As a successful and seasoned veteran of Mahoning Valley Speedway, Bobby Jones knows a thing or two about winning races at the ¼-mile. His accomplishments include 10 Pro4 Late Model wins and the 1994 division crown and 11 Modified triumphs.
This past Saturday night the personable Jones furthered his endeavors with a rousing victory in one of the infamous 100-lap Modified races to his resume.
Jones, who started ninth in the 21-car field, did something that is tough to do in these Mahoning century runs, he passed Eric Beers for the lead and in doing so went on to notch his biggest career win in the Hand One 7 Card Stud 100. The Walnutport ace collected $3000 for his effort.
“I can’t believe this. This year just started out bad, I thought it was anyway and I was close to maybe thinking about taking a break and instead here we are winning again. We won last week (Sundance) and again tonight. This is good,” said Jones.
“I haven’t won and been in Victory Circle for a while and tonight we earned it because I’m tired.”
It was the first time Jones had won at Mahoning since July 9, 2005.
After an inversion of the top 12 in time trials, Tommy Flanagan and Lonnie Behler brought the field to Dick Brown’s race commencing green.
Flanagan led the opening circuit and on the next go-around it was Behler showing the way. Third starting Beers drove to the outside lane and went by Flanagan and then Behler for the lead with five laps in.
The first 23 circuits were clicked off in a fast pace as Beers was very strong and pulling away from the pack. Moments before he was attempting to go past the first of the back-markers, the first of six cautions waved.
On the restart Beers had Behler, Flanagan, Earl Paules and John Markovic sharing the top five. On the restart Behler faded back and Flanagan assumed second. Flanagan then kept within reach of Beers, never allowing pulling away as he did in the opening green flag stretch.
Jones emerged into the front five at the same time and ten laps later was fourth behind Markovic.
As Beers remained in command over Flanagan, Jones jumped to third a lap shy of the midway point which also saw a caution period.
On the restart he lined up behind Beers and followed his tire path to second and then went side-by-side.
What would turn out to be the final caution on lap 56 for a solo spin by Rick Reichenbach, Jones simply outgunned Beers for the lead at the restart. The rest of the way all Beers could do was watch as he never mounted a challenge. Jones went on to a .739-second margin of victory.
“I thought he (Beers) was just riding it and then on that restart (lap 56) I told myself I had to go for it. I knew the car was really good on the outside. That first 100-lapper (April 17), we where a lapped car and I vowed to come back tonight and redeem myself but this is beyond what I expected,” said Jones who then pulled the Ace of Diamonds for the suite for the opening poker hand.
Beers, Markovic, Flanagan and Brian DeFebo rounded out the top five with Chip Santee, Rick Kirkendall, Don Wagner, Paulus and Rob Shultz completing the top 10.
“We had the second best car here tonight,” bottom lined Beers.
“Bobby (Jones) was definitely better than us. He had a good restart there. We ran side-by-side, I gave him his lane and he gave me mine and he ended up just driving around me. Hats off to him and his guys they did a heck of a job.”
“I’d like to congratulate Bobby. He was spot on, drove the wheels off the car, ran everybody clean and that’s Mahoning Valley,” added Markovic.
As the top qualifier in time trials, Wagner, 9.855-second 91.324 mph, was awarded a wheel courtesy of Bair's Wheel Repair of New Ringgold.
No more being a bride’s maid for Shawn Sitarchyk. After four runner-up finishes in the previous seven starts, the leading Rookie of the Year contender finally aced his first Late Model win.
Sitarchyk, who hails from Lehighton, earned every bit of the victory too as he had to pass tops in class Paul Koehler, Jr., en route to the checkered flag.
Koehler had taken the lead from pole sitter Jason Zatsko on lap two and held steady at the helm with Sitarchyk riding in second. With the aid of a caution on lap 15, Sitarchyk stayed alongside Koehler for the restart and one lap later powered into the top spot.
Leading for the first time this season and with a Late Model car, Sitarchyk wasn’t about to give way as he took the popular win and remains in a tight point contest with Koehler.
It marked his 12th career Mahoning win which includes 11 in Street Stocks.
In the Street Stock main it was yet again an action packed affair from start to finish with past champ Jon Moser of Lehighton coming out the winner for the first time this season.
On a restart Moser passed Chris May with three laps to go and notched his fifth career class win and24th overall.
Prior to him and May taking the lead Dale Santee was the man in charge as he set the pace from the outset. He was holding strong too in his effort to return to the Winner’s Circle for the first time since 1994. Although he did exceptionally well, his effort fell a bit short when May was able to squeeze by after a lap 18 restart that also saw some wild three-wide action. Santee settled for a season best fourth.
Likewise May also had a best finish as he was runner-up to Moser and oh-so-close.
Palmerton’s Randy Thomas parleyed his pole starting spot into his third Dirt Modified win of the season and did so by leading every lap.
While he was doing his thing a great battled ensued between Jeff Parker and Dave Thomas as they dueled to the wire for second and third.
Coming into the feature Dave Thomas had the point lead by two over Parker and four ahead of his brother Randy. The points are still as tight, just five separate the trio with Parker now moving to the top by one over Randy Thomas and Dave Thomas slipping to third.
Barry Christman, Jr., of Northampton defeated point leader Kris Graver for his second Pro4 Late Model win of the season.
Christman took the high line around early leader Jeremy Miller on lap five and then held back the challenge of Graver.
For Christman the win was an anniversary gift to his parents, Barry ‘Bandit’ and Betty Christman. Christman notched his eighth Pro4 win and by doing so continues to keep the title chase close between himself and the Gravers.
The 4c Super Mods competed for the second time this season and for the second time it was Wes Gilbert of Medford, NY scoring the win.
Ron Merlino was the early leader, however, Mike Renn used lap traffic on lap five to snag the lead while Gilbert used a lap nine restart to unseat Renn for the lead and ultimately the victory.
Modified Feature Finish, 100 Laps: 1.Bobby Jones 2.Eric Beers 3.John Markovic 4.Tom Flanagan 5.Brian DeFebo 6.Chip Santee 7.Rick Kirkendall 8.Don Wagner 9.Earl Paules 10.Rob Shultz 11.Matt Hirschman 12.Lou Strohl 13.Rick Reichenbach 14.Jarred Nace 15.Lonnie Behler 16.John Bennett 17.Zane Zeiner 18.Tyaler Haydt 19.Andy Szapacs 20.Scott Adams 21.Matt Wentz Did not start: Matt Higgins, Terry Markovic