LEHIGHTON, Penn. – Regular Modified 35-lap features at Mahoning Valley Speedway are filled with excellent action and drivers know they must work hastily to get the job done. However, take away five laps and the level of intensity for the checkered flag becomes increasingly higher. That’s exactly what fans got too and not once but twice as Twin-30 lap races showcased the cream of the crop on Saturday.
Don Wagner and Nevin George scored the popular wins respectively and took home $1500 each for their efforts.
In the first race Wagner had to pull out all the stops in order to fend off Eric Beers while the nightcap saw George withstand several restart attempts by Chip Santee in pulling off his second win in three weeks.
In the first 30 Wagner started outside of Terry Markovic on the front row and immediately darted into the lead once the action began. Within in a lap’s time he had heavy company from Kris Graver and the twosome where then locked in a sizzling battle for the lead. Add Earl Paules into the mix and that mention of high intensity became clear. At the same time John Markovic and Eric Beers ran side-by-side right behind the front trio.
By the halfway mark Wagner was able to shake off Graver. Part of that came from Graver slugging it out with Paules. Beers and Markovic never ceased their duel as well.
As the start of the last ten laps began, Beers knew that time would be of the essence and went to work, first clearing himself from Markovic and then powering past Paules and Graver.
A week prior Beers had taken the lead from Wagner and drove on to win. This time, however, Wagner wasn’t budging. Beers would try everything he could to race around but it would not happen. He nearly pulled off a pass numerous times in turn two but Wagner was getting better grip in (turns) three and four.
In the end Wagner held on by a bumper and ended a 35 race winless streak.
The second 30 lapper was lined up by inverting the top 15 from race one and George was both lucky and good. With four laps to go in race one he spun while racing for fourth with John Markovic. That was a blessing in disguise as he wound up as the pole sitter for the second feature.
Once underway George took control and was being tailed by Santee. Several times Santee would try the outside but George was quick to shield him off.
Restarts also became a factor in this contest. Seeing that George had Santee covered under green flag racing, the next best thing would be on two abreast restarts but try as he may, including the final time with six laps to go, George again laid down the power to keep the front spot and go on to collect the victory.
For the second week in a row the Late Model race was a hot contest between Earl Paules, Mike Sweeney and Paul Koehler, Jr. The previous week the outcome was Paules nipping Sweeney for the win after nine lead changes between them.
This week there may not have been the frequent lead swapping but the action was just as concentrated with Sweeney getting the better of Paules for his first win of the year and Koehler another close third.
Sweeney went by George Ramos for the lead on lap two and four circuits later had Paules and Koehler in pursuit. As was the case from a week early, this threesome put on a rousing battle. They all went side-by-side with one another at various portions with Sweeney continually showing the way.
In the late stages Paules went to the high side with the intent of getting the momentum needed to thrust by Sweeney. But after his heartbreaking loss last week, Sweeney wasn’t about to give in and firmly held on, giving fans another excellent three car finish.
In the Street Stock main Steven Steigerwalt got the jump on pole sitter Dennis Buss on the opening lap and then stayed unflawed the rest of the way for his first win in over two seasons. Zach Graver and Joe Mooney were within reach but Steigerwalt clearly had the upper hand on this night.
If there ever was a feel good story it was in the Dirt Mod feature as veteran Ray Deemer got his career first win after 26 years of racing.
Deemer led from the outset and had a strong running JP Curry and point leader Kevin Graver, Jr., hot on his heels. Close so many times before, Deemer raced each lap with perfection. As he did Curry and Graver battled back and forth for second.
That also gave Deemer a cushion to hold his lead but in actuality it mattered not as he showed that no one was about to take away what he strived so long for. It will be remembered as one of the most deserving wins by a driver ever witnessed at Mahoning or anywhere else.
Nick Bear captured his second Pro 4 win and in the process continued on his strong 2014 season as the 16-year old has yet to finish a race in nothing less than first or second.
Corey Edelman picked up his class leading third Hobby Stock win of the year, leading every lap in the process.