Story By: DINO OBERTO / MAHONING VALLEY SPEEDWAY – LEHIGHTON, PA – Mahoning Valley Speedway may have been light on cars but that didn’t diminish fans from a great night of racing as all classes put on some very thrilling action.
The night was also an evening of reflection towards one of most eminent drivers to ever come out of the region. Earlier in the week the news of George Wambold’s untimely passing came as a shock to all as the Hall of Famer was an icon among the annals of eastern Pennsylvania asphalt short track racers.
But in true Wambold fashion the team that he had begun seven decades ago all came out to race in his honor, giving fans even more reason to enjoy the night of racing, knowing that George was with everyone in spirit.
Nick Baer’s win in the 602 Crate Modifieds highlighted the evening of thrills.
Bear was engaged in a nonstop, race-long battle for the lead. He and Bobby Jones went right to it when the action got underway as they locked horns and began their two-by-two clash. As each lap clicked off Baer was riding the low lane while having to keep Jones from making a pass on him.
That he did but all the while Jones kept pressuring him uncompromisingly. And if that wasn’t enough for Baer he was then having to deal with Zach Lenardo who would join the fight in the waning laps. Lenardo closed in the front two only a pair of laps to go by diving underneath Jones for second and then tried to get Baer on the final tour but to no avail.
Baer held on for the hard-fought win, his second at Mahoning and second in as many starts with the 602 Crate Modified as he also claimed a victory the previous Sunday at Evergreen Raceway.
Lenardo took second which was his seventh top five in a row. Jones was third, Brody George fourth and Brenden Sullivan fifth.
For Mark Hudson, winning for the second straight time and third on the season was indeed gratifying but also very sentimental victory too.
Hudson, who went on the beat Brian Romig Jr., and Josh Oswald, but every effort into the night in making sure he would win in order to dedicate it to his close friend and longtime crew member Frank Frazier who is battling cancer.
How exciting was the Street Stock feature? Jillian Snyder will be the first to tell you it was breathtaking and exhausting all at the same time.
In a caution free 30 lap run, Snyder nipped Geary Rinehimer Jr., by inches for her second win of the year.
Rinehimer took the lead at the outset from pole sitter Dennis Buss and then began showing all kinds of strength in keeping a good distance from the pack. For Snyder it wasn’t as easy as she had to battle with Todd Ahner for a number of laps before settling into second spot.
But it appeared that Rinehimer was safe enough ahead and on his way to a reaching the finish line first. Snyder, though, wasn’t ready to concede. Lap by lap she continued cutting into his lead and with five laps to go had everyone watching closely as she was now zeroing in at a rapid pace.
On the white flag lap Snyder then went to the outside of Rinehimer and it was a drag race to the checkers. In Turn 4 they were dead even and as they came to the checkers it was Snyder eking out the win. Rick Reichenbach took third.
The close racing also carried over to the Harry’s U-Pull-It Hobby Stocks – which also turned out to be caution free – as Corey Edelman held off James Tout to pick up his second win of the 2023 season.
Edelman worked his way to the front after in a rigorous battle that included Tout, BJ Wambold and Jake Kibler.
Early on Tout and Wambold went back and forth for the lead while Edelman and Kibler shadowed them tightly. On lap nine Wambold’s car jumped out of gear forcing him to give up second to Edelman. Three laps latter Edelman was then taking control of the race from Tout.
Although he would stay there to the finish it wasn’t without Tout keeping him in check the rest of the way.
After winning the Dirt Modified feature Ricky Yetter has hung up his helmet and gloves, literally. In Victory Lane Yetter set down both at the start/finish lined and proclaimed that it was his last race as a driver and would turn over the driving chores to his protégé Xavier Sprague.
Yetter’s retirement came very close to being held off. As he was taking the checkers his right rear tire popped and had it been any sooner the outcome could have been drastically altered to runner-up Jeff Parker.
The Futures ran a pair of features, one from the previous week’s rain postponement and a regular main. And just like the other races of the night they too reeled off stirring shows, each coming down to the wire.
In the make-up feature Michael Klotz was enshrouded in a torrid fight as he had to race hard in beating Adam Heckman, Rodney Breiner and Chaz Takacs en route to his fourth win.
It was much the same in the nightcap for Takacs who, after coming closes all season, finally sealed the deal and notched his career first win by just narrowly beating Klotz.
602 Crate Modified feature finish (25 laps): 1. Nick Baer, 2. Zach Lenardo, 3. Bobby Joes, 4. Brody George, 5. Branden Sullivan, 6. Deegen Underwood, 7. Makayla Kohler
Late Model feature finish (25 laps): 1. Mark Hudson, 2. Brian Romig Jr., 3. Josh Oswald
Street Stock feature finish (30 laps): 1. Jillian Snyder, 2. Geary Rinehimer Jr., 3. Rick Reichenbach, 4. Todd Ahner, 5. Jacob Boehm, 6. Jamie Smith, 7. Josh Kuronya, 8. Dennis Buss
Dirt Mod feature finish (20 laps): 1. Ricky Yetter, 2. Jeff Parker, 3. James Counterman Jr., 4. Michael Toth
Hobby Stock feature finish (25 laps): 1. Corey Edelman, 2. James Tout, 3. Jake Kibler, 4. Cody Boehm, 5. BJ Wambold, 6. Dave Kerr, 7. Michael Wambold, 8. Jared Frye, 9. Travis Solomon, 10. Lyndsay Buss, 11. Nicholas Kerstetter, 12. Don Bauder, 13. Maggie Yeakel
Make-up Futures feature finish from 8/12 (15 laps): 1. Michael Klotz, 2. Adam Heckman, 3. Rodney Breiner, 4. Chaz Takacs, 5. Adam Steigerwalt, 6. Sarabeth Mesko, 7. Zoe Kuchera, 8. Al Gildner
Regular Futures feature finish (15 laps): 1. Takacs, 2. Klotz, 3. Mesko, 4. Gabrielle Steigerwalt, 5. Adam Steigerwalt, 6. Breiner, 7. Gildner, 8. Kuchera, 9. Heckman