Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / WEST LEBANON, NY – Andy Bachetti had a one hot night at Lebanon Valley Speedway on Saturday.
The weather was steaming and the cars that Bachetti raced on this night in both the DIRTcar Big Block and 358-Modifieds were the top of the class as he captured victories in both, doubling up on the night.
In the 30-lap Big Block main, Bachetti made his way by second place Kyle Armstrong and leader Brian Berger on a lap 19 restart. It was smooth-sailing from there as the Wild Child picked up his third victory of the 2022 season and extended his point lead.
“This is a hot rod right here,” Bachetti said. “This race car is pretty incredible. To get in and drive this Big Block for this team is awesome.”
The Bachetti team had some thrashing to do just before the feature to even get the #4 to the starting line.
“We actually lost the brakes in hot laps and hit the wall,” he said. “It bent the front axle a little bit but my team pulled it off, got us out there and we got it done.”
As soon as the Garrity #4 Bicknell was out in front, he was able to set his own pace and easily rolled into the corners while maintaining his lead over second place.
“You just have everything go your way,” he said. “You got to have a good team, good people and good sponsors around you. You have to have everything going in your direction and even a little bit of luck and here we stand.”
Brian Berger brought the Phaze3 Racing #60 home in the second spot, and after his brake issue of a week ago, a second place is a big shot in the arm for himself and his team.
“We had a good car tonight,” Berger said. “We led many laps but came up short and finished second. We’ll keep digging. Ours is coming but thanks to my guys for grinding for this team week after week, especially today in this heat.”
Kyle Armstrong brought his black #11a home in the third spot with Brett Haas in fourth. After starting tenth, Haas was quickly into the top three by lap 10, but with a pass by Bachetti, had to settle for fourth.
Last week’s winner, Eddie Marshall, had another solid finish to come home in fifth.
Not to be outdone, Bachetti’s performance in the 358-Modified feature was pretty impressive as well.
Once Bachetti got to the runner-up spot, he chased down first place man Alan Houghtaling, who had build up nearly a full straightway lead. He did this without the aid of a caution, and took the top position with just three laps remaining.
The caution did fly, for the first time in the event, as the 22nd lap clicked off for Jason Herrington whose car was nosed into the turn two wall.
It didn’t matter as Bachetti held off all challengers to take home his first of two features on the night.
“These guys have been working harder and harder to get this car better every week,” Bachetti said. “Tonight, Lyle (Devore) did the race track and it was really good and definitely to my liking.”
While this was Andy’s tenth time pulling off the sweep of both features in the same evening, the 358-Mod win was his 100th career open wheel Modified victory on the Valley high banks. Only Kenny Tremont and Brett Hearn have been able to accomplish this feat, until Saturday night.
“That’s a pretty elite group to be a part of,” he said. “To accomplish something like this is pretty special.”
Bachetti was followed to the line by LJ Lombardo who got by the Houghtaling #250 on the final restart. Peter Carlotto was fourth with last year’s runner-up in points, Ryan Charland, completing the top five.
As the lap counter swung by the midway point of the 20-lap Sportsman feature, point leader Whitey Slavin made the outside of first place runner Robby Knipe and set sail, never being challenged again en route to his second win of the 2022 season.
Even a caution with four laps remaining and the subsequent restart with defending champ John Virgilio to his inside was not going to keep Slavin from victory lane on this night.
“This thing’s a hell of a car,” Slavin said. “I have to thank Dave Goodermote and the whole crew for making this car such a rocket tonight.”
To aid his progression to the front, Slavin used the same methods he watched both the Big Block and Small Block Modified drivers use in their races.
“You have to search around the race track,” he said. “I watched the guys in the Modifieds and the 358’s and their going up top, making moves. I’ve played down low and in the middle. I decided it was time to go up to the top.”
Virgilio came home in second with Jeff Gallup in third, Knipe in fourth and Tim Hartman Jr. completing the top five.
Saturday night was the first ever Robert “Fluff” Hagen Pro Stock feature and Steven Larochelle had to work to come away with the big payday on this night.
Even with starting on the inside of the front row, it was no cake walk in the 25-lap event as Larochelle had to fend off defending champion Chad Jeseo for the win from what seemed like the drop of the green.
“He was up high and he was down low,” Larochelle said. “He’s made me work for it before so I was going to make him work for it this time.”
Even after winning his heat race, there were still a few gremlins inside the #178 that the team had to work through.
“I knew we had a good car from the start of the night,” he said. “It actually shut off on the scales after the heat race. We had to change the distributor, and it ended up being 180-degrees off and the whole engine was on fire. It was insane.”
With the victory, in honor of “Fluff,” Larochelle is proud of what he was able to do on this night.
“Fluff was a great guy,” he said. “To everyone who put this race together, for a class that’s had trouble recently with car counts, is special. To see this many cars here tonight, some of the best in the business, it means a lot to win a race like this.”
Jeseo came home in the second spot with Nick Hilt in third, Shawn Perez an impressive fourth place finish and invader Jay Casey completing the top five.
Evan Denue won the hotly contested Street Stock main event with Chris Stalker in second while last week’s Limited Sportsman feature winner, Brady Cordova, made it two-in-a-row.
MODIFIED FEATURE RESULTS 1) Andy Bachetti*** 4 2) Brian Berger 60 3) Kyle Armstrong 11A 4) Brett Haas 55H 5) Eddie Marshall* 98 6) Keith Flach 43 7) L.J Lombardo 35 8) Bobby Hackel IV 97 9) Kenny Tremont Jr. 115 10) Marc Johnson* 9J 11) J.R. Heffner 74 12) Kolby Schroder 99 13) Wayne Jelley 45X 14) Mike King 55K 15) Timothy Davis 7T 16) Ryan Charland 10C 17) Paul Gilardi, 87X 18) Brandon Lane 33 19) Kyle Sheldon 42S 20) Josh Marcus 91M 21) Olden Dwyer 88JR
358 MODIFIED FEATURE RESULTS 1) Andy Bachetti** 4 2) L.J Lombardo* 35 3) Alan Houghtaling 250 4) Peter Carlotto 12C 5) Ryan Charland 10C 6) Brian Sandstedt 12S 7) Joey Coppola 94 8) Jason Herrington 1 9) Kevin Petrucci 24 10) Lorne Browe 14B 11) Kim Lavoy 3 12) Montgomery Tremont 115 13) Ryan Larkin 39 14) Ryan Stortini 21L 15) Dylan Gibson 22 16) Olden Dwyer 88JR
SPORTSMAN FEATURE RESULTS 1) Whitey Slavin** 5 2) John Virgilio* 14 3) Jeff Gallup 4MA 4) Robbie Knipe 57K 5) Tim Hartman* 22H 6) Shane Powell 33S 7) Joe Mennitte 112 8) Matt Burke* 12 9) Pete Lorenzo 3G 10) Keith Johannessen 4NY 11) Jeff Reis 21R 12) Kevin Ward 98 13) Ryan Heath 6R 14) Bob Fachini 728
PRO STOCKS FEATURE RESULTS 1) Steven LaRochelle* 178 2) Chad Jeseo** 25 3) Nick Hilt* 17 4) Shawn Perez O9 5) Jay Casey 322 6) Dean Charbonneau 4C 7) Chris Stalker 177 8) Tom O’Connor 52 9) Johnny Rivers 14J 10) Brian Keough 311 11) Nick Rogers 77 12) Jordon Modiano 4M 13) Zach Sorrentino 54S 14) Jason Casey 324 15) Zach Seyerlein 33 16) Jay Fitzgerald 56 17) Tom Dean 413
STREET STOCK FEATURE RESULTS 1) Evan Denue* 245 2) Chris Stalker* 177 3) Katarina Foster 10 4) Ryan Brown O10 5) Jim Dellea 77 6) Chris Brown OO9 7) Brian Walsh 43 8) Jeff Meltz SR. 5X 9) Gary O’ Brien* 57 10) Shawn Perez JR. O9 11) Dom Denue 145 12) Dave Striebel JR.** 73 13) Franklin Smith 76 14) Scott Morris 84 15) Craig Coons 133C 16) Rob Partridge 22 17) Jennah Perez 14J
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE RESULTS 1) Brady Cordova** 4C 2) Phil Arnold 216 3) Karl Barnes 307 4) Frank Twing JR. 1T 5) Kevin Ames 43 6) Nick Arnold 1A