|Date: 9/14/2015 9:23:33 PM|
Rains End Lebanon Valley Season Early, Champs Declared
Saturday night was supposed to be the final night of the season at Lebanon Valley Speedway. The teams had gathered to settle the titles on the track. However, the atmosphere had other plans. Around 4:15 p.m., the skies opened with persistent rain. With heavier rains on the way, track management made the decision to cancel the scheduled card. With that move, the season was declared over.
Anyone who paid their way into the infield on Saturday is asked to hold onto their wristbands. Presenting the wristband will give crewmembers free pit admission for the first three races of 2016.
With the season over, the champions were able to celebrate in a somewhat subdued fashion. In Brett Hearn’s case, he claimed his fourth Modified track championship by finishing fifth on September 5. He had already completed his celebrating last weekend.
After the final Modified race, Hearn briefly talked about his season.
“We had some really good stretches, but we also had some tough luck too,” Hearn said. “Consistently, we were the fastest car off the trailer most nights. It was a great team effort.”
In the final race of the season, Hearn employed a more conservative strategy than what fans are generally used to out of the 57-year old veteran.
“I played the race the way I had to play it,” Hearn continued. “I knew that I needed to be cautious the first couple of laps and make sure nothing crazy happened. I ran a very conservative race and you saw what happened.”
Hearn claims that his effort for Syracuse is looking very good, in addition to the rest of the Super DIRTcar Series program. Hearn finished second Friday night at Autodrome Granby to Larry Wight and is currently second in points to Matt Sheppard with six races, including the Syracuse 200 to go.
Kenny Tremont, Jr., who ended up 13 points back of Hearn for the Modified title, walked away with the Small Block Modified championship by 43 points over 2014 champion Wayne Jelley. Tremont could have clinched a week early, but a broken rocker arm on September 5th dropped him to 18th and gave Jelley a brief reprieve. However, had the race run, Tremont would have only had to start it in order to win the title.
While the championship is pretty sweet for Tremont, it comes on the heels of missing out on his 14th Modified track championship to Hearn. As a result, Tremont was a bit subdued. Regardless, he’s still happy with his performance.
“We’ve had a pretty good year with [the Small Block],” Tremont said recently. “We feel pretty good about it. Now, we’re off to Syracuse and hopefully, we can have a good run out there.”
Tremont says that his team is building a new Troyer chassis for the Salute the Troops 150 Small Block Modified race at the New York State Fairgrounds. That chassis will run in place of the Teo that Tremont fielded at Lebanon Valley. That effort will be in addition to Tremont’s Big Block that will make the trip to the New York State Fairgrounds in Solvay.
The Pro Stock class was decided on September 5th in (depending on your outlook) either the best way possible, or the worst way possible. Jay Corbin and Jon Routhier were tied for the points lead entering the final feature and quite simply, the driver that finished ahead would win the title.
While Rick Duzlak claimed his second Pro Stock win of the year in convincing fashion, Corbin and Routhier quickly drove up to second and third, then proceeded to battle it out amongst themselves. A spin for Tom Dean late in the race decided the championship. Corbin had to swerve to miss Dean, but Routhier stomped on the brakes and spun out. Routhier was forced to drop to the rear as a result, allowing Corbin to take the title with a second-place finish.
Corbin stated afterwards that this title was the hardest of his three Pro Stock championships to win, given some of the adversity that he had to overcome during the season. The other two saw him clinch ahead of the final race. For 2016, Corbin plans to return to defend his championship.
In the Sportsman class, John Virgilio tied for the most victories at Lebanon Valley this year with three. He entered the final night of the season with a four point lead over Matt Pappa. The rainout gave him the title and the young racer was very happy with his performance.
“That was an awesome season; it’s our best one yet,” Virgilio stated at his team’s campsite Saturday evening. “We started off with some really good momentum winning the first two, which set the tone for the season. From then on out, we had a couple of top 3’s and one bad night; we crashed out on the first or second lap. After that, we just ran as hard as we could. Had to come back from a 26-point deficit and chase Matt [Pappa] down every week.
Despite winning the title, Virgilio would have much rather raced on Saturday night.
“[The rain does take] a little bit away from the title,” Virgilio continued. “I would have rather battled it out on the race track, but we’ll take it any way we can get it.”
For Syracuse, John Virgilio Racing is teaming up with Jim Boardman’s team to field a combined effort. According to Virgilio, he will drive Boardman’s car at Syracuse with a crew made up of members of his team and Boardman’s. Virgilio raced one feature in Boardman’s No. 70 this year after running into problems with his own car, so the chassis won’t be wholly unfamiliar to him.
For 2016, Virgilio has expressed an interest in moving up to the Small Block Modified class. However, such a move would be predicated on finding additional sponsorship in order to pay for the new equipment (especially the engine).
Jason Meltz won the Pure Stock title in his Chevrolet Camaro on the strength of three victories and only two finishes out of the top 5 all season. With an average finish of 3.35 for the season in 17 races, gaining on the No. 51 was a tough task. The Meltz team was definitely a force to be reckoned with all season, combining for ten wins between the family’s three Pure Stock entries.
In the 4-Cylinder category, Kenny Stager won his second consecutive Dual-Cam title in his Honda Prelude. Stager won the first two races of the season and took the points lead in the final race of the year when Chris Vandeputte failed to compete. Single-Cam saw Brandon Ely take his Honda Civic to the championship on the strength of three victories.
All of these drivers and many more will be celebrated at the annual Lebanon Valley Speedway banquets, which will be held in March, 2016. More information about the banquet will be released in the coming weeks.
For more information, the 2015 schedule, and links to what's on tap for 2015, visit our website at www.LebanonValley.com, 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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