LEHIGHTON, Pa. – John Markovic is off to his best season in years.
Saturday night he became a winner for the second time this year at Mahoning Valley Speedway and, for the first time in more than a decade, he has recorded multiple wins in the same season.
The celebrated veteran used a lap 15 restart to get by Scott Meckes for the lead and then had to hold back a strong effort by Earl Paules and Nevin George en route to the victory.
Meckes shot to the early lead and took command of the race by pulling to a huge lead. Brian Romig was keeping second while sixth starter Markovic, Chip Santee and George where putting the strain on him. With ten laps complete Markovic finally got by Romig.
Two laps later Meckes’ big gap was wiped out when the caution waved after Kris Graver had a hard hit against the back stretch wall.
On the restart Meckes was able to hold off Markovic. However, when the field was reset for a second time three laps later, the re-go went the way of Markovic and Santee followed. The two prominent champions then wheeled around the in close two-wide fashion.
On lap 24 there was another slowdown period and when the action resumed Markovic moved up just enough to make a bump on Santee who then got a bit loose. With the field heading full steam into turn one, Santee was trying to correct his car but the back end broke loose and into a spin he went. One of the on-comers then struck him and in turn his left front wheel assembly broke and ended a strong run.
“I really didn’t mean to get into Chip (Santee). We were side-by-side and I slipped up a little bit. He’s a good friend of mine and I feel awful about that,” said Markovic.
Meckes was now next to Markovic as too were George and Paules from his rear bumper. In the final 11 laps there would be no room for error as they all raced tightly packed together. As Markovic showed the way there was quite the clash for second. Paules would finally get around Meckes with four laps to go. Try as he may he could not get past Markovic who went on to score his 34th feature win at Mahoning Valley. It was the second straight runner-up for Paules.
“I just tried to protect the bottom as best I could after I got the lead. I’m really happy,” said Markovic. “It’s a tough group of racers here and I respect them and love racing with them all.”
George nipped Meckes on the final lap to take third with Mike Quinn completing the top five.
Frankie Althouse earned his second Late Model win of the season. Althouse raced into the lead after a lap nine restart but at the same time had point leader Earl Paules giving him a great run for his money.
Paules then picked up the top spot after a restart on the 15th circuit, however, Althouse kept right alongside and edged back out front two laps later. He then pulled away to a car length margin of victory.