Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – WEST LEBANON, NY – In a strong green-to-checkers run, Jason Herrington took the lead from Chris Curtis at the midway point of the Cathy Plotz Memorial 358-Modified feature event Saturday night at the Lebanon Valley Speedway, and never looked back, taking a much-needed victory for he and his entire team.
After three weeks of struggles, the Troy, NY driver put together a strong run with his PMC Race Car, working traffic mainly on the low side of the speedway and then kept point leader Andy Bachetti at bay to score his second win of 2019.
“With the problems we’ve had the past three weeks, and wondering if we’ve got it fixed, we don’t have it fixed, this is just awesome,” Herrington said. “We went out for warm-ups and it was still skipping and popping. We found an electrical issue and changed the ignition box. Then, ran the heat race and came in and told my guys we figured it out. We got it.”
With all of the trials and tribulations that this team has gone through this season, this was a big win for not only Herrington himself, but the entire crew of the Big Red #1.
“This just really great, but mainly for everyone who helps me out,” he said. “The guys on the crew work extremely hard to get this car ready every week. I can’t thank them enough. My sponsors who have stuck by me, my engine builder Donath Motor Worx and my family who are probably my biggest sponsor. I couldn’t do it without all of them.”
Herrington started the feature in the sixth position, but the fastest car on the track fired on the original start from 11th and that was Andy Bachetti. Bachetti probably could have used at least one caution, especially when he got to the runner-up position with eight laps remaining so he could have a shot at Herrington, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
“Hats off to Jason Herrington,” Bachetti said. “He ran a great race but we needed a caution there I think. But my team did an awesome job tonight and the car was great for us to get up to second.”
It was a good points night for Bachetti, who widened his lead on second-place man Brett Haas to 22 with the second place run.
“Right now, it’s all about keeping everything consistent,” he said. “It’s about keeping everything underneath you and that’s what we’re doing. I can’t say enough about my team on this Winchell car and all of our sponsors. I couldn’t do it without all of these guys and it’s just been a good year.”
Chris Curtis led the entire first part of the 24-lap feature before being overtaken by Herrington at the midway point. He brought his #35 home in the third spot with Brett Haas finishing fourth and Alan Houghtaling completing the top five.
One interesting entrant into the field on Saturday was 2019 Modified Champion and winner last week in Mr. DIRT Track USA, Kenny Tremont. Tremont had his Small Block at the track for the first time this season. He started shotgun on the field and with no cautions, worked his way to eighth at the completion of the feature event.
Utilizing a rare fourth-place starting spot due to a draw before the feature event, John Virgilio had a hard fought battle with Kevin Ward for the runner-up spot for several laps and then went and had a spirited battle for the top spot with Leader Gary O’Brien.
He was able to grab the lead from the rookie with just six laps remaining in the 30-lap feature and went on to take his second win of the 2019 season in the class.
“Kevin ran me clean and so did Gary,” Virgilio said. “I don’t think either of us touched tires once and we were all running as hard as we could so hat’s off to those guys. They did a great job.”
O’Brien drew the pole for the feature event and tried to get out and hide. The first caution of the race didn’t come out until the 13th circuit and the #57 had run a smooth, consistent race up until that point. He had fended off the challenges of Ward as well and if the race had been its normal distance (20 laps), O’Brien would have had his first career win. But, it wasn’t meant to be.
“We definitely fought for this win,” Virgilio said. “We had a really good starting spot which was by luck of the draw. Gary’s progressed very well very fast in this class and if this was a 20-lap race, it would have been all his. Luckily we had the extra laps to get it done and we did.”
The victory was John’s 13th career win in the Sportsman division which now puts him back on top of the all-time wins list in the class.
O’Brien brought his #57 home for his best career Sportsman finish of second with Ward coming home third. Last week’s winner, Whitey Slavin, came home fourth with Rob Maxon bringing his #96 home in fifth position.
Making his return to the driver seat on Saturday night, Ed Bishop used a pole starting spot to hold off Nick Arnold, Steven Larochelle and the rest of the field to take the Keough Motorsports #311 to victory lane in the Pro Stock Special Saturday night.
With the points ending last week, and several teams now following the DIRTcar Pro Stock tour which was scheduled to be at Plattsburgh Airborne on Saturday night, the strong field of cars that were at the Valley put on a great race and it was Bishop who held off all comers for the win.
“This was my first time back all year,” Bishop said. “It was definitely an experience. I really have to thank Brian and Jim Keough because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have this car tonight as well as DJ & Nick Reilly and all the guys who helped me out. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been back on the track.”
Arnold finished in the runner-up spot with Larochelle third. Chad Jeseo was battling those two for several laps but just couldn’t find a way by. He finished fourth with veteran Gary Silkey finishing fifth.
Jesse Murphy and “Big Ed” Hatch were your two Pure Stock feature winners with Jon Sheppard and James Street picking up 4-Cylinder feature wins. Sheppard took home the win in the Single Cam while Street won the Dual Cam.
A tip of the hat goes to RPW’s own Lucas Ballard who made his racing debut in the 4-Cylinder feature and took home a strong sixth place finish in the Dual Cam division.
Small Block Modified Results (30 Laps) -1) Jason Herrington, 2) Andy Bachetti, 3) Chris Curtis, 4) Brett Haas, 5) Alan Houghtaling, 6) Guy Sheldon, 7) J.R. Heffner, 8) Kenny Tremont, 9) Frank Harper, 10) Olden Dwyer, 11) Frank Hoard III, 12) Angelo DiCarlo, 13) Brian Peterson, 14) Ray Hall Jr, 15) Brian Sandstedt, 16) Ryan Charland, 17) Mark Pullen, 18) Timothy Davis,
Sportsman Results (20 Laps) -1) John Virgilio, 2) Gary O’Brien, 3) Ward, Kevin 4) Whitey Slavin, 5) Rob Maxon, 6) Pete Carlotto, 7) Joseph Coppola, 8) Pat Jones, 9) Chris Lynch, 10) John Stowell, 11) Boardman, Jim 12) Manchester, Dave 13) Robbie Knipe, 14) Cody Ochs, 15) Ryan Larkin, 16) Shane Henion, 17) Matt Burke, 18) Jacob Perry, 19) Nikki Ouellette, 20) Robbie Colburn, 21) Ted Teal, 22) Karl Barnes, 23) John Santolin, 24) Kevin Arnold,
Pro Stock Results (15 Laps) -1) Ed Bishop, 2) Nick Arnold, 3) Steven LaRochelle, 4) Chad Jeseo, 5) Gary Silkey, 6) Zach Seyerlein, 7) Doug Olds, 8) Don Collins, 9) Brian Keough, 10) Phil Arnold,
Pure Stock #1 Results (10 Laps) -1) Jesse Murphy, 2) Chris Murphy, 3) Jay Martin, 4) Scott Morris, 5) Craig Coons, 6) Mitch Bombard, 7) Tom Gomm, 8) Wayne Mahar, 9) Jake Gomm, 10) Dave Fachini, 11) Scott Kilmer,
Pure Stock #2 Results (10 Laps) -1) Ed Hatch, 2) Clifford Booth, 3) Zach Seyerlein, 4) Rob Partridge, 5) Jeff Kreutzinger, 6) Ray Hall Sr., 7) Keri Vandenburg, 8) Janai St. Pierre, 9) Rocco Procopio, 10) Brian Walsh,
4 Cylinder Single Cam Results (15 Laps)-1) Jon Sheppard, 2) Tim Meltz, 3) Luke Williams, 4) Bradley Batho, 5) Victor Duncan JR., 6) Brian Brennen, 7) Chris Bierce, 8) Joey Batho, 9) Nick McClendon,
4 Cylinder Dual Cam Results (15 Laps)-1) James Street, 2) Brandon Ely, 3) Jeff Tubbs, 4) Jim Williams, 5) Mike Fachini, 6) Lucas Ballard, 7) Jim Guertin, 8) Steve Burbank, 9) Mike Duncan, 10) Lauren Suriner, 11) Rob Miner, 12) Matt Narzynski,