Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – WEST LEBANON, NY – Score one for the veterans Saturday evening at Lebanon Valley Speedway.
On this night, the winningest Big Block Modified driver in the history of the Valley added another tally next to his name.
For the 141st time in his career, Kenny Tremont graced victory lane and did so in convincing fashion.
With the victory, according to Brian Bedell’s Basic Book of Lebanon Valley Facts, Tremont’s father, Ken Sr., has now captured at least one victory in 50 different seasons of competition…quite an accomplishment.
The multi-time track champion drove his #115 to the top spot, around polesitter Mike King at the one-third mark of the 30-lap DIRTcar Modified feature. Even with a caution that bunched the field up late and put point leader Andy Bachetti on his back bumper, nobody was catching the ‘Sand Lake Slingshot’ on this night as Tremont sailed to his first win of the 2022 season.
“I was starting to wonder if we were going to even get into the top five again lately,” Tremont said. “We just keep digging and digging and thankfully I have a great crew who just keeps at it and hoping for the best.”
The battle between Tremont and King was quite entertaining for the fans as the two veterans battled together for several circuits before Tremont pulled ahead.
“Mike and I had a great battle,” he said. “He took right off from the drop of the green and thankfully he slowed down just a tad.”
The last caution of the night occurred with just six laps remaining. LJ Lombardo shredded the right rear tire on his Paul Wehnau Snap-On #35.
Bachetti had worked his way to the runner-up spot to this point and looked like it a classic battle between the two was about to commence.
However, that wasn’t to be as the Rifenburg Construction #115 took off when the green flag was thrown and never looked back.
“I just said to myself, if I’m going good enough, I’ll do it,” he said. “If not, I’ll run second. It was nothing to get too worried about. Thankfully, we were fast enough to hold off Andy and get the win.”
While Tremont has had some solid runs so far in 2022, including three top 5’s and seven top 10’s, he’s been feeling as if his team’s been struggling to get a handle on the rear coil suspension. In fact, the 115 team has been struggling to find a balance that Tremont likes since the beginning of 2021.
Saturday night, though, the team put it all together.
“The definitely feels great,” he said. “It doesn’t get any easier and I’m not getting any younger. To be honest, it’s no secret that I don’t like the way these cars drive right now so I’m having a hard time adjusting to that.”
It’s the constant digging and working to try and get a handle on things by Tremont and his crew that the veteran is extremely grateful for.
“All in all, I’m thankful for the great team we have right now,” he said. “Lance, Scott, my dad, Mike Sullivan, Chris Lenox, Austin Scott and a lot of people behind the scenes. Thankfully, they’re all behind me and this program 150%.”
It’s that dedication by the crew and their drive that keeps Tremont focused on the task at hand each week.
“They’re not losing faith,” he said. “They believe in me even when I don’t believe in myself so that really helps keep me on track.”
Bachetti held on to come home in the runner-up spot and strengthen his point lead over Marc Johnson. Johnson was forced to a backup car after middle of the evening hot laps and came home in seventh.
The “Wild Child” now has a 38 point lead over Johnson.
Kyle Sheldon had a great run on Saturday to bring the Alex Thomson-owned #42 home in third while Brett Haas came home fourth, mere inches ahead of Mike King who finished off a great showing in the 30-lap main in fifth.
In the DIRTcar 358-Modified feature, nobody, and I mean nobody, was touching Alan Houghtaling on this night.
The veteran driver took off at the drop of the green and was in his own zip code on this night, easily cruising to his first win of the 2022 season in dominating fashion.
“Oh my God, I’m out of words right now,” Houghtaling said. “The biggest thank you for this goes to Teo Pro Car. When I wrecked on the backstretch last month, that car was junk. I took it to Teo and they swapped the chassis…swapped the body. Yea, we’ve had a couple hiccups here and there but to come with a car this freaking good tonight, just wow!”
Houghtaling was extremely fast in not only thanking Teo but also his dedicated team and everyone who’s stood by his operation.
“I really want to thank my awesome crew and all of my amazing sponsors,” he said. “Without them, this isn’t possible. All of those guys along with my parents, my daughter, my friends and everyone who’s been behind me just mean the world.”
If there was a single issue on a perfect night for Houghtaling, he may have done some damage to the powerplant during the 24-lap feature.
“I think I might have hurt the motor, but I couldn’t stop,” he said. “Pastor Ed (Harkins) always talks about perseverance and don’t give up. Sometimes, you just have to listen to it and go with it and sometimes, it all works out.”
Second place, a LONG way behind the 250 of Houghtaling, was point leader Andy Bachetti. Bachetti muscled his way by Ryan Charland with three laps remaining in the green-to-checkers race for second. However, he had no time to catch the victor so the Sheffield, MA driver had to settle for another second place finish on the night.
Charland came home with a fine third place finish with Lorne Browe in fourth and Kevin Petrucci, who backed up his win from June 25th with another solid run, completing the top five.
Last Saturday night, point leader Whitey Slavin took home the Sportsman main event win for the third time this season with second place man in points, Tim Hartman Jr., finishing third.
If Hartman wants to keep pace with Slavin in search of the 2022 track championship, he has to run better than the high point man and contend for wins himself.
Heading into Saturday, he’s visited victory lane twice this season. Well, now add another for TH2. Hartman passed Pete Lorenzo with seven laps complete and went on to lead the rest of the way, taking his third of the season on the high banks.
Only problem is Whitey was second so Hartman’s net gain in the season-long title chase was four markers.
That’s okay with the second-generation driver. He just enjoys running well at the West Lebanon, NY oval, but has understood all season long exactly what has to be done.
“I knew I had to get to the front before Whitey did,” Hartman Jr. said. “Pete Lorenzo’s no slouch either. He’s been fast this year. He’s going to get one before the year is up but I just got a really good restart and I shoved him as hard as I could down the frontstretch.”
Then, Hartman was praying what he had going in his mind would come true.
“I was just hoping that Pete would know he was clear of Whitey to get down in front of him,” he said. “Then I could get a run. It didn’t quite work out like I wanted it to but I was able to clear Whitey and then make my move to get to the lead.”
Track conditions played into Hartman’s hands well.
“The track was awesome tonight,” he said. “It was probably the best it’s been all year…nice and smooth. I think there was a top and I believe I could have been even better up there. One I got to the front I just wanted to bide my time. I didn’t think anyone could get around us. I thought our car was quick enough and it was.”
While it may not be a win, a third place for Pete Lorenzo while leading laps is still a great finish this season. Shane Powell had another quality run to bring the Powell Motorsports #33 home with a fourth place showing while Robbie Knipe rounded out the top five.
In the last five DIRTcar Pro Stock features at the Valley, nobody other than Chad Jeseo has graced victory lane. Several have tried to unseat the defending champion but to no avail.
That changed Saturday night at the hands of Rick Duzlak. Duzlak started on the pole and tried to run away with the race. However, the likes of Dave Stickles, Tommy Dean, Steven Larochelle and Jeseo were giving chase.
Jeseo made his way to second on a lap 13 restart and began to work ever closer to the leader, getting to the rear bumper within two circuits.
Duzlak then drifted up ever so slightly in turns three and four on lap 15 and it was a drag race down the frontstretch with Jeseo taking the top spot as the two entered the next corner.
However, as the two exited turn two, Duzlak got to the back bumper of the 25, made ever slight contact to get Jeseo squirrelly. From that point on, over the next four laps until the checkers flew, it was door handle to door handle racing between them.
As the two came off of the final corner, headed to Colin Rescott’s double checkered flags, Duzlak and Jeseo were dead even. At the line it was a photo finish with Duzlak getting the advantage by .012 seconds, according to timing and scoring.
This win meant everything to the second-generation driver who lost his father, Bob Duzlak Sr., during the off-season.
“I wanted to do this for my dad,” Duzlak said. “It’s the only reason I came back to the Valley. This one’s for him.”
In what was the race of the night, both Duzlak and Jeseo did everything they could to get the win, but did it while putting on an amazing show for the fans. Each could have used the other up on more than one occasion, but didn’t. They ‘raced’ for it, and it showed.
“Chad raced me good,” he said. “We had a great race and you can’t ask for anything better than that. It helps starting up front. The car’s been a mess for four weeks. We finally got it halfway decent and put it in victory lane.”
To be the one who snapped Jeseo’s win streak is something that isn’t lost on Duzlak. He knows how good the #25’s program has been all year.
“Chad’s been great all year, anywhere he goes,” he said. “He can get the victory next week, but I got it tonight.”
Stickles finished the 20-lap feature with a fine third place finish while Tommy Dean and Nick Hilt rounded out the top five.
Kevin Ames captured his second Limited Sportsman feature event win of the 2022 season on Saturday night. Jim Vanzandt was second with Karl Barnes completing the podium.
Dave Striebel Jr. was victorious in the Street Stock feature over Rob Partridge, Gary O’Brien, Jeff Meltz Sr. and current point leader, Chris Stalker.
MODIFIED FEATURE RESULTS 1) Kenny Tremont Jr.* 115 2) Andy Bachetti*** 4 3) Kyle Sheldon 42S 4) Brett Haas 55H 5) Mike King 55K 6) Kyle Armstrong 11A 7) Marc Johnson** 9J 8) Kolby Schroder 99 9) Wayne Jelley 45X 10) L.J Lombardo 35 11) Keith Flach 43 12) Brian Berger* 60 13) Brandon Lane 33 14) Olden Dwyer* 88JR 15) John Virgilio 74 16) Dylan Gibson 22 17) Eddie Marshall* 98 18) Kenny Aanonsen JR. 42A 19) Josh Marcus 91M 20) Timothy Davis 7T
358 MODIFIED FEATURE RESULTS 1) Alan Houghtaling* 250 2) Andy Bachetti*** 4 3) Ryan Charland 10C 4) Lorne Browe 14B 5) Kevin Petrucci* 24 6) Jason Herrington* 1 7) L.J Lombardo* 35 8) Ryan Larkin 39 9) Kim Lavoy 3 10) Peter Carlotto 12C 11) Frank Harper 25 12) Ray Hall JR. 72 13) Brian Sandstedt 12S 14) Montgomery Tremont 115 15) Olden Dwyer 88JR
SPORTSMAN FEATURE RESULTS 1) Tim Hartman*** 22H 2) Whitey Slavin*** 5 3) Pete Lorenzo 3G 4) Shane Powell 33S 5) Robbie Knipe 57K 6) Brady Cordova*** 4C 7) Rob Maxon 96 8) Bob Fachini 728 9) Keith Johannessen 4NY 10) Chris Lynch 74 11) Ryan Heath 6R
PRO STOCKS FEATURE RESULTS 1) Rick Duzlak* 29 2) Chad Jeseo******* 25 3) Dave Stickles 55 4) Tom Dean 413 5) Nick Hilt* 17 6) Zach Sorrentino 54S 7) Steven LaRochelle* 178 8) Chris Stalker 177 9) Zach Seyerlein 33 10) Brian Keough 311 11) Nick Rogers 77 12) Tom Gomm 32 13) Scott Kilmer OO7
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE RESULTS 1) Kevin Ames** 43 2) Jim Vanzandt 313 3) Karl Barnes* 307 4) Matt Jordan 5MJ 5) Frank Twing JR. 1T 6) Andrew Martell 21M
STREET STOCK FEATURE RESULTS a1) Dave Striebel JR.*** 73 2) Rob Partridge 22 3) Gary O’ Brien* 57 4) Jeff Meltz SR. 5X 5) Chris Stalker** 177 6) Evan Denue* 245 7) Dylan Fachini 35 8) Kerri Vandenburg 89 9) Katarina Foster 10 10) Brian Walsh* 43 11) Dom Denue** 145 12) Ryan Brown O10 13) Rocco Procopio 62 14) Scott Morris 84 15) Franklin Smith 76 16) Chris Brown OO9 17) Daniel Coonradt 74 18) Brother Kay 61