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
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
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
“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