View Full Version : Don Wagner and John Bennett Share Mahoning Valley Modified Spotlight

07-04-2010, 10:07 AM
(LEHIGHTON, PA 7-3-10) When Don Wagner finished a close second to John Bennett in the make-up Modified feature earlier in the program he vowed that he would return later that night in the regularly scheduled race as the winner.

Wagner, of Wharton, NJ, is a man of his words. Coming from seventh on the grid, he passed Bennett with four laps to go and notched his first Mahoning Valley Speedway win of the season.

In the make-up feature from May 29, Lehighton’s Bennett used a lap 23 restart to take away the lead from Wagner and went on to his class leading third win of the season.

At the start of the regular main Matt Wentz led from the pole and managed to keep the likes of Tyler Haydt, Chip Santee, Bennett and Wagner, who all tried to make a run at him whilst tightly grouped.

While holding down a narrow margin in second, Haydt spun on lap 23 which then advanced Santee. Santee was coming on strong and laps later he made his way to the front.

His lead was ill-fated as he spun in turn two while blanketed under tense quarters.

Bennett was now the new pace setter with Wagner second. Giving Bennett all that he could handle over the remaining laps, Wagner was looking to redeem himself from the first race and he did so by vaulting to the outside of Bennett with four laps. The pass enabled the veteran to park his mount in the Winner’s Circle for the first time this season.

“We had a great car and we got some good restarts. Johnny (Bennett) ran me clean and it was a fun race. I want to thank him for running me clean. We’re here to win races just like the next guy and we’ll pass anyone who’s in front of us to do that,” said Wagner. “My crew is awesome and I really appreciate all their help. Most of them have been with me for 20-plus years.”

Newcomer Scott Adams passed Bennett on the last lap and got a commendable second.

In the make-up feature the first half dozen laps for the lead where swapped between Brown and Wagner. When Wagner finally took control on lap seven he was fending off none other than Bennett and it now a torrid battle between the top two pointmen. Wagner was racing for his first win while Bennett was in pursuit of his third.

The race was running smoothly until lap 23 when the first caution waved. On the restart Bennett utilized the outside line to surpass Wagner. Wagner then did all he could to try to regain his spot including a last ditch try on the final go-around but track master stood his ground and picked up the victory by a slim margin of just .175-seconds.

“The track was a little loose on us and I’m just lucky to be standing here,” said Bennett who notched his track leading 54th career win. “I knew he (Wagner) was right there alongside me a couple times and I’m glad he ran me clean. He could have easily had me there a few times and I really appreciate the way he raced me.”

The Street Stock Star Spangled 100, a $1000 to win main, saw Steven Steigerwalt of Palmerton emerge victorious.

A redraw of the top 12 from time trials inverted the starting grid. Current point leader Randy Ahner, Jr., set fast time with an 11.793. Steve Hoffman, 11.824, was second quickest. Steigerwalt timed eighth which gave him the fifth starting spot for the feature.
When the race commenced it was TJ Gursky who was showing the way but after 15 laps a very strong running Devin Gibson assumed the top spot. Gibson would go on the lead the brunt of laps as he stayed solid through lap 62.

In typical Mahoning Street Stock fashion, the entire field was grouped in side-by-side formation.

While Gibson led he had a bevy cars glued to his tail including Steigerwalt, Todd Ahner, Brian Labar and Ahner, Jr. who where all making serious advancements on the leader.
By midrace Steigerwalt was second and lap after lap he was making it known to Gibson that he was not settling for anything less than first place. As the field was coming by to complete the 62nd tour, Steigerwalt finally succeeded in passing Gibson.

The race still remained close amongst the front runners. Todd Ahner stayed right with Steigerwalt and then with four laps to go Gibson got back to second but at that point there was no denying who was the car to beat.

Steigerwalt held on for the biggest win of his career, fourth in a Street Stock and 19th overall. It had been four years since his last win.

“It was a great run tonight. I hated to see all those cautions but everything worked out in our favor and everyone ran pretty clean and I thank them for that,” said Steigerwalt.

Hoffman, Todd Ahner and Gursky rounded out the top five.

The Late Model feature was a thriller that came right down to the wire as Lehighton’s Shawn Sitarchyk nipped Austin Kochenash for his second win of the season.

Sitarchyk moved to the lead after early leader Barry Christman, Sr. spun while fending off Sitarchyk on lap seven.

For the rest of the distance it was a dogfight between Sitarchyk and Kochenash as they battled under immense pressure. Kochenash did all he could to make a pass but it was to no avail. The win keeps Sitarchyk in a very tight point battle with Paul Koehler who finished third.

Bill Briggs of Pine Hill, NJ took the lead on a lap four restart and went on to score his first Dirt Modified win of the season which in the process snapped the stranglehold of winning between Randy Thomas and Jeff Parker.

Kris Graver of Lehighton motored to perhaps his strongest Pro4 Late Model win of the season as the 16-year old made his race winning pass over Chris Kuronya on lap six and then pulled away to a solid 1.643 second victory ahead of Barry Christman, Jr.

For Graver it was his unprecedented sixth win in 11 starts which also solidified his top ranking in the standings.

Preston, Maryland’s Wes Gilbert won for a third time in as many starts with the 4c Super Mods. Gilbert grabbed the lead from Ron Merlino with seven laps to go and was never challenged once in front.

Modified Feature Finish, 35 Laps: 1.Don Wagner 2.Scott Adams 3.John Bennett 4.Amanda Sesely 5.Lonnie Behler 6.Brian Romig 7.CJ Jones 8.Matt Higgins 9.Chip Santee 10.Brian DeFebo 11.Keith Mullineaux 12.Rick Reichenbach 13.Jarred Nace 14.Ed Heim, Jr. 15.Stacey Brown 16.Matt Wentz 17.Anthony Sesely 18.Tyler Haydt 19.Tom Flanagan 20.Joe Mooney 21.Tony Zatsko Did not start: Andy Szapacs

Make-up Modified Feature (5/29), 35 Laps: 1.Bennett 2.Wagner 3.DeFebo 4.Santee 5.Amanda Sesely 6.Behler 7.Mullineaux 8.Adams 9.Reichenbach 10.Jones 11.Heim, Jr. 12.Higgins 13.Brown 14.Haydt 15.Wentz 16.Zatsko 17.Nace 18.Justin Mooney 19.Szapacs Did not start: Bobby Jones, James Pritchard, Jr., Rob Shultz, Billy Swartz

Late Model Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1.Shawn Sitarchyk 2.Austin Kochenash 3.Paul Koehler, Jr. 4.Dave Wallace 5.Barry Christman, Sr. 6.Geno Steigerwalt 7.Rick Wallace 8.John Stepp

Street Stock Feature Finish, 100 Laps: 1.Steven Steigerwalt 2.Devin Gibson 3.Steve Hoffman 4.Todd Ahner 5.TJ Gursky 6.Brian Labar 7.Dale Santee 8.Josh Mooney 9.Chris May 10.Adam Santee 11.Eric Danyluk 12.Kristy Morone Arthofer 13.Austin Santee 14.Jillian Long 15.Gene Bowers 16.Jamie Smith 17.Jason Frey 18.Jon Moser 19.Jim Yamelski 20.Mark Deysher 21.Justin Mooney 22.Randy Ahner, Jr. 23.Justin Miller 24.Paul Effrig Did not start: Matt May, Ethan Rutherford, Chip Wanamaker

Dirt Modified Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1.Bill Briggs 2.Jeff Parker 3.Randy Thomas 4.Dave Thomas 5.Scott Hulmes 6.Ryan Beltz 7.Dave Brobst 8.Bill Sitler 9.Joe Stangle

Pro4 Late Model Feature 20 Laps: 1.Kris Graver 2.Barry Christman, Jr. 3.Kevin Graver, Jr. 4.Jeremy Miller 5.Chris Kuronya 6.Jake Kibler 7.Kevin Stein

4C Super Modified Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1.Wes Gilbert 2.Ron Merlino 3.Steve Renn 4.Bob Renn 5.Anthony Merlino