View Full Version : Paules tops Wagner in Spellbinding Poker Series 100 battle at Mahoning Valley Speedwa

08-21-2011, 09:33 AM
(LEHIGHTON, PA 8-20-11) Two of the best Tour-Type Modified drivers in the region waged a high-speed game of "can you top this?" Saturday night at Mahoning Valley Speedway. And when the checkered flag waved over the 100-lap feature, Earl Paules, Jr. took home the $3,000 first-place prize.

Paules, of Palmerton, Pa., spent most of the race battling back and forth with Dover, N.J., ace Don Wagner. The two swapped the lead eight times in a spellbinding battle before Paules pulled ahead for good on a lap 91 restart. The win, worth $3,000, was Paules' fourth at Mahoning this year and his second in the Poker Series. He now has two Aces (wins) and two Kings (seconds) in his quest for the series title.

"That's respectful driving," Paules said afterward. "You got to have that respect and Don (Wagner) has that. I'd lead for a while and he'd drive by me on the outside. I'd let him go because he was better than me. He seemed better than me the whole race, so the only time I could get him was on restarts."

The 100-lapper began with pole starter Matt Wentz zooming into the lead. On lap three, third-starting Wagner moved past Wentz to take the top spot. Meanwhile, Paules, who had set fast time at 9.827 seconds (91.584 mph) earlier in the night, moved to third behind Wagner and Lonnie Behler after starting from seventh. The top 12 drivers from time trials redrew for feature spots.

The first 21 laps ran caution-free until Wentz and John Bennett tangled in turn two, with Bennett hitting the wall. Under the caution, Behler pulled to the pits, giving Paules second and setting up the battle that dominated the rest of the event.

Paules moved by Wagner on the lap-21 restart, then Wagner passed him back on lap 25. And so it went for the next 65 laps, Paules and Wagner running side-by-side and exchanging the lead. Making their battle even more exciting was the fact that track points leader Tyler Haydt and Poker Series standout Matt Hirschman ran side-by-side inches behind Paules and Wagner for most of the distance.

The race's deciding moment came on lap 91 when a spin by Mike Carroll Jr. brought out the final caution flag. Paules outgunned Wagner on the double-file restart and stayed in front to the end. Haydt got by Wagner for second, with Hirschman and Brian DeFebo completing the front five.

"During a red flag (on lap 43), I was yelling to Wagner that he was too fast, and if we ran side-by-side nobody could pass us," Paules said. "Then before that last caution I saw him wiggle a little there going into turn three, and it made me wonder if he was losing his tires a little bit."

Said Wagner: "Earl is the best. We gave each other plenty of room and he was pushing harder at the end. I'm sure it was a good show." Wagner is a one-time 2011 Poker Series race winner.

Runner-up Haydt had the best seat in the house for most of the Paules-Wagner tussle. "I'll tell you what, it was neat watching those guys," he said. "They kept it clean. It was good racing."

The second-place finish gives Haydt three Kings in the Poker Series championship chase with two series races left (a "Wild Card" 35-lapper this Saturday and a 100-lapper on Oct. 1). Haydt's run also helped him extend his track points lead over Bennett, who finished 23rd and last after the lap 21 wreck.

With his fourth place tally Hirschman now has the best poker hand with four Queens.

In a caution free Late Model main, Austin Kochenash of Danielsville raced to his class leading fourth win of the year and although he was able to lead all 25 laps it was by no means an easy ride to victory.

Kochenash started second and blasted by pole sitter Mike VanFossen for the opening lap lead. While he was cruising and moving closer to the finish, a fast approaching Paul Skodacek was zeroing in on the leader.

With one lap to go Skodacek went for broke as he charged to the topside of Kochenash and it was then a drag race to the checkers. Kochenash was able to hold his line and took the exciting win by .295-second margin of victory and in the process padded his point lead over Paul Koehler, Jr., who finished third.

What an amazingly competitive season it has been in the Street Stock class as Shawn Sitarchyk of Lehighton became the 11th different winner in 12 races thus far.

It took Sitarchyk just five laps to move into the lead and once he did there would be no stopping him as he grabbed his first win with the division in two years.

Josh Mooney was able to keep in line with Sitarchyk and held on for second with Randy Ahner, Jr., taking third.

Dirt Modified point leader Kris Graver of Lehighton notched his fifth win of the season that came after a great battle over Mike Stringer who was having his best night to date.

Stringer had led from the outset and was nicely touring at the front until lap 14 when a caution came out and wiped away his commanding lead.

On the restart he was tailed by Graver who stayed glued on his rear bumper until two laps to go which is when Graver executed his race winning pass. One lap later Stringer suffered a right rear flat that would end his night. For Graver it marked his 17th overall career win.

What has been nothing short of a near perfect season continues for Northamptonís Barry Christman, Jr., as he sailed to his ninth win in a dozen starts. Christman powered his way into the lead on lap six after chasing down early leader Kevin Behler. From there it was no contest as he handily drove to the win over Aleia Geisler.

Bobby Wagner of Rockaway, NJ chocked up his second straight Micro Stock win of the year. Starting from the poll Wagner was perfect over all 15 laps.

Modified Feature Finish, 100 Laps: 1. Earl Paules, 2. Tyler Haydt, 3. Don Wagner, 4. Matt Hirschman, 5. Brian DeFebo, 6. John Markovic, 7. Rob Shultz 8. Brian Romig 9. Chip Santee, 10. Mike Carroll, 11. Bobby Jones, 12. Kevin Rex, Jr., 13. Andy Szapacs, 14. Matt Higgins, 15. Terry Markovic, 16. Anthony Sesely, 17. Matt Wentz, 18. Tom Flanagan, 19. Todd Baer, 20. Troy Bollinger, 21. Frankie Althouse, 22. Lonnie Behler, 23. John Bennett

Late Model Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Austin Kochenash, 2. Paul Skodacek, 3. Paul Koehler, Jr., 4. Geno Steigerwalt, 5. Mike VanFossen, 6. Rick Wallace, 7. Dave Wallace, 8. Cole Lenhart, 9. Glenn Slocum, 10. George Ramos, 11. Ed Bauer

Street Stock Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Shawn Sitarchyk, 2. Josh Mooney, 3. Randy Ahner, Jr., 4. Jason Frey, 5. Todd Ahner, 6. Steve Steigerwalt, 7. Gene Bowers, 8. Jason Kuhn, 9. TJ Gursky, 10. Austin Santee, 11. Jillian Long, 12. Darryl Breunig, 13. BJ Wambold, 14. Jon Moser, 15. Trevor Hosier, 16. Joe Roberts, 17. Kevin Smith, 18. Adam Santee, 19. Rich Moser

Dirt Modified Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Kris Graver, 2. Dave Thomas, 3. Scott Hulmes 4. Mike Stofflet, 5. DJ Wagner, 6. Mark Levy, 7. Bill Briggs, 8. Joe Stangle, 9. Bill Sittler, 10. Mike Stinger, 11, Randy Thomas

Pro4 Late Model Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Barry Christman, Jr., 2. Aleia Geisler, 3. Roy Geisler, 4. Kevin Behler, 5. Junior Moyer, 6. Taya Wentz, 7. Jeff Beigley, 8. Jake Kibler

Micro Stock Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1. Bobby Wagner 2. Roger Snyder, 3. John Rakos, 4. Bill Darling, 5. AJ Fuge, 6. Calvin Carroll, 7. Roy Morris, 8. Mike Duffy, 9. Pete Bayles, 10. Brian Correll, 11. Wayne Krenn Did not start: Tyler Wagner