,
Pure Stock #2 Results (10 Laps) -1) Zach Seyerlein, 2) Ed Hatch, 3) Ray Hall Sr., 4) Jeff Kreutzinger, 5) Jeff Meltz, 6) Rob Partridge, 7) Keri Vandenburg, 8) Brian Walsh, 9) Shawn Perez, 10) Don Kennedy,
4 Cylinder Single Cam Results (15 Laps)-1) Sheppard,Jon, 2) Meltz, Tim 3) Williams, Luke 4) Batho,Bradley 5) McClendon, Nick 6) Bierce, Chris 7) Batho,Joey
4 Cylinder Dual Cam Results (15 Laps)-1) Street, James* 2) Ely, Brandon 3) Williams, Jim* 4) Burbank, Steve 5) Duncan, Mike
6) Napoli, John 7) Wright, John 8) Guertin, Jim 9) Miner, Rob 10) Hillard, Marcus 11) Suriner, Lauren 12) Chariot, Gene