View Full Version : Lonnie Behler, at last, a Modified winner at Mahoning Valley Speedway

09-04-2011, 06:45 PM
By Dino Oberto

(LEHIGHTON, PA 9-3-11) When Lonnie Behler stepped up to a Modified three years ago at Mahoning Valley Speedway, he did so after compiling 40 career wins with most coming in the Street Stocks. That number ranks him second overall at the paved quarter mile.

During the past three seasons, however, Behler has had numerous flashes of keeping his winning ways intact but for variety of reasons, most of it luck, he just couldn’t match the same success that was a common trait with him. He had has had more runner-ups with the Mods in that span than most others yet the elusive top spot always slipped by him.

That was until this past Saturday night as the veteran racer from Palmerton was the class of the field in capturing his career first victory in a Modified stock car. Starting sixth, Behler used a lap two restart to surpass Tom Flanagan for the lead and from there on he was not going to be denied his just reward.

“It feels really good and it’s been a long road for me,” said Behler, a former champion in the Street Stocks. “The first (win) one is the hardest. The rest from here on out should come a little easier.”

Behler showed that he would be tough to beat once he got the lead. After each of the four caution periods that dotted the race following his gaining the front spot, Behler was quick to get the jump each time.

“They (cautions) played into my hands because the car was just a tad tight and I was able to get a better hold of it on the restarts,” admitted Behler.

He was also aided by the fact that second spot was being hotly contested between John Bennett and Rob Shultz who had a dogfight right up to the final lap.

“You always have to have concern when you have John (Bennett) alongside you too. His record speaks for itself but he’s a clean driver and that’s the way he and I have always raced together,” added Behler who is second only to Bennett in career wins.

Bennett edged Shultz by .003-seconds. Chip Santee and point leader Tyler Haydt completed the top five.

“Our car was a little tight tonight and I had nothing for Lonnie. We’ve been racing together a long time so congratulations to him for getting the W,” said Bennett. “It was good cleaning racing between me and Rob and I’m sure the fans saw a good race with us two.”

Late Model ace Jim Wismer, Jr., of Upper Black Eddy made a surprise visit and came out as the surprise winner as well.

With four laps to go race leader Paul Koehler, Jr., who had been at the front since the drop of the green, was holding off Rick Wallace in a nip and tuck battle. At lap 21 they had come upon a slower car and as Koehler backed down to negotiate his way by, Wallace banged into his rear and sent both cars spinning from contention.

George Ramos was now the leader but on the restart it would be second running Wismer who would make the move into the lead once the race restarted. Following suit was point leader Austin Kochenash who then remained glued behind Wismer en route to the checkered flag.

Kevin Smith has taken a shine to 100-lap Street Stock races as for the second time this season the Lehighton native drove in the lead position for every lap and posted his second $1000 win. And he did so after drawing the second starting spot, duplicating the same fete from May 28 when he won the Gene Bowers Memorial.

With the lap money from the Bowers Memorial along with the $1000 apiece for each win, Smith has collected over $3200 for his race winnings efforts for the two events.

At the start Smith got the jump on pole sitter Steve Hoffman. By lap two Steve Steigerwalt moved to second with Jason Frey third and Hoffman slipping to fourth.

That foursome would stay in that formation the rest of the way. The only time Smith was threatened for the lead was during restarts but once a few green flag laps would get reeled off he was able to flex his strength as his car was hands down the best of the bunch.

Frey and Hoffman did exchange third a few times but neither them nor Steigerwalt could make an effort to pass the strong running Smith. Point leader TJ Gursky completed the top five.

Lehighton’s Kris Graver aided his quest for a Dirt Mod title by cruising to his sixth win of the season. Starting fifth Graver powered past early leader Joe Stangle on lap two and from there on he put on a dominating run to the checkers, winning by nearly six seconds over runner-up Stangle.

In Pro4 Late Model action Barry Christman, Jr., of Northampton advanced into the lead on lap two and from there it was no contest as he raced to his second straight and 10th win of the season which enabled him to keep his stronghold on the point lead heading into the final four weeks of the season.

Mike Renn of Medford, NY notched his fourth 4C Super Modified win of the season and second at Mahoning Valley and remains the point leader with two races to run.

Modified Feature Finish, 35 Laps: 1. Lonnie Behler, 2. John Bennett, 3. Rob Shultz, 4. Chip Santee, 5. Tyler Haydt, 6. Don Wagner, 7. Brian DeFebo, 8. Rick Reichenbach, 9. John Markovic, 10. Terry Markovic, 11. Frankie Althouse, 12. Keith Mullineaux, 13. Matt Higgins, 14. Doug Bell, 15. Tom Flanagan, 16. Matt Wentz, 17. Roger Heffelfinger, Jr., 18. Andy Szapacs, 19. Ron Missmer, 20. Kevin Rex, Jr.

Late Model Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Jim Wismer, Jr., 2. Austin Kochenash, 3. Paul Skodacek, 4. George Ramos, 5. Cole Lenhart, 6. Paul Koehler, Jr. 7. Rick Wallace 8. Glenn Slocum, 9. Beau Drobot, 10. Geno Steigerwalt, 11. Ed Bauer, 12. Mike VanFossen 13. Mark Simon

Street Stock Feature Finish, 100 Laps: 1. Kevin Smith, 2. Steve Steigerwalt, 3. Jason Frey, 4. Steve Hoffman, 5. TJ Gursky, 6. Josh Mooney, 7. Eric Danyluk, 8. Justin Mooney, 9. Gene Bowers, 10. Todd Ahner, 11. Jillian Long, 12, Joe Roberts, 13. Dennis Buss, 14. Trevor Hosier, 15. Jon Moser 16. Adam Santee, 17. BJ Wambold, 18. Randy Ahner, Jr. 19. Darryl Breunig, 20. Brian Labar, 21. Shawn Sitarchyk, 22. Rich Moser, 23. Austin Santee

Did not qualify: Jason Kuhn

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

Pro4 Late Model Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Barry Christman, Jr., 2. Jeremy Miller, 3. Aleia Geisler, 4. Ray Geisler, 5. Dan Freundt, 6. Tyler Stangle, 7. Jake Kibler, 8. Jeff Beigley Did not start: Taya Wentz

4C Super Modified Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1. Mike Renn, 2. Steven Renn, 3. Ron Merlino, Sr., 4. Wes Gilbert, 5. Ron Merlino, Jr. 6. Anthony Merlino, 7. Bob Renn, 8. Mike Crispo