WEST LEBANON, N.Y. – A gorgeous afternoon in mid-April was just what the Doctor ordered at the legendary high banks of Lebanon Valley Speedway.
The 62nd season opener packed the stands full of fans for a battle in all classes with Donnie Corellis taking home the big-block modified win, and Robbie Speed scored the win in the closing laps of the Pro Stock opener.
This early in the season, dirt tracks biggest challenge is weather. For a season opener after such a harsh winter, the half-mile dirt oval alongside NYS Route 20 in West Lebanon was the best it could be for this time of year.
Earlier in the night, the track was a bit chunky, but a mid show grooming shaved it down to a smoother more manager track, but definitely, handling was at a premium.
As the green flag dropped on the L&M Motors big-block modified 30-lap feature event, Lorne Browe powered his No. 10 out to the early lead. With all racers searching around the high banks for a faster way around, everyone was scratching and clawing for every inch they could find.
Caution flew on lap seven for the No. 42P of Matt Pupello as he suffered broken suspension and ended up in the turn one wall. Then on lap nine, the No. 97 of Bobby Hackel IV and the No. 45 of Wayne Jelley hooked bumpers, spinning Hackel’s car into the path of the No. 55 of Mike King. Both ended up hitting the turn two wall hard, ending both of their nights.
On the net restart, Browe was still out front, but left the inside lane open for the No. 57 of Donnie Corellis into turn three, and he took full advantage to take over the top spot.
Caution flew again as Eddie Marshall’s No. 98 spun and rolled in turn three collecting the No. 17 of Rob Pitcher on just past halfway. Kenny Tremont Jr suffered a broken fan and water pump ending his night just before the wreck.
A few more cautions flew which kept J.R. Heffner’s No. 74 and Brett Hearn’s No. 20H right on Corellis’ heals, but after each attempt and restart, Corellis had the handling to hold them off for the remaining laps, taking the win and an extra $3,000 for his troubles.
Heffner finished second, Hearn was third, followed by Loren Browe, Kolby Schroder, Keith Flach, Brian Berger, Kyle Armstrong, Kyle Sheldon and Rob Pitcher to round out the top 10 finishers.
The 20-lap Funplex Funpark Pro Stock feature was much of the same as each driver struggled to keep the handling on their cars throughout the race. The early leader was the No. 324 of Jason Casey. But in the closing laps, Robbie Speed put on the pressure for the top spot.
With two laps remaining, the right rear tire let go on Casey car, handing the lead to Speed. And with a two-lap shootout, Robbie Speed powered his No. 24 to the win for his first on the year.
Paul LaRochelle finishing second, Jon Routhier was third, followed by Daniel Sanchez, Rick Duzlack, Chuck Towslee, Jason Meltz, Nick Hilt, Brian Walsh and Chad Jeseo.
In the Purestocks, Gary O’Brian took the win in the first feature. Chris Streeter won in the second feature and Al Relyea took the first win of the year in the third feature.
In the four-cylinders, Todd Goldstein won in the Dual Cam division over Kenny Stager, Brian Bishop, Alan Houghtaling, Mike Dianda and Kelly Duncan. In the Single Cam division, Brandon Ely took the win over Gary Malloy, Chris Bouck, Dan Collins, Steve Burbank, and Cody Dapper.