View Full Version : Wagner’s Win Puts Him in Point Lead; Santee Holds off Beers in a Thriller

08-29-2010, 09:18 AM
(LEHIGHTON, PA 8-28-10) One week was worth the wait for Wharton, New Jersey’s Don Wagner as he not only won the special Poker Series race but assumed the division point lead as well.

With 13 laps competed in the August 21, 35-lap 7 Card Stud Poker Series race at Mahoning Valley Speedway, John Bennett and Wagner where running one-two. Unfortunately rain put a halt to the action at the point and the event was resumed this past Saturday night.

When the race got back underway Bennett was again ahead of Wagner but never by much as the pair, who came into the night tied for first in points, ran virtually side-by-side. Six laps after the restart Wagner, running the outside, went by Bennett for the lead and ultimately the win.

“I love racing side-by-side with Johnny (Bennett). We’ve done it like that for a long time and he always runs you clean. We got it tonight and it felt good because we had been fighting some motor issues the past few weeks,” said Wagner, now a two-time winner.

In moving to the point lead Wagner is the first driver in the past two-and-one-half seasons to unseat Bennett from the top of the standings during the regular season.

“He is the king and unless you beat the best what do you have the gauge it against,” added Wagner.

Chip Santee, Eric Beers and Lou Strohl completed the top five.

“Donny is a good competitor. Our car was a little down tonight and we weren’t able to keep it down were we wanted to be. He was able to get around the outside and it’s good to see him win,” said Bennett.

In the regular Modified feature it was an all out barnburner as Santee picked up his second win of the season by the narrowest of margins over Beers, Wagner and Bennett.

Off the track, Santee and Beers are the best of friends. Once strapped inside their race cars they become fierce competitors and that was evident over the final laps as Beers came within inches of winning.

Santee took the top place from Troy Bollinger on a lap eight restart and by lap 12 it became a four car confrontation with Bennett, Wagner and Beers all over the backside of the leader.

The foursome where amazing in the way they raced under a blanket. As Santee led Wagner and Bennett traded off second with Beers watching intently from fourth.

With ten laps to go Wagner somehow got second to himself while Beers checked into third over Bennett. Still as close as could be, Beers passed Wagner four laps from the finish and then tried to keep that rhythm going on Santee.

On the final lap Beers made an all out effort but fell short by a scant .086-second.

“I mentioned earlier that the car was way off. My guys went to work on it and the guy (Beers) that finished second had been giving me a couple good pointers the last few weeks. He’s a great friend and competitor,” said Santee. “I seen Donny there and Johnny there and didn’t know Eric was part of it too. Usually when I get in the lead I take it easy but tonight there was no choice but to run as hard as I could to hold off those guys.

“There’s one thing I have to say, Eric how does it feel to be looking at my back panel for once coming across the line.”

This was third runner-up for Beers who uncharacteristically has yet to reach Victory Lane this season despite leading the most laps of anyone this season.

“He (Santee) had been running a good line. We were all running in a tight bunch out there, the top four of us. I had to use a lapped car to get past Bennett and we snuck under Donny. I pulled up on Chip and tried as best I can to get him. On the last lap coming to the checkered I pointed it towards the flagman and held it flat out hoping I could get him. He did a great job and we’ll come back and get him next time,” said Beers.

In Late Model action it is becoming a fact that you can teach an old dog new tricks. 14-year Austin Kochenash of Danielsville is the one doing it as raced to his second straight and seventh win of the year.

Kochenash’s win came over a field of seasoned veterans that included four-time champ Todd Stehle and two-time champ Paul Koehler, Jr., as well as others with countless years of experience.

Kochenash, who started eighth, immediately went to work on passing the vets when the race got underway. First it was Dave Wallace, and then Stehle followed by point leader Koehler and all within the first eight laps.
He then passed Rick Wallace on a lap nine restart and over the second half distance kept a safe haven over Stehle who notched second.

“The car was right on tonight. It’s really something to be able to win over all those guys. They are the best at this so it means a lot to be able to beat them,” said Kochenash.

His verdict has also given him sole position of first place in the Area Auto Racing News over top winners list for asphalt late models.

Coming into the night’s Street Stock race, Justin Mooney of Lehighton had only one top five finish this season but it was a good one which was a feature win. Mooney picked up another top five and again it was in the form of victory.
Mooney pulled in behind Chris May at the outset and after several laps of pressure he was able to make an inside pass for the lead on lap nine.

As is the case with all Mahoning Street Stock races, the action was intense. For Mooney, keeping his lead meant having to fend off the doggedness of point leader Randy Ahner, Jr. and Steve Steigerwalt right to the finish.
Despite numerous tries by both, Mooney remained solid in gaining the win.

Steve Hoffman was fourth with last week’s winner Kristy Morone Arthofer fifth. In doing so the title chase remains very close between the top three of Ahner, Arthofer and Steigerwalt with four races remaining.

Palmerton’s Randy Thomas continued his domination in Dirt Modified action as he cruised to an unparalleled ninth win and clear cut shot at a second straight class title.

Thomas’s road to victory came with by way of an inside pass over Scott Hulmes on lap nine. He then pulled away to make it a race for second. Runner-up went to Bill Briggs.

The Graver name has become a common trait this year in Victory Lane with the Pro4 Late Models, be it Kris or Kevin. The Lehighton pair has been spot on virtually the entire year.

This week is was Kevin who took his potent mount to win number six. Last week it was Kris.

Kevin passed Jake Kibler on lap three and then had to fight back Kris the rest of the way. This one-two punch is now credited with 14 wins in 18 features run thus far.

Holdover Modified Feature Finish From 8/21, 35 Laps: 1. Don Wagner 2.John Bennett 3.Chip Santee 4.Eric Beers 5.Lou Strohl 6.Joe Mooney 7.Troy Bollinger 8.Matt Higgins 9.Earl Paules 10.Brian DeFebo 11.Ed Heim, Jr. 12.Terry Markovic 13.Rick Reichenbach 14.Tommy Flanagan 15.Andy Szapacs 16.Jarred Nace 17.Keith Mullineaux 18.Rob Shultz 19.Kevin Graver, Jr. 20.Lonnie Behler DNQ: Matt Clemens

Modified Feature Finish, 35 Laps: 1.Santee 2.Beers 3.Wagner 4.Bennett 5.Behler 6.Lou Strohl 7.Brian Romig 8.Flanagan 9.Higgins 10.Reichenbach 11.Stacey Brown 12.DeFebo 13.Mooney 14.Nace 15.Mullineux 16.Heim 17.Szapacs 18.Bollinger 19.Terry Markovic 20.Clemens

Late Model Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1.Austin Kochenash 2.Todd Stehle 3.Dave Wallace 4.Shawn Sitarchyk 5.Rick Wallace 6.Paul Koehler, Jr. 7.Cole Lenhart 8.Rick Smith

Street Stock Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1.Justin Mooney 2.Steven Steigerwalt 3.Randy Ahner, Jr. 4.Steve Hoffman 5.Kristy Morone Arthofer 6.Jillian Long 7.Devin Gibson 8.Todd Ahner 9.Adam Santee 10.Brian Labar 11.Chris May 12.Paul Effrig 13.Josh Mooney 14.Austin Santee 15.Gebe Bowers 16.Jon Moser 17.Jason Frey 18.TJ Gursky 19.Jim Yamelski

Dirt Modified Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1.Randy Thomas 2.Bill Briggs 3.Scott Hulmes 4.Bill Sitler 5.Joe Stangle 6.Dave Thomas

Pro4 Late Model Feature, 20 Laps: 1.Kevin Graver, Jr. 2.Kris Graver 3.Jake Kibler 4.Mike Stofflet 5.Kevin Stein 6.Aleia Geisler 7.Chad Keiser 8.Jeremy Miller