Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – WEST LEBANON, NY – Saturday night was Christmas in July at the Lebanon Valley Speedway.
Well, Christmas came early for Andy Bachetti who took home not one. but two victories on the evening at the Valley of Speed.
Bachetti swept both Modified features, taking the DIRTcar Big Block Modified and 358-Modified main events with each race having its own twists and turns.
“Picking up the double is always sweet,” Bachetti said. “This was a good night for everybody on our team.”
In the 30-lap DIRTcar Big Block Modified feature, Bachetti fired from the seventh starting spot but had to go from the moment the original green flag flew as the event went green-to-checkers. Not a single yellow flag was thrown.
Timothy Davis took off from the original start and was setting sail, running a super race as he chased his first career win with Keith Flach and Brett Haas in tow.
Haas would dispose of Flach for second by lap six and began to chase down the leader.
During that same time, Bachetti had worked his way into the top five.
By the halfway point of the race, the Sheffield, MA driver worked his way around both Mike King and Olden Dwyer to move into third position.
Then, the race was on as the top three began to tighten up. Haas worked lap after lap to get closer to the leader. At the same time, Bachetti was peddling for everything his car was worth as he wanted a chance to win his fourth Big Block Modified feature of 2022.
As the leaders entered lap traffic, the 55 of Haas had glued himself to the back bumper of Davis, hoping for any opening to get around. That opening came at the two-thirds mark of the event as Haas drew inside of the Vermont campaigner.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to complete the pass before Bachetti joined the fray. The “Wild Child” poured it on one lap later, making an aggressive move to the inside of Haas going through turns one and two to take away the runner-up spot.
Two laps later, he made his move to grab the lead away from Davis. With a power move in the first and second corners, Bachetti took over command of the race and was never challenged the rest of the way en route to the victory.
“This was a pretty good race car tonight,” he said. “My crew worked their tails off for me and I can’t thank them enough for that hard work.”
The surface of the Valley on this night was hard and smooth but a little slicker than usual. That played into Bachetti’s hands as he was able to search around the entire track and run where his competitors weren’t to get to the front.
“The track was a little different tonight for sure,” he said. “It had different lines and ways you could move around to search for bite. Once we burned the fuel load off, we were coming. This is just awesome.”
Did Bachetti think he had enough time to catch the battle for the lead?
“I worry about that every week,” he said. “We were able to get it done and it’s just a good night for everybody.”
Haas was able to eventually get around Davis for the runner-up spot at the finish, but that’s little consolation after what he felt might be a trip to victory lane for the second time in his Big Block Modified career.
“I thought we had a shot at the win tonight,” Haas said. “I tried making a move on Timothy and with the lap traffic, those guys took my line away and that killed my momentum. It was still a decent run for our 55 team but it just sucks not winning when you have a good starting spot like we did.”
Davis held on for third place at the finish. Even though he didn’t make it to winner’s circle, leading 20 laps in the main and ending with a podium finish was a great night for the family-run team.
Dwyer and Eddie Marshall completed the top five.
Earlier in the evening, as stated, Bachetti was able to find his way to victory lane in the DIRTcar 358-Modified feature. However, this time, he was aided by a caution flag.
Olden Dwyer led from the drop of Rodney Rescott’s green flag and was running a smooth and consistent race. The groove for the Small Blocks ended up being on the bottom as the track.
Second place man Peter Carlotto made several runs one lane higher at Dwyer as the race moved passed halfway. However, he slid through the black groove and lost ground to the leader.
At the same time, Bachetti had worked his way up from his 14th starting spot into the show position and was inching closer to the top two.
The only caution flag of the event came out on lap 16 for last week’s winner, Brian Sandstedt who had a flat left front tire.
On the restart, Dwyer took off with Carlotto in second. However, Bachetti was stuck to the leader’s back bumper and as they headed into turn one, Dwyer dove to the bottom. That was all Bachetti needed as he powered to the outside in turns one and two and was never challenged again.
Bachetti went on to score his fourth win in the Small Block class as well, taking the win in the 24-lap affair.
“There’s a lot of great competition here in the 358-Modified Class,” Bachetti said. “When there’s little to no cautions, it’s tough to get to the front.”
The turning point of the race for Bachetti was when the caution came out. He was able to drive around both Carlotto and Dwyer, driving from third to first in two corners and grabbing the point by the time they hit the backstretch.
“That definitely benefited us,” he said. “The car was good. We had a good restart and once we got the lead, it was over from there.”
Last Saturday night, Bachetti was involved in an early race accident which damaged his race car. Even with that, he was able to charge from the rear of the field to get back to fourth at the finish.
That made for some long nights in the shop over the last seven days.
“I really couldn’t do this without all of the guys who take care of this car,” he said. “They worked their tails off this week. We got wrecked last race and we had to pull the motor but they got us back here in victory lane tonight.”
Bachetti is grateful for both his Big Block and Small Block teams for their hard work and dedication.
“Everybody just puts some much into this deal,” he said. “My Big Block crew, the Carlotto’s and my brother with the Small Block car, I can’t say enough about them. This is just an awesome night.”
Late in the feature, LJ Lombardo and Dwyer began to race wheel-to-wheel for second place. Lombardo got the spot with just two laps remaining and held on to the finish. Dwyer took third with Ryan Larkin and Jason Herrington completing the top five.
The Sportsman feature event was a special one in every sense of the word. The race was in honor of former racer and 1982 track Hall of Fame inductee, Rod Fifield.
Unfortunately, the always smiling gentleman from Hatfield, MA passed away in December and his family wanted to honor his legacy with a special race for the Sportsman division.
They hit the nail on the head with this one. Thousands of dollars were put together for the event with the winner taking home a top prize of $2,500.
That driver was Whitey Slavin. Slavin took the lead away from Keith Johannessen on lap nine of the 25-lap event and held off challenges from the likes of Robby Knipe, Chris Lynch and eventual second place finisher Tim Hartman Jr. to score the big payday.
“I knew Rod for a long time,” Slavin said. “We use to camp next to him at Super DIRT Week. I won’t say how old I was but I’ve had a couple of beers with Rod and I learned a lot from him. He was a cool guy and I miss him a lot. Thanks to his family for putting this race on in his honor.”
Starting position played perfectly into Slavin’s hands. The top two in each of the three heat races drew for the first six starting spots in the feature. Slavin drew fourth and was big in his pursuit of the checkered flag.
“It was good to be in clean air tonight,” he said. “That starting spot was really good for us as there were a few new cars here tonight.”
Hartman came home with a fine second place finish with Lynch finishing a strong third on the night. Butchie Irwin, who ran with a heavy heart as his car owner, Mitch Poole, lost his mother this past week, finished in fourth and Pete Lorenzo completed the top five.
In the DIRTcar Pro Stock feature, for only the second time in the last eight races, someone other that Chad Jeseo made his way to victory lane.
This time it was Steven Larochelle who took his second victory of the 2022 season.
Larochelle grabbed the top spot from Tommy Dean after a hard side-by-side battle just passed halfway and held on the rest of the distance to take the win.
“We’ve been fighting on and off all year with this car,” Larochelle said. “We’ve been working to try and get this thing dialed in to the way it was last year and tonight was the first time all year it really felt under me.”
The battle between Larochelle and Dean was great to watch. For multiple laps, the two went side-by-side but just great racing action.
“It was really fun racing with Tommy,” he said. “We ran door-to-door with a little bit of rubbing here and there, but it was just a blast.”
From the drop of the green, Larochelle looked to be the class of the field on this night.
“This thing was on rails,” he said. “It was good racing out there. It was really tight with everybody and a lot of fun. My crew worked their butts off all week to get this car as good as it was. I can’t thank them enough.”
In Limited Sportsman competition, 11-year-old Frank Twing Jr. captured his first career open wheel win, holding off Cody Cordova, Alex Palmer-Sawyer, Kevin Ames and Karl Barnes for the victory.
“I kept feeling people behind me,” Twing said. “I thought they might get by me but we had enough momentum to stay in front. I have to thank my Dad, my Grandfather, my Grandmother, Haley, my sister and all of my sponsors. This is amazing.”
Street Stock point leader Chris Stalker was the man of the night in the Street Stock division. Stalker captured his fourth win of the 2022 season over Brian Walsh, Dave Striebel Jr., Gary O’Brien and Dave Striebel Sr.
Stalker also took home the Fosby’s Go-Fast Graphics / Chatham Clothing Street Stock Dash for Cash.
Tim Hartman Jr. was the victor in the Stratton Racing Sportsman Dash for Cash.
MODIFIED FEATURE RESULTS (30 LAPS) POS DRIVER NAME CAR # 1) Andy Bachetti**** 4 2) Brett Haas 55H 3) Timothy Davis 7T 4) Olden Dwyer* 88JR 5) Eddie Marshall* 98 6) Keith Flach 43 7) Kenny Tremont Jr.* 115 8) Kyle Sheldon 42S 9) Marc Johnson** 9J 10) Mike King 55K 11) Brian Berger* 60 12) L.J Lombardo 35 13) John Virgilio 74V 14) Kyle Armstrong* 11A 15) Brandon Lane 33 16) Josh Marcus 91M 17) Dylan Gibson 22
358 MODIFIED FEATURE RESULTS (24 LAPS) POS DRIVER NAME CAR # 1) Andy Bachetti**** 4 2) L.J Lombardo* 35 3) Olden Dwyer 88JR 4) Ryan Larkin 39 5) Jason Herrington* 1 6) Peter Carlotto 12C 7) Frank Harper 25 8) Jeff Watson 22W 9) Brian Petrerson 82 10) Ray Hall JR. 72 11) Lorne Browe 14B 12) Brian Sandstedt 12S 13) Montgomery Tremont 115 14) Ryan Charland 10C 15) Kevin Petrucci* 24 16) Alan Houghtaling* 250
SPORTSMAN FEATURE RESULTS (20 LAPS) POS DRIVER NAME CAR # 1) Whitey Slavin** 5 2) Tim Hartman** 22H 3) Chris Lynch 74 4) Butchie Irwin 117 5) Pete Lorenzo 3G 6) Garret Poland 17G 7) Kevin Ward 98 8) Ray Hall 72 9) Robbie Knipe 57K 10) Keith Johannessen 4NY 11) Cody Cordova 11 12) Karl Barnes 307 13) Shane Powell 25 14) Ryan Heath 6R 15) Bob Fachini 728 16) Rob Maxon 96 17) Alex Palmer-Sawyer 61 18) Anthony Maxon 96 19) Matt Jordan 5MJ 20) Robbie Colburn 18 21) Kevin Ames* 43 22) Brady Cordova*** 4C 23) Frank Twing JR. 1T 24) Jacob Perry* 21 25) Andy Crane 4NYC
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE RESULTS (15 LAPS) POS DRIVER NAME CAR # 1) Frank Twing JR. 1T 2) Cody Cordova 11 3) Alex Palmer-Sawyer 61 4) Kevin Ames** 43 5) Karl Barnes** 307 6) Anthony Maxon 96 7) Jacob Perry* 21 8) Matt Jordan 5MJ 9) Andy Crane 4NYC
PRO STOCKS FEATURE RESULTS (20 LAPS) POS DRIVER NAME CAR # 1) Steven LaRochelle** 178 2) Tom Dean 413 3) Chad Jeseo******** 25 4) Nick Hilt* 17 5) Chris Stalker 177 6) Robbie Speed 177S 7) Rick Duzlak* 29 8) Dave Stickles 55 9) Zach Seyerlein 33 10) Zach Sorrentino 54S 11) Bruno Richard 72 12) Brian Keough 311 13) Tom O’Connor 52 14) Scott Kilmer OO7 15) Tyler Bushey X15
STREET STOCK FEATURE RESULTS (20 LAPS) POS DRIVER NAME CAR # 1) Chris Stalker**** 177 2) Brian Walsh* 43 3) Dave Striebel JR.*** 73 4) Gary O’ Brien* 57 5) David Striebel 273 6) Jeff Meltz SR. 5X 7) Evan Denue* 245 8) Jim Dellea 77 9) Scott Morris 84 10) Katarina Foster 10 11) Ray Royals 6 12) Ryan Brown O10 13) Daniel Coonradt 74 14) Franklin Smith 76 15) Dom Denue** 145 16) Chris Brown OO9