Story By: DINO OBERTO / MAHONING VALLEY SPEEDWAY – LEHIGHTON, PA – Nick Baer picked up his first win of the young season with the 602 Crate Modifieds Saturday evening at Mahoning Valley Speedway and although the record will show that he led every lap in doing so, it was by all means one very thrilling feature.
Over the entire 25-lap nonstop distance Baer battled under a blanket with Bobby Jones and Jaden Brown during the race that took just 5:49 to complete.
Baer would start from the pole with Jones alongside. As the action began Bear pulled ahead to the lead and within short order Jones showed himself on the outside. At the same time Brown was working right behind the leader and that was scene setting the rest of the way.
Lap after lap it was white knuckle among them as neither of the three would give an inch and they stayed that way, with Bear and Jones virtually side-by-side with Brown looking for any way by.
But it would be Baer who had just enough to keep them both at bay and race to his 24th overall career win.
“We came close last week until I had an unfortunate circumstance but tonight we got the job done,” said Baer.
He was referring to a week ago when he was leading but was pinched by Jones and lost his chance at a possible win.
“It’s always tough in this class because we’re all so close and equal so you have to make every lap count in your favor. If Bobby (Jones) was going to pass me he was going to have to do it from the outside because we weren’t giving up the bottom and luckily for us it was all good,” added Baer.
“I can’ thank my crew and all my sponsors enough and we want to dedicate this win to Paul French who had a tough family issue earlier today and we’re all thinking about him.”
Previous week winner and point leader Zach Lenardo and Greyson Ahner rounded out the top five.
The Late Models raced for the first time this season and for the second straight year it was two-time and defending champion Nick Ross who started out as the first winner.
Ross would start from the pole and wasted little time in bolting out front. He then build a wide margin from the rest of the pack leaving everyone in his wake.
Although Ross was in his own zone, second spot was a totally different story as Frank Del Nero Jr., Mark Hudson and Brian Romig Jr., traded off second, third and fourth during the caution free 25 lap run.
Del Nero gave way to Romig on lap nine and a lap later Hudson was third. While Ross was still checking out it remained hot and heavy for second spot. Romig and Hudson kept going out at and most times side-by-side while Del Nero hung right behind them.
When Ross took the checkers he was almost five seconds ahead of everyone and scored his 24th career class win.
Romig would hold off Hudson for a career best division finish. With three laps to go Brian Sones, who was his making his first start with a Late Model, got by Del Nero for a respectable fourth.
When it comes to Street Stocks Todd Ahner is considered among the most distinguished drivers with the class. After all he is not only the all-time career wins leader but a very classy guy to boot.
Although accustomed to winning, that’s something that he had not been able to do for nearly two years but brought that dry spell to and end by leading every lap of the 30-lap contest and show his prowess in the process as he held off a bevy of opponents.
Five different drivers ran second to Ahner but none could muster the power to get by the veteran wheel-twister. When he crossed the finish line it would mark his 40th career victory and first since May 2021.
At the line for the runner-up spot was point leader Jillian Snyder over last week’s winner Jon Moser with TJ Gursky and Geary Rinehimer Jr., very close behind.
In the first race of the Evergreen Raceway/Mahoning Valley Speedway Dual Track Series for the 4-Cylinder Stocks/Hobby Stocks, Travis Solomon was both lucky and good.
Solomon was the second place car for 28 of the 40 laps to Jacob Boehm. On lap 29 he would be unseated by Nick Schaffer but still kept a close proximity with the front pair. Then his raced turned lucky when Schaeffer got a nudge to his left side as he was trying to grab the lead from Boehm and went sailing into the wall off turn four.
Schaeffer was done and Boehm was sent to the rear for his part and the new leader was Solomon where he would stay to the finish, holding off Cody Boehm for the win. Impressive running Parker Ahner was second with Scott Adams and Michael Wambold completing the top five.
The Dirt Modifieds may have been light on cars but winner Jeff Parker and Ricky Yetter did not let that change how the racing was as the pair put on a whale of battle for the top spot.
Yetter had been the leader from the outset and cruising while Parker had to work hard to get around James Counterman Jr. Once he did though, Parker charged at Yetter and the pair began a thrilling duel. With five laps to go Parker finally got around Yetter and went on to score his second straight win.
Counterman took a career bets second with Yetter falling to third.
Al Gildner is still relatively new to racing but you wouldn’t have known that by how he collected his career first win with the Futures.
In just his sixth ever start Gildner ran like a seasoned veteran as he out-dueled Michael Klotz in what was a close and stirring finish.
602 Crate Modified Feature Finish (25 laps): 1. Nick Baer, 2. Bobby Jones, 3. Jaden Brown, 4. Zach Lenardo, 5. Greyson Ahner, 6. Brody George, 7. Deegen Underwood, 8. Makayla Kohler
Late Model Feature Finish (25 laps): 1. Nick Ross, 2. Brian Romig Jr., 3. Mark Hudson, 4. Brian Sones,
5. Frank Del Nero Jr., 6. Seth VanFossen, 7. Brooks Smith, 8. Dave Imler Sr.
Street Stock Feature Finish (30 laps): 1. Toss Ahner, 2. Jillian Snyder, 3. Jon Moser, 4. TJ Gursky, 5. Geary Rinehimer Jr., 6. Rick Reichenbach, 7. Logan Boyer, 8. Johnny Bennett, 9. Jamie Smith, 10. Jacob Boehm, 11. Jeremy Scheckler, 12. Frankie Althouse 13. Josh Kuronya, 14. Cody Geist
Dirt Modified Finish (20 laps): 1. Jeff Parker, 2. James Counterman Jr., 3. Ricky Yetter, 4. Scott Hyland
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (40 laps): 1. DNQ: Mallory Kutz, Nicholas Kerstetter, Brian Romig Jr., Corey Edelman
Futures Feature Finish (15 laps): 1. Al Gildner, 2. Michael Klotz, 3. Russ Breiner, 4. Gabrielle Steigerwalt, 5. Rodney Breiner, 6. Sarabeth Mesko, 7. Chaz Takacs, 8. Keith Bilder, 9 Savannah Romig, 10. Lexus Kutz, 11. Adam Steigerwalt