Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – WEST LEBANON, NY – Last Saturday night, Eddie Marshall was sitting at home, trying to rest and recover from testing positive for COVID-19.
This Saturday evening, Marshall sat in Lebanon Valley Speedway’s victory lane, checkered flag in hand and a big smile on his face after capturing his first win of the season in a 30-lap non-stop DIRTcar Modified feature.
“This is really good tonight,” Marshall said. “To be honest, I thought I was going to be in the pit watching this feature.”
Even with his good fortune of starting on the front row and leading every lap, on this night, victory was almost not meant to be for the Pound Ridge, NY driver.
“We had transmission problems and my crew worked really hard to get everything fixed,” he said. “We had help from a bunch of different teams and I had resigned myself to the fact that we weren’t going to make it out but we did and here we are.”
When the checkers flew, Marshall had stretched out to nearly a full straightaway lead over second place finisher Kolby Schroder.
How did his crew make the 98 as stout as it was on this night?
“We weren’t very good in the heat race,” he said. “We made a few changes on the car, hoping they would make it better and it did. It wasn’t quite right but it was good enough.”
Track conditions were in a driver’s favor on Saturday evening. The high banks were extremely smooth and fast which played into Eddie’s hands, especially with the no cautions to bunch the field back up.
“The track was really good tonight,” he said. “It had all kinds of bite. I knew from the beginning of the year that we had a good car. I have to thank Bob and Matt (Hearn) and everybody from Teo for the help. I also have to give a big shoutout to Brett Hearn. He’s helped me out a real lot with this deal here. He’s been a big part of why we’ve been running so well.”
Was starting position the key to Marshall’s victory?
“We were fortunate to start up front and have a race with no yellows,” he said. “We were lucky in that regard.”
The veteran second-generation pilot was a little emotional when he spoke of someone we lost over this off-season.
“I wanted to win one early on and dedicate it to Doug Olsen,” he said. “Doug was a good friend of mine and instrumental to my career. I’m glad I could get one for Doug.”
Schroder brought his #99 home in the runner-up spot with Kenny Tremont finishing a strong third. Two-time winner on the season, Andy Bachetti, was fourth with LJ Lombardo completing the top five.
Two drivers who had great runs going on Saturday that didn’t see the finish were Kyle Sheldon and Brian Berger. Sheldon was running in the second position late in the feature only to have motor problems under the hood of the 42.
Second was not the place to be for Berger either as he had brake failure and pulled pit side with the Phaze3 Racing #60 at the 1/3-mark of the event while chasing down the leader.
It was a situation of circumstances which allowed Andy Bachetti to capture his first DIRTcar 358-Modified feature event win of the 2022 season.
While battling with Lorne Browe for the number three spot with just nine laps remaining, Bachetti’s #4 machine entered the corner slightly ahead of Browe’s machine.
Bachetti made the move to take a little lower line as he entered the corner, but wasn’t 100% cleared of Browe’s car. The two made contact with Lorne getting the shorter end of the deal, spinning around and slamming into the turn three wall. He was okay.
This put Bachetti right behind Jason Herrington, with both of the perched on the back bumper of leader Kevin Petrucci. Petrucci had inherited the lead a few laps back after a driveshaft failure forced first place Peter Carlotto out of the event.
On the ensuing restart, Bachetti followed the leader into turn one, taking second place from Herrington and set his sights on Petrucci.
Bachetti made the inside move on the leader heading into turn three one circuit later. As the lap counter clicked 17, Bachetti was now the man at the point and never looked back, scoring the win.
“You just have to keep your nose clean,” Bachetti said. “This is a tough class. Everybody’s so equal and I think Pete Carlotto probably would have had the win tonight if he didn’t have his trouble.”
Bachetti started in tenth on the grid Saturday night to grab the victory. It must be satisfying when you can get a victory starting deep in the field.
“Yea it is,” he said. “When you have a good car underneath you, it’s definitely fun coming from the back.”
Petrucci ended the night with a strong second place finish. That finish has now moved the young driver into a solid sixth in points after two events. An interesting tidbit for many of the historians of the speedway involves the racing suit that Petrucci was wearing on Saturday.
Petrucci’s father, Mike, use to build engines for Jeff Cassidy when Cassidy ran the Sportsman division way back in the 90’s and early 2000’s.
When Petrucci went to victory lane to congratulate the winner, fans got a glimpse of the suit. It was Jeff’s actual uniform from back then. Pretty cool.
Herrington came home in the third spot with LJ Lombardo making it two top fives on the evening with a fine fourth place run. Joey Coppola rebounded from an early race issue to come home in fifth.
The key to Tim Hartman Jr.’s $2,000 victory in the Andrew Sherman Memorial Sportsman feature probably came on a lap two restart.
Hartman lined up on the inside of leader Jeff Watson as the field readied to take the green after a caution for Dave Baranowski hitting the third turn wall.
As Watson approached closer to the new track designated restart zone to fire, third-place running Kevin Ward made contact with the leader and hopped over his left rear tire. That bottled up the entire outside line, let Hartman grab the top spot and effectively cost Watson a shot at the win.
From then on, Hartman was unchallenged as he went on to score his first win of the season on the high banks, and it was a big one.
“This car was really, really good tonight,” he said. “Finally, we got a win on coils. I’m really excited about that.”
Was Hartman as happy with the car as strong as it was on this night?
“We made an adjustment on it before the feature,” he said. “We had no idea what we were doing but it seemed to work. I’m very happy we were able to make it to victory lane tonight.”
Did the second-generation driver think he could have gotten by Watson if things had played out differently?
“That was a tough break for Jeff,” he said. “We were talking before the race and we were excited to battle against each other during the feature, and we did, for like a lap.”
Last week’s winner, John Virgilio, brought the S&S Asphalt Paving #14 home in the runner-up spot with opening night winner, Whitey Slavin, finishing in third. Rob Maxon and Pete Lorenzo completed the top five.
With the win, Hartman now moves into a tie with Slavin atop the Sportsman standings with Virgilio just six points back.
On a restart just past the halfway mark in the 20-lap DIRTcar Pro Stock feature, Zach Seyerlein had the lead with Steven Larochelle to his inside.
As the two worked into turns one and two at the green, the slightest of contact was made and the left rear of the leader’s machine went down. That sent the field scrambling but gave the lead to Larochelle with last week’s winner, Chad Jeseo, clawing to second.
Fast forward to lap 14 and the Larochelle #178 pushed up the banking in turns one and two. That was all Jeseo needed as he slipped to the inside off the corner and was never challenged during the final six laps, taking his second win in-a-row.
“We definitely had a good #25 here tonight,” Jeseo said. “Now, it just seems like it’s whoever can get to the front first gives you your best chance to win.”
Without the bobble, did Jeseo think he could have gotten by Larochelle?
“Steven’s car was good,” Jeseo said. “He and Zach made a little contact on that restart and as the race went on, Steve started to smoke a little bit. I don’t know if he slowed down or what happened but our car was good.”
Larochelle came home second with Johnny Rivers, Zach Sorrentino and Nick Hilt completing the top five.
In the Limited Sportsman feature, Brady Cordova made a bonsai move on leader Phil Arnold heading into turn three on the next-to-last lap. The two made contact but Cordova came away with the lead and he went on to score the victory in the feature event.
Karl Barnes got around Arnold for second with Nick Arnold finishing fourth and Frank Twing Jr. completing the top five.
Dave Striebel Jr. won a wild 15-lap Street Stock feature with Jim Dellea, Rocco Procopio, Jeff Meltz Sr. and Chris Stalker completing the top five.
Shawn Perez Jr. led nearly the entire race, but looped it on the white flag lap as he and Striebel raced side by side. He would rebound to finish seventh.
MODIFIED FEATURE RESULTS 1) Eddie Marshall* 98 2) Kolby Schroder 99 3) Kenny Tremont Jr. 115 4) Andy Bachetti** 4 5) L.J Lombardo 35 6) Marc Johnson* 9J 7) Bobby Hackel IV 97 8) Brett Haas 55H 9) Kyle Armstrong 11A 10) Wayne Jelley 45X 11) Keith Flach 43 12) J.R. Heffner 74 13) Mike King 55K 14) Timothy Davis 7T 15) Brandon Lane 33 16) Ryan Charland 10C 17) Josh Marcus 91M 18) Kyle Sheldon 42S 19) Paul Gilardi, 87X 20) Brian Berger 60
358 MODIFIED FEATURE RESULTS 1) Andy Bachetti* 4 2) Kevin Petrucci 24 3) Jason Herrington 1 4) L.J Lombardo* 35 5) Joey Coppola 94 6) Ryan Charland 10C 7) Brian Petrerson 82 8) Ryan Larkin 39 9) Brian Sandstedt 12S 10) Alan Houghtaling 250 11) Montgomery Tremont 115 12) Jeff Watson 22W 13) Lorne Browe 14B 14) Peter Carlotto 12C 15) Kim Lavoy 3 16) Dylan Gibson 22 17) Frank Harper 25
SPORTSMAN FEATURE RESULTS 1) Tim Hartman* 22H 2) John Virgilio* 14 3) Whitey Slavin* 5 4) Rob Maxon 96 5) Pete Lorenzo 3G 6) Chris Lynch 74 7) Shane Powell 33S 8) Ryan Heath 6R 9) Garret Poland 17G 10) Jeff Gallup 4MA 11) Robbie Knipe 57K 12) Matt Burke* 12 13) Keith Johannessen 4NY 14) Robbie Colburn 18 15) Jeff Watson 22 16) Kevin Ward 98 17) Alan Houghtaling 250 18) Butchie Irwin 117 19) Dave Baranowski 112B 20) Jeff Reis 21J
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE RESULTS 1) Brady Cordova* 4C 2) Karl Barnes 307 3) Phil Arnold 216 4) Nick Arnold 1A 5) Frank Twing JR. 1T 6) Kevin Ames 43
PRO STOCKS FEATURE RESULTS 1) Chad Jeseo** 25 2) Steven LaRochelle 178 3) Johnny Rivers 14J 4) Zach Sorrentino 54S 5) Nick Hilt* 17 6) Chris Stalker 177 7) Brian Keough 311 8) Tom O’Connor 52 9) Zach Seyerlein 33 10) Shawn Perez O9 11) Rick Duzlak 29 12) Tom Dean 413
STREET STOCK FEATURE RESULTS 1) Dave Striebel JR.** 73 2) Jim Dellea 77 3) Rocco Procopio 62 4) Jeff Meltz SR. 5X 5) Chris Stalker* 177 6) Scott Morris 84 7) Shawn Perez JR. O9 8) Brian Walsh 43 9) Franklin Smith 76 10) Chris Brown OO9 11) Chris Murphy O11 12) Gary O’ Brien* 57 13) Rob Partridge 22 14) Dom Denue 145 15) Jennah Perez 14J 16) Katarina Foster 10 17) Evan Denue 245 18) Craig Coons 133C