Sheldon, Duzlak Take Emotional Wins on the High Banks

Date: 7/26/2015 8:12:23 PM

The night before the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars at Lebanon Valley is traditionally a quieter night than normal.  The Small Block Modifieds were off; after all, they’re the support class Sunday night.  The Sportsman class was also off, leaving the Modified class with an even larger spotlight than normal.  Also, the track preparation for the Sprint Cars definitely played a role in the feature.

John Ruchel won his heat race Saturday night and won the pole for the feature as a result.  However, a mechanical issue forced Ruchel to retire for the evening.  As Ruchel’s No. 7 was already loaded up by the time the feature started, the entire outside lane moved up one row.  That gave the pole to third-place qualifier Kyle Sheldon, who was running with a five-year backup engine built in his garage after suffering a failure on July 18th.

Once the green dropped, Sheldon out-dragged Paul Gilardi to turn 1 and opened up a small gap over the pack.  Meanwhile, fifth-place (due to Ruchel’s DNS) starter Andy Bachetti was very fast early on.  It took him a mere three laps and change to pass Gilardi for second and set out for Sheldon.

Back in the pack, Brett Hearn started from his near-customary 15th starting spot and began his march to the front.  However, the track preparation for Saturday night resulted in a very grippy surface.  As a result, it was much harder to pass drivers.  By lap 5, Hearn was in ninth and locked in a fierce battle with Tyler Dippel.  The two drivers raced hard for nearly five laps before Hearn was able to get past for the position.  However, he was stuck in eighth for much of the rest of the race.

Meanwhile, up front, Bachetti caught Sheldon early on and the two drivers staged a great battle for the lead.  Bachetti would charge up and try to dive to the inside.  However, Sheldon had the preferred line and held on thanks to momentum.  Bachetti would then drop back when the duo encountered lapped traffic.  Once through the traffic, Bachetti would catch back up to Sheldon and try again.

Towards the end of the race, Bachetti made one last attempt to get past Sheldon, but the Sheldon Oil-sponsored regular was able to hold off the past champion to take his first win of the year.

Afterwards, Sheldon was very happy that he was able to defeat the moneyed establishment with their homebuilt technology.

“I couldn't have had any better of a car,” Sheldon said in the pits after the race.  “We got fortunate to start on the pole; we would have started third otherwise. Our engine is homebuilt in the back of our garage by Alex Thompson and all the guys that help us out. It's five years old. It's just the best thing that I can have underneath my foot. To be able to put this together on our own and compete with the guys who can spend $50,000 on engines, it just goes to show you that the backyard guys can still do it.”

A shake-up on the final lap saw Jeff Watson finish third.  Brian Berger was fourth, while Paul Gilardi, who had held third since Bachetti had overtaken him, dropped to fifth.  Hearn was running eighth coming to the white flag when his quick-change gears broke.  He was unable to coast to the finish and was credited with 16th, losing points to Kenny Tremont, Jr., who finished ninth.

In the Pro Stock ranks, Rick Duzlak started from pole in what turned to be a rather physical affair.  On the first lap, Tom Harkins went hard into the outside wall in turn 1 to bring out the first yellow.  Matt Cross, making his Pro Stock debut, and Dave Peck spun as well.

Shortly after the restart, Sparky Reilly, who had started in third, cut a tire and slowed on the backstretch.  This jammed up the field.  As a result, Jay Corbin spun in turn 3 after contact from Robbie Speed.  A pile-up ensued.  Corbin slid down the banking and was hit by Milo Campbell, knocking the TV panel off his car in the process.  Cross, Peck, Steven LaRochelle, Rob Yetman and Victor Hopkins.  Everyone managed to continue, but a number of drivers were mired way back.

Later on, Hugh Page spun after contact from Chuck Towslee in turn 2 and Frank Twing was sent to the rear for spinning out Chad Arsenault coming off of turn 4.  Afterwards, the field finally got to stretch their legs.  When that happened, Duzlak began to widen his advantage over the pack.  Back a ways, Yetman was charging forward after his accident.  By lap 7, Yetman was already up to fourth and by lap 11, he was a distant second to Yetman.

A yellow with five laps to go due to a second spin for Page put Yetman right on Duzlak’s bumper.  The first attempt to get a run on Duzlak was spoiled by a crash in turn 2 involving Page, Joe LaFlamme and Scott Kilmer that brought out the sixth and final yellow.

That left four laps for Yetman to put the moves on Duzlak.  However, Duzlak used his new car and engine to the best of his ability to hold off the strongest charges from Yetman to take his sixth career Pro Stock victory, but the first for him since 2001.

Afterwards, Duzlak was quite emotional when asked about what the win meant to him.

“Tonight means the world to me,” Duzlak said in the Clubhouse.  “I have my daughter with me tonight.  I moved away for ten years, came back.  I'm content to run in the middle of the pack [most of the time], but I've got my daughter with me, and this means the world."

For the record, Chloe Duzlak was very excited to see her father win and is very happy for him.

Behind Duzlak and Yetman was Nick Hilt in third.  Robbie Speed came back after the early incident to finish fourth, while Jon Routhier finished fifth despite being down on power.

In Pure Stock, Jim Groncki, Dave Stickles and Jason Meltz each won features.  The 4-Cylinder class saw Todd Goldstein take the overall lead on lap 5 and hold to take the victory in Dual-Cam.  Brandon Ely won the Single-cam division and finished fourth overall.


NBT Bank/Heavy Hauler Equipment Modified Feature Results: 1) Kyle Sheldon, 2) Andy Bachetti, 3) Jeff Watson, 4) Brian Berger, 5) Paul Gilardi, 6) Steve Hough, 7) Eddie Marshall, 8) Tyler Dippel, 9) Kenny Tremont, Jr., 10) Keith Flach, 11) Mike King, 12) Kolby Schroder, 13) Kyle Armstrong, 14) Kyle Hoffman, 15) Matt Pupello, 16) Brett Hearn, 17) Denny Soltis, 18) Elmo Reckner, 19) Chad Jeseo, 20) Dave McFeeters, 21) JR Heffner, 22) Olden Dwyer, 23) Clinton Mills, 24) Wayne Jelley.  DNS: John Ruchel

Pro Stock Feature Results: 1) Rick Duzlak, 2) Rob Yetman, 3) Nick Hilt, 4) Robbie Speed, 5) Jon Routhier, 6) Rick Dempsey, 7) Victor Hopkins, 8) Jay Corbin, 9) Daniel Sanchez, 10) Chuck Towslee, 11) Steven LaRochelle, 12) Frank Twing, 13) Sparky Reilly, 14) Chad Arsenault, 15) Dave Peck, 16) Scott Kilmer, 17) Milo Campbell, 18) Chris Lunn, 19) Hugh Page, 20) Joe LaFlamme, 21) Matt Cross, 22) Tom Harkins.  DNS: Jeff Kelmel

Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results: 1) Jim Groncki, 2) Jay Casey, 3) Bill Deak, Jr., 4) Lou Gancarz, 5) Scott Morris, 6) Rich Rogers, 7) Joe Walcott, 8) David Olds, Jr., 9) Keri Vandenburg, 10) Martina Martin, 11) Kevin Paul

Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results: 1) Dave Stickles, 2) Dylan Fachini, 3) Dan Olds, 4) Jeff Meltz, Jr., 5) Terry McNamara, 6) Tim Thompson, 7) John Tisko, 8) Dennis O’Connor, 9) Aaron Fachini, 10) Wuggie Burdick, 11) Joe Cheneil, 12) Gary Vandenburg, 13) Mike Sanchez

Pure Stock Feature No. 3 Results: 1) Jason Meltz, 2) Jeff Meltz, Sr., 3) Ed Hatch, 4) Al Relyea, 5) Larry Perez, 6) Ray Hall, Sr., 7) Gary O’Brien, 8) Shawn Perez, 9) Brian Walsh, 10) Dan Cote, 11) Harold Robitaille, 12) Clifford Booth, 13) Doug Olds, 14) Jesse Murphy

4-Cylinder Single-Cam Results: 1) Brandon Ely, 2) Jethro Rossan, 3) James Street, 4) Gary Malloy, 5) Stephen Cameron, Jr., 6) Tim Meltz, 7) Nick McClendon, 8) Scott Corbosiero

4-Cylinder Dual-Cam Results: 1) Todd Goldstein, 2) Chris Vandeputte, 3) Kenny Stager, 4) Rick Hodges, 5) Kelly Duncan, 6) Jared Powell, 7) Alyssia Sanchez

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