Story By: DINO OBERTO / MAHONING VALLEY SPEEDWAY – LEHIGHTON, PA – Race fans who were on hand to watch the final Modified point race of the season at Mahoning Valley Speedway couldn’t have asked for anything better as a trio title hopefuls put on a dazzling display of wheel twisting around the tight confines of the paved ¼-mile oval.
Brian DeFebo, Kyle Strohl and Lou Strohl raced the entire 35 laps under a blanket, lap after lap with amazing precision as they hovered tightly. When it was all said and done DeFebo scored his second straight win while K. Strohl crossed the line in second and earned the class championship. For L. Strohl his close third placed him second in the final standings, just six points behind the champ.
Right from the outset the intense battle took shape as pole sitter DeFebo grabbed the lead and behind him the two Strohl’s went side-by-side with Kyle on the inside and Lou to the outside. It would then remain that way well into the final laps.
With two circuits left to run K. Strohl finally shook free but could not make a pass as DeFebo took his 22nd Mahoning win and 109th overall.
“I have to thank Gary (Slusser, crew chief) and my mom (Sophie Welsh, car owner) who stuck behind me all year. The driver doesn’t make the right calls all the time and now here we are two weeks in a row getting wins,” said DeFebo.
“I slowed down the pace, raced my own line and that kept them from going around me and it all paid off. I could feel the bumps and I knew I couldn’t get off the bottom so then I was just trying to go slower in order to go faster and it feels good to go back-to-back wining.”
Bobby Jones was fourth and Rod Snyder Jr., who came into the night second in the standings, was fifth.
“Running for championships is fun but running for wins is a lot more fun and congratulations to Kyle and his team, they’ve worked hard and deserve the title,” offered DeFebo.
A week ago K. Strohl took the championship in the Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series but truth be told winning the regular season battle was the main focus. And he did it without the aid of a feature win, although his eight runner-ups throughout the year didn’t hurt.
“This is what we were working so hard for ever since I got into a Modified and I’m glad that I can finally put us in the right spot for not only myself but my crew as well,” said K. Strohl.
“Even though there was not many cars here there were really good cars here and that side-by-side battle with Louie was as a good as you could ask for. We raced hard but clean the whole time and Brian held his line but we just couldn’t get a run on him.”
Late Model winner Frankie Althouse was parked in Victory Lane for the first time in three years and he couldn’t have been more grateful. Last year he was told his racing days where over due to a concussion he suffered from an early track accident, however, months of rehab paid off for Althouse.
Given the opportunity to drive Kenny Hein’s car, Althouse showed his old form that carried him to countless wins and a pair of championships over the years.
Taking to the lead from Brooks Smith after three laps, Althouse then stayed the course and drove to a compelling win, his 34th with a Late Model.
Geno Steigerwalt kept himself close behind Althouse and was scored second while third place finisher Nick Ross’s tally was good enough to earn him his second straight Mahoning crown.
Coming into the night the Sportsman Modifieds had the closest point battle to decide as Nick Baer and Jaden Brown began the feature separated by just two points.
For Baer, he was both lucky and good. Starting on the outside of the front row he was able to grab the lead from Greyson Ahner on lap one. He then stayed there the rest of the way, fending off a very strong Brody George en route to his second win and the championship.
Brown finished third which alas thwarted his hopes of a second straight title.
Matt Kocher backed up his career first Street Stock win from a week ago with a return visit to Victory Lane.
Despite starting from the pole Kocher had a race-long battle to stay there having to dealing with the likes of Cody Geist, Todd Ahner and then a relentless Jon Moser who applied all kinds if pressure. But Kocher refused to back down to them, particularly Moser who leaned on him right to the finish.
There was also plenty of drama that unfolded in the fight for the championship as well which fell to Tommy Flanagan by just six points over Jillian Snyder and 10 on Ahner.
When the Pro 4 feature began Cody Kohler started on the outside of row one. When it ended he finished in the Winner’s Circle for the sixth time this season and more notably the championship.
Kohler took the lead from the onset and then cruised on to victory over Ken Reeder. In gaining the title he is the first driver in class to win three straight Pro 4 championships and four overall.
In the Hobby Stocks there was no denying Corey Edelman his division leading eighth win of the season. Edelman passed Nicholas Kerstetter on lap four and from there went into cruise control.
And not only did his go on to a runaway victory, he also locked up the 2022 championship, his record third such with the Hobby Stocks.
Jake Kibler, in just his third Hobby Stock start, was a solid runner-up with Travis Solomon third.
The Futures ran in a special extra distance race to conclude their regular season and through the efforts of the Kutz Racing Team extra money paid out to every driver.
Racing to the win and championship was 11-year old Parker Ahner. He passed Makayla Kohler midway through and then blistered the field the rest of the way. Ahner becomes the youngest driver in track history to win a championship.
Gabrielle Steigerwalt led early then took hold of second in the later laps to secure the runner-up spot over Kohler.
Modified feature finish (35 laps): 1. Brian DeFebo, 2. Kyle Strohl, 3. Lou Strohl, 4. Bobby Jones, 5. Rod Snyder Jr., 6. Terry Markovic, 7. Nick Baer, 8. Cody Kohler
Late Model feature finish (25 laps): 1. Frankie Althouse, 2. Geno Steigerwalt, 3. Nick Ross, 4. Mark Hudson, 5. Mike VanFossen, 6. Brandon Turbush, 7. Brain Romig Jr., 8. Rusty Turbush, 9. Brooks Smith, 10. Seth VanFossen, 11. Paul Cummings
Sportsman Modified feature finish (25 laps): 1. Nick Baer, 2. Brody George, 3. Jaden Brown, 4. Greyson Ahner, 5. Troy Bollinger, 6. Richard Lapolt
Street Stock feature finish (30 laps): 1. Matt Kocher, 2. Jon Moser, 3. Tucker Muffley, 4. Todd Ahner, 5. Cody Geist, 6. Jamie smith, 7. Jillian Snyder, 8. Tommy Flanagan, 9. Logan Boyer, 10. Randy Green, 11. Mark Martini, 12. Rick Reichenbach, 13. Thomas Flanagan DQ: Jeremy Scheckler
Pro 4 feature finish (20 laps): 1. Cody Kohler, 2. Ken Reeder, 3. Colton Breiner, 4. Tyler Stangle, 5. Kadie Pursell, 6. Richie Pursell, 7. Alexis Jones
Hobby Stock feature finish (25 laps): 1. Corey Edelman, 2. Jake Kibler, 3. Travis Solomon, 4. Cody Boehm, 5. James Tout, 6. Michael Wambold, 7. Lyndsay Buss, 8. Dave Imler Jr., 9. Nicholas Kerstetter, 10. Don Bauder, 11. Ralph Borger Jr., 12. Mallory Kutz, 13. Shayne Geist, 4. Jake Oswald
Futures feature finish (20 laps): 1. Parker Ahner, 2. Gabrielle Steigerwalt, 3. Makayla Kohler, 4. Maggie Yeakel, 5. Mayson Moyer, 6. Michael Klotz, 7. Arland Moyer Jr., 8. Adam Steigerwalt, 9. Lexus Kutz, 10. Zoe Kuchera, 12. Hallie Muffley