Story By: DINO OBERTO / MAHONING VALLEY SPEEDWAY – LEHIGHTON, PA – After somewhat of a slow start to the season, defending Mahoning Valley Speedway Sportsman Modified champion Jaden Brown of Kunkletown is back to showing the form that carried him to the top of the standings last year as he drove to his second consecutive victory.
Brown needed only one lap before he took the lead from Troy Bollinger. With no cautions to slow the action Brown then cruised to a dominating win by an ample distance over runner-up Nick Baer.
“We had a long week in the shop getting ready for tonight and I can honestly say this car is back to where we want it to be,” said Brown.
“It feels good to having a confident car under us. At the beginning of the season we had some rough luck with how the car was handling but we’re back in sync and I’m very happy with the results.”
At the drop of the race commencing green Bollinger beat Al Arthofer for the opening lap lead. At the same time Brown, who started third, followed behind Bollinger and was able to then work the inside line which paid off as they headed into Turn 3. It was there that Brown kept his forward momentum and grabbed the lead.
“We got lucky starting third and then I was able to follow Troy (Bollinger) right after the start,” said Brown.
Once in front Brown got into a fast paced rhythm and gradually began pulling away from the pack.
Brown’s stepbrother, Brody George, took hold of second and was turning his best effort to date as he held off Nick Baer. That pair ran closely until the midway juncture which at that point Baer was able to take over the spot. By then Brown was well ahead and continued to grow his lead. At the checkers he was almost five seconds ahead.
“I wasn’t expecting that to come that easy. I kind of felt the 41 (Baer) would have been up there with us and I was actually playing it a little conservative. Once I could tell that I couldn’t hear anyone behind me I was just riding it from there,” said Brown.
The Street Stocks competed in the 50-lap Mike Krempasky Memorial, a race that pays tribute to the former racer and championship car owner who passed away unexpectedly in 2012.
And, in what was fitting, his driver, TJ Gursky of Palmerton, who took his cars to many wins and a title, won the emotional victory.
“First of all I’d like to say that I’d give back all my wins and titles to have Mike back with us,” a moved Gursky said while holding back tears from Victory Lane.
“But we’re keeping his memory alive and to take home this win and the big check to hang in the shop, I can look up and now see it on the wall and always think of Mike and what he’s meant to me and my career.”
By virtue of a redraw Gursky start started third with Tommy Flanagan and Mark Deysher sharing the front row. As the race got underway Flanagan suddenly began to back-peddle while Deysher and Gursky split around him. As the lap was completed Gursky was leading the way.
From then on Gursky was challenged time and again by the likes of Deysher and with the event being a cone race there would be restarts that saw others take advantage of that format and get to restart next to him as well.
One such driver was Eric Kocher who did get scored the lead but for only one lap as Gursky showed the power that thus far has been the most prevalent of all each time he’s raced this season.
“Tommy (Flanagan) was breaking up at the start and he didn’t go so I stepped into it right there to get the lead,” said Gursky.
“Was I pulling away, where they on me you don’t know when you’re up front. You have to be on your point the whole time. Even under cautions I’m watching the track to make sure there’s no debris I could run over and all those little things that could change your night.”
There was a final restart with nine laps to go and Gursky teammate Randy Ahner Jr., was then second. Although he tried Ahner was unable to get around as Gursky picked up his class leading third win of 2022. All three victories have coming in special events too.
Johnny Bennett came from 17th to third and picked up the Hard Charger of the race. Kocher and Deysher rounded out the top five.
In the Late Model main Nick Ross of White Haven scored his second win of the year. The race would be a battle between a pair of champions from the past two seasons.
Geno Steigerwalt jumped out the early lead with Ross and Jacob Kerstetter running side-by-side for second. With a half dozen laps in Ross shook off Kerstetter and then set his sights on Steigerwalt.
They were soon putting on a torrid toe-to-toe fight for the lead, doing so over the next six circuits. As the halfway signal was being given Ross had just edged his way to the front. After finally clearing Steigerwalt he then set sail and cruised to his 24th overall career win.
Corey Edelman of Northampton won for the third straight time with the Hobby Stocks and 2022 is looking a lot like 2014, the year he last won a class title and the last time he reeled off three straight victories.
Edelman took the lead from one very strong running Mallory Kutz who paced the field over the first nine tours. Afterwards he had to fend off Cody Boehm en route to his fifth win in eight starts.
In the nightcap Futures feature Maggie Yeakel of Northampton pulled off a thrilling and daring last lap pass on Michael Klotz to score her first overall win at Mahoning Valley.
Klotz was leading from lap six and looked as though he had the race covered. However, in the closing laps Yeakel was coming on strong and when the white flag was displayed she took her No. 9 to the outside and went side-by-side with Klotz.
Coming off the final corner Yeakel was using up a lot of race track and nearly clipped the way but nonetheless was able to eke by for the rousing verdict.
Sportsman Modified feature finish (25 laps): 1. Jaden Brown, 2. Nick Baer, 3. Brody George, 4. Terry Markovic, 5. Zach Lenardo, 6. Al Arthofer, 7. Troy Bollinger, 8. Greyson Ahner
Late Model Feature finish (25 laps): 1. Nick Ross, 2. Geno Steigerwalt, 3. Mike VanFossen, 4. Frankie Althouse, 5. Seth VanFossen, 6. Mark Hudson, 7. Jacob Kerstetter, 8. Mark Aigeldinger, 9. Dave Imler Sr., 10. Brooks Smith
Street Stock feature finish (50 laps): 1. TJ Gursky, 2. Randy Ahner Jr., 3. Johnny Bennett, 4. Eric Kocher, 5. Mark Deysher, 6. Jill Snyder, 7. Todd Ahner, 8. Logan Boyer, 9. Cody Geist, 10. Stacey brown, 11. Mark martini, 12. Randy green, 13. Bob Kibler, 14. Josh Mooney, 15. Ian Szalku, 16. Tommy Flanagan, 17. Jon Moser, 18. Brandon Christman, 19. Bobby Kibler Jr.
Hobby Stock feature finish (25 laps): 1. Corey Edelman, 2. Cody Boehm, 3. Lyndsay Buss, 4. Travis Solomon, 5. Jacob Boehm, 6. Nick Schaeffer, 7. Don Bauder, 8. Mallory Kutz, 9. Jared Frye, 10. Dave Kerr, 11. Sam Ryan, 12. David Imler Jr., 13. James Tout, 14. Ralph Boger Jr., 15. Shayne Geist, 16. Josh Oswald, 17. Nick Kerstetter
Futures feature finish (15 laps): 1. Maggie Yeakel, 2. Michael Klotz, 3. Ryan Petro, 4. Adam Steigerwalt, 5. Makayla Kohler, 6. Lexus Kutz, 7. Zoe Kuchera, 8. Mayson Ahner, 9. Parker Ahner