WEST LEBANON, N.Y. — Andy Bachetti snared the $17,500 winner’s share for the third time in Thursday night’s Mr. Dirt Track USA event at the Lebanon Valley Speedway.
He never broke a sweat, leading the 100-lap Super DIRTcar Series event flag to flag after picking the pole in the redraw and blasting out to a comfortable advantage after each restart.
“It might have looked easy but it wasn’t, I’ll tell you that,” declared the elated winner. “Heffner was good and we didn’t restart as well as usual, so I was always worried he’d get me. Then with three laps to go, I ran out of fuel and it started stumbling. And I almost got the wall a couple of times, but that’s common here when you’re running hard.”
Bachetti’s front row companion, fellow Lebanon Valley regular J.R. Heffner, chased Bachetti the entire distance after fighting off Brett Hearn on the start, but could never make a serious move on the lead. Series point leader and eventual third place finisher Hearn had a much more exciting night, however, as he had to go to the rear twice after tire changes and passed most of the field twice before the checkers flew. Billy Dunn and Colby Schroeder rounded out the top five.
Nine cautions kept Bachetti out of lapped traffic until the 90-lap range with Hearn’s flat triggering the third yellow on lap 28. He’d been running comfortably right behind Heffner but shifted to attack mode when he went to the rear, blasting back through the field only to pit again for another tire on a lap-48 yellow when two back markers tangled.
“I decided the right front had to be changed, even thought it would put me on the tail again,” reflected Hearn. “By the end, when I finally caught the leaders again, all my tires were gone and the brakes were about shot too, so it never acted the same twice getting into the turns. I worked it hard tonight.”
Kenny Tremont Jr. and Billy Decker entertained the fans for many laps with hand to hand combat for third but on the lap 52 restart, Decker tagged the turn one wall and dropped out, with Tremont then drawing yet another yellow and following him to the pits a few laps later with mechanical issues. That restart let Tour regular Billy Dunn, who’d started 15th, scoot to third. The only outsider in the top five, Dunn held the position until fast-qualifier Hearn shot him down with three to go after again clawing his way back through the field.
Jimmy Phelps led the second five with Jimmy Burns, Matt Sheppard, Danny Johnson and Peter Britten trailing.
Heffner closed out the evening with the best line of the night, saying “He always looks like he’s losing it but he’s always fine” when asked if he thought he might inherit the lead when Bachetti was flirting with the wall.
Peter Carlotta won the companion sportsman feature by inches with a last-corner pass of Hearn protégée Matt Pappa, who had led the entire race. Tyler Dippel was third.