Story By: PHIL ALLAWAY / LEBANON VALLEY SPEEDWAY – WEST LEBANON, NY – The 2023 racing season at Lebanon Valley Speedway has been plagued by rain.
Five nights of racing have been completely wiped out by rain. A sixth Modified feature was wiped out due to a mid-card rainout. That event was combined with a regularly scheduled feature to form last weekend’s 50-lap feature.
This weekend will be the final regular feature of the year for the Modified class. The championship has effectively already been decided. Andy Bachetti currently holds a 48-point lead over J.R. Heffner. As a result, he will clinch his fourth straight Modified title when he shows up in the pits Saturday.
Behind Bachetti is a bit of a scrum. Heffner has a 17-point advantage over Brett Haas. L.J. Lombardo and Marc Johnson are just a couple of points back.
Mr. DIRT Track U.S.A., the final Modified race of the season on Sept. 2, is a round of the Super DIRTcar Series. As a result, only appearance points are awarded.
That race will feature 28 cars doing battle for 100 laps on the high banks. The winner will take home a check for $15,500. It is the richest race at Lebanon Valley Speedway and one of the biggest purses of the year for the Super DIRTcar Series. Outside of the 200-lap headlining race at Super DIRT Week in Oswego, it is one of the toughest dirt Modified races in New York to win. Attrition is common.
In the Small Block Modifieds, Bachetti regained the points lead last weekend with a third-place finish. Despite that, Bachetti has only a two-point advantage over Lombardo. At the front of the field, that is less than a position on the track, so it’s a veritable dead heat with two races to go. Herrington crashed out on the opening lap and finished 21st, dropping him to third and leaving him rather sore.
The Sportsman class has three races remaining. So far in 2023, the class has been the territory of Tim Hartman Jr. The defending Sportsman champ has a 45-point lead over Kevin Ward, the only other driver to win more than one feature this year (the drivers split last week’s double features).
Ward is only a point in front of Rob Maxon. Realistically, these two drivers are the only ones that could legitimately challenge Hartman. Whitey Slavin was strong early, but missed a couple of races.
The Limited Sportsman class has been dominated by Anthony Maxon, son of Rob. With three races to go, Anthony Maxon has a 58-point lead over Craig Coons. Brian Walsh is nearly two races behind in third.
Pro Stock teams have only one points race remaining. Saturday night’s Ol’ Buzzard 30 in honor of Jimmy Langenback is part of the DIRTcar Pro Stock Series. As a result, that race will be for appearance points only.
A couple of recent wins have helped Chad Jeseo pull out a 32-point lead over Zack Sorrentino. Everyone else has been mathematically eliminated. Jeseo would have to find trouble Labor Day weekend for Sorrentino to have a chance at the title.
Speaking of the Ol’ Buzzard 30, the New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) usually puts up extra money in memory of Langenback to the top finishers who are also NYSSCA members. This money has been increased in memory of the late Steven LaRochelle. The top finishing NYSSCA member will get a $178 bonus, while the second-best NYSSCA member will get a $78 bonus. The No. 3 NYSSCA member will get a $54 bonus.
In Street Stock, Dave Streibel Jr. has a 10-point lead over Jeff Meltz Sr. Chris Stalker, despite missing two races earlier in the year due to a suspension, is still in the hunt, 18 points back.
Jim Guertin currently has a four-point lead over Bradley Batho in the 4-Cylinder Dual-Cam class. Jason Peck is right in the hunt as well. Tim Meltz has a 12-point lead over Joey Batho in the Single-Cam division.
In addition to the Ol’ Buzzard 30, the Mohawk Valley Vintage Modifieds will be on hand Saturday night. You’ll see cars from the 1950s to the 1980s take on the high banks. Quite the variety for old-school fans and newer fans alike.