RPW Column: Saturday At Lebanon Was Just What Brian Berger Needed; Bachetti Keeps Rolling; Social Media Helps Sorrentino

Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – WEST LEBANON, NY – His 2022 season at Lebanon Valley Speedway started off strong with back-to-back top 10 finishes. However, in week three, the wheels began to come off for Brian Berger.

Engine problems sidelined the popular driver from Castleton, NY as he had his sights on his first top five of the year.

The team regrouped. Once again, the Phaze3 Racing #60 was on its way to another possible top five when a brake failure sent Berger to the pits while sitting in the runner-up spot.

Even with all of these issues, you’d never know it from looking at Berger and his team. They just kept digging, and this past Saturday night, got things back on track with a near win. When the 30-lap DIRTcar Modified feature was complete, Berger had led nearly half the feature and came home with a solid second place finish.

“It feels great to be at the top of the time charts and be running up front all evening,” Berger said. “I feel that if we stay out of troupe, we’ll be knocking on the door again real soon.”

The only thing standing in Berger’s way was the black and green #4 of Andy Bachetti. Bachetti used a restart on lap 19 to go to the outside of both drivers on the front row, leader Berger and second-place Kyle Armstrong. It was the exact same move that he used on Kenny Tremont and leader Kolby Schroder to win on week two.

Is there anything else Berger could have done to hold off the “Wild Child?”

“I was working hard to hold off Armstrong, who was strong on the bottom right from the start,” he said. “It didn’t feel like there was anything on the top of turns one and two. I never really committed to trying it up there since I was protecting the bottom. I’m going to have to figure out how to run up top somehow.”

Is it nerve-racking to run as high on the track as Bachetti went Saturday to get around him, or is it car setup that Berger has to work on?

“We have to work on the car,” he said. “I’m not afraid to run up there. I just don’t have enough bite up on top to be fast enough. We will work on that.”

Berger knows that Bachetti is the man to beat right now at the Valley, and tried everything he could to grab the win and not let the Sheffield, MA driver get another.

“His car is working better than everyone else’s at the moment,” he said. “Andy’s got enough confidence to make moves like that. Now that my brakes are working like they should, my confidence will improve with each race too.”

 

Bachetti Is Simply On A Roll…

On the flip side, making that same move, twice in a month, and coming away with victories both times has Andy Bachetti riding the consistency wave at the Valley. Through five races so far this season, The Garrity Asphalt #4 has four top five finishes with a worst showing being sixth on week three.

Saturday’s win, as stated, was very reminiscent of his victory on week two where he went from fourth to first in two corners. What was going through Bachetti’s mind when he saw the same scenario playing out this time around?

“I like to win and I have to take chances sometimes to do it,” Bachetti said. “It doesn’t always work. Sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug. You have to have a great team and a good car to make moves like that and to win. Right now, I’ve got that.”

This has been an amazing run of luck for Bachetti to start the 2022 season at the Valley. After his third win Saturday, he currently leads the point standings by nearly a full race. He leads Kyle Armstrong and Eddie Marshall by 52 points while Brett Haas, LJ Lombardo and Kenny Tremont all sit another two markers back.

What does confidence in the equipment you’re racing mean when you get it in your head, “I have to make this move and go up top?”

“Confidence is key for us,” he said. “I put the car where it works right now. It’s a ‘hero’ today ‘zero’ tomorrow thing. I know that deal well.”

Still, Bachetti has to know his luck has been amazing so far in 2022.

“It’s a matter of slappin’ the ass and riding the wave right now,” he said. “I have incredible sponsorship and people that make this team look good and help this car run as well as it does. Without them, it wouldn’t be fun.”

It still must quite eye opening when Bachetti saw the same scenario open up last week that he did in week two, especially knowing it was for another checkered flag.

“Some of the best in the business have made the same move on me that I did on Saturday night,” he said. “Getting beat that way made me work even harder. I’m there to win. It’s my job.”

 

The Racing Community Can Be Awesome…Just Ask Zach Sorrentino…

The 2022 season has been an amazing one so far for first-year Pro Stock racer Zach Sorrentino.

Heading into last Saturday feature, the Lee, MA driver hadn’t finished outside the top seven and was sitting a solid fourth in points.

Then, unfortunately, he was caught up in someone else issue in turns three and four which severely damaged this #54s. He was however, able to get the car back on track and found his way to a 13th place finish.

“Even with the damage we had, we changed a tire, pinched a break line and got back out to the track for five laps,” Sorrentino said. “That let us gain five more positions at the finish. Those 10 points may become valuable at the end of the year.”

Getting back on track also helped him hold on to his place in points. Unfortunately, though, it wasn’t the finish that hurt the most. That came when the Sorrentino team began to fix the issues from last race. That’s when they saw that their chassis was pretty hurt. In fact, it’d need to be repaired.

So, knowing his team may be out of commission for a while, Sorrentino took to social media and pleaded his case for anyone who could loan his team a car for a short stint until theirs as ready.

After the unavoidable incident in turns 3 & 4, we determined that the car will need a new a front clip installed into our machine. We are looking to rent a car for the next 3-4 races to keep up with points. As our car will go under surgery for repairs. We currently sit in 4th place at Lebanon Valley Speedway. We can still can provide our motor, tranny, seat, tires, wheels and full time crew. (Also anything else we can agree with) Please have serious inquiries reach out to us to set up a deal! We appreciate all the help in advance!

54S Motorsports Facebook

That post was shared almost 50 times and, it worked.

“Dave Kokindo from D&W Auto Repair in Pittsfield, MA has Doug Olds’ old Pro Stock,” he said. “He is letting us use it, turn key, no questions asked. I was amazed by that.”

The Olds machine wasn’t the only ride offered to Sorrentino.

“We had about a total of four offers for different rides and I’m just in awe,” he said. “Dave offered but so did Dave Stickles, Johnny Rivers and Mike White. Three of those guys were people I’ve raced against previously. It shows how much the racing community groups together when someone needs help.”

What does it mean to Sorrentino to have so many people trying to help get him back on track?

“It’s remarkable,” he said. “I can’t believe it. To have someone reach out to us, off of a Facebook post, and just say we have a race-ready car for you…you just need to get comfortable and drive it. I’m at a loss for words.”

The truly funny part about this is the connection that the Sorrentino family has with Kokindo.

“This whole thing has come full circle for us, from our Jimmy Langenback days,” he said. “I remember Dave lettering Jimmy’s cars as well as my parents’ legends car and ModLite. It is amazing to have relationships like that with the racing community.”

“The outreach I’ve had from everyone was just mind-blowing,” he said. “From that one post, so many people shared it that I was up until about 11:30pm one night responding. I had multiple texts and calls with questions or offers of assistance. I am forever thankful for the racing family & support we’ve received from everyone, including my marketing partners, my crew and even the fans.”

Kokindo and Street Stock racer Rob Partridge will be prepping the car for Sorrentino. They are working hard to get the car ready for use. They’re installing the rear end, doing an oil change, putting in new plugs and basically nut & bolting the entire machine.

It’ll be ready to go come Saturday while the team’s chassis is out at Nick Stone’s shop having a new front clip put on and any other necessary repairs made.

This will help keep Zach in the points hunt for this season. What does it mean to him as a driver and the team as a whole to be running as strong as he’s been?

“I’m super thankful for all my team’s help,” he said. “Our motto is races are won in the shop. We believe in being competitive at the track, but in order to accomplish that, we need to adjust and unload a fast car each and every week. The effort everyone has put in is proven with our results.”

Sorrentino is grateful for the team he has behind him, especially through tough times like he’s had since Saturday.

“I won’t give up on the race track and they’ve never given up on me,” he said. “This team has been six years of outstanding relationships in the making. All of us will continue to give 110% each and every week to earn the best results possible.”

 
 
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