Slump Buster: Heffner Takes the Double at Lebanon Valley

Date: 8/2/2015 10:22:13 PM

Slump Buster: Heffner Takes the Double at Lebanon Valley
by Phil Allaway

The 2015 season for JR Heffner has been a struggle.  Despite three Small Block Modified wins, Heffner has had mechanical issue after mechanical issue with the Big Block.  Prior to the races, Heffner stated that he needed results.  He got them.


John Ruchel once again claimed pole for the Modified feature, but unlike last week, he was able to take advantage of his good fortune.  Heffner started on the outside of the second row and immediately swept around Olden Dwyer for second.  Heffner then dove inside of Ruchel and took the lead in turn 3.

From here, Heffner assumed control of the race while Ruchel gave chase.  Meanwhile, Brett Hearn and Kenny Tremont, Jr. charged up from outside the top 10.  Hearn did not have an easy time of it early as he was sent up the hill in turn 2, costing him positions.

After a Tyler Chartrand spin brought out the yellow, Eddie Marshall drove around the outside of Ruchel on the restart to take second from Ruchel.  Shortly afterwards, the steering broke on Kyle Hoffman’s car, putting him into the wall in turn 1, collecting Dave McFeeters in the process and bringing out another yellow.


A second Chartrand spin brought the field back together for a 20-lap sprint.  Tremont and Hearn were third and fourth at the time behind Heffner and Marshall.  Shortly after the restart, Hearn made his move and eventually took the third spot away.  However, Tremont wasn’t willing to give it up just that quickly.  The 13-time Modified champion came right back on Hearn, re-passing him and bringing the crowd to its feet.  Eventually, Tremont opened a small gap and kept Hearn at bay.


At the front, Heffner continued to lead with Marshall close in tow.  The Pound Ridge native tried, but he could not get close enough to the No. 74 in order to make a move.  Heffner held on to take his first Big Block win of the year.

Afterwards, Heffner was relieved that the Hig Fab chassis is working out, despite its preference for smaller tracks.

“[The Hig Fab car] came with a lot of traction and we had to detune it,” Heffner said in the pits.  “Those cars are really short track cars and they’ve been doing a great job out on the flat tracks and short tracks.  Lebanon [Valley]’s a little unique because of the banking, so we had to go to work on it to give it what this track likes.”


Tremont was able to hold on for third and gain a few points on Hearn in fourth.  Brian Berger was fifth.

The Small Block Modified feature had an early stack-up on the frontstretch with championship implications.  Wayne Jelley slowed and jammed up a chunk of the field.  Ryan Darcy and Brett Haas were forced to make pit stops, while Jelley tried to restart the race, but eventually was forced to retire.

After the restart, Brian Peterson spun and hit the wall in turn 4, bringing out another yellow.  Peterson was ok, but he was done for the night.

The early yellows kept the field bunched together.  Pole sitter Kim LaVoy had a quick car that worked well on the outside line and held a steady pace.  Meanwhile, Heffner started sixth and made it to second by lap 4.  Once he caught LaVoy, the treading got a little more difficult.  While Heffner had the faster car, LaVoy clearly made Heffner work to get past.

Eventually, Heffner took the lead on lap 10, while Tremont followed past a couple of laps later.  The trio then pulled away from the rest of the pack.  Tremont had a quick car, but just wasn’t quite in the same league as Heffner, who pulled away from the multi-time champion to take his fourth Small Block Modified win of the year.  Doing the double puts Heffner in rarefied air.  He is only the fifth driver in 63 seasons of racing at Lebanon Valley to win features in both of the top classes in the same night (the others are Tremont, Andy Bachetti, Dickie Larkin and Danny Watson).


Brian Sandstedt finished in third, followed by Jason Herrington.  LaVoy hit the wall on lap 18, but soldiered on to finish fifth.


The Sportsman feature was a rough affair.  Cody Ochs started from the pole and led early, but the 27-car feature was marred by no less than eight yellows.  Some of these were for minor spins.  Others were not so minor.  Frank Hoard, Jr. went hard into the outside wall exiting turn 4 on lap 9 following contact with Kevin Ward while racing for second.  Afterwards, Hoard stated that he was quite sore, but that his car was badly beaten up in the crash.


One driver that was not torn up on the evening was Whitey Slavin.  Slavin started in 11th and quickly made his way up the order.  Following the restart after the second caution, Slavin made a great move from the second row to get past Hoard and Ochs for the lead.

Following Hoard’s crash, Ward became Slavin’s main competition for the lead.  The veteran racer would make multiple moves on Slavin, only to be thwarted by cautions.  The final yellow, which flew for a spin by Brandon Lane, came out just as Ward had position on Slavin.

However, on the final restart, Slavin was able to pull out a small margin, enough to hold on for his second win of the year.  Ward was second, followed by John Virgilio, Cody Hunt and Kevin Arnold.


In Pro Stock, the race featured an early duel between Tom Harkins and Chuck Towslee.  The two drivers raced hard for the lead early as the rest of the pack raced hard behind them.

For Rob Yetman, Saturday night was one to forget.  The all-time Pro Stock wins leader got caught up in a pile-up in turn 3 on lap 5.  The No. 7 was not significantly damaged, but Yetman had to start in the rear.  On the restart, Sparky Reilly failed to come up to and was hit from behind by Rick Dempsey.  Yetman had nowhere to go and was hit, spinning into the blunt end of the wall at a cutout and hitting with the right rear, ending his night.

Towslee got past Harkins on the restart with Paul LaRochelle close in tow.  For the rest of the race, LaRochelle tried to get to the inside of Towslee, but Towslee maintained the upper groove.  Running a flawless race allowed Towslee to hold off LaRochelle and take his first win in nearly a year.


LaRochelle held on for second, while Robbie Speed came from 15th to finish third.  Daniel Sanchez was fourth, while Jay Corbin rounded out the top 5.

In Pure Stock, Scott Morris, Dave Stickles and Gary O’Brien won features.


Sheldon Oil/Buanno Modified Feature Results: 1) JR Heffner, 2) Eddie Marshall, 3) Kenny Tremont, Jr., 4) Brett Hearn, 5) Bryan Berger, 6) Mike King, 7) Andy Bachetti, 8) Keith Flach, 9) Chad Jeseo, 10) John Ruchel, 11) Jeff Watson, 12) Kolby Schroder, 13) Steve Hough, 14) Paul Gilardi, 15) Elmo Reckner, 16) Tyler Chartrand, 17) Kyle Sheldon, 18) Kyle Armstrong, 19) Olden Dwyer, 20) Kyle Hoffman, 21) Dave McFeeters, 22) Denny Soltis.  DNS: Matt Pupello, Ken McGuire


Small Block Modified Feature Results: 1) JR Heffner, 2) Kenny Tremont, Jr., 3) Brian Sandstedt, 4) Jason Herrington, 5) Kim LaVoy, 6) Shane Jablonka, 7) Demetrios Drellos, 8) Olden Dwyer, 9) Ray Hall, Jr., 10) David Schilling, 11) Buddy Hencke, 12) Peter Carlotto, 13) Brett Haas, 14) Steve Hankle, 15) Mark Pullen, 16) Ryan Darcy, 17) Timothy Davis, 18) Ryan Charland, 19) Bryan McGuire, 20) Brian Peterson, 21) Frank Harper, 22) Wayne Jelley, 23) Jason Tompkins, 24) Kenny Aanonsen, Jr., 25) Chad Pierce.  DNS: Alan Houghtaling


Sportsman Feature Results (Results are Unofficial): 1) Whitey Slavin, 2) Kevin Ward, 3) John Virgilio, 4) Cody Hunt, 5) Kevin Arnold, 6) Jim Boardman, 7) Matt Pappa, 8) Rob Maxon, 9) Ricky Davis, 10) David Schilling, 11) Phil Wood, 12) Cody Ochs, 13) Chris Lynch, 14) Alissa Cody, 15) Christopher Delfino, 16) Jeff Lutes, 17) Greg Catlin, 18) Nikki Ouellette, 19) Brandon Lane, 20) Courtney Crews, 21) Matt Burke, 22) Michael Sabia, 23) Chris Curtis, 24) Ryan Heath, 25) Frank Hoard, Jr., 26) Dan Lyle, 27) John Miller

Pro Stock Feature Results: 1) Chuck Towslee, 2) Paul LaRochelle, 3) Robbie Speed, 4) Daniel Sanchez, 5) Jay Corbin, 6) Jon Routhier, 7) Rick Duzlak, 8) Frank Twing, 9) Chad Arsenault, 10) Nick Hilt, 11) Steven LaRochelle, 12) Tom Harkins, 13) Sparky Reilly, 14) Rick Dempsey, 15) Tom O’Connor, 16) Joe LaFlamme, 17) Tom Dean, 18) Brian Keough, 19) Rob Yetman, 20) Jay Casey.  DNS: Scott Kilmer


Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results: 1) Scott Morris, 2) Bill Deak, Sr., 3) James Dellea, III, 4) Zach Sorrentino, 5) Kevin Paul, 6) Keri Vandenburg, 7) Dennis O’Connor, 8) David Olds, 9) Jeff Meltz, Jr., 10) Harold Robitaille, 11) Dan Olds

Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results: 1) Dave Stickles, 2) Bill Deak, Jr., 3) Brian Vandenburg, 4) Joe Walcott, 5) Tim Thompson, 6) Terry McNamara, 7) Joe Cheneil, 8) Rich Rogers, 9) Wuggie Burdick, 10) James Dellea, II, 11) George Miles, III.

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


Street Stock Results: 1) John Filarecki



For more information, the 2015 schedule, and links to what's on tap for 2015, visit our website at, and click on “Speedway”, or call the LVAR Offices during regular business hours at (518) 794-9606 or (518) 794-9965.


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